Getting inked Thai style

Finally getting around to posting up images from day 1 activities.  It’s been a long ride ride the past couple days.  I’ve been getting used to the weather, the congestion, sleeping weird hours and getting tired in the middle of the afternoon.  This is one of the many reason I planted myself in Bangkok for the first week.

Before I continue with this post there’s a few vocab words I should clarify so that the story makes sense to everyone.  I’ll keep it simple and in English

Sak Yant….it’s a tattoo performed in a traditional manner.  By hand with a long metal rod.  It’s blessed at the end and infused with magic powers.  Very popular in South East Asia.

Arjan…a person who is a senior level teacher and often a master in their craft

Rusei…A Sak Yant master.  Someone who has studied the art of Sak Yant for many years and has perfected the craft.  Most likely served as a monk at some point in their life while learning the craft.

Less than 24 hours after landing in Bangkok I met with my friend Paul and Gluay who took me for my first yant in 2014.  After a brief catch up on whats been going on in our lives we were in the car and off to see Arjan Fu who lives about an hour outside of Bangkok.  On the way we picked up Robb, a young guy from Texas, who was interested in receiving a yant as well.  Upon arriving at Arjan Fu’s home we were greeted at the door and offered cool bottles of water after our long ride.

We discussed the yants we’d be receiving.  I explained to Arjan Fu (as best I could in my broken Thai) that I was at the beginning of a new chapter in my life and that I was here in Thailand working on a special project that would help me to launch my art career.  I already had an idea of the yant I wanted which just so happened to compliment my existing one.  We agreed and began the work.

During the preliminary discussion I asked Arjan Fu if I could photograph some moments during the course of our day for my project. He kindly gave me his blessing a I proceeded to capture a few images (film and digital) of him before we began.  The image at the top of this post is one of them.

The images at the bottom of this post were captured by Paul and Robb who were wonderful to assist me with capturing moments for my project which I was physically unable to do.

In the images below, you’ll see my new yant with the gold leaf around it before the blessing ceremony.  Gold leaf is used to channel the energy and magic into the yant itself.  The image with the cords wrapped around Robb and I is the actual blessing ceremony.  It lasts about 15 minutes.

After receiving my yant I had prepared to give Arjan Fu a gift which I had made a few years ago.  The image  was created on my first trip to Thailand in 2012 while visiting Chiang Mai.  Ironically enough that’s where I’m headed after my week here in Bangkok.  It has now come full circle and now resides in the workspace of a master.  This is a true honor for me and one of the highlights of my day.

All in all, another great experience.  I really enjoyed seeing Paul, Gluay, and Arjan Fu again and meeting Robb.  I feel as though people come into your life at certain times for very specific reasons.  I was glad to be able to share this experience with him.

 


Dippin’ in the travel stash

I like stashes.  I like keeping stashes.  Sometimes I purposely stash shit in places I know I’ll forget about only so I can stumble upon it again one day and surprise myself.

So what DO I stash…ha…chocolate, pharms, clove cigarettes, mementos from special occasions.  Oh yeah…foreign currency.

Today’s capture of the day is just me diggin thru a bunch of left over money from places I’ve visited trying to scrape up enough Thai Baht for a taxi from the airport to my hotel when I land in Bangkok.  And maybe enough Korean Won for a Starbucks when I transfer in Seoul.  Since I’m considering a side trip over to Cambodia it wouldn’t hurt to grab some Riel outta the stash either, huh?  Although USD is always the preferred method of payment in Cambodia.

On to digging…


Great idea. Now how am I going to pull this off?

Endearing Yourself

One week out from leaving and I’m still wrapping up loose odds and ends related to work I’m doing here.  I haven’t had the time to actually sit down and formulate a plan on how I’m going to execute the project I’m heading overseas to do.  I mean, I have a very developed idea, it’s not that.  It’s the part where I actually pull it off.  The project in and of itself is loosely centered around the theme of being “untouched by the hands of time”.  That’s open enough where it allows me creative liberty to explore a variety of interpretations.   Yet also so wide that without a focus it could just get all A.D.D leaving no connecting line between images therefore making for a choppy story.

It’s going to require that I interact with people.  It’s going to require that I make myself understood and endear myself to the people I’m working with. Fortunately I’ll have access to the cultural center all day and night during my stay.  Hoping to maybe start around there and see what type of connections I can make with the locals.

I guess most important is going to be my need to communicate that I’m working on an art project.  Just brushing up on some pre-flight vocabs.  To any of my Thai friends out there reading this….I apologize in advance for my poor spelling.  I’ve probably written something offensive somewhere.  ขอโทษนะขรับ

 


Technical Rambling

 

In my last post I was talking about what to pack for the trip.  There’s clothing and basics and then there’s technical stuff.  The technical stuff is perhaps the toughest part since a lot of stuff is fragile, valuable or both.  I don’t want to over pack and bring gear that I’m not going to use but then again I’d sure hate to be left in a situation where I’m damning myself for leaving behind a roll of special effects film for the ONE time I’m out in the bush and I feel like shooting color infrared.

Bringing the Bronica is a no-brainer.  But what to load it with?  I only have one back as of today although I may pick up another before I leave if I can find one at a decent price and that can get here in 6 days.

So here’s my arsenal of film, 2 rolls of Black and White Ilford XP2, 3 rolls of Fuji Velvia 50 for some really vivid max saturation work.  One roll of Lomo Purple which is supposed to mimic color infrared film.  On order… 3 rolls of Black and White Ilford HP5


2 weeks out from 6 weeks out. What would you bring?

Two weeks from today I leave for sabbatical.  There…I said it.  It’s real now and it’s getting more real as each day passes. I wanted to pickup on my travel blog in an effort to train myself to create at least one capture per day.  Since I’ll be working on a special project while I’m traveling this will ensure that I have a daily deadline to meet and that I stay focused on the project; or at least on photography.

I went and fished out my bags today and I’m here staring at them trying to figure out what to pack in which bags.  There’s necessities of course, and then there’s the valuables which you always wanna make sure are in your carry-on.

The current plan has me traveling for at least 6 weeks.  At the end of 6 weeks, I guess I’ll decide what comes next for me.  I’m keeping an open mind about this project and journey.  Inevitably, I’ll get lonely and miss the comforts of my home since I’ll be traveling alone.  So that being said, I’ll toss this question out in the open forum….


Beyond the gate at sunset

I had been trying to find a way down to the coastline for this shot for approximately an hour before I finally happened upon the right combination of turns and curves down the side of the mountain.  I was losing light quickly and by the time I made it to the pier I had just enough time to set up and capture a few images while the sun set beyond the gate.


Apsara

 

Before I left for Asia the first time I had been communicating with a designer who was working on a project which was heavy in Eastern artwork.  I was assigned the task of coming back with some raw images which could be stylized for a lounge type environment with dim but very direct lighting on wall hangings.  I must have photographed near 30 temples in a span of 48 hours while I was in Chiang Mai.  They are literally everywhere so it’s not [too] hard to accomplish.  One temple I found particularly interesting had doors with gold leaf figures pressed onto them.  Thai artwork has always intrigued me.  The spindly shapes of the bodies and the delicate curvature of it’s limbs creates lines for my eyes to follow which feels like it draws me into a story.

The figure in this image is called an Apsara which is the rough western equivalent of an angel living between the heavens and the earth.  They are know for their beauty and are particularly well-versed in dance and song.

This is a highly stylized photograph of the temple door I described above.  As I worked with this image and added layer upon layer of digital color I began to notice that it was keeping most of it’s metallic properties.  When I created the print for the final I used metallic paper and covered it with sheet of acrylic.  Metallic paper combined with hard direct halogen lights from above gave this image a three dimensional effect.

 


The Corridors of Angkor Wat :: Siem Reap Cambodia

 

In early 2012 I had the opportunity to visit Cambodia.  I went with the objective to make it to the Angkor Wat ruins and capture their magnificent presence.  When I reached the archaeological park I realized that it was INDEED a park of sorts.  It was huge….and old and really just larger than life.  Ideally one could carve out 3 days to cover all ground in detail.  I was sorry I only had about 6 hours.

I made the best of my time and visited some beautiful temples and palaces.  The stones of these structures have remained dense regardless that they’ve been around since the 9th century.   The beauty of Angkor lies in it’s eerie elegance.  Temple after temple decorated in high and low relief portrayals of Hindu and Buddhist deities.  It’s surreal to walk amongst some of these structures.  One can’t help but wonder what transpired among the corridors of these ancient ruins.

 


Baan Thai Village :: Chiang Mai Thailand

 

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On my first trip to Thailand I felt it was really important to try and get as much of a feel for all of the country in one trip.  After getting over jet-lag and acclimatizing  in Bangkok  for a few days I felt the need to venture out of the big city and out to somewhere less crowded.  I headed north to Chiang Mai.

Now Chiang Mai is not rural by any means however, it is a completely different environment than Bangkok.  It’s easy-going, quaint, and I found the locals very laid back.  The climate was wonderful being about 10-15 degrees cooler in temperature.  It felt easy to just meander the streets with my camera taking in all the touristy stuff and every so often feeling brave enough to test my newly learned phrases.  I stayed at a place called Baan Thai Village which in English translates to Thai House.  The design and decor was built to give the look and feel of a traditional Thai house in the northern region.  One night out in the courtyard before venturing out for the evening, I sat by the pool and captured the wonderfully intimate environment.