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The Serpent

Once in a blue moon, something other than an old movie catches my attention while randomly scrolling on Netflix’s site. A few days ago, I came across a miniseries called The Serpent. The series has an intriguing plot, it’s beautifully shot, has good acting, and really groovy music from the 1970s. Best of all, it takes place in Southeast Asia, primarily in the Thai capital Bangkok. Highly recommend giving it a watch, especially if you, like me, traveled around Asia in the 1980s and came across dubious “gemstone agents” and other shady characters while crisscrossing the continent carefree with a small stack of traveler’s checks in your money pouch and the yellow bible, South East Asia On A Shoestring in your hand.

Like most westerners that sought out adventure and something different culturally, especially after having done the Eurail or Interrail thing, Khao San Road in Bangkok was the “hub” that we passed through at some point or another. After roughing it in India, Indonesia or Nepal, this a westernized version of the Orient – where you could stock up on just about anything you needed: food, clothes, visas, fake ID cards, tattoos, and knickknacks to send home. You could also make (CCP) phone calls here and the post office wasn’t too far away.

My first time on Khao San I stayed in a room at a guest house with wafer-thin walls and a shared shower for about $1/night including a banana pancake and coffee breakfast. There were a lot of travel agents on Khao San and if you weren’t into Bangkok’s many tourist attractions, you could stay put in the area until it was time to leave for the next adventure north, south, east, or west. I usually chilled out three or four nights before getting tired of the crowds and nagging tailors and pushing onwards.

The shot above was taken sometime in the mid-2000s when I was on Khao San Road to research for yet another travel story about the area’s (in)famous backpacker scene.


Editing Stills and Film

Still editing and composing a collection of short films from last week’s shoot in Svedala and Malmö. As much as possible, I follow my storyboard chronologically while filming. But much of the “story” I am trying to convey ends up coming together on the timeline – the spot within the editing software where all the individual film clips are placed in chronological order. The thing with editing film (as when compared to editing still images) is that you need to take a break from it in order to fine-tune your story and minimize excessive (boring) sequences. It’s a reductive process, much like cooking a sauce or a soup. You know from the start that you’ll end up with something much closer to your vision but that it’ll take a while to get there.

I am still impressed by the high-resolution film clips produced by the Fujifilm XT-3. At 4K, 25 fps, 10-bit color depth, and 400Mbits/s video, each and every second represents 25 individual images that provide more than enough information to be used as a standalone, printable still photo.

Since the vast majority of my film projects are delivered at 1080p (HD), the abundance of recorded video information allows for generous re-framing options and exposure/color tweaking. So handy.

The shophouse above is from somewhere along Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River. Shot with the Fuji last year sometime and edited in Lightroom and Photoshop. A lot of folks are opting to move to Capture One as their preferred photo editing software. I’m sure it’s a capable editor. But I don’t see how leaving my current workflow would grant me any creative or time-saving advantages. I know of only one (older) photographer that somewhat strangely uses Adobe Bridge instead of Lightroom’s superior organizational features. Adobe Bridge seems archaic, one of those Swiss Army Knife applications: lots of tools, none of which are implemented very well.

I suppose that’s the way it is. Once you try a piece of software and it gets the job done without getting too much in the way, it becomes hard to abandon. I suppose I’ll be sticking with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom and Final Cut Pro for a long time yet. Definitely going to dig into Logic, or, at least Garageband sometime over the summer. Really yearning to dip my toes in the music creation universe.