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Sunday, August 16, 2015

TRAVEL: Team Bangkok Air Asia Travel Photographer 2015

Bangkok is one of the cities wherein there's a perfect blend of contrasts- the old and the new. The Grand Palace and temples have their own charms and I savor its rich history and culture. I also love its cityscape and amazing modern architecture.

And I think that this is also what the Air Asia Travel Photographer is all about since they've paired contenders with zero knowledge when it comes to DSLR's with professional photographers. The contenders are expected to capture photos in five categories: portrait, food, landscape, architecture, and a 9-photo collage that will tell a story about the city's culture.

Pro meets newbie photographer

TJ Nepomuceno is not really into photography although he takes photos using his camera phone like most of us do. Team Bangkok's Air Asia Travel Photographer contender is a car enthusiast who coincidentally works as a marketing professional in an automotive company. TJ has really zero experience with DSLRs so while waiting for our flight from Manila to Bangkok, Raymond Cruz didn't waste time to show him how a Nikon DSLR works. Raymond is a pro and one of the pioneers of landscape photography in the Philippines. He is a self-taught photographer that specializes in landscape, nature, architecture and night photography.

TJ is an eager learner according to his coach. He is not shy to ask questions and he listens well and even take notes. And lucky for TJ because Coach Raymond, who is a confessed self-taught photographer shares with him his eight years of experience in handling the camera as well as first hand accounts of trial and error stories that contributes to his expertise in landscape photography.

So many buttons!  

I guess using a dslr for the first time is really daunting but as long as you are interested to learn, then things will eventually fall into place. I mean, it looks like TJ here is having a hard time understanding the buttons and controls but Team Bangkok's Air Asia Travel Photographer contender shows not only eagerness to learn but determination to live up to his mentor's expertise.

Airborne ... and the lesson continues. TJ listens aptly while Coach Raymond explains the button functions and camera settings.

Meet Team Bangkok

We landed in Bangkok around 9pm, then we spent about an hour waiting at the baggage carousel waiting for the tripods only to be told that it got left behind. That incident would've dampen anyone's spirit but Team Bangkok says- Aja! And because we need to energize, our first meal in Bangkok was at Tip Top Restaurant in Pat Pong Night Market.

Team Bangkok is headed by Coach Raymond Cruz and contender TJ Nepomuceno, David Viray of Air Asia, Peter Frac (videographer), Vin and Fiona of Think Dharma/ Nikon, and yours truly, Viva Manilena.

L to R clockwise: Me, David Viray of Air Asia, TJ, Peter Frac (videographer), Coach Raymond, and Vin and Fiona of Think Dharma / Nikon.

Here's our first meal of the world famous Pad Thai. Costs 150 THB. Visit The Kitchen Goddess for the food review.

Day 1 

Dawn breaks. Feeling refreshed after a restful sleep, we all woke up to a lovely day and the challenge of capturing the essence of Bangkok begins for TJ Nepumoceno, contender for Air Asia's Travel Photographer.

Anticipate the right moment when taking pictures

One lesson that Raymond shared with TJ is how to sit still and wait for the right moment to capture that perfect shot. It can mean standing in the middle of the street for minutes or hours, under the sun or the rain. And we've experienced both- sun and rain.

Almost there but not quite

TJ just set up the dslr on the tripod to apply his knowledge about landscape photography using long exposure shot when a tourist accidentally tripped on the tripod. Oh no! Back to square one. It can be a bit frustrating especially if one is trying to capture the perfect moment with natural light then you encounter glitches. It's now a race against the natural light after that.

Wat Benchamabophit, also known as the Marble Temple. 

"Like a fish takes to water." 

Using his new found knowledge about landscape photography, TJ didn't show a hint of impatience nor giving up after his almost perfect photograph encountered some mishap. But as the saying goes- the show must go on. Capturing that scene for maybe a hundred or thousand times just to achieve that perfect shot is not easy but TJ's happiness is contagious as soon as he achieved that shot that he is aiming for. Go Team Bangkok!

Day 2

We were all scheduled to leave early and go to the Floating Market but there's such a thing as Murphy's Law. Aside from that, all of us didn't really expect that the distance to the Floating Market from the city is like going to Subic via SCTEX. But we did enjoy the long travel to catch up on much-needed sleep. There are numerous floating markets in Thailand and every one is as colorful as Damnoen Saduak.

A lot of items are being sold in Damnoen Saduak such as fruits, vegetables, local dishes, clothes, herbs and spices, paintings and other souvenir items.

After the market area, our boat weaves its way around and lovely houses made from teak wood lined the canal. Mode of transportation here are small boats because its hard to visit your neighbor if you don't have one. Also, I'm guessing that most of the villagers here are dependent on the floating market.

Bridge to heaven.

Here's a part of Bhumibol Bridge which TJ says is his most memorable place in Bangkok. I've seen an aerial photo of this bridge and the architecture is really amazing. Also, I guess this bridge is also memorable for all of us as well since we almost missed the sunset due to language barrier with our van driver. Luckily, creativity is heightened after that adrenalin rush.

Day 3

"I can relax now."

After three days of walking around Bangkok, Coach Raymond is happy with TJ's performance and blooming romance with the Nikon dslr. Coach Raymond notes that when TJ first started using the Nikon dslr, he lacks "composition," but then as TJ becomes more familiar with the camera, his pictures begins to transfor also. He also says that he is surprised by TJ's eagerness to learn photography using dslr when he found out that TJ's been practicing and experimenting on his own. Now that's something that will make any mentor proud and happy of his prodigy.

TJ and Coach Raymond being interviewed about their experience. 

We all look tired (look at those eyebags!), but Team Bangkok really had a nice time. So here's Viva Manilena inviting everyone to participate in the online voting campaign on who's going to be the First Air Asia Travel Photographer. Visit this link - Air Asia Travel Photographer, for more updates. Online voting begins on August 20. There are five photo categories: portrait, food, landscape, architecture, and a 9-photo collage that will tell a story about the city's culture. Please vote for Team Bangkok. A lucky voter also gets to win a Nikon 1 J5 and 10 lucky voters also wins 10,000 Air Asia Big Points. :)

Thank you Air Asia and Nikon. Its been a wonderful experience for me to be a part of Team Bangkok.


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