Feature Photograph

Loy Krathong 2009

Happy belated Loy Krathong!  Loy Krathong is my favorite Thai holiday and I think many share my sentiments.  Yours truly was out on the On-nut klong in a motorized sampan with camera in hand doing his best to refine techniques for shooting in very near darkness and to see if I could do better than last year.  This particular image is significant for two reasons.  First, it’s my favorite shot from the evening.  Second, it has very poor image quality.  How can it be my favorite image with such poor image quality?  I suppose that’s a conundrum when torn between the technical and artistic.  I wanted to share this image to encourage those who think because the image quality is poor the image’s artistic worth is somehow lessened.  Perhaps it is, but it should still be shared.  Let me tell you about this image.

We were motoring slowly under a huge concrete overpass with the expressway thundering overhead.  Dark doesn’t begin to describe it.  One of my guests was doing double duty as a light stand and aiming my wireless strobe wherever I aimed my big white zoom lens.  It was a thing of beauty as we were able to sync without words or gestures, being a photographer himself he instinctively knew where the picture would be and the light was always aimed in the right direction.  We both heard some splashing and saw a small boy swimming in the dirty klong water collecting krathongs and looking for the small coins within.  We shot a few of him (see next picture below) and then off to the side, way out of range of the light, I saw movement and fired off a shot guessing at all the variables.  Imagine my surprise when later at home I find a second small boy bobbing in the water near a colorful sampan watching us from the darkness!

Lucky shot?  Certainly.  I’ll take it though.  I used every bit of the power of raw images, Lightroom, and Photoshop to draw out the colors and exposure of this image.  You can see the heavy noise on the boys face which required the most adjustment and the noise (especially in the diagonal green stripe) on the boat.  Still, it’s colorful, well composed, and I think interesting.

The second boy was within range of the setting I had manually set into my camera and flash and even though image quality wise it is far superior, I think it’s a much less interesting image.

Loy Krathong 2009