Technology changes with time, but the fundamentals and recipes in photography remains. This article was first published in 2006, revised in 2018
Recent years have seen a keen interest among many photographers in venturing into Vietnam for photography opportunities. Initially, I thought this was probably due to some tourism promotion gimmicks by some tour agency until I was urged by some of my students to organise a photography trip to Vietnam. I read through a few travel guide books, especially my favourite DK Eye Witness Guide. A trip was thus organised during the Christmas to explore central Vietnam (Danang, Hoi An, My Son, Hue) and then southwards to Ho Chi Minh, Can Tho and My Tho.
For my first visit to Vietnam, I shot about 9000 pictures over a period of 8 days, shooting continuously about 10 frames if the angle is good. I brought along my usual set of APSC lenses 18-200mm, 12-24mm and 10.5mm fisheye. The built in flashlight can be conveniently activated as and when needed to fill in light.
One of our difficulties faced was the limited ability of the local guide in conversing in English. We had to speak within the simplest means to avoid any miscommunication. Even the pronunciation of the city names left much to be desired. Hoi An can be easily pronounced by us, but Hue, Can Tho, My Son and My Tho are pronounced differently from what we would expect them to be correct. What was embarrassing was when I told the hotel receptionist that our next stop is Can Tho (I pronounced as the usual Canto as in the Canto Pub), she stared at me blankly, only to realise a few days later in Can Tho that it should be pronounced as “Kern Therd”. My Tho is to be pronounced as “Mi Tho”, Hue to be pronounced as “Huay”.
Some Tips for travelling:
- You are not likely to spend more than 2 weeks in the location, hence time is a limiting factor. A good local guide who knows a bit of photography will be useful as he or she will know when to stop when the bus pass by some interesting subjects or places.
- It is good to know more about the places you are going to, getting the information from the guide books, internet resources and photography books. In other words, plan what you would like to shoot.
- Get some reference shots from stock libraries so that you can prepare yourself what you are in for. Print them and ask your local guide to help you.
- It is important that transport, accommodation and food should be properly organised. While we do not expect to stay in 5 stars hotel everyday or travel in luxury, it will be dangerous if you stay in a no star hotel where security can be in doubt or the vehicles tend to break down in the middle of the desert!
- Shoot more, shortlist everyday and keep a backup set of images in a separate hard disk.
- Do not eat the food by the roadside (anywhere) until you are “localised”.
- It is good to have an extra set of equipment on standby, in case your equipment malfunctions.
- Bring sufficient medicine, for sore throat, cough, flu etc.
The following pictures shall provide some insights to the places visited and recommended to be revisited. There is this certain charm in Vietnam which kept me mesmerized even when I touched down in Singapore. The rustic charm, the friendly people, the unique culture…..I shall definitely explore the Northern Vietnam soon. I hope to present the Part 2 in due time.Views: 642