Week 15: Far Away

Monk silhouetted by the sunrise on Hua Hin Beach, Thailand

Jeez, I’m nearly a full month behind with these Project52 photo posts! Once again, my travel/expat blog is about to turn into a photography blog for a few weeks of intensive posting while I catch up, so my apologies if that doesn’t float your boat. The next couple, at least, will be quite brief as I’ve already partially told the stories.

Week 15’s subject being “far away” was kind of coincidental as I was just setting off on my Songkran travels, which I recounted in a sequence of travel posts earlier. As a result, I was “far away” from my home in Phuket – at least 645 km, if you want to be precise.

Even by my own faintly ridiculous track record, that’s a weak interpretation of the target theme. A better challenge would have been to photograph something at a distance, using a zoom or telephoto lens. My kit list includes a Canon 300mm f/4 telephoto lens and a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom. However, the Sigma has a broken autofocus motor (effectively making it a manual focus lens) and both are way too big and heavy for me to go travelling with. As a result, I tend to travel only with short lenses – in this case, my Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8.

Sunrise on Hua Hin Beach, Thailand

This obviously makes capturing objects which are far away near enough impossible to do effectively. Inevitably, the subject ends up being nothing but a tiny dot, easily lost among way too much sky and scenery. The only way to use a short lens effectively is to get close, but that obviously defeats the purpose of the “far away” theme.

Riding a horse on Hua Hin Beach, Thailand

I therefore kind of cheated. The sun is a “far away” object – just shy of 150,000,000 km, to be exact – and I was fortunate enough to arrive at the first destination of my Songkran travels before sunrise, so I could catch it in the most dramatic way possible. Hua Hin is a coastal city on the Gulf of Thailand, with the sun rising out of the sea, making the beach the best place to watch it from. The sunset, by contrast, is largely blocked by buildings and hills, with no especially good viewpoints to enjoy it from.

As I had arrived in the city so much before my hotel’s check-in time, I decided to walk along the beach a while and enjoy the view. As I did so, I encountered quite a range of scenes, including a young couple jumping about in the sea, monks blessing the beachfront hotels and collecting alms, a range of joggers, horse riders, fishermen and plenty of people just like me – tourists and locals alike, just enjoying the view.

One particular scene caught my attention and became my Project52 shot. It was what appeared to be a Thai mother and son watching the sunrise, with the mother taking photos on her device while the son was very rapidly getting bored of this beautiful spectacle. He at least managed to stay still long enough for me to pop this picture before carrying on my way.

Photographing dawn on Hua Hin Beach, Thailand
“Far Away”

Hua Hin, Thailand – 11/04/16 @ 06:18:41.
Canon EOS REBEL T1i w/. Tamron 17-50mm lens
Focal length: 50mm. Exposure: 1/400th @ f/2.8. ISO 100

I won’t deny that this photo could have been better. I was slightly limited by the fact that I was shooting ‘in the wild’, as it were – not with a model. These were just a couple of random folks on a beach and, even without the language barrier, I could hardly ask them to pose while I crafted the perfect shot. I was also slightly limited by the gear I had available at the time. I would have preferred to use a fill-in flash so that I didn’t have to boost the exposure while reducing the highlights so much, which would have prevented the weird effect on the sun. Furthermore, an ideal shot would have used a longer lens, which would have made the sun seem bigger in the shot. However, as stated, I was limited by carrying capacity.

As a snapshot, it is not a bad effort. It achieves the requirements of the theme and is even quite a quaint and charming scene. It is, however, still just a snapshot – a photograph taken more on instinct than being actually created. Of course, that doesn’t automatically make it a bad picture.

Project52 Schedule
Credit: Amy Dingler /
Gravatar image

Ben has been an expatriate since he was 21, a writer since he was about 10 and a photographer since he was 12. Degema Travel is the culmination of that experience.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *