Snap Shots: Pushing the envelope - with a steady hand
by Harry Flashman
is a dynamic hobby. Whether you are photographing people or houses, there
are always different ways of doing it. Different lighting techniques,
different lenses, filters, exposures, situations and colours. To be
perfectly honest, I have never found picture taking to be dull in any way.
There was always something to experiment with or just ‘give it a go’
and see what comes back from the photoprocessor.
What I have been trying recently are insanely long,
basically hand-held, exposures. What prompted this was looking for
‘atmospheric’ photographs of places at night. When you use the flash
you get that ‘startled rabbit’ look on the people and the buildings
all look cold and unattractive. However, if use the available light, be
that streetlights, car headlights or whatever, you will get a very
different ‘look’ to the photograph.
Now I do not believe in too much brainpower when taking
personal photographs, so the suggestions are all done in the Auto mode (or
the Aperture mode if you have one). Set the aperture as wide as you can
get - f 1.4 or f 2.8 works well and then see what shutter speed the camera
is going to use, and you will find these are in the range of 1/15th to 1/2
second. Not hand-held numbers, but rather tripod requirements.
However, forget about the tripod (I never carry mine
unless it is for specific ‘commercial’ reasons). If the exposure
indicated is 1/15th of a second, hold the camera firmly and just lean on a
tree, against the wall to steady yourself and fire off a couple of
exposures. At least one will be sharp, and decidedly different with the
ambient light being the source of illumination.
Now if the suggested exposure is even longer, say 1/8th
or 1/4 second, what I do is put the camera on a table, or on top of a
wall, squint through the viewfinder and again fire off a couple of shots.
The majority of these work out OK too. Now I know that a small tabletop
tripod would do all this, but who has a small tabletop tripod in their
So after the ‘hand-held’ time exposures, let’s
look at exposures covering many seconds. You are going to need the tripod
this time! However, the technical details are not difficult at all. What
do you need for Time Exposure photography? A tripod and a camera with a T
or a B exposure setting. (Use “B” for time exposures up to a minute
and “T” for longer ones mainly because your finger will go numb
holding the button down for 20 minutes!)
Film stock? The new 400 ASA is fine but you can use
anything (I generally just use the standard 200 ASA film). Now you may
have read about “reciprocity failure” with long exposures. Give up
reading! It’s photo industry techo-speak and won’t stop you getting
good pictures, it just changes the colours a bit.
The important point to grasp is that all Time Exposure
photography is “hit and miss”. There’s no real way anyone can tell
you exactly “f8 and 24 seconds”. There are too many variables, but all
you have to do is to take the same scene or picture with several different
exposure times - one of them will be right. Believe me!
Here’s the rough guide. In all of these the aperture
(f stop) is set on f8. Now to take a street scene at night, try 2 seconds,
4 seconds and 8 seconds. For the interior of a room, lit with ordinary
light bulbs, try 5 seconds, 10 seconds and 20 seconds. To take a picture
just before dawn try 5, 10 and 20 seconds. Now, for a completely dark,
night landscape (or seascape) try 30 seconds, 1 minute and 2 minutes.
Make a note of the order your time exposures were shot in, and jot down
the “best” result after you get your films back. Sure, the colours
will be strangely different - but if you wanted a “normal” shot
you’d have taken it in daylight, wouldn’t you? Try pushing the
envelope this weekend.
Modern Medicine: Problems with the packaging
by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant
Our skin is our outer protective packaging.
Just like the parcels that say ‘fragile’ and ‘this way up’, our skins
similarly should have warnings placed on our protective coats. “Avoid exposure
to the sun” would be the first label. In fact, any repetitive exposure to
chemicals could be included in that group. Including dishwashing liquid (which
is why I avoid washing up as much as possible!).
Unfortunately, after our external packaging has been exposed
to chemicals and irritants for many years, it begins to show the ravages of
time. And while none of us like getting older - it still beats the alternative!
One of those ravages comes under the general heading of ‘tumours’.
Now the very word ‘Tumours’ strikes fear in the hearts of
many, but this is purely a term to describe growths on the skin, which may or
may not be ‘malignant’. In fact, most skin tumours are not malignant (called
‘benign’), and even with the malignant ones, the majority are not going to
kill you. Having said that, it does not mean that you should ignore skin
growths. While most will not kill you, they can make the last few years very
unpleasant if left untreated.
Looking first at the benign tumours, probably the most common
are Seborrhoeic Keratoses. These are the dry slightly raised “warty” lesions
that look as if they have been stuck on to the skin. In fact, many people
“flake” them off with a well applied finger nail. They come in all colours,
and a very simple way to remove them is with liquid nitrogen freezing. This
leaves you with a smooth white spot where you had a rough coloured one before.
(Ask to see mine!)
Another interesting lesion is the Acrochordon. These are
little skin tags that hang off the skin and are often considered to be unsightly
by the owner, and can be removed with one suture and one snip.
Another benign lesion is the Keratoacanthoma. These grow
fairly rapidly and have a smooth outline. We usually cut them out, because they
are actually quite difficult to differentiate from SCC’s (Squamous Cell
Now we are into the malignant lesions and the three main
types are the SCC, the BCC (Basal Cell Carcinomas) and the Melanoma. These
develop over a period of time and exposure to the sun’s UV light is the main
culprit. Hence our call to all parents to make sure their children are well
protected by a Factor 15+ sunscreen. In 60 years time your children will
appreciate you, but you’ll probably be dead by then. It’s always the case,
SCC’s are nearly always on sun damaged skin, and fair
skinned people are the most prone. There is often a reddened area around a
central scaly patch, and with long-standing ones the centre can ulcerate. Again,
it is surgical excision or nitrogen freezing.
The BCC’s on the other hand are much more aggressive than
the SCC’s. They have a scaly surface and a raised “pearly” edge. Known as
“Rodent Ulcers” because they gnaw away at healthy tissues, they can invade
and erode cartilage and even bone. Surgical excision is still the mainstay of
Finally, the Melanomas. These are dark pigmented skin lesions
with irregular borders and invade the deeper tissues and can spring up as
secondary lesions as well. These tumours can kill you. Wide and deep surgical
excision is the treatment of choice.
Skin tumours should not be ignored. If you have some, take
them to your doctor for diagnosis today!
Heart to Heart with Hillary
I always read your colomb (sic) with greatest pleasure. Not every letter from
the sender-in. Only the letters from the desperate men. I always have a lot of
laughs about the “farang” being in doubt about the truthfulness of his
“girlfriend”. For me it’s almost unbelievable! You give those desperate
men always a good advise. I must say that you put it in a harsh and straight
way. Those men come with questions that can easily be answered by their own
“common sense”. Why are so many people so bad in the judgement of the
person they deal with? If they could only take a minute, letting the blood go
to their brains, you would not have to answer all those obvious questions. I
like the people giving it straight to me. Keep up the good work Hillary!!!
Thank you for your letter, and indeed you are correct when you write of
‘common sense’. Unfortunately it’s not too ‘common’ in certain areas.
Your spelling interests me. Are you perhaps Colombian, or just a poor speller,
my Petal? Your suggestion of men taking a minute to let the blood go to their
brains is an excellent one, however, it has been said before that men were
given a brain and a penis, but unfortunately only have enough blood to drive
one at a time. You have to pity the poor dears, really.
I am a Californian guy living here and I have been very happy with my beautiful
Thai girlfriend who has been living with me for just over a year. As a teacher
I don’t make a fortune but there is enough for the two of us to get by. The
problem began two months ago when Noi asked to borrow 50,000 baht from me to
send to her younger sister up-country who is pregnant. Although that amount is
substantial to me I agreed to lend it to her provided she would pay me back. My
girl has a good job as a waitress and she agreed to pay me back but now three
months later, there is no sign of the money. If I keep on mentioning it she
gets annoyed, but 50,000 baht is a substantial amount on my salary. Have you
any suggestions Hillary?
Yes Dexter, I suggest that in future you do not lend money to your girlfriends.
Any money you have loaned so far consider a gift, and if the requests come too
often, or are too high in the stakes, then look for another girlfriend. As you
say, your salary as a teacher will not be high. Don’t become an ATM, Petal.
I am sixteen, and last month I caught my younger brother dressing up in my
clothes. He is 13 years old. He wears my make up and shoes too and I have to
say that he looks kinda OK. I told him that I wouldn’t tell Mum if he just
does it at home, but I have found out that he is sneaking out at night in my
clothes. Do you think I should go with him to make sure he stays out of
trouble, or just tell Mum?
Dear Big Sister,
This is not the sort of problem that 16-year-old girls should have to meet. It
is hard enough for you to handle what is happening to you, without looking
after your 13-year-old brother as well. Tell your brother that if he doesn’t
stop sneaking out you will tell Mum. That way you are giving him a chance. But
one chance only.
My girlfriend is absolutely gorgeous. Long dark hair, sweet nature, never
complains and a wonderful lover. There is a problem that has been getting worse
recently. A few months ago she began asking for money. First time it was to
send her younger brother to university. I was happy enough to help out the
first time, but now she wants money every month for some other relative in
need. It is amazing just how many relatives one person can have. She wants
around 10,000 baht every month and honestly I am having trouble saving this
amount out of the housekeeping money each month. My husband of six years is
starting to think I am wasting the money on drinking, gambling or on men. What
should I do?
You are a little one, aren’t you? Heaven forbid that you should be spending
the housekeeping money on a man! How could he possibly think that way? Sounds
to me as if your husband does not really know who he married all those years
ago. Or have you changed over the years? As far as what to do - I think you
should read the reply to Dexter and think about your relationship with this
woman very dispassionately. It sounds to me as if passion has obscured the
dispassionate view. There are plenty of other “long dark hair, sweet nature,
never complains and a wonderful lover,” around. Next time just make sure she
is an orphan.
A Slice of Thai History:
Escape from Bangkok 1945
Part One: Shot Down and Rescued
by Duncan steam
As the Second World War drew towards
a successful closure for the Allied nations, it was clear to those Thais
in positions of influence that their country’s alliance with Japan would
result in possibly severe repercussions once the fighting ceased and the
time came for organising the peace.
One of the mitigating factors that would result in
Thailand’s punishment being far less harsh than it might otherwise have
been, was the Free Thai underground network led by the Regent, Pridi
Banomyong, and supported by the American Office of Strategic Services
Many Thais resented the presence of Japanese forces in
their homeland, especially since these troops tended to act more like
occupiers than allies. So, whenever the opportunity arose to hinder the
progress of Japanese war aims, there were plenty of Thais willing to help.
This was particularly the case with downed Allied
airmen. A case in point is the story of British fliers William Pugh,
Raymond Woods, Cyril Copley, Ramsey Roe, Bill Parsons and Canadian Harry
Smith, the 21-year-old flight commander. Their aircraft, an American B-24
Liberator, consisting of 10 British airmen and four U.S. personnel, three
of whom were OSS agents who were to be parachuted near Khorat, was shot
down by a brace of nine Japanese fighters over Thailand on the morning of
29 May 1945. Luckily they managed to effect a crash-landing, although not
without casualties and under fire as the fighters strafed the site. Four
of the British airmen were killed during the Japanese fighter attack and
one of the Americans was mortally wounded. He died without regaining
consciousness. Of the remaining nine, most were injured in some way.
Recognising the need to move as far away from their
downed aircraft as soon as possible, they moved off into the jungle. After
just 15 minutes or so they heard dogs barking and people shouting. They
took cover and determined to fight it out if the noises proved to be
Japanese troops. Luckily, the people were Thai locals who took the downed
airmen and hid them in their small village.
The following morning, the airmen “were startled by a
commotion outside. On glancing through the bamboo screens around us we
spotted what looked like a Military Patrol on horseback approaching the
village ... What really scared us for awhile was the leader who looked so
much like a Japanese Officer.”
To be continued next week...
Personal Directions: What are we doing here? ... living
by Christina Dodd
Having just spent some time in Australia attending to
personal and family matters, I can still hear voices saying to me and asking
me why it is that I continue to “stay away” and live elsewhere. This is
a regular activity and I’m sure I am not alone in this as many of you have
no doubt experienced the same thing; the same set of questions and the same
bewildered faces as they continue to not understand why you and I have made
the choices and decisions we have, as to where we live.
I don’t know whether it is only me, or whether you also
feel this way, but whenever it is time to leave Australia and return to
Thailand, I am over the moon! I sometimes can’t wait to get on that plane
and rev the engines up and take off! It is not that I am ungrateful or
uncaring about the place I have just been or the people with whom I have
shared some very valuable time, but I am so relieved to get back to my
world. Yes, my world where I can feel first and foremost the warmth of the
people around me shine through. It is a very real thing; it is a very true
thing to say that where you and I live is an extremely pleasant place to be.
Sure there are problems that confront us. There are
problems that will confront us no matter where we live. And there will
always be places where everything works better than in Thailand. Seems like
this is a criticism shared by many. But hey, do things always work better
somewhere else like in the UK or the US or in Australia? And look at how
much less it costs you to live here and to enjoy a lifestyle that would cost
a fortune in most of our home countries.
This trip away opened my eyes even more so to the fact
that you and I are guests in a country where, from my own personal
experience, the people seem much more accepting and more open than in most
other places. You may differ in your opinions, that is your right, but I
can’t help feeling that we are living in a very special place (for many
other reasons too) and I am so glad that my life and its experiences have
led me here and to where I am.
How about you? Are you happy to be here? Do you feel the
same way? I’m sure that a lot of you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be here
would you? And now that you are here, may I ask what it is that you are
doing here? What do you do to fill your day? You are in a wonderful country
and some of you are perhaps retired, so what do you do in your retirement?
Quite often I meet couples or single men and women who
have had the opportunity to retire here, or visit for three or six months of
the year. And I wonder whether they are really feeling fulfilled and living
each day as opposed to existing each day! Just because you have retired
doesn’t mean that you stop planning and thinking about what you should do
each day. Maybe you might think otherwise, but to my mind a day still needs
to have an agenda, no matter whether you are working or not working. And
there needs to be a certain level of achievement to what you do in the day.
Sure you are in paradise, but it is easy to lose sight of the necessities of
life when we are so consumed.
Please don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying that
you should stop playing your game of golf every day or should stop sitting
by the pool. You have most likely worked hard and long to reach the stage
where you can choose precisely what you yourself want to do regardless of
what anyone else thinks. But despite the fact that you truly deserve to do
as you please, it is so very important to continue to enrich your life and
bring home a sense of satisfaction that you have made some kind of
contribution to what is going on around you.
There are times when we need to take stock at intervals
as we grow and develop to put a clearer picture in place as to where we are
actually going. Would you ride around in a taxi all day aimlessly without
going anywhere specific? It would end up costing you a fortune, the driver
probably wouldn’t mind in the beginning but then later on he’d get a bit
annoyed because he always has a point to reach - a destination - and to just
go around in circles could send him up the wall. You would probably get
cranky as well because you know from your own sense of things that we all
need focus to what we do.
If in your retirement you are occupied and have a sense
of focus and direction in your life - that is tremendous. If you are also
active and actually going out and doing things that can help others in their
lives, then that is a great achievement. I take my hat off to those of you
who seize the opportunity to excel in life and to pursue new and exciting
life adventures, especially when retired. To tell you the truth, I really do
think the word retirement should never be used. To most it is more like a
sentence than a life. I will never retire as I am having too much fun doing
what I am doing and there are just so many more areas in my world that I
have to cover. I’ll retire at the end of the day and have some sleep - but
that’s as far as it goes. And my world is here, in this place that I dream
of coming home to, the instant I have left.
If you would like to contact me about Personal Life
Planning or indeed any of our personal or business skills programs, then
please email me at Christina.dodd@ asiatrainingassociates.com
Until next time, seize every moment and live it to the
Social Commentary by Khai Khem:
The ‘coming drought’ is already here
On occasion readers have asked why our
publication doesn’t specifically address readers’ comments in our letters’
section. I once wrote that we sometimes do print an Editor’s reply, but mainly
our Mail Bag is a forum for the public to get a chance to air their views.
It’s a space in our newspaper that is reserved for readers to say their piece
and an opportunity for them to actively participate through print. Letters are
frequently responded to by other readers and often lively debates and even kudus
are exchanged without the intervention of staff writers. We not only value the
opinions of our readership but actually look forward to comments, whatever the
This long-winded prologue does have a point. There have been
letters recently printed in Mail Bag from residents who are suffering from water
shortages. A recent one, printed on March 19, headed ‘Drought on the way’ by
Concerned Resident contained a valid warning and convincing reasons why water
shortages will become our next pressing problem. Another letter published in the
same issue by Whitey, suggested that revelers “Splash some water into my tank
during Songkran”. These two letters hit home - MY home.
I live in the Mabprachan area on Siam Country Club Road. Our
village was built by a well-known and very reputable developer who, at the time
of construction, did everything in his power to build a quality project with
professional site preparation and provide well-built homes. A few years ago our
location was sparsely populated and the competition for resources and public
utilities was not an issue. City water is not provided in this area, but the
development has its own arteisan wells. Until lately our water supply was
uninterrupted. Now the ground water level has been reduced by insufficient rain
and we are often without water until management calls in water trucks to fill
the community’s storage tanks.
Although warned that our water supply may be interrupted
frequently until Mother Nature sees fit to drench our area with rainfall, we
cannot shower, cook or even flush our toilets without water. What used to be
“someone else’s” hardship has now befallen us. The tap water simply shuts
off without warning and we are all caught by surprise at the most inconvenient
Last night I went to sleep with the shampoo suds drying into
a crust in my hair because I was in the shower when the ‘aqua vita’ dried
up. I saved the last two bottles of store-bought water for the dogs and bit the
bullet. In the wee hour of the morning I made a mad dash to the community
swimming pool to rinse off. By the way, the swimming pool had LOTS of clean
water, but our homes had unwashed dinner dishes piled in the sink and
foul-smelling toilets. Husbands and children went to office and school the next
morning drenched in cologne and pungent deodorant.
Concerned Resident clearly pointed out the root of the
problem. Our manic construction boom in the region has raced ahead of the
capabilities of authorities to plan and execute sorely needed projects which
supply public utilities - not only tap water, but electricity, garbage
collection, telephone service, access roads, fire brigade service, and adequate
Siam Country Club Road now has shoulder-to-shoulder housing
developments under construction on both sides of the road, except at the
Mabprachan Reservoir water’s edge. The parallel community of Soi
Nernplubwan’s population has exploded with such force that its high-density
crowding is overwhelming the entire area including schools which are now being
funded by aid from local charity groups.
Established developments such as the one I live in are
queuing for fixed line telephone numbers by both TOT and TT&T. Some families
have been on the waiting list of both companies for months. How are the
concerned authorities going to provide essential public utilities for the
hundreds of new homes when construction is completed?
And where will the most vital resource - water - come from?
This is just a small section of our Banglamung district, but a perfect example
of what is going on all over our region.
Songkran? What can I say? This is one of the most important
and earnestly worshipped events in the Kingdom. Traditional celebrations contain
ancient rituals which are dear to the hearts of Thais. The water-throwing
festivities come once a year and the water used for the activities throughout
the kingdom is as important to the Thai New Year as bread and wine is for
Christian communion. Water is a precious resource which is becoming scarce all
over the world.
Can we encourage Thai public awareness of water shortages
during drought years and include a plea for voluntary restraint? Yes, that’s
an option. Still, this is no substitute for foreword planning by government to
address an issue which is certain to subject all of us to severe hardships in
Does anyone remember last summer when hotels and guest houses
hosting tourists had to suffer the incriminations of guests who were victims of
intermittent tap water shut-offs? Or the complaints by residents of whole areas
in Jomtien, for example, whose housing estates had no water supply for months on
end? These objections were aired by people living in areas where city water was
supposed to be supplied. But there are literally thousands of residential
locations in Chonburi Province where the only source of water is a ground well,
or a water storage tank filled by private water truck entrepreneurs.
By the way. Anyone with the time and determination can drive
down to one of our local reservoirs and after dark, watch the water trucks fill
up their tanks with impunity. This is not a new enterprise. I’ve been watching
these illegal operations at the Mabprachan Reservoir for the past 10 years.
Residents living near other public reservoirs will also attest to this fact.
I’ve learned not to begrudge people the right to water,
whatever the means of acquisition. My evening shower can be dispensed with if it
means that a slum family or neglected community is suffering beyond endurance.
Banglamung district’s water shortages will be our next SARS, crime wave,
closing hour’s dispute and bird flu headache. All were temporary setbacks.
Damage control needs quick response, but it looks like we’re in for a long,
hot summer. Maybe our ‘ladies of the night’ will have a new role to play. I
remember when Britain had a long-lasting water shortage and the public service
message was sent out: “Shower with a friend”. It worked wonders.