The legend of Halong Bay is that a celestial dragon defended ancient Vietnam by breathing fire on pirate invaders and spitting out hundreds of hot emerald stones into the north sea. The gems become islands which formed an impenetrable wall to other invaders.
Today Halong Bay protected from the sea but vulnerable to a daily invasion of tourists. It is a busy thoroughfare of sailing boats and day cruise ships. By day the bay is alive with the sights and sounds of 8200 visitors daily.
Select cruises offer overnight stays and in the late evenings and early morning it’s possible to experience the quiet solitude of the bay.
On this morning I was awake at dawn. The early morning light had just broken and the only sound was the gentle slap of water against the fisherman’s oar. It was a quiet awakening to a brand new day.
In the East there is an ancient man made reservoir called Srah Srang. It was built in the 10th century by the Khmer civilization in the kingdom of Angkor. For over a thousand years people have used this place for religious rituals, communal baths and water collection.
On this early morning, as dawn broke across a cloudy eastern sky, a lady collects water for another day.
In the West coast of Canada, the rain forests meet the Pacific and the sun sets in a blaze of glory.
A hoodie shrouded man walks along a jetty after bidding the day good bye.
Two worlds. One day. Twelve thousand kilometers apart. The sun rises and sets on both.
Have you walked through a warren of alleys, turned a corner and been startled by a cacophony of color, light and pattern? Visuals so loud and discordant that you had to blink three times to tone it down?
This happened to me in an outdoor market in Northern Thailand. I’d stumbled into hat makers alley. A place where ladies surrounded by gaily colored fabric, sewed ribbons of bubbles and baubles on to hats, aprons and vests. They draped themselves with vibrantly patterned scarves with no apparent concern for color harmony. The laughed and chattered among themselves, ignoring the tourist fidgeting with her camera and trying to isolate a shot.
Later when I uploaded my photos I ignored all of these photos. I had liked one but decided that the frame was too full with color and pattern. It was hard see the subject against the distraction of background.
Fast forward to years later. I’m searching through my catalog looking for interesting B&W portraits. I find this old photo and casually flick it to B&W. What a difference.
The moral of this story? Never discard photos that you like. Maybe your eye saw something your brain did not. Time will tell.
I don’t usually shoot in black & white but in my last photo walk I decided to set my LCD to monochrome. What a difference. I saw scenes I wouldn’t normally have seen. The absence of color forced me to look at the shadows and light.
Some pictures, like the play on reflections below, I would have missed. In fact, when I loaded the RAW files in Lightroom, I was startled at the display of color.
These are the pictures that I took in monochrome:
These are the pictures that Lightroom showed:
Color or monochrome, they both have their appeal.
But without the monochrome LCD, I would never have seen the view.
What is something that people are obsessed with but you just don’t get the point of?
I’m a child of the ‘70s when portable telephones meant long extension cords. Maybe that’s why I don’t get the current day obsession with connectivity.
In my part of the world where phone plans are cheap (compared to North America) and cars are expensive (entry price is $120,000), I see lots of commuters engrossed with their phones. So engrossed that they’ll walk heads down into traffic.
Worse are the ones who play games without ear phones; as if we all want to hear their pings, dings and noise emissions.
Most distressing are toddlers held mesmerized by their parent’s phone. Mobiles become electronic pacifiers and little humans are being trained to see the world through a 7x15cm window.
What quirky things do people do where you are from?
There is no fear of color in Singapore’s buildings. Historic shop houses are painted in pretty pastels, stodgy government buildings have crayola colored shutters and ugly apartment blocks are doused in exuberant playground colors.
Central plaza wt stores
What are some things you wish you could unlearn?
It’s too easy to pick up terms & odd wordings when living in a foreign country. Lately, I’ve been forgetting to “off the lights” when leaving a room and more often than not, I say “can” when answering with an affirmative.
It’s not a problem, so long as I’m in Singapore. My friends in Canada though, they’re starting to look at me strange.
Who is someone that you miss having in your life?
In Singapore 72% of the population is of Chinese descent with many migrating from South China in the late nineteenth & early twentieth century. As such, Singaporeans have an ethnic heritage similar to my parents and grand-parents. I see it in the faces of people on the street. My grandfather’s eyes. My mother’s nose. It’s present too in the local food and traditions. Many Singaporean dishes recall flavors from long forgotten family meals.
My family history is not Singaporean but our Chinese heritage share a common root. It would have been nice to have my mother and grand-mother (long deceased) around to ask questions and compare memories.
Did you ever make that? What was it called? Do you remember this?