This image is significant because it’s a great example of being there.  Yet, by itself you don’t know where “there” is and why you should think this image has any special significance at all.  Do you have an reason to think I’m not standing ten feet away from them when I made this capture?  It’s certainly well focused and properly exposed.  The perspective shows me perhaps a bit higher than the subjects?

Canon 1ds Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS  @F8  1/100th  200mm  ISO 200

Images have value and hold interest for various reasons, and it’s often been said (with me saying it) that most of the value of an image comes from making the effort to be there and pointing the camera in the right direction.  Yet, it doesn’t take ‘that’ much more effort to achieve a properly focused well exposed image.  Really it doesn’t.

This image is significant because it’s a great example of being there.  Yet, by itself you don’t know where “there” is and why you should think this image has any special significance at all.  Do you have an reason to think I’m not standing ten feet away from them when I made this capture?  It’s certainly well focused and properly exposed.  The perspective shows me perhaps a bit higher than the subjects?

So why is this image worth mention?  Let’s look at a less interesting ‘companion image’ which support the main image.  Words can support an image and help you visualize the missing elements as well.  We’re doing both.

 

This is the Friendship bridge from Mae Sot to Burma.  This is a family of refugee’s actually living under the bridge, in the middle of a river bed, permanently.  They can’t go back to Burma (Myanmar) lest they be prosecuted, but they’re not really in Thailand either.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 70-200mm  F2.8L IS  @F8  1/200th  73mm  ISO 200

My feet haven’t moved, the camera was held to my eye and didn’t move for both captures.  The only thing that moved was my focus ring and my shutter speed for exposure.  Can you see why ensuring your images are well focused pays dividends?  Later when comparing your notes to the images you might come up with something interesting.

This is the Friendship bridge from Mae Sot to Burma.  This is a family of refugee’s actually living under the bridge, in the middle of a river bed, permanently.  They can’t go back to Burma (Myanmar) lest they be prosecuted, but they’re not really in Thailand either.

Why don’t they simply come into Thailand?  And how do I know these things?  Well, other than direct observation over a few week’s time, I confirmed my suspicions by chatting with this guy.

 

Thai soldiers, in groups of 4 regular soldiers to 1 special forces trained soldier, patrol this area to deter refugees from flooding over the border like they often do further north, when they flee across the river during active military action in their country.  The Myanmar soldiers are killing them, so they flee across the border into the Thailand based refugee camps.  This particular area being a popular tourist area is relatively safe for them, since it’s internationally visible.  Still, like last week this border crossing does get closed down amidst military action from the Myanmar soldiers.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM @F8  1/125th  200mm  ISO 200

Thai soldiers, in groups of 4 regular soldiers to 1 special forces trained soldier, patrol this area to deter refugees from flooding over the border like they often do further north, when they flee across the river during active military action in their country.  The Myanmar soldiers are killing them, so they flee across the border into the Thailand based refugee camps.  This particular area being a popular tourist area is relatively safe for them, since it’s internationally visible.  Still, like last week this border crossing does get closed down amidst military action from the Myanmar soldiers.

You can’t tell from the first image, and possibly not from the two companion images, but fill in the blanks with a few words and the story becomes larger than life.  An entire family, living on a river bed under a bridge, who can’t go back to their country, and the soldiers keeping them out of Thailand are just as responsible for keeping them safe from Myanmar soldiers are they are from keeping them out of Thailand.

I’ll be the first to tell you there are some heartless corrupt soldiers along this border.  But ‘most’ of the Thai soldiers in this area feel real empathy and care very much for the Karen’s who are being prosecuted.  As they told me, they can’t help but care because they see and experience their plight every day and night.  This soldier said he could never fall asleep on duty, it’s his fear they Myanmar soldiers will hurt/kill this family if he doesn’t watch them 24/7.  He told me it would never happen on his watch.  The special forces trained sniper sitting next to him just smiled and told me not on his either.  I believe them.