Midi2LR – Software to bridge a midi controller to Lightroom

Hi everyone! Hope all is well with y’all! Just wanted to drop a note regarding the availability of an update for Midi2LR to version 3.2.2.0. If you haven’t upgraded yet, here’s the link:

https://github.com/rsjaffe/MIDI2LR/releases/tag/v3.2.2.0

If you’re not familiar with Midi2LR it is a piece of software that lets you use a Midi Controller to adjust the adjustment sliders in Lightroom. The above image is 1/3 of the Midi Controller that I’m using. It is a Behringer XTouch Mini. The labels I stuck on myself using regular stickers including the colored dots on the knobs. Here’s my review of the Behringer XTouch Mini.

I realize that this device may be overkill for many people but if you shoot a lot of RAW images and want a quicker way to edit those RAW files you may want to check this out. I can 100% say that I can edit my images quicker and arguably more precisely with this MIDI controller.

MIDI2LR is donation ware so if you can get your hands on a compatible MIDI controller, give it try!

Consider following me for updates to find not only my other toys and collectibles posts but also my travel bloopers, blunders and shenanigans posts, photography related news/reviews posts and the occasional contest entry.

All the photos (unless otherwise noted in the post) were taken by me and are available for sale. If you’re interested in buying an image or three, 😃 please don’t hesitate to contact me for more details. Thanks in advance!

Comments & Critiques are always welcome, as are upvotes and resteems.

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ShutterGrip, the missing piece to my cel phone image making dilemma!

Clip on, bluetooth camera trigger for smart phones.

Thank you, Just Mobile for putting out the ShutterGrip! I haven’t gotten this excited over a gadget since the Nitecore USB camera battery charger for my Canon Cameras! Here’s the review if you’re interested. Like the Nitecore USB charger, I’ve been looking and longing for a better, more efficient way to do things when I’m out in the field. The convenience of using my phone instead of my DSLR’s is a bonus in situations when I don’t have the right lens on camera or in my bag (think minimum focus distance) then there’s the issue of my fingers not being able to reach the shutter button without some insane finger yoga’ing which makes my grip on the phone too precarious for my liking. The solution for me is the ShutterGrip.

First things first, I am not paid by Just Mobile for this review nor did I get the ShutterGrip for free. I saw this product on sale on the web page of one of my favorite camera stores in Singapore, I literally got on the bus to go check it out. Really! The ShutterGrip is a smart phone shutter release handle that clamps onto your phone and connects via Bluetooth. It is available in 3 different colors (black, blue and rose gold), has a threaded hole on the bottom of the main handle so you can attach it to a mini tripod (like a Gorillapod). The battery is the coin type CR2032 (one is included in the box) so pretty easy to find especially in watch stores. The portion of the handle where the button is located slides off so you can remote trigger your phone’s camera and it’s in this portion that the battery compartment is located. Also included is a thin wrist strap that attaches at the bottom of the ShutterGrip, next to the mini tripod mount. It feels like plastic, kinda cheap (but website says it’s got a copper core) and is semi rigid. I won’t be using it so don’t really care. You could attach your own wrist strap if you want to.

At the camera shop, I got a feel for the ShutterGrip, it feels sturdy and grips my phones tight! The upper and lower jaws have a ridge that prevents the phone from twisting out. I tested out the grip of the ShutterGrip on a Samsung Note 5 without a case and with a generic, thin silicone case as well as on a Samsung Note 8 without a case and with a generic thick, bulgy plastic case. The phone definitely feels more secure in the grip with the cases on. Without the cases on, the ShutterGrip slides and twists pretty easily. It won’t twist off thanks to the ridges but I guess it would be possible that your phone may slide out of the ShutterGrip if you squeezed too hard when holding it in picture taking posture. Not an issue with the cases on unless I went full Hulk on it and squeezed as hard. The plastic feels smooth but even with my oily, slightly sweaty hands, it didn’t feel slippery.

Getting the ShutterGrip onto the phone is a bit weird for me. The bottom jaw is the one that slides down to accommodate the phone so I put the bottom edge of my phone in first and press down. This leads to the shutter button portion (remote) to slide out. Same with taking the phone out, I always manage to slide the remote off. You’d really have to pay attention to how you’re holding the ShutterGrip when putting it on or taking it off, to not slide the remote up and off. Not really a big issue but kinda cumbersome, especially if I’m trying to get off a shot as quickly as possible somewhere where dropping the remote will be an issue. Maybe a button release would have been better than a sliding release. It really doesn’t take much effort to slide the remote off.

So why? Why this product? For me, I don’t like sticking things directly on my phone and I’m leery of the sticking power of products when applied to a phone case (if it’s even possible due to the case’s design). Then there’s plenty of grips that, in my opinion, don’t hold the phone tight enough or don’t alleviate my issue of being able to push the shutter release button without compromising my hold on the phone. With the ShutterGrip the button is at the top of the unit and you can maneuver it to wherever it’s comfortable for your index finger to press. Plus it’s Bluetooth (no cables to worry about) and it can function as a remote shutter release. Another bonus is the mount option on the bottom but in a pinch the ShutterGrip will stand on its own while holding a phone on a flat surface but not so well if you have the hand strap attached.

Clip on, bluetooth camera trigger for smart phones.

Pairing was really easy. Put the supplied battery into the ShutterGrip, press the button and a green LED flashed (it will flash each time you press the button). I then turned on Bluetooth on my phone and ‘ShutterGrip’ appeared on the list of devices, I press it and it paired, on both phones. When the camera app is not launched and active on my phone, the button on the ShutterGrip increases my media volume when pressed. Pressing the button when the phone is locked/sleep will just wake it. When the camera app is active, pressing the buttone takes a photo (there’s no 1/2 press) but if I hold the button down it’ll keep taking photos until I let go or my phones memory buffer is filled. Not sure if that’s the behavior on all phones but that’s how it behaves on both my Samsung phones. Just Mobile’s website does list some incompatible phones so you should check it out before you order one. If you go to a shop you could just test it out there. Other things to note is that it’s really light, website says it weighs 45g, battery life is stated to last 180 days if you press the button 500 times a day (even I’m not that trigger happy, lol). To save battery power the remote auto powers off and auto connects on the next button press (it’s kind of slow though). If your camera app is in video mode, ShutterGrip will start recording when you press the trigger.

Because my thumb is shaped like an inverted drumstick, if I place the ShutterGrip too close to the bottom edge of the phone, the palm portion of my thumb touches the screen or home button or something and that usually gets me out of the camera app so to alleviate that I have to slide the ShutterGrip as far as possible towards the middle of the phone while still being able to press the button with my index finger. This stretches out my hand and gets my thumb off the screen while still holding the phone securely too. Kind of hard to explain, hopefully the photos below will help.

For me, the ShutterGrip is a must buy, even after seeing the price, I still headed down to camera shop to check it out. The $40 (on sale) price tag made me pause and think about it for a minute though. Maybe I’m just too stingy? I think for that price the remote shouldn’t be so easy to slide off. Maybe I’ll just gaff tape it, lol. But you know what, in the end I still bought it knowing it’ll help me get more keeper shots because I have a better, more stable grip on the phone. If you think so too, I would suggest you try to find it in your local shop because it may be cheaper than ordering it online. Mine was the same price, after discount, in my local currency as it was on Just Mobile’s website so I saved on currency exchange as well as shipping. Have fun shooting!!

Consider following me for updates to find not only my other toys and collectibles posts but also my travel bloopers, blunders and shenanigans posts, photography related news/reviews posts and the occasional contest entry.

All the photos (unless otherwise noted in the post) were taken by me and are available for sale. If you’re interested in buying an image or three, 😃 please don’t hesitate to contact me for more details. Thanks in advance!

Comments & Critiques are always welcome, as are upvotes and resteems.

Thanks for viewing and best wishes!

PS. If you want to check out my other ‘works’, you can find them here:

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Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a jewel in Chiang Mai’s crown

Inside the Wat Phra That temple grounds on Doi Suthep

If you’re ever in Chiang Mai and can only choose one temple to visit, choose Wat Phra That on Doi Suthep. Doi Suthep is the mountain West of Chiang Mai, the smaller of the two in that area. The other being Doi Pui and together make up the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. Although I haven’t been to every single temple in Chiang Mai, I have been to several and what makes Wat Phra That so special? It’s reportedly the temple that has a Buddha Relic, a piece of his shoulder, if I heard correctly. Now I didn’t get to see the Relic but this wat, to me, has a tranquil/serene “feel” to it, more so than any of the other temples I’ve been to in the Chiang Mai region. I truly lack the words to describe that feeling. No, it’s not like a life changing OMG Hallelujah kinda feeling…it’s more like a peaceful at ease feeling. I imagine “resting in peace” would feel like this. I’m not particularly religious but I do believe in certain principles from different religions. Yes, I’m a “confused child” haha.

Back to the Doi Suthep and one of Chiang Mai’s crown jewels, Wat Phra That. I’ll just do what the locals do and refer to the area as Doi Suthep. So how can one get to Doi Suthep? There are a number of ways both public and private. If you choose the private way, have a read of my post “Did I get scammed in Chiang Mai” for my recounting on private hire fiasco/scam that was run on me whilst going to a different “must see” Chiang Mai crown jewel. The most convenient way is to take a red songthaew to Doi Suthep. It can be as easy as flagging one down anywhere around the old city. A songthaew is a pickup truck with the back converted to bench seating. They operate like a public bus/shared taxi but with negotiable fare. The way to get a ride is you flag one down (like flagging a taxi) or they will honk at you, in which case just wave back if you want them to stop. Before you hop in, you have to negotiate your fare. The price will depend on where you’re going, how many passengers already in the songthaew and probably the way you look. So the better dressed you are, the less they will be willing to drop the prices. The number of people already on board will help decrease the price as well and/or if there’s no one already on board, you can pay a bit more and the driver will not pick up anyone along the way to your destination. Trips within the old city are $30-$40 TBH (as told to me by the hotel staff and $30 TBH is written on all the red songthaews (I can’t read Thai so don’t know what the context is) but as soon as you get outside the walled city they will start at $100 TBH (at least that’s always been the starting point whenever I asked). There are also different marked songthaews, the markings will indicate which attraction they are going to, so you can look out for those as those may have people in them already going to the same place making it cheaper for you to tag along (or at least you won’t be “forced” to pay the full single rider fare). If you prefer to hire out a songthaew (have it all to yourself) you can probably negotiate a price for him/her to wait for you and give you a ride back. If not, there are a lot of songthaews waiting up there to give passengers rides back into town. The only drawback is that they will not leave until the songthaew is full with 8 passengers so if you’re first on, there may be a wait. For me, I was lucky, I was the 8th. As I was about to pay the driver, 1/2 the other passengers started to negotiate a lower fare but to no avail so ya that’s something to consider too. Just to give you an idea, hiring out a songthaew cost me $350 TBH, I needed to get there as fast as possible but coming back only cost $80 TBH. The other public way are guided tours. Your hotel lobby will have info and be able to help you out, or you can find tour agent kiosks everywhere, seriously you can’t walk a block without seeing one. These are convenient if have minimal time and need a guide to show you around and/or rush you plus you won’t have to worry about haggling prices everywhere, where to go to the ticket booth etc. The private vehicles are in the form of metered taxis although you have to specifically book one from somewhere as they are nowhere to to be found on the streets. The only time I saw any were at the airport and twice in town dropping guests at a hotel. I’m pretty sure they will be the most expensive private car option with Grab taxi being the second most expensive. The least expensive is the non grab, private hires which the hotel can arrange for you and the tuk tuk’s (they look like motorized rickshaws) which you can flag on the street. Note: if you get motion sickness then take some motion sickness pills if you plan on taking the songthaew or tuk tuk. Also try to get on a newer model vehicle or at least one that doesn’t look beat up as that will affect the bumpiness of your ride as well as the amount of exhaust (if any) you’ll be subjected to.

Stairs leading up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep adorned on either side with giant King of Nagas’

Local tribes girls on the stairs leading up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep adorned on either side with giant King of Nagas’

Local tribes girls on the stairs leading up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep adorned on either side with giant King of Nagas’

Local tribes girls on the stairs leading up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep adorned on either side with giant King of Nagas’

Stairs leading up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep adorned on either side with giant King of Nagas’

Stairs leading up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep adorned on either side with giant King of Nagas’

Now that transport is sorted out and you’re at the drop off point of Doi Suthep, there’s two routes you can take up to the temple but first, there are shops/markets by the road side you may want to check out. If not, make your way to either the steps with the big archway (the left most stair case as you’re facing the mountain) if you’re looking to walk up to the Wat. If walking up stairs is not your cup of tea, take the path on the right where you can see ticket booths. That’s where you can buy tickets to ride the gondola up. I didn’t take the gondola so I can’t comment on the fees nor the ride. Taking the stairs isn’t that bad. you go up a short flight of stairs and it opens up to a plaza of sorts with statues to see and more shops and restaurants. From this plaza you can see the flight of stairs leading up to the Wat, kind of steep but not scary steep. If you see adorable little kids dressed in (I’m guessing) traditional attire of their culture, it’s ok to take photos but be prepared to offer a donation. They won’t be shy in asking for it. Although I had sniped a few shots of them from afar, pretty much without them knowing, as they were busy posing for other photo’s, I still walked by and gave them each a tip. I couldn’t help but feel sad, I didn’t notice their parents around and they were just hanging out, walking around the stairs. When you reach the top of the stairs you’ll be at the entrance to the temple area (not the temple grounds itself) and you’ll have to detour to the right because that is where the ticket office is and a snacks shop in case you need to buy a drink. Entrance fee is $30 TBH. Having taken care of the entrance fee you can enter the premises of where the actual temple is, you can see the stairs into the Wat in the photo below. The premises is quite big with lots to see and you can walk around with your shoes on but if you want to enter the Wat grounds, you have to take off your shoes at the designated area about a hop, skip and a jump away from the Wat’s entrance. No big deal, it’s relatively clean, as in free from debris as you can kinda see in the photo below. There’s more than enough room for shoes on the racks but there’s shoe lockers behind the benches too, just don’t forget where you put your shoes.

Pavilion area provides shade and benches for rest and removal of shoes.

SO MUCH GOLD!!! Was my first reaction as stepped through the entrance into the wat. I don’t know if it was gold leaf, gold paint, gold plated or what but boy was it impressive. Pretty much in the center of the temple grounds is the gold stupa with the prayer path around it. There are flowers you can buy and hold as you walk and pray on this path and then offer them to an altar of your choice. This prayer path is in between the stupa and a stone fence that has opening at the corners for entering and exiting the prayer path. On top of this fence, on two of the sides, are various statues and religious relics. Lining the walls to the temple complex are altars, prayer halls, statues and other religious artifacts. There are monks walking around doing various duties as well from what I saw when I was there such as “monk chats,” blessing ceremonies, sweeping of the grounds, putting up decorations etc. Along the walls that define the Wat grounds are open air but sheltered corridors with religious statues and artifacts and enough space for visitors to pray in front of. These corridors are sometimes broken up by rooms housing religious statue(s) with all the prayer amenities like kneeling mats, incense pots etc. There is also a larger prayer hall which more detailed and ornate and is where the monk chats/blessing were held. If you want the on location tourist shot, look for the golden tree/umbrella statue. This is the designated spot where an “in house photographer” will take the “tourist shot” that all the marketing shots were taken. The spot features a golden umbrella (or maybe it’s a bamboo tree), under which you’ll stand with the golden stupa in the background and hopefully a blue sky with a fluffy cloud or two. There will be assistants walking around that area trying to drum up business. If you don’t want to engage their services you can just wait until the umbrella is vacant and go get your shot. Although I planned to photograph everything, I kinda forgot to or maybe just too “taken in” by beauty, splendor, calmness and serenity of this place I really don’t have the words so here’s a few shots:

Inside the Wat Phra That temple grounds on Doi Suthep

Inside the Wat Phra That temple grounds on Doi Suthep

Inside the Wat Phra That temple grounds on Doi Suthep

Inside the Wat Phra That temple grounds on Doi Suthep

Inside the Wat Phra That temple grounds on Doi Suthep

Inside the Wat Phra That temple grounds on Doi Suthep

Inside the Wat Phra That temple grounds on Doi Suthep

Inside the Wat Phra That temple grounds on Doi Suthep

When you’re done inside the Wat, have a look around the grounds. There’s a huge hall, gift shop (the usual items that you’d find in a temple’s gift shop are cheaper here than in any other place that I’ve been to), café type eatery, prayer bells, prayer halls, large statues, defunct museum (well that’s what it looked like to me) and a very ornate pavilion that over looks the valley. If you walk to the railing you will see the city of Chiang Mai and the airport, it’s quite a view if the weather is clear. I visited in early May and got ok weather, a bit too smoggy for detailed images but still a spectacular view. There were not many people so I was able to set up my tripod for some panoramic shots however I did get interrupted by a tourist who came right up next to me to shoot her panoramic shots, so I took some candid profile shots of her instead of landscape shots for a minute or so, lol. There also a very beautiful, colorful and well landscaped flower garden. It wasn’t until I was looking through the photos back at the hotel that I realized the flowers were fake.

Walking around Doi Suthep just outside Wat Phra That

Walking around Doi Suthep just outside Wat Phra That

Walking around Doi Suthep just outside Wat Phra That

Walking around Doi Suthep just outside Wat Phra That

Walking around Doi Suthep just outside Wat Phra That

Walking around Doi Suthep just outside Wat Phra That

I spent 3 hours at Doi Suthep not including travel time but could have easily spent hours more. I didn’t visit any of the markets or explore any of the areas not part of the temple grounds. I was there around dusk and the sunset sets behind the mountain but with the smog/haze/clouds it wasn’t that ‘wow’ Perhaps sunrise would be better as it would rise over the city when you’re viewing from the pavilion.

Consider following me for updates to find not only my other travel bloopers, blunders and shenanigans but also photography related news/reviews and the occasional contest entry.

All the photos (unless otherwise noted in the post) were taken by me and are available for sale. If you’re interested in buying an image or three, 😃 please don’t hesitate to contact me for more details. Thanks in advance!

Comments & Critiques are always welcome, as are upvotes and resteems.

Thanks for viewing and best wishes!

PS. If you want to check out my other ‘works’, you can find them here:

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Free On-Air Classes – Week of 6/9

COME CHECK OUT THESE FREE ONLINE CLASSES !

A radiant dragon

For all you creatives, out there if you haven’t heard of Creative Live, you may be missing out. I always browse their site for anything to do with photography (including the legal and business aspects as well as the heavier side of image editing) and sign up for whatever I find interesting. I’ve watched many free tutorials and classes and have made a few purchases as well after watching the free live stream. I’m of the opinion that Creative Live is a very valuable resource even if you only watch the free classes! Check Out CreativeLive’s Free On-Air Classes.

I’ve included classes in other genre’s just in case anyone is interested in them and If you really haven’t heard about Creative Live, here’s their sales pitch:

Start learning for free today with the amazing selection of live and on air classes from Creative Live. You will learn creative skills from the world’s top experts – Pulitzer Prize, Grammy, Oscar Winners, and New York Times best selling authors, thought leaders, and legendary entrepreneurs. With over 1,500 curated classes in Photography & Video, Money & Life, Craft & Maker, Art & Design, and Music & Audio, there is something for everyone. Students can watch on-air broadcasts for free or buy a class and own the content for life.

Plus, you can get your daily creative fix on the iOS app with 1 free lesson of you choice , each and every day!

Free On-Air Classes – Week of 6/9

Class Name: Make Things Make Money: The Business of Illustration and Lettering
Text Link: Make Things Make Money: The Business of Illustration and Lettering Class at CreativeLive
Start Date: 06/09/2019
End Date: 06/10/2019
RSVP Date: 06/09/2019

Class Name: Get Started with Lifestyle Family Photography
Text Link: Get Started with Lifestyle Family Photography Class at CreativeLive
Start Date: 06/10/2019
End Date: 06/11/2019
RSVP Date: 06/10/2019

Class Name: Drawing Fundamentals: Perspective and Angle
Text Link: Drawing Fundamentals: Perspective and Angle Class at CreativeLive
Start Date: 06/11/2019
End Date: 06/12/2019
RSVP Date: 06/11/2019

Class Name: Flawless Vocals: Recording, Editing & Mixing
Text Link: Flawless Vocals: Recording, Editing & Mixing Class at CreativeLive
Start Date: 06/12/2019
End Date: 06/13/2019
RSVP Date: 06/12/2019

Class Name: Bumps to Babies: Photographing Motherhood
Text Link: Bumps to Babies: Photographing Motherhood Class at CreativeLive
Start Date: 06/13/2019
End Date: 06/14/2019
RSVP Date: 06/13/2019

Class Name: Become a Great Wine Taster
Text Link: Become a Great Wine Taster Class at CreativeLive
Start Date: 06/15/2019
End Date: 06/16/2019
RSVP Date: 06/15/2019

FULL DISCLOSURE: Please note that the course/class links have my affiliate code in them and should you choose to purchase a class, I may get a referral fee. The links direct you to the page where you can watch the course FOR FREE on the stated date(s).

Consider following me for updates to find not only my other travel bloopers, blunders and shenanigans but also photography related news/reviews and the occasional contest entry.

All the photos (unless otherwise noted in the post) were taken by me and are available for sale. If you’re interested in buying an image or three, 😃 please don’t hesitate to contact me for more details. Thanks in advance!

Comments & Critiques are always welcome, as are upvotes and resteems.

Thanks for viewing and best wishes!

PS. If you want to check out my other ‘works’, you can find them here:

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What’s so great about the Tha Phae Gate?

Traffic in front of Tha Phae Gate’s plaza at night.

Chiang Mai’s Old City is on UNESCO’s list for consideration as a Heritage City and the Tha Phae Gate is the main gate into Chiang Mai’s old city located on it’s Eastern wall. The old city is shaped in a roughly 1.6 km by 1.6 km square area that used to be surrounded by a wall and moat with a gate at each section of the wall. With exception of the southern wall which has 2 gates. Tip: the ‘h’ is silent in the Thai language, this landmark is pronounced Ta Pay gate. That should help when you’re trying to let the driver know where you want to go/get to. Many will eventually understand if you pronounce the ‘h’ though.

A defunct stone elephant fountain at the edge of the moat.

So what’s there to do here? At first glance, nothing much. The first impulse is to get a selfie right in front of the gate and right in front of the metal plaque embedded in the wall. With all the mention of the Tha Phae Gate in anything related to Chiang Mai, when you’re actually standing in front of it, it’s pretty underwhelming, in my opinion. The walls on either side of the opening are rebuilt using red clay bricks (which looks too new) and has been said to not have been rebuilt according to historic records. The walls also end where the moat begins which may be an indication that the gate is not exactly in it’s original location. The wooden door and wooden door frame is mostly faded gray and water stained, making it look older than the wall. A hose runs up the door frame and across the gate’s opening to spray mist on people as they pass through the gate, not to worry it’s only on the really hot days and is quite refreshing. The stairs leading up to wall (from within the old city) are blocked at the top so you can’t get on top of the wall, too bad, but safety first. So just what is it about this place? I urge you to fight off the initial urge to snap the usual selfie’s and continue on your way, especially if you like to people watch or take candid photos. You’ll get lots of ‘usual’ shots like:

Female tourists interacting with pigeons.

I spent a lot of time around the Tha Phae Gate. Why? because I found it very interesting. At all times of the day there’s always something going on. I didn’t feel this way originally though. The first time I visited this gate was late in the afternoon, right after I checked into my hotel and found the dental clinic I needed to be at the next day. My trip to Chiang Mai was solely for my sudden need for dental treatment which you can read in my post entitled, “Dental Holiday in Chiang Mai. Wait what? SERIOUSLY?!?! and the hotel I chose to stay in was The Signature Hotel @Thapae you can check out my review of it here. Both of these places were within 100 meters of the Tha Phae Gate, in a straight line and on the same side of the street. There is even a 3 story Starbucks, a 24 hour, 2 story McDonald’s and a Burger King within 50 meters of the gate. Consider going up to the top floors for different angle shots, especially at night if you want to get some light trail imagery (like in the first pic above) or try a sunset shot from the upper floors.

The sun setting on Tha Phae Gate.  Chiang Mai, Thailand

If you don’t have much time for sightseeing, I suppose 20 minutes tops and you’ll be done getting the usual selfies in front of the open gate as well as in front of the plaque and a few pigeon shots. If you budget 45 min to an hour, you may be able to get some of the locals to help you get even more dynamic images. Here’s how, find the locals that are either holding a sack (full of bird food), stick, hat or ball or a combination of those items. They may even be taking pics of other tourists (with phones and usually low to the ground) already or just throwing down food to attract the pigeons to one spot. You’re not looking for the locals selling little plastic bags of bird food, unless what you want is to just feed the birds, have them land on you etc. Once you find the local “tourist photographer” (as opposed to the local photographer taking candid/street shots with DSLR’s) you can approach them, if they haven’t come and approached you already. For an increased chance of them approaching you, stand close to the wall and try take selfies with the pigeons. I’m always too busy shooting to see how much people were paying but it can’t be that much, lotsa people were doing it and I mean lots! Don’t forget to bargain. So here’s how it works. Once you’ve agreed on the price and paid the person, you hand over your phone. They will guide you to a spot, throw down some bird food, and give you some general movement tips. There are three ‘poses’ that I’ve noticed that they use every time. One is the normal standing shot, stand however you like, another is a walking parallel to the wall shot and the last is you twirling on the spot. The photographer with your phone is sitting or lying down on his side and when he’s ready says something to an accomplice who then scares the pigeons, either by stomping, clapping or tossing an item in the air to get the birds to fly up. As a photographer I’d have to say that’s pretty clever and bordering on professional, they’re just missing the more detailed posing and maybe some dramatic lighting. After each shot you’ll be able to check your phone and do a retake if you’re not satisfied. From a distance I think I got some good shots, so I’m sure they did too. I chose to shoot from a distance because I was uneasy with all those well fed, startled pigeons flying around. Yes, there are that many pigeons especially on weekends when I’ve seen enough pigeons for 4 of these “photoshoots” going on at the same time against the walls on either side of the gate (on the plaza side). Note: the lighting is better on the right side when you’re standing in the plaza facing the gate. Also if you plan on doing the “photoshoot” consider exaggerating your arm swings when walking/twirling. The purpose is to create lines and/or angles which should add “tension” to your photos, it’ll look much better and natural than just letting your arms hang down at your sides.

Female tourists interacting with pigeons.

Female tourists interacting with pigeons.

Female tourists interacting with pigeons.

Female tourists interacting with pigeons.

Warning for the ladies…if you’re wearing a light, loose dress and stand near the wall, if there’s even a slight wind, it’ll hit the wall and lift your dress/skirt. Even the mass of pigeons taking off from around your legs is enough to lift your skirt. Trust me on this, I’ve never been flashed so many times in my life! Not only that, there are A LOT of photographers around. Could be tourists snapping selfies with the pigeons around you or taking pictures of the pigeons on you or the locals just hanging around some selling bird food, some looking out for the cops. Then there’s local photogs getting their street/candid photography fix, or tourist photogs like me, people watching, sniping shots when something happens. On the off chance that you get there and no one is feeding the birds, it’s because the cops just went by and confiscated all the food. There’s signage around to let you know that you’re not supposed to feed the birds. Just stick around for a bit, the locals will come back with more food.

Local police confiscate a big bag of bird feed from the locals.

Local police confiscate bird feed from the locals.

If that’s not interesting enough for you, there’s local ice cream sellers (coconut flavor), artists doing portraitures (I didn’t notice any caricature artists). Then there’s the odd trinket souvenir vendor walking around. Most of the vendor come out after sunset. I was fortunate enough to catch a tv commercial in the making complete with “fake family,” backdrops, shooting assistants and a model shooting water from a fire hose attached to the fire truck. I’ve also seen some kind of parade/procession start from the plaza and then proceed down the street. Most nights there is a musician or 10 sitting around playing tunes. If you’re lucky, like me, you might run into a protest. The one I saw was a cruelty to animals / don’t partake in the animal sanctuary attractions protest.

A family taking refuge under a big unbrella

A woman spraying water from a fire hose.

A tourists taking photos on the stairs going up the wall at the Tha Phae Gate.

Individuals wearing masks protest against animal cruelty.

To get the most out of your time, if you like taking photos and shopping, is on Sunday around dusk to try to catch the sunset a bit earlier if you’re into the tourists and pigeons schtick and later if you like light trails by traffic. You can sit upstairs in Starbucks or McDonald’s to get some traffic light trail shots. Other things to do at night would be wait for the hand crafted (mostly) vendors, toy sellers, ice cream vendor and occasional a snack vendor. If you’re here on a Sunday evening you’re already at the easiest starting point (from outside the old city) to the famous Sunday Night Market. Just walk on through the gate and you’re at one end of the main street of this market. Be careful though because the gate is actually part of an intersection although not many vehicles go through the gate, there are some once in a while. If you’re a morning person, you can also get a sunrise shot over the gate when you’re standing facing the gate from inside the old city.

A car driving through the Tha Phae Gate at night.

Nightly market at the Tha Phae Gate.

Local couple shop at the Sunday Night Market

Watching the sun rise over the Tha Phae Gate from within the old city of Chiang Mai.

Here’s a few more shots:

 

Sunset at Tha Phae Gate

A couple sneak a kiss while feeding pigeons.

A man decorates his motorcycle with colorful materials he finds on the street

Street artists selling his drawings in front of Tha Phae Gate in Chiang Mai, Thailand

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