Pseudo Soi Dog

Soi Dog’s Gotta Eat

So as mentioned before, some soi dogs enjoy a gray area; they don’t necessarily have a home, but they do have someone that looks after them — motorbike taxi drivers, various street food vendors, etc. One of the many benefits of being a stray dog in a Buddhist country, I suppose.

I’ve seen this hefty girl on Pattaya Second Road at all hours of the day and night, so I’m assuming she doesn’t have a permanent roof over her head. On the other hand, she has a collar and looks reasonably healthy. And  as you can see, she’s not hurting for eats.

Some soi dogs are looked after ... sometimes looked after too much.


Photo a Day: Fallen Idol?

Or Impromptu Buddhist Altar?

I was strolling through an overgrown vacant lot in Pattaya the other day on my way to the Friday afternoon market to buy a shirt — a garish red one, as it turns out — when I spotted this. Not sure what it’s all about, but it struck me as a … er, rather striking image.

A fallen idol on an impromptu Buddhist altar ...

Photo a Day: More Portrait Professional

Changing the Face of a Face in Portrait Pro

As noted yesterday, I’m the proud owner of a Portrait Professional license.  As noted yesterday, too, I continue to be pleased and impressed with this software. And as promised yesterday, here’s a more in-depth example of what I don’t like about the default settings of Portrait Pro (but again, these can turned off with a simple mouse click) — the changing of the subject’s face and skull shape to bring them more in line with beauty norms.

This of course is an example of the larger conundrum with photography that is practically as old as photography itself. Despite the proverbial saying: “the camera doesn’t lie,” it can be made to do so. Granted it’s much easier here in the digital age, but cameras have been lying and photographers have been tweaking images for the sake of their own artistic vision or a client’s happiness pretty much since a Frenchman developed photochemical photography in the 1820s.

Whether it’s right or wrong, i.e., ethical, to do so … well, we’ll save that hornet’s nest for some other time. Let it suffice to say that in terms of photojournalism, I think it’s wrong. In terms of anything else, I’m firmly in the camp of “it depends.” It depends on the audience, the photographer’s artistic goal (commercial, fine art, etc.) and of course what the client wants (if a client comes into the equation).

Myself, as explained yesterday, I’d like to make my subjects look like they would on a near-perfect day (unless I were publishing a photo in some sort of journalistic context). I remove blemishes and will tweak skin tones, and I’m not above tucking in a chin or slimming a tummy a little bit — but I draw the line at changing the shape of someone’s face/skull (although if a client wanted it done, sure, why not).

Which brings us back to Portrait Professional. It’s default settings change this (straight out of the camera, except for a crop and a conversion to jpeg, but otherwise un-retouched):

A Thai woman marches in the Pattaya, Thailand St. Patrick's Day Parade (2013)

To this:

A Thai woman marches in the Pattaya, Thailand St. Patrick's Day Parade (2013)  -- As edited in Portrait Pro

Her eyes and lips are bigger, her nose is smaller, and her long face has been contorted into a more traditional oval shape. To my eye, it almost doesn’t even look like the same woman. Aesthetically pleasing, sure (although I would argue not necessarily anymore so than the original image, in terms of the lovely subject). But aesthetics are subjective, at best. And for me and my own photography, this is just a bit too much.

To illustrate it even further, here’s an animated gif with the before and after images (as depicted above):

a demonstration of before and after editing changes made with Portrait Pro

Fortunately, with one mouse click, you can turn off the facial sculpting features, but keep the skin blemish and tone corrections. And all of these can be tweaked or turned off individually. But the default settings (minus the facial sculpting) are pretty much spot on:

A Thai woman marches in the Pattaya, Thailand St. Patrick's Day Parade (2013)  -- As edited in Portrait Pro

Other than one blemish on her chin and a stray highlight on her cheek, the skin corrections are done. She looks lovely — and more importantly, still like herself. I think I would lessen the corrections done to the skin under her eyes, too, where the correction begins to get into the alien-skin/airbrush territory.

So all done with a few clicks as a plugin in Photoshop. Sharp eyed peeps might also notice that Portrait Pro has also tweaked the general lighting and highlights as well. Like the facial sculpting, you can turn this off with a click before you return to Photoshop.

P.S. Curious about my lovely subject? I caught her marching in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade — in Pattaya, Thailand, no less.

Photo a Day: Pigeon of Doom

Ye Olde Pigeon of Doome alight on a beach shack.

I believe it was Ansel Adams that said if you’ve got a roll of film, then there is a photograph to be had. I did go out with my camera briefly today, but didn’t find anything that floated my boat. Ended up looking through previous pics and found this photograph of a pigeon on top of a shack on the beach.

Began tinkering in Photoshop because the sky was washed out — I have GOT to get a polarizing filter — and ended up with the above. Slightly more interesting than the original photo, in my humble opinion.

Photo a Day: Babe in Arms

Babe in Arms Wants Those Pigeons!

a babe in arms on the beach at Pattaya, Thailand

Was cleaning up my hard drive and came across this photo that I meant to use as a Photo a Day entrant, and a perusal through previous posts reveals I had not. So here it is.

I was wandering along the beach front in Pattaya one afternoon, just snapping a few random pics, mostly of soi dogs. When I got to the end of the beach/Beach Road, I happened to spy this young lady and little dude/dudette; the little one was determined to get at the pigeons that frequent the place. Unfortunately the shots where the pigeons are in the frame the babe in arms is out of focus.

I have GOT to remember to change the auto-focus settings when shooting people dammit.

So rather than have an out of focus baby, I opted for a tight crop — one in which the pigeons weren’t in the frame anyway. Yeah, the little dude/dudette had been racing after the pigeons as I strolled up, and even after mom picked him up, he was still struggling to get at ’em.

Edit: Originally, the crop I chose was the one below, because I wanted to focus the image on the baby. But cropping out the mom seemed like a distraction; looking at the photo, once I had taken in the child, I couldn’t help but think what the mom’s face looked like. So edited it again, and kept Mom in the frame.

Much better. Mom has an interesting face; she’s obviously a bit distressed that her kid has been chasing after dirty ole’ pigeons.

a babe in arms on the beach at Pattaya, Thailand

Time Lapse Photos and Video in Photoshop CS6

Playing Around with Video Editing Capabilities in the Latest Version of Photoshop

Just wanted to play with 1) time lapse photo function in Camera Pro on my Nokia N8 and 2) Photoshop CS6’s native video editing capabilities. I’ve never futzed around with video much, either taking or editing. Now that I have not one but three cameras capable of video, and editing software and a machine that doesn’t take hours to render video, I might have to do more.

Bear in mind, this was just a series of photos taken with my phone while I sipped my doppio on a cloudy, not-quite-rainy afternoon. Nothing exciting, but I’ll let my little experiment stand in for the Photo a Day project.

Oh, this is on Beach Road in Pattaya, Thailand, taken from inside the Starbucks at the corner of Soi Yamato. This comprises 32 frames, or photos with each taken about 5 seconds apart. In real time that would be a little more than 2 and a half minutes.


An (Old) Boy and His Dog

A Quiet Day On the Beach for a Man and His Best Friend

An old boy and his dog on Beach Road, Pattaya, Thailand

Spied this gentleman on Beach Road in Pattaya today with his wee lil’ pooch in his lap, and took a surreptitious photo with my phone. It’s rather silly of me, but when I’m out and about with my DSLR around my neck and a pack with lenses and whatnot, I don’t feel particularly shy about asking interesting folks to take their picture.

But when I don’t have the gear with me, just my phone, it seems kinda strange. I suppose when I have all my photography kit with me, I guess I feel it’s clear I’m a photographer of some sort, and taking pictures of people is my bag. But just my phone … then I’m some kinda weirdo. I know I’m a bit weirded out when random people want to take my picture.

It does happen sometimes though, especially if you are a foreigner in a place where foreigners are infrequent — the locals like to get a shot with the foreigner. That doesn’t particularly bother me anymore, to be honest.

But then other day some Russian guy and his girlfriend came up to me on the street in Bangkok and asked me to take their picture, to which I obliged. Then he wanted me to get a photo of me with his girlfriend. “Er, Why?” I couldn’t help but wonder. I was a bit nonplussed, but obliged just the same.

Anyway, didn’t want to pester this old boy relaxing this afternoon, so snapped off a surreptitious shot from a comfortable distance. The subject actually calls for a tighter crop, but as you can see, even the N8 ends up producing a bit of grain when cropped that tightly/viewed at 100 percent (click the images to see ’em full size). A proper camera/lens would have been best, of course, but then it would have been more difficult to shoot incognito — and get a shot where the subject is acting natural, and not looking at the camera.

An old boy and his dog on Beach Road, Pattaya, Thailand

Of course being a photographer, I snapped off several shots; here’s another one:

An old boy and his dog on Beach Road, Pattaya, Thailand

We Interrupt Sala Keoku for Soi Chaiyapoon

Or, as I Think of It, Chase Some Poon

I was looking at some other photographs I had taken from a trip to Thailand was I was still living in Viet Nam, and I came across from photos from a trip to Thailand right before I went back to Viet Nam in October of 2011.

When I lived in Thailand I had never made it to the infamous Pattaya. This trip I decided I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Thinking like Ford Prefect, I figured any place that had such a negative reputation would probably make for a fun visit. So I packed my towel and off I went.

Does it live up to it’s reputation? I think rather it’s reputation doesn’t live up to the reality.

Anyway, this is a shot from the balcony of my room on Soi Chaiyapoon. Naturally, given the um, adult nature of Pattaya, shall we say, observing the punters and the expats going about their tail chasing, I decided a more apt name would be Soi Chase Some Poon.

Since this is normally a PG rated blog, I’ll leave it up to you and Google, should you not get my clever, colorful and racy bon mot.

The aptly named Chaiyapoon, a colorful (in more ways than one) soi in Pattaya, Thailand.


Photo a Day x 3: Big Ass Bonus

Apparently I don’t know how to post date posts for automatically publishing at a future date. So here’s a three-fer.

First up: spied this advertisement at a mall the other day. By way of explanation, this involves a popular Thai rock band known as Big Ass. No joke. I know it looks like I added the lettering, but nope, I just converted the image to black and white and masked out the lettering.

A Big Ass Special Project by Big Ass the Thai rock band.

Next up: yet another sunset in Pattaya. This one was fire-in-the-sky spectacular, though.

Sunset in Sodom-on-Sea, aka Pattaya, Thailand

And last but not least, soi dogs on the beach.

Soi dogs on the beach in Pattaya, Thailand


Rank Hath Its Privileges

But a Soi Dog Is Low Pooch on the Totem Pole

And neither my headline nor my subead is SEO friendly. But sometimes one just can’t be arsed.

This lovely lass can be found at the end of Beach Road in Pattaya, where Walking Street begins. Although she has a collar on, I’m pretty sure she qualifies as a soi dog. Sometimes motorbike taxi guys will pseudo-adopt a soi dog, providing it with something to eat and a collar, but not much else.

I’m pretty sure she doesn’t have a regular roof over her head, poor dear.

At the time I took this I was just walking by, and whipped out my phone and took a shot; it was only afterward that I spied the irony in the background.

Yet another soi dog, spied along Beach  Road, Pattaya, Thailand