Images shot with the classic Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8
Although surrounded by the beautiful Northern Thailand countryside, Pai town itself also deserves a day or two of shooting with your vintage lenses.
Bohemian, arty, laid back, alternative. All those adjectives and more.
It’s also easy to say it ain’t what it used to be, and that it was better before it got too touristy.
The problem with saying that is it’s annoying to listen to.
Better to just take it for what it is now, and present that with your vintage lens photography.
That’s what I did with these shots, taken with the Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8.
Nightlife is a huge part of Pai’s appeal to many of its visitors, although I didn’t go crazy during my time there.
I wouldn’t have been awake to get daytime pictures of the aftermath if I did.
A fair amount of the bars in town do inevitably conform to the rules of the alternative culture, which is a touch ironic really.
The decor of choice is usually scruffy chic, with reggae played on a loop and the prime seats being cushions on the floor.
You’re unlikely to be turned away for wearing trainers, although flip flops or barefoot is more the standard.
When walking around Pai town, taking shots of whatever caught my eye, using a manual focus vintage lens felt right.
The town does have a bohemian feel to it. Hipster, even.
A bicycle on a roof and swearing on a car don’t seem out of place at all.
Vintage objects can be seen in various shops and cafes; either for sale or as part of the furniture.
The pace of life in the town also lends itself to the calm, thoughtful process of manual focus photography, and my best photography is always done when I’m by myself, with nobody making me feel hurried.
Of course, we’re not going to get sweeping landscape shots with a 55mm lens; not on a crop sensor Sony mirrorless camera.
But that wasn’t the idea.
Looking for other details was the aim, and using a vintage lens slows you down nicely to achieve that.
If you’d like to try yourself, a good place to start is with the 55mm Super-Takumars on eBay.
You can also find a great travel camera to shoot them on in the Sony mirrorless range here on Amazon.
Super-Takumar at the Pai riverside
Across a rickety bamboo bridge, a few guest houses offer riverside accommodation and more opportunities to sit on the floor around a fire with no shoes on.
I’ve never stayed in these places, having always stayed in town (usually at Mr. Jan’s), but I did go and take a look what photography was possible there in the daytime.
Again, the landscape shots aren’t going to be there.
But that’s okay.
It’s peaceful, tranquil, and a great place to kick back for an hour or two.
Or a few days.
Street food in Pai town
Back in the town and later in the evening, the main streets become the nightly market, and the street food is a major draw.
The variety is impressive, and the crowds of people milling around matches this.
Of the three pictures I’m putting up here, I tried two of the foods.
The kebabs and tom yum peanuts were both pretty good.
The fish, unfortunately, just didn’t appeal.
Taking my time with my vintage lenses in and around Pai was a fine way to spend a couple of days.
The gallery here isn’t huge, but I think it shows a few things about the place.
It’s a backpackers’ haven, with scruffy bars, a bohemian feeling, highly accessible countryside, and cheap street food every single night.
It all adds up to a pretty good place to unwind, and also to do some vintage lens photography.
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