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Thon Buri District, Bangkok, Thailand

Owlet (young owl) peering out of its home at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on Maryland's Eastern Shore. We had help finding this owl from Prayoon Charoenun www.facebook.com/pcharoennun

 

Made on a gray day with a fixed-aperture ƒ11 lens(!) I used auto ISO.

Wat Prayoon has an impressive large (60m) chedi. The first chedi in Thailand built in the Lanka style. It was built during the reign of Rama III, around 1829. Restored 2009. It’s one of the few chedis that can be visited inside. Well worth a visit.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

 

I’ve said this before. I’m not a bird photographer; I don’t know how to photograph birds. Until today, I didn’t even know how to find photogenic birds. Turns out it’s very easy. Follow the Wildlife Drive at ~10 mph until you come to a bunch of crazed-looking people lined up along the road with $15,000 lenses the size of atomic cannons and $7,000 cameras on $5,000 tripods. Stop and ask what they are photographing. Not all of them will be willing to talk to you, but we managed to learn today that it was an eastern screech owl (Megascops asio) peeking out of its nest in a dead tree. We set up a $900 lens on an $800 tripod with a Canon R5 camera ($3900) and tried our luck. Their lenses were better suited for the dark, overcast conditions, but we think we did OK for rank amateurs without the others’ specialized gear.

 

The eastern screech owl is one of the smallest species of owls in North America.

 

Yawning screech owl by David & Leona with the kind assistance of Prayoon Charoenun www.facebook.com/pcharoennun at Blackwater National Wildlife Preserve. Processed in Lightroom and Photoshop on an iPad Pro.

The caretaker of Wat Prayoon’s Turtle Mountain

Thammasat University - exhibition to remember October 1976

 

3/7/2019

 

"After 42 years, an iconic symbol of the brutalities which led to the 1976 massacre is finally under preservation.

 

Last month, a group of academics and activists secured “the Red Gate”, a rusty metal sliding gate of a semi-rural residence in Nakhon Pathom province, where two activists were lynched in 1976 – an event that later spiralled into what many historians consider the darkest chapter of Thai political history.

 

“No one thought the gate was still standing,” political scientist Puangthong Pawakakapan, who coordinates an effort to preserve evidence related to the massacre, said in an interview. “Everyone thought the owner must have dismantled the gate.”

 

It was on this gate that two employees of the state electrical authority, Vichai Kaetsripongsa and Chumporn Thumthai, were found hanged on Sept. 24, 1976. Just before their deaths, they had put up posters denouncing a former military dictator’s return to Thailand from his overseas exile.

 

"Two weeks later, student activists at Thammasat University staged a mock hanging to condemn the murders. But the play ended up enraging rightwing militias after one of the students seemed to bear an uncanny resemblance to then-Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn.

 

More murders and more lynchings broke out on Oct. 6, when police commandos and paramilitaries stormed the university, partly to avenge the perceived royal insult in the mock hanging. Official records say 46 people died, though some experts believe the actual toll was much higher.

 

The backdrop to that bloody chains of events then slipped away from history, until Puangthong and her team managed to track it down earlier this year. In June, researchers finally removed the gate for future museum display. The owner, Nitinai Kanuenghet, 67, agreed to swap the gate in exchange for a new one.

 

“It’s a historical relic … Thai society often does not preserve such objects, however. It tells a story of violence,” Puangthong said. “Seeing the gate elicits more of a reaction than merely reading a document. It can be installed to display and retell the story of Oct. 6.”

 

Puangthong, who teaches at Chulalongkorn University and helps run an online archive about the massacre, added that her organization still lacks the funds to establish a museum of human rights to put the gate on permanent display.

Nevertheless, they are looking to hold an exhibition with the Red Gate as a headline item this October to mark the massacre’s 43rd anniversary.

 

‘I Don’t Want to See It’

 

Nitinai, the owner of the gate and the three-rai compound it stood on, is not so sentimental about the red gate.

The property belonged to his late father and Nitinai wasn’t around when the bodies were discovered hung from the gate in 1976. Nitinai said he had no problem “befriending the spirits” of the two and never saw a need to replace the originally greyish-blue gate, which turned reddish from rust over the years.

 

Nitinai is satisfied that the red gate has found a new home where it can serve as a reminder of what occurred four decades ago.

 

Nitinai Kanuenghet poses with a new metal gate that replaces the now-iconic Red Gate

 

“Thais are forgetful. Even my forty-year-old gate was forgotten,” he said.

 

Most of his neighbors have no clue about the gate’s importance.

 

“Once an era is over, people forget … Then it’s over,” Nitinai said. “It’s like a cycle, like being in a loop.”

 

But a relative of one of the two lynched activists said he has never forgotten the memories.

 

“It’s good that they took it. But I don’t really want to see it because it reminds me of the [newspaper] photos,” said Prayoon Kaetsripongsa, a 77-year-old retired school teacher from Buriram province, referring to postmortem photos of his late younger brother, Vichai.

 

“The pictures showed protruding tongues … It must have been really excruciating,” he recalled in a recent interview.

The brother of the other murdered campaigner, Chomporn, said he is delighted that a piece of that painful history has been saved as a reminder of state atrocities. Five policemen were arrested in the aftermath of the hangings but none were sentenced to prison. Today, archivists have failed to locate any of them.

 

“Privately, I feel sadness and sorrow, but let it be put on display,” Chumpol Thumthai said by phone. Chumpol himself is a retired police officer now living in his home province of Ubon Ratchathani.

 

Although it’s been over forty years since the massacre, Chumpol said he can’t help noting that a similar cycle of political violence is making a return to Thailand today, citing last week’s brutal assault on pro-democracy activist Sirawith “Ja New” Seritiwat.

 

Critics of the junta believe the attack was part of a campaign by the regime to terrorize its enemies – some compared it to the street thuggery that targeted activists in 1976 – but the military government vehemently denies any involvement.

“They tried to kill him. I am worried about the military,” Chumpol said.

Close-up street portrait (outdoor headshot, full-face view) of a middle-aged Buddhist senior monk with extensive religious tattoos all over his head and body;

Wat Prayurawongsawas aka Wat Prayoon, Bangkok, Thailand.

 

More context:

Respecting Buddhist Monks in Thailand (photo blog).

Close-up street back portrait (outdoor headshot, back view) of a middle-aged senior monk with extensive religious tattoos on head and body;

Wat Prayurawongsawas aka Wat Prayoon, Bangkok, Thailand.

 

More context:

Respecting Buddhist Monks in Thailand (photo blog),

Reversing India’s Turnaround (photo blog about back portraits).

Thammasat University - exhibition to remember October 1976

 

3/7/2019

 

"After 42 years, an iconic symbol of the brutalities which led to the 1976 massacre is finally under preservation.

Last month, a group of academics and activists secured “the Red Gate”, a rusty metal sliding gate of a semi-rural residence in Nakhon Pathom province, where two activists were lynched in 1976 – an event that later spiralled into what many historians consider the darkest chapter of Thai political history.

 

“No one thought the gate was still standing,” political scientist Puangthong Pawakakapan, who coordinates an effort to preserve evidence related to the massacre, said in an interview. “Everyone thought the owner must have dismantled the gate.”

 

It was on this gate that two employees of the state electrical authority, Vichai Kaetsripongsa and Chumporn Thumthai, were found hanged on Sept. 24, 1976. Just before their deaths, they had put up posters denouncing a former military dictator’s return to Thailand from his overseas exile.

 

"Two weeks later, student activists at Thammasat University staged a mock hanging to condemn the murders. But the play ended up enraging rightwing militias after one of the students seemed to bear an uncanny resemblance to then-Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn.

 

More murders and more lynchings broke out on Oct. 6, when police commandos and paramilitaries stormed the university, partly to avenge the perceived royal insult in the mock hanging. Official records say 46 people died, though some experts believe the actual toll was much higher.

 

The backdrop to that bloody chains of events then slipped away from history, until Puangthong and her team managed to track it down earlier this year. In June, researchers finally removed the gate for future museum display. The owner, Nitinai Kanuenghet, 67, agreed to swap the gate in exchange for a new one.

 

“It’s a historical relic … Thai society often does not preserve such objects, however. It tells a story of violence,” Puangthong said. “Seeing the gate elicits more of a reaction than merely reading a document. It can be installed to display and retell the story of Oct. 6.”

 

Puangthong, who teaches at Chulalongkorn University and helps run an online archive about the massacre, added that her organization still lacks the funds to establish a museum of human rights to put the gate on permanent display.

Nevertheless, they are looking to hold an exhibition with the Red Gate as a headline item this October to mark the massacre’s 43rd anniversary.

 

‘I Don’t Want to See It’

 

Nitinai, the owner of the gate and the three-rai compound it stood on, is not so sentimental about the red gate.

The property belonged to his late father and Nitinai wasn’t around when the bodies were discovered hung from the gate in 1976. Nitinai said he had no problem “befriending the spirits” of the two and never saw a need to replace the originally greyish-blue gate, which turned reddish from rust over the years.

 

Nitinai is satisfied that the red gate has found a new home where it can serve as a reminder of what occurred four decades ago.

 

Nitinai Kanuenghet poses with a new metal gate that replaces the now-iconic Red Gate

 

“Thais are forgetful. Even my forty-year-old gate was forgotten,” he said.

 

Most of his neighbors have no clue about the gate’s importance.

 

“Once an era is over, people forget … Then it’s over,” Nitinai said. “It’s like a cycle, like being in a loop.”

 

But a relative of one of the two lynched activists said he has never forgotten the memories.

 

“It’s good that they took it. But I don’t really want to see it because it reminds me of the [newspaper] photos,” said Prayoon Kaetsripongsa, a 77-year-old retired school teacher from Buriram province, referring to postmortem photos of his late younger brother, Vichai.

 

“The pictures showed protruding tongues … It must have been really excruciating,” he recalled in a recent interview.

The brother of the other murdered campaigner, Chomporn, said he is delighted that a piece of that painful history has been saved as a reminder of state atrocities. Five policemen were arrested in the aftermath of the hangings but none were sentenced to prison. Today, archivists have failed to locate any of them.

 

“Privately, I feel sadness and sorrow, but let it be put on display,” Chumpol Thumthai said by phone. Chumpol himself is a retired police officer now living in his home province of Ubon Ratchathani.

 

Although it’s been over forty years since the massacre, Chumpol said he can’t help noting that a similar cycle of political violence is making a return to Thailand today, citing last week’s brutal assault on pro-democracy activist Sirawith “Ja New” Seritiwat.

 

Critics of the junta believe the attack was part of a campaign by the regime to terrorize its enemies – some compared it to the street thuggery that targeted activists in 1976 – but the military government vehemently denies any involvement.

“They tried to kill him. I am worried about the military,” Chumpol said.

Close-up street portrait (outdoor headshot, full-face view) of an elderly senior monk during the celebrations of Wan Piyamaharay Day;

Wat Prayurawongsawas aka Wat Prayoon, Bangkok, Thailand.

 

More context:

Respecting Buddhist Monks in Thailand (photo blog).

Closeup street portrait (outdoor headshot, seven-eighths view) of an elderly senior monk during the celebrations of Wan Piyamaharay Day;

Wat Prayurawongsawas aka Wat Prayoon, Bangkok, Thailand.

 

More context:

matthahnewaldphoto.blogspot.com/2015/11/buddhist-monks-in....

Close-up street portrait (outdoor headshot, seven-eighths view) of an elderly senior monk during the celebrations of Wan Piyamaharay Day;

Wat Prayurawongsawas aka Wat Prayoon, Bangkok, Thailand.

 

More context:

Respecting Buddhist Monks in Thailand (photo blog).

Thon Buri District, Bangkok, Thailand

The 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The Hebei Golden Eagle Acrobatic Troupe is originally from Shijiazhuang, the capital city of Hebei Province, China. This leap was thrilling to see, and thanks to my friend Prayoon (www.flickr.com/photos/29034950@N04/) I was in a great spot to catch it.

At the Turtle Mountain at Wat Prayoon temple, Bangkok

. . of Wat Prayoon Wongsawas Worawiharn on the banks of the Chao Praya river.

 

This beautiful temple is in the district of Khet Bangkok Yai, not far from the Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun, which is so much more visited by tourists.

 

This shot was taken early evening, from a spot opposite Wat Arun, and looking down river.

In spite of the heat, Jared and I had a great time at the 51st annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall. Great food, music and best of all, talking to people from the culture they represent. Not every year is a winner, IMHO, but this year was.

 

We explored Armenian and Catalonian culture (and food), and met up with my photography friend, Prayoon (www.flickr.com/photos/29034950@N04/).

 

Pictured here are pottery makers from the Catalonia side.

 

As a side note, DXO Labs has acquired and updated the NIK collection of filter effects, including my favorite Photoshop plug-in, Silver Efex. I recommend it.

 

Wat Prayoon - Bangkok

I'll be traveling in Cambodia over the next couple of weeks and won't be able to post much of anything until I return.

 

michael-lapalme.blogspot.com

The horizontal image of the White Pagoda (Phra Boromthat Maha Chedi or Great Chedi), home to the Buddha's relics, of Wat Prayoon Temple with surrounding skyscraper along Chao Phraya River.

Wat Prayoon - Bangkok

Wat Prayoon - Bangkok

Candid close-up street portrait (outdoor half-length portrait, two-third view) of a Thai Buddhist monk on Wan Piyamaharaj Day, taking a photo with his brand-new Nikon D5500 DSLR camera;

Wat Prayurawongsawas aka Wat Prayoon, Bangkok, Thailand.

 

More context:

Photographing Street Photographers (photo blog),

Respecting Buddhist Monks in Thailand (photo blog),

Adding Context to Street Portraits (photo blog).

Wat Prayoon museum

Wat Prayoon - Bangkok

Inside the Chedi of Wat Prayoon - World heritage - Bangkok

In spite of the heat, Jared and I had a great time at the 51st annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall. Great food, music and best of all, talking to people from the culture they represent. Not every year is a winner, IMHO, but this year was.

 

We explored Armenian and Catalonian culture (and food), and met up with my photography friend, Prayoon (www.flickr.com/photos/29034950@N04/).

 

Pictured here is a guy I found in the corner of the Marketplace, making woven good.

Metal plate - Wat Prayoon - Museum

Processed with VSCO with e8 preset

At Wat Prayoon - A royal monastary on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River.

The turtle pond and mound at Wat Prayoon. where I met a birthday girl feeding the turtles with her little brother. Magic.

This picture is #16 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at the 100 Strangers Flickr Group page

 

Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2014 339

Prayoon fills the frame half way over a wet bed of rice husks to create 4 more mud bricks next to the first 4.

Wat Prayoon - A royal monastary on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River.

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