This is the second time I've covered this floating market as a feature, though I've mentioned and shared images regularly.  My first piece was a sort of compilation of shots and experiences from many visits.  This feature is more direct.  I went here for the specific purpose of catching the morning light on the faces and activities of the workers and market owners.  I also wanted to see how my new Canon 5d Mark II DSLR worked in this environment.

 

A morning smoke, Canon 5d Mark II

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/100th  125mm  1600 ISO

 

The sampan pilots gather in hope of catching an early customer.  They often end up waiting.  Many talk amongst themselves while others take this time for a smoke and reflection.

 

A lady peels and prepares fruit for the opening

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/25th  153mm  3200 ISO

 

Others prepare foods in anticipation of the crowds which are certain to arrive with the huge tour buses. 

 

This lady is a regular on the Damneon Saduak Floating Market

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/200th  200mm  1600 ISO

 

This lady is a permanent fixture at this market.  I've seen her every time I've been here, and I've been here many times.  She always notices me and waves.  I wish her the best selling food to passing sampans full of tourists.

 

Thai Superstititons.  A lady washes away spirits at the Damneon Saduak Floating Market

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/125th  155mm  1600 ISO

 

Have you ever wondered where these vendors wash their dishes and keep things clean?  You do eat there don't you?  Even so, I'm convinced these vendors are far more clean and sanitary than your average Bangkok street vendor.

 

Another Thai maritime superstition.  Cleansing the fantail with water will bring good luck that day

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/160th  170mm  640 ISO

 

If you arrive early in the morning you'll see the boat owners/pilots splashing water over the stern of their sampans as if its some sort of maritime ritual.. which indeed it might be.  Sailors are a superstitious bunch.

 

This guy has a huge Camry engine in his Sampan.  Canon 5s Mark II, Bangkok Images

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/100th  105mm  400 ISO

 

Why have a nice green electric trolling motor for cruising the market klongs at 1-2 knots when you can have a big V6 that screams like a banshee?  The smile on this pilots face says it all!

 

Morning sunlight strikes her from the right

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/125th  110mm  250 ISO

 

This sampan pilot waits in the early morning light hoping for an early customer.  I'm impressed with the dynamic range of my new Canon 5d Mark II, it's at least 2 stops better than my old Canon 1ds Mark II.

 

A resident of the Damneon Saduak Floating Market, keeping in great shape

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/80th  90mm  800 ISO

 

This is a resident of the area running a personal errand.  She's not here to ferry tourists around.  She seems in remarkable shape.  I'd guess she's in her mid-40's, but her body has the tone and look of a much younger woman. 

 

Some early shoppers like me.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/60th  70mm  400 ISO

 

Oh my, the tourists are starting to arrive and these two stare blankly at the closed noodle shop hoping they will soon open for breakfast.

 

One of the first Sampan pilots arriving for his first fare

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/160th  200mm 200 ISO

 

This sampan pilot is dressed in long sleeves with a scarf to help keep the morning chill at bay.  The sun has come over the horizon casting its strong light across his face.

 

Another sampan pilot.  Samut Songkran, Bangkok Images

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/200th  173mm 250 ISO

 

Another sampan pilot drifts into view and I'm loving the direction sunlight on their faces. I've already figured out the exposure (-2 Ev) values as I test out the new cameras 'Av' mode.  I'm looking at the LCD and hoping the beautiful range of tones and light I'm seeing will be the same when I view them on my workstation.  They are.

 

They have this great ability to stand on the moving boat

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/100th  100mm 500 ISO

 

This pilot is comfortable standing as he drifts by, pushing his sampan along with a long pole.

 

You've probably seen this lady on the Discovery Channel!  Photography Workshops

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/200th  190mm  500 ISO

 

Another permanent fixture.  You'll always find her here.  She wears the same hat and shirt and has the same expression on his face every time.

 

Another market regular

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/160th  190mm  2000 ISO

 

Another resident takes groceries home.  With all the tourist market hype going on it's easy to forget there is an entire community living on these klongs who use sampans as their main source of transportation.

 

Yet another regular

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/200th  200mm  2500 ISO

 

Damneon Saduak Floating Market Samut Songkran

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/160th  100mm  2000 ISO

 

A sampan full of fruit on the Damneo Saduak Floating Market

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/100th  125mm  1600 ISO

 

A seller of flowers.  Samut Songkran Thailand

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/100th  105mm  1250 ISO

 

The four shots above are just examples of the different sampan pilots.  For me, each one tests my new camera body in a different way so I'm pleased with how things are working out.

 

Floating market shoppers

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/200th  195mm  1000 ISO

 

The tourists are now on the water and having a great time.  The sun has risen to a more overhead position from the side light position earlier.

 

Tourists!  They're everywhere..

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/160th  200mm  1600 ISO

 

These young ladies think they're being photographed for Channel 5 and do their best to impress the guy with the big white lens.

 

A sampan pilot glides in to pick up her fare

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/80th  70mm  500 ISO

 

This lady just stands and watches it all happen.  She's not passing by, she's stationary in the middle of the klong and it looks like she's preaching to those around her.  Trying to convert people?  Everyone just ignores her and after a while she goes away.

 

This man starts to uncover his store menchanside

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @F5.6  1/125th  145mm  400 ISO

 

This is a shot from when the sun first appeared.  It's coming in from the side strongly and there's an easy 4-5 stops between the bright patch on his head and the rest of the scene.

 

A poser!  Samut Songkran Thailand   Canon 5d Mark II

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8  @F5.6  1/50th  54mm  125 ISO

 

I can't help myself, sometimes I'm greatly amused at how people pose when their friends photograph them.  This young lady is being photographed by her friends and will soon be back on the tour bus and heading towards the next destination planned for her group.  I think most westerners would be surprised how fast paced and how many hours in length the tours for Asians are.  They easily put in 12-14 hours a day and see more (well, they go more places) in a day than I'd care to see in a week.

 

This young girl breaks coconuts at the Damneon Saduak Floating Market

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8  @F5.6  1/80th  68mm 320 ISO

 

This teenager, she's 14, breaks open the coconuts to drain the milk from them.  The coconuts are first burned to remove their outer husks and soften the shell, and then with a solid WHACK from the back blade of her cleaver the nut splits and she drains the contents.  I'm curious if the contents are what goes in the coconut drinks where they make you think you're drinking from a freshly opened coconut.

 

A keen eye and careful hand is required.  Photography workshops, Bangkok Thailand

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8  @F5.6  1/60th  70mm 400 ISO

 

This girl is really interesting.  Look at that concentration, the grip on the cleaver, and the way the light catches her face and hair.  I can't look away.

 

A colorful Market, Damneon Saduak Floating Market, Samut Songkran

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8  @F5.6  1/80th  70mm 160 ISO

 

This was one of my favorite shots of the day.  My favorite shot is very similar and I'm saving it for a feature photograph.  So many colors backlit by the sun.

Overall I really enjoyed coming to this location early.  How many of you are willing to get out of bed at 5am, drive 2 hours, and be on location when the light is the most interesting?  I was more than pleased with what I achieved for the day.  If you have a unplanned day take the time to go someplace early, be there when the sun comes up, and sit there observing how the locals live.. and watch them as the tourists start coming in.

There is nothing like morning light..