Monochrome Hong Kong Street Photography [Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8]

A small set of images left over from the previous two posts. I didn’t have any reason to publish them before, apart from ‘to just get them off my hard drive and onto my blog’.

However, I got some words of wisdom that made me realise that’s actually a great reason to publish them. Come take a look. Especially if you’re struggling to get your own work out there for whatever reason.

I can’t promise words of wisdom of my own, but I will point you in the direction of the ones that helped me out.

Chongqing’s Bang Bang Men [Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8]

Much like travel itself, travel photography becomes more interesting when you consider the people as much as, if indeed not more than, the scenery. The huge Chinese city of Chongqing certainly has some great vistas, should you be lucky enough to get a day clear from the smog. However, what of the local people?

A unique employment opportunity exists in Chongqing. Due to the steep hills upon which it is built, the city is home to thousands and thousands of street porters known as bang bang men and women. Armed with a bamboo pole and some rope, they will for a fee carry anything that needs carrying.

As iconic as the city’s signature spicy food, this is my photoblog of Chongqing’s bang bang men.

A Lap of Ko Samui on a Scooter [Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8]

Despite having been to Ko Samui numerous times, and spending longer there than I have on any other Thai island, I’d never really been and explored away from the tourist centres in the north and east before. I’m not sure many visitors do. During my most recent trip there, I decided to remedy this by renting a scooter and doing a lap of Ko Samui.

Although the island is very well developed, I’d heard its southwest area was quieter. Keen to see it for myself, and looking forward to documenting some of the tourist activity in the towns of Chaweng and Lamai too, I devised a rudimentary plan and set off on a day of riding and shooting.

With plenty of sights, beaches and people to photograph with the Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8, this is what I came back with.

Lopburi, Thailand – a Day in Monkey Town [Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8]

Sitting around three hours north of Bangkok and easily reachable by local bus or a cheap train, Lopburi is unlike any other place in Thailand. While having a whole area of a town overrun by hundreds of small monkeys may seem like the stuff of nightmares for some, it makes Lopburi a dream stop-off for travel photographers.

It’s also small enough to do in a day if you don’t want to stay the night. I arrived on an overnight train from Chiang Mai just before 4am and left for Bangkok around 3pm. In between, I went shooting monkeys. With my camera. In monochrome.

From a pre-sunrise market to an afternoon festival, and with enough shots of the local primates to make the title work, this is Lopburi, Thailand – a Day in Monkey Town.

On the Road to Pai [Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8]

road sign between chiang mai and pai

Chiang Mai to Pai on a scooter. I’d done it before, but I wanted to do it again, and I wanted to do it differently. Photographically differently. The previous times I’d been to Pai I’d shot in colour, because that’s what people do when shooting travel photography, isn’t it?

To make this trip different, I decided to go less ‘travel’ and more ‘road trip’. A classic, monochrome, echoes-of-the-50s road trip. That didn’t mean merely shooting the same pictures but in black and white. It meant a whole different feel to both the individual images and the set as a whole.

A classic monochrome road trip then, in Northern Thailand. Come and see how it turned out.

Two Days in Xitang Water Town [Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8]

chinese lanterns in xitang

One of many scenic water towns near Shanghai, Xitang makes for a great little photography trip. The only problem is, when a place is so photogenic and visited by millions of tourists per year, how do you go about making your pictures even a little bit different to everyone else’s?

To help me with this, I went against the norm. Taking only a 55mm lens would mean I wouldn’t be able to take the wide angle water-and-traditional-houses shots that are so common. As ever with my photography, I’d have to seek out the smaller details and get closer to my subjects.

Thankfully, Xitang provided enough of those to allow me to come away with a set that I am very happy to share with you.

Shooting Pai with the Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8

letterbox souvenirs in pai

Surrounded by amazing countryside, Pai town itself is also a delight. These pictures were taken with the Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8 on a trip I took there from Chiang Mai.

The slow pace of the place in the daytime makes it a great spot for some manual focus photography, with the night markets providing a plethora of local street eats to try.

It’s not the biggest set on here. It’s even the biggest set from Pai on here. But it does take a look at the town in daylight, the riverside, and gives a little taster of the street food available.

Chiang Mai Sunday Market Through a Vintage Lens [Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8]

The Chiang Mai Sunday night market closes the centre of town and sees 1000s of tourists throng to buy all the street food they can eat and all the souvenirs they can carry.

As the market begins to be set up in the early evening, it’s a great chance for some photography during the golden hour as the sun is setting. After dark, the opportunities for great shots continue as the ambient lights are turned on.

No visitor to Chiang Mai should miss the Sunday night market if they have the chance to go. For those who aren’t able, or are but yet to, these pictures give a taste of what it’s like to be there.

Chiang Mai Street Photography [Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8]

chiang mai street photography

Shooting monochrome street photography in a place as colourful as Chiang Mai might seem a waste, but it can help give a different feel to the images you get during your time there.

The question is, where in Chiang Mai should you go and shoot? I could suggest the entire city if you have the time to cover it, as every area offers something different, but that would be impractical to most.

Instead, here’s a couple of suggestions that can be covered in one day, with plenty of time left for that amazing Thai food.

Khao San Road w/ Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8

hair braid mannequins on khao san road

Khao San Road, Bangkok. I started my day with the best intentions. I’d take my time, stalk around, capture the essence of the place, maybe (probably) have a few drinks after I’d finished.

Unfortunately, my day was interrupted by a familiar voice and face. This small set of images is what I got before that happened. Expect Same Same vests, daft trousers, braids, and a cat on a motorbike.

Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8 Lens Review

super-takumar 55mm f1.8 lens

The Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8 is a classic and slightly radioactive manual focus lens. Mine was the second manual focus lens I ever bought, and I quickly fell in love with it.

This in-depth review talks about the history of the lens, it’s radioactivity, how it is to use, why I bought it, and some notes on the image quality. Spoiler: it’s good.

With a selection of example shots taken with the lens to let you see for yourself, come and find out why I love the Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8 so much.

Lee in the Park w/ Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8

scene in zhongshan park shanghai china

Zhongshan Park is one of Shanghai’s best, and I was lucky enough to live nearby. Visiting Chinese parks means encountering a few things, without fail. Old people being the main one. Whatever pastime they are whiling away the day with, they’ll be there.

Zhongshan Park is big enough to be able get away from the crowds if you know where to go. There are some interesting paths and routes through the trees and bushes; it isn’t all open space.

These monochrome photographs, taken with the Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8, are from a day I spent shooting, and feature some scenic shots and a group of rollerskating children in amongst the elder generation of park-goers.