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Photography

Walkabout in Saigon – The second tour with Ian

Ian, the photo tour guide.

Ian is a brilliant guide. A photo walk together with him is always inspiring and a joy. This time we met up in District 5 and walked around several pagodas. Ended up having a small, refreshing break, both to quench our thirst as well as clear our eyes from all the incense smoke, before continuing our journey. The different styles and atmospheres were inspiring, however, this time I ended up focusing on details. Enjoy the show!

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Photography

Bergen Aquarium – The annual visit amongst penguins, spiders and snakes

The Penguins.

One of the highlights of the annual trip to Norway is the visit to Akvariet. Always a treasure grove for images. Enjoy the show!

The swimmer.

Snake time.

Snake posing as Gene Simmons.

Snake lair.

Snake skin.

Mr Snake.

Ms Snake.

Spider time.

Ocean explorer.

Something fishy.

The yellow fish.

I spy with my camera eye, something green.

Ready to tango.

A balancing act.

Show down.

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Photography

Site inspection and the accidental tourist in Tra Vinh City

Driving around Tra Vinh City centre.

It started with a phone call. Followed up with a meeting and some coffee. An invite was given and I gladly accepted. Soon I found myself on the way to Tra Vinh, to visit the production facilities of my new client. An impressive site. An equally impressive production line and working environment. I stayed for the night at their guest room that puts plenty of hotel rooms to shame. Woke up to a beautiful sunrise and continued the tour from the day before.

All went well and it was time to head back to Saigon. The car arrived and the driver asked if I would like a small tour around town and off we went. Remarkable contrast. Leaving a site that works with nano technology to enter ancient temple grounds and statues. All within an hour. Enjoy!

Walking through small woods before reaching the temple area.

Smaller temple area.

Statues at your service.

Symmetry.

Statue.

The statue, the tree and the sky.

Spotted inside a truck on the ferry when making the crossing back to Saigon.

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Photography, Recommended

Meet the Ebretta and the V-Tronic, the electric vintage looking scooters

The Ebretta and the V-Tronic

Saigon Scooter Centre (SSC), have just launched two electric scooters, a Lambretta and a Vespa, perfect for inner-city travel. Speed of up to 60km per hour and a traveling distance of 40 kilometers on a full charge ought to be enough to whizz around town in green style.

Patrick, from SSC, brought the bikes over to the studio for a product shoot session. We have photographed everything from small nuts and bolts to petrol tanks and complete bikes previously. Over 1500 individual parts have been photographed up to now. Patrick also organise the annual Charity Scooter Run that we are proud to be one of the sponsors to.

We spent the afternoon photographing the two bikes, the results you can see here, and by the way, Patrick will have the first bikes available for delivery in August, that’s only a few more months, so if you are interested, head over to his site here.

Which one do I prefer? I must admit I’d go for the Lambretta.

The V-Tronic Vespa.

Old style voltmeter.

Frontview with seat open.

The battery controller.

The batteries, one on each side.

Charge outlet. Industry standard cord. 3 hours for full charge.

The full view.

Ebretta, full view.

Close up.

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Photography

The portrait of Ostrich

I met Ostrich at Big Mountain, Vung Tau. On a Sunday family outing. It’s roughly seven months since I last took a trip and blogged about it. The roadworks between Saigon and Vung Tau are still in progress, however, traveling time is now less than 2 hours by car. The ticket price has now increased as it is an all inclusive fee. The Alpine Coaster was thus enjoyed numerous times until the afternoon rain hit.

This time we walked a different route and discovered another area and thus meet Ostrich. I walked inside the small farming area and stood face to face. We exchanged glances and decided that Ostrich was indeed worthy of a portrait. The session was brief, but not as brief as a corporate portrait where the subject deemed his time too important to only grant two frames of his time. Ostrich was more willing to pose. I got more frames. More frames equals more options, so, lo and behold, here are Ostrich’s portraits.

Ostrich I

Ostrich II

Ostrich III

Ostrich IV

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Photography

Vietnam’s Liberation Day and the beach holiday to Mui Ne

Beach time

End of April and beginning of May have two public holidays here in Vietnam. 30th April is the liberation day, or Victory Day as it is also referred to, and 1st of May is the International Labour Day. This year, those days fell on a Monday and Tuesday respectively. A very long weekend indeed, and Tet holiday-like queues were expected. The People’s Army Newspaper wrote that public transportation had run out of tickets prior the holiday and that the train system alone, had to accommodate twice the amount of travelers for the holiday. Last year’s holiday had 211 reported traffic accidents with 172 fatalities over a 4 day period. The traffic police dealt with 44,200 traffic violations and the State collected US$ 548,000 in fines only for those four days.

With that as backdrop we set out on the Saturday 28th, heading for Mui Ne and the beach, without any reservations. The day before I had celebrated my double 20 day with family and was still in denial that I have entered a new era. Starting my age with the cipher 3 was already tough enough and now the cipher 4. Troi oi! or Oh My God, as they say in Vietnamese.

Anyhow, we made it safely to the beach, leaving Saigon after lunch time and arriving in the late evening. Found a hotel within reasonable time and woke up to a wonderful day, breakfast at 6am. Then the beach before hitting the pool before checking out at 12. Luggage in the car and off for lunch. Then the hunt started. This time it took much longer. No vacancy was the only answer until we ventured further down the coast.

First opening did not serve breakfast, did not have a pool and the beach was hidden by high tide. Second place did have beach access but the privately owned place with the owner sitting bare chested with his drinking buddies and playing cards did not fit in with a family with small kids. And on we went. Three times lucky as they say. Third stop had breakfast, had a pool and proper beach access. We checked in and left for dinner. Next day was a repeat of the first day. Breakfast, beach and then pool. Pure bliss. Checked out at noon and headed for lunch. Afterwards, a sightseeing drive along the coast before heading back to Saigon.

Here are a few shots I managed to squeeze in during the long weekend. Enjoy!

Beach view

Building sand castles

Enjoying the afternoon sunset

Walking the dog

Road stop

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Photography

The Saigon Zoo shoot out

Photographer Yves and Model Maissa

Maissa contacted me some time ago. She hoped we could do a photo shoot together. I contacted a photographer friend of mine. I hoped we could do a shoot together. In the end, we managed to arrange both time and place.

A previous used location, the Saigon Zoo. The challenge is to come up with something new, something different to what I had done there before. To get the creative juices flowing, a friendly “competition” goes a long way. Yves and I swapped places and roles for each location, jumping back and forth from being assistant to being photographer and always keeping a friendly banter. Two photographers, same location, same model and two different sets of images produced. All done within a few morning hours. Plus some coffee time afterwards. It is always nice to be able to catch up over a cup of coffee.

Here is what I managed to shoot, enjoy:

Model Maissa at Saigon Zoo

Model Maissa at Saigon Zoo

Model Maissa at Saigon Zoo

Model Maissa at Saigon Zoo

Model Maissa at Saigon Zoo

Model Maissa at Saigon Zoo

Model Maissa at Saigon Zoo

Model Maissa at Saigon Zoo

Model Maissa at Saigon Zoo

Model Maissa at Saigon Zoo

Model Maissa at Saigon Zoo

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Photography

Purpleasia and Landor Associates – A strategic partnership

The Executive Brand Brunch at Strata, Level 50.

On March the 1st, Purple Asia and Landor Associates hosted an Executive Brand Brunch at Strata, Level 50 at the Bitexco Financial Tower in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City and not only did I get to cover the event, I also got to enjoy the presentations as well. Branding is an interest of mine and goes all the way back to my student days in London, UK. I spent my first internship at Coley Porter Bell and then secured an internship at Bagshawe Leahy that turned into a full-time design position. Branding and packaging design I have first hand knowledge of and my designer friends nicknamed me “Mr Back of Pack” due to my typographic obsession with the back-of-pack text that you find. Nutrition labels with proper ligatures for starters. My farewell gift was the aptly named software Fontographer.

So being able to watch the presentations from both Landor Associates and Purple Asia, I felt right at home and ten years younger.

Corporate literature.

Monica Au, Managing Director of Landor Associates.

Finger food and mingling.

Enjoying the view from Level 50.

Heading to the presentation room.

The entry greeting, air hostess style. Find your seat and buckle up.

Everybody seated and the presentation starts.

The event was covered by the television channel FBNC.

A captivated audience.

Jacqui Clement, Managing Director of Purple Asia.

Taking notes.

Matt Millard and Monica Au after the official signing of papers.

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Photography

Styling with JnG Couture

Styling by JnG Couture

Parallel with the fashion shoot for JnG Couture, we did another shoot that JnG Couture styled, enjoy:

Styling by JnG Couture

Styling by JnG Couture

Styling by JnG Couture

Styling by JnG Couture

Styling by JnG Couture

Styling by JnG Couture

Styling by JnG Couture

Styling by JnG Couture

Styling by JnG Couture

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Photography

Lacoll in the air

Dance. A dancer. Fashion. The new Lacoll collection. All elements to be combined in the studio. This is one of those assignments that you are glad you paid extra to have a faster flash duration on your studio flashes, as you will capture movement in the air. For the light setup itself, I took the inspiration from my former flat mate Merlin Hendy. Merlin specializes in dance photography and his work is both stunning and captivating, you can see for yourself here.

Here are a few samples of what we achieved:

Lacoll collection in air

Lacoll collection in air

Lacoll collection in air

Lacoll collection in air

The Lacoll Poster

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Photography

Collaboration with JnG Couture – Part II


JnG Couture – Part II

As before, we went on location, but instead of outdoor, it was indoor. Only one piece to shoot, so a few samples of different crops. Enjoy:)

JnG Couture – Part II

JnG Couture – Part II

JnG Couture – Part II

JnG Couture – Part II

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Family

Why the best camera you ever have is the camera you have available right now

Ivar at home.

March 2nd, 2012 I received a sms telling me that a relative of mine, Ivar, just passed away. Ivar & Brita. Two names together, now only one left behind, Brita. Last Xmas, December 2011, we could not see them when Tian and I went back to Norway. They were too exhausted to receive visitors so we could not meet them, not even briefly. The Xmas before that, December 2010, we were fortunate enough to see them.

That year, 2010, I only brought one camera body and a wide angle zoom lens with a slow f stop, f.4. Last year, 2011, I brought a new, fast zoom lens, f.2.8 and a flashgun, sb-800, so I would be better prepared. It did not help. My last images are taken by the camera with the slow lens. It was the best I had at that time and even though I got a better one now, it cannot me help to create memories when the time has passed, when the moment has slipped away.

The best camera will always be the one that you have available there and then.

I am glad that a slow lens did not stop me from capturing these moments, my last memories of Ivar, the gentleman in every word, may you rest in peace.

Ivar and Brita insisting on serving family guests.

Ivar playing with the children.

Brita and Ivar.

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Photography

Monkey madness

Monkey I

On location deep inside the Mekong, we set up and photographed a storage room in a small village. It was the main distribution centre in the area. In between shots as my assistants moved lights, I saw something next door. At first, I noticed the shafts of light coming in to what I believed was an empty storage room, however a small movement caught my attention.

A pet monkey was chained inside. I snapped a few shots before I got called at from outside and had to continue the assignment. A brief moment with a lasting impact. Assignment done, files delivered and I take a second look at the few frames I snapped. I edit them and start looking up animal websites and one article hits me, “The Perils of Keeping Monkeys as Pets”, where the author states that there is a 99.9 percent of creating a mentally disturbed animal if you try to keep them as pets.

“Primates are wild animals,” said Truitt of the Primate Rescue Center. “No amount of surgical mutilation, training, or beating will ever change that.”

Monkey II

Monkey III

Monkey IV

 

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Photography

A half day at the park – The wedding photography assignment

David & Mai's Wedding

Love knows no borders. David and Mai met in Australia where they live. David is Vietnamese, Mai is Japanese and they wanted to do their wedding pictures in Vietnam together with their families. Mai had happened to see our work and liked it enough to contact us for the occasion. It is always great to hear people wanting to work with you because they like your work. It is simply the best compliment possible.

David and Mai wanted an outdoor shoot and we organised permits for one of the local parks and started early as the day soon gets hot and the light gets harsher. By the time we finished, the rain clouds had gathered and gave us a heavy shower as we drove back. Here is the result from the session, enjoy:

David & Mai's Wedding

David & Mai's Wedding

David & Mai's Wedding

David & Mai's Wedding

David & Mai's Wedding

David & Mai's Wedding

David & Mai's Wedding

David & Mai's Wedding

David & Mai's Wedding

David & Mai's Wedding

David & Mai's Wedding

David & Mai's Wedding

David & Mai's Wedding

David & Mai's Wedding

David & Mai's Wedding

David & Mai's Wedding

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Photography

New Year’s Eve in Bergen with Xmas lights, bokeh and fireworks

Study of bokeh I.

End of 2011 brought no snow and no white Xmas to Bergen, Norway. Instead we faced strong wind, one of the worst storms ravaging the coastline and rain as the year drew to an end. Not really an incentive to leave the cozy home for shots that would end up as mediocre. So a study of bokeh in fireworks became the solution. Enjoy the countdown!

Study of bokeh II.

Study of bokeh III.

Study of bokeh IV.

Study of bokeh V.

Study of bokeh VI.

Study of bokeh VII.

Study of bokeh VIII.

Study of bokeh IX.

 

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Photography

The Xmas tradition, the annual trip to Norway. In transit.

View from the airport lounge.

Two years ago, Tian and I went back to Norway on Xmas holiday and experienced a white Xmas. Last year, we did the same trip and got a snowless experience. That didn’t hamper the Xmas mood, seeing friends and family during the holiday is simply a priceless experience in itself.

So is the travel to get there. From Saigon, Vietnam to Bergen, Norway you travel 9608.6 km and a direct flight would take 12 hours and 24 minutes. Not too bad, except there is no such thing as a direct flight. Three stopovers and security check points and extra waiting time pushes the real traveling time to 29 hours. So what do you do when en route? I peeked over Tian’s shoulder, as he enjoys the window seat view, and made a photographic study of the wing. As we travelled, the light changed, and to Tian’s chagrin, I interrupted his iPad games every so often. “Pappa, enough photos, don’t take more now.”

The iPad is a great travel companion. Just before the trip, Montessori released a geography application that teaches you both North and South America. All the countries and their national flags. I guess we impressed everybody with perfect score each time we showcased the program as we had plenty of practice time during our flights. So this is what we capture as we are in transit, en route to Bergen, Norway. Enjoy!

Wing study I

Wing study II

Wing study III

Wing study IV

Wing study V

Crossing flightpaths.

Tranquillity.

The Norwegian west coast.

A slice of Norway from the air.

Touch down at Bergen Airport.

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Photography

Collaboration with JnG Couture in Saigon, Vietnam

Working with passionate people is always good and you finish with your energy levels boosted and a wish to push things further and further. Meeting John will give you that experience, he brings fresh flavour to anyone he works with and it is always a pleasure to collaborate with him. Here are samples from two sessions that we did together, one location and one studio.

For the location, we turned his hotel room into make-up and changing room for the two models and then started the short walk down to Ben Thanh market By the time we had set up light and started shooting, we had already gathered quite a crowd that followed us throughout the whole session. Turning quite a few heads.

In front of Ben Thanh Market.

Inside by the meat section of Ben Thanh Market.

Showstopper.

Close up image.

John and Isabelle Du.

 

Second session took place in the studio, John styled the various outfits and we decided on doing jumps, to capture the energy flowing. The model was a good sport and had to do quite a few jumps before we were done. Easier to work inside with the air conditioner running and then montage the sunny outdoor scene in place in post production.

Our male model.

Getting the right jump and expression.

Different style.

Transferred to outdoor.

To see more of John’s work look here and to see an interview, click here.

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Photography

Walkabout with Ian – Part II

The amount of images we managed to capture within a few hours walk manifested themselves by the amount of hours spent editing the selection. Culling images and trying out various moods and tones and continue culling versions that did not work. A recent article I read and shared on Twitter, regarding why you can’t hack photography, couldn’t be clearer than this. There is no perfect image button to push. You have a wide option available in the digital darkroom and your personal taste.

Yes, it is easy to spend hours in front of the screen, but think about it this way. With analogue, film based photography, you had to plan your shots. You selected your film batch or went medium format so you could change film backs and shoot b/w, colour negative and slide film all at the same time. Based on your film choices, you chose your developing processes accordingly. Once you had negatives, you had further choices of paper stock and film developers as well as your arsenal of “secret trade tricks” picked up from other darkroom artists.

All of this amounted to immense amount of time and a fair amount of money as you worked with physical items. Fast forward to spending electricity and endless opportunities to experiment where failure indeed is never an option as you can always undo. Try undoing burning your negative to create a cool effect and realise that you burnt too much. Or Polaroid transfers that you could never really duplicate as each transfer was done by hand and never 100% the same. Digital has made experimentation easier, but as they teach when learning computer programming: “Input garbage=Output garbage.”

I ended up using a vintage tone and mood on many of the images and some of the images in the previous blog post have been reprocessed and toned accordingly. I also added more images from the pagodas that we visited. Pagodas are such an interesting place with endless photographic opportunities.

Enjoy!

Reprocessed version of the soon to be demolished flats.

"Dancing rats of paint"

The fish market stall reprocessed.

Entering the Pagoda.

Book guardian.

Book guardian.

Hanging incense.

Pagoda detail.

Pagoda detail.

Close up.

The thousand hands.

Prayers.

Detail of ornaments.

Incense detail.

Prayer time.

Detail of joss sticks/incense.

Burning incense.

Overview.

Light my fire.

Passing the joss stick.

Super hero me.

Detail.

Doorway.

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