Evening Wanderings in Bangkok

Sickly greenish light illuminating the facade above Narry's Boutique, at night, just off Sukhumvit in Bangkok, Thailand.

Here's some images from an evening photo walk I undertook in and around Sukhumvit, a popular tourist area in Bangkok, Thailand.

The sickly sweet artificial light washes these relatively banal environments in a surreal quality of light bringing concrete structures to life and heightening the color of the already candy-colored taxi cabs.

Traffic congestion on the streets of Sukhumvit at night in Bangkok, Thailand.

By putting in the miles, walking through public parks and side streets alike, you get to see a variety of sub-cultures within Bangkok. Just off Sukhumvit I've discovered areas frequented by Muslim (mainly Indian and Africans), Japanese, Korean and German tourists.  And, of course, you get a glimpse of how local Thai folk, from a variety of social-economic demographics, go about their day.

The images in today's post were all taken from a walkway above the Sukhumvit/Asoke Intersection close to where I stayed  on my most recent visit to Bangkok. It’s close to the subway, the monorail and provides relatively easy access to the airport.

I had originally wanted to stay in a quiet, green part of town. On my next visit I may have more luck but, the fact is, Bangkok doesn’t have that many green areas close to the city. I ended up choosing a comfortable, boutique hotel with very nice staff, but there's only so much of such a hot and busy city I can abide without losing interest.

Bangkok is probably less polluted than it was in days gone by. What's more tap water is now said to be drinkable, which is wonderful news for local and tourist alike. But tropical weather is draining for someone not accustomed to it, and wandering around this concrete jungle under the hot Thai sun is hard work.

A billboard illuminated at night on Sukhumvit in Bangkok, Thailand.

Night Time Offers Relief

The balmy nights are much more pleasurable than the heat of the day. The traffic subsidies and I walked for hours under neon light. There's plenty to see and do and lots to photograph.  

Leica M9 High ISO Performance

These images were all made with, what was then, my new Leica M9 camera. For what it's worth I'd only photograph above ISO800 with this camera if the alternative for hand-held photography was a loss of sharpness or an unacceptable loss in depth-of-field.

The images in this post were made at between ISO400 and 800 and, hand-held, at shutter speeds between 1/8 and 1/60 second. Watch your ISO carefully as, with this camera, my own experience suggests that noise is certainly reduced by the 1/3 stop reduction in ISO from 800 to 640.

While Adobe Lightroom includes very good noise reduction which I employed, when appropriate, it was extremely disappointing to have purchased such an expensive camera that delivered such poor quality at what’s really just moderately high ISO settings. In retrospect, though the CCD (Charged Coupled Device) sensor in the Leica M9 camera produced lovely color rendition, it’s high ISO performance was really quite poor.

Thankfully more recent Leica cameras like the Leica M (TYP 240), Leica M10 and the wonderful Leica Q incorporate CMOS (Complimentary Metal Oxide Sensor) sensors and produce excellent quality files, even at relatively high ISO settings.

I hope Leica continue to innovate and adapt. They are a venerable company and I was a dedicated Leica user and fan for many years.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru