It took me forever to come up with a title for this piece.  I knew what I wanted to do, my images were selected and final processed, but the direction eluded me.  So I turned to my trusty black book of camera terminology and starting at the beginning searched for a word that would define my feelings.  In a nutshell that word is “contrast.”

As you examine these three images of an major northwestern city in the USA, ask yourself why you like them (or not) and what major difference that makes or breaks each image holds differently from a like shot in Thailand.  I’ll give you my view at the very end of each image description.

 

A classic shot of downtown Seattle reveals wide streets, neat orderly sidewalks free of obstacles, litter cans, a complete lack of overhead electric or other wires, less pedestrian density, buildings covered completely in paint yet to fade, light traffic, well-manicured shrubs/flowers/trees, not a billboard to be seen, and a rich clarity of air which shows little if any pollution as evidenced by the rich full colors in the sky and surroundings.  In short a really beautiful inviting street which would be a pleasure to navigate in any circumstances.  Heck, you could get married on this street and it contains more overall beauty than most Thai temples.  You can even SEE the missing smells so familiar to Thailand.

Canon 1ds Mark 2, Sigma 12-24mm F4.5 @F16 1/80th 22mm ISO 200

A classic shot of downtown Seattle reveals wide streets, neat orderly sidewalks free of obstacles, litter cans, a complete lack of overhead electric or other wires, less pedestrian density, buildings covered completely in paint yet to fade, light traffic, well-manicured shrubs/flowers/trees, not a billboard to be seen, and a rich clarity of air which shows little if any pollution as evidenced by the rich full colors in the sky and surroundings.  In short a really beautiful inviting street which would be a pleasure to navigate in any circumstances.  Heck, you could get married on this street and it contains more overall beauty than most Thai temples.  You can even SEE the missing smells so familiar to Thailand.

I was going to say ‘clarity of air’ sets it apart, but the more I examined the image the more I realized that for other than the tramway car being used as a ticket booth and occupying part of the sidewalk.. not a single thing was the same as in Thailand.  This is why I think most of us will register this image as ‘more in contrast’ with a like street in Bangkok than the others.  Wide, open, beautiful, and well aged.

 

pic2

Canon 1ds Mark 2, Sigma 12-24mm F4.5 @F16 1/80th 22mm ISO 200

I love this composition because the buildings lead you straight through to the center of the image to the blue harbor.  It’s late afternoon and I’d walked to the top of a hill for this shot.  The sun is shining over my left shoulder and through the expanse of buildings you can’t help but notice the architecture and colors remain the same.  Contrast this to Bangkok where every other building has ‘some’ Thai influence, and the rest a hodgepodge of architectural styles copied from western cities anywhere.  The difference really is startling.  Here you see teamwork, people working together to create a city of their own . In Thailand little thought if any is given towards long-term planning, and even less to their neighbor.

 

Seattle also has an above ground train.  It’s silent in comparison, clean, spacious, window everywhere, and as you move through the large city you can see the green and beautiful permeates the entire city and not just one major street.  Look at the floor, the white sidewalls, even the glass is clean.  This is one of their cars which has been in service over 30 years and is soon to be retired

Canon 1ds Mark 2, Sigma 12-24mm F4.5 @F5.6 1/160th 17mm ISO 200

Seattle also has an above ground train.  It’s silent in comparison, clean, spacious, window everywhere, and as you move through the large city you can see the green and beautiful permeates the entire city and not just one major street.  Look at the floor, the white sidewalls, even the glass is clean.  This is one of their cars which has been in service over 30 years and is soon to be retired.

Cleanliness is something that doesn’t exist in Thailand 10 feet from the homes front door, or in a commercial environment such as a hotel (often hotels catering to Thai’s are much cleaner/nicer than those catering to westerners. Ask yourself why.).  Very rarely will you find a Thai citizen who cares enough about their soi/neighborhood/thanon/district/city to put any effort at all into the cleaning and maintaining.   And they certainly will never vote to pay taxes for this purpose.  This is in stark contrast to most Thai homes where you could eat off the floor.

The point of this exercise isn’t to compare Thailand to Seattle, though it was interesting to do.  The point was to understand there are differences and these differences often require the development of a different eye then you may be used to using.  I could just have easily turned the table and shown Thailand in the positive light by using my camera to point out it’s unique beauty and charm.  After all, isn’t that exactly what I’ve been doing these last 7-8 years?  It’s in the contrast.