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4 SELFINDULGED the very first issue of SELF INDULGED! These days it seems everybody has a blog, myself included and, even though I try and update it on a fairly regular basis, it seems there’s never enough room for all of the stuff I want to say and for all of the stuff I want to show! The blogging communities by their very existence are self indulgent. Thousands and thousands of words hitting the world wide web everyday, some spectacular, some unnoticed, all of it - self indulged. As a professional photographer I usually write and shoot travel features for other people but here, in my own magazine I can shoot what I want, say what I want and indulge in the luxury of the ‘photo essay’ for as many pages as I damn well please. (Issue 2 will have a doozy of a photo essay on Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal). So then what’s it all really about? Short answer: Seeing and photographing as much of the planet as possible and writing about it along the way! According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian residents made a record 6.8 million overseas trips last year. That’s a lot of Aussies travelling to a lot of places and every chance I get I try to be one of them. If I can’t get overseas then I’m just as happy exploring Oz. Before we begin you should understand.....I’m not ‘loaded’, I’m not a ‘thrill seeking’ adventure traveller with a truck load of sponsorship and nerves of steel. I’ve flown literally hundreds of thousands of miles but am still scared of flying (unless it’s in a helicopter or hot air balloon, strangely I seem to think they won’t crash!), I’m scared of heights and moths and not necessarily in that order – head torches are out of the question for me until one is invented which repels the little buggers and stops them flying straight for my face. I’m just an ordinary, everyday photographer who happens to enjoy every moment of being on this planet and there’s still so much to see. As well as looking back on past trips, I’ll also be looking forward to another huge trip we are planning for next year where we will be hoping to take Self Indulged ‘on the road’. So,WELCOME to Issue #1.The ‘finding my feet’ issue. I haven’t strayed too far from home for this one but once we get going there’ll be no stopping us. If it interests, inspires or just irritates you along the way then it’s all good. You think this all sounds Self Indulged? You ain’t seen nothing yet!















YOUR RIGHTS. THEIR WRONGS. “There should be no need for permits or charges (other than entry fees or other charges similar to those paid by the general public) where artists/photographers are not requiring any more access, assistance or creating any more impact on the environment than a tourist or visitor”

A few years ago, just after the London bombings, I was out taking photos along the banks of the River Thames with a photographer friend. We turned a corner and came face to face with two armed policemen, flak jackets, machine guns (okay, they probably weren’t machine guns but they were big and black and capable of shooting bullets that would kill you), the whole kit and caboodle. The policeman was very jovial and polite and enquired as to what we were photographing. He then pointed out that we were standing opposite the MI-5 building and that it might be a good idea to point our cameras elsewhere. On enquiring if we were a ‘couple’ I shook my head and pointed to my other half who was illegally parked in a windowless white transit van, waiting for us to return from the shoot. The policeman had a bit of a chuckle, checked out the van for ‘explosives’ and we went on our way. We moved along without a second thought, even though we hadn’t actually been asked to. We understood completely. SELFINDULGED 11

A few months ago I posted a moan on my blog entitled “The Trouble with Tripods” because I’d been stopped by a security guard outside Parliament House in Canberra and was told that I had to move on. This, I did not understand. He cited ‘a security risk’ as the reason I’d been told to move on but then proceeded to tell me that if I’d have lied and said I was an amateur I would have been allowed to stay and as I’d already told him that I was a ‘professional photographer’ he could not allow me to stay without a permit. I’m either a security risk or I’m not…whether I’m an amateur or professional is completely irrelevant! I then discovered the Arts Freedom Australia (AFA) website and realised that other photographers all over the country were being hassled by the same sorts of issues. This mixed up, misguided approach to security, along with over-the-top bureaucracy is currently running rampant through the halls of government buildings all across Australia, at a federal level, through to state and, yep I’m afraid even some local councils are grabbing their share. The AFA is an organisation which has been set up by Australian Photographer, Ken Duncan to highlight these issues to the general public in order to combat these ‘restrictive and prohibitive Federal, State and Territory and Local Government legislations and policies’. It’s core belief is that there should be no need for permits or charges (other than entry fees or other charges similar to those paid by the general public) where SELFINDULGED 13


artists/photographers are not requiring any more access, assistance or creating any more impact on the environment than a tourist or visitor, an idea that I fully endorse. And so, when AFA announced that it would be holding a rally on the 29th of August at Campbells Cove in Sydney, I went along to show my support. Around 700 photographers turned up...all with our cameras, clicking and chimping like demons possessed. Many of us were wearing “We’re photographers – not criminals” t-shirts except Peter Walton who was dressed as a convict in black and white stripes carrying a placard which read “Guilty of promoting Australia (without a permit)”. He certainly stood out from the crowd and when I went up to the top of the tower at Doyles Restaurant to take a group shot, it was like playing ‘Where’s Wally’ in real life as I caught glimpses of his stripy attire weaving in and out of the crowd. Ken addressed the crowd with a passionate and heartfelt speech and other photographers took to the podium to have their say. There are many issues which the government need to address and many of the government agencies themselves are unable to clearly explain why these permits are required, a point highlighted by Peter Walton in his speech. How do you pre-book where you’ll be and when you’ll be shooting if the light and weather dictate your movements? And what if you plan on travelling all around Australia recording it’s spectacular you pay for a permit SELFINDULGED 15

for every location on the off chance you may sell a print from just one? It’s a money grab, a self perpetuating cycle of fees and administration often hidden behind the guise of ‘public protection’ yet even this is nonsensical. There’s no police clearance required to obtain a photographers permit. If I’m a paedophile but I’ve paid my fees to shoot on a public beach, then that permit entitles me to shoot whatever I want. All of these issues and more were highlighted by Ken both in his speech and with the interviews he held with the media on the day. The entire event was well organised, well executed and certainly well received. I’m hoping to head off on a world trip at some stage next year. If the equivalent permits were required for me to photograph all the wonderful places and National Parks I intend to visit overseas, then the cost in fees would be more than the cost of the trip itself. And how sad it is that I can travel the world unhindered, and only have to worry about permits and fees when I come back to my own country. For more information on Arts Freedom Australia you can visit the website at The more people who join the cause, the more our pollies will have to listen...Good on you Ken!


“It’s no ex photog aggeration to raphy h s as been ay that environ t ment’s he best frie this cou nd in ntry, an d its be advoca st te.” K.Dunc an - AF A Rally

ay od e t d an nd th e y a c rv cra crats to se e o w u m de urea there rsa – ke a b in ve ma .” re o ve d the ey a vice x i l e min h m t ple lly t t e o t W m h “ n a t e o r d th y Ra we ians le an or pa ore c AFA op sm nm litic po e pe t the r live unca th lec ou K.D e t ’ n do




33°51′14.75″S 151°12′34.80″E CACHING IN... 53°45′N″GEO° 2°42′W″CACH WORLDWIDE 20 SELFINDULGED


33°51′14.75″S E 151°12′34.80″E ° 53°45′N″GEO° HE2°42′W″CACH E°WORLDWIDE he conversation I overheard went something like this; “Mate, we just drove down from Darwin and there’s heaps of ém up there but one little bugger that we just couldn’t get. Overall we had a good hunt.” To which someone else replied, “Yep, we’ve come down from Darwin too, bagged quite a few but I reckon we’ll get a few more here before we move on.” We were in Port Hedland. Cooke Point Caravan Park to be precise. We were sharing the barbeque facilities with the other campers and, as I cooked our steak I deduced, via my eavesdropping (and overactive imagination), that these guys must be illegal crocodile hunters. It was only when they mentioned ‘bagging a few here’ that I began to doubt my own theory. Although crocs have been spotted in Port Hedland (and even as far down as Carnarvon) they’re nowhere near as rife as in the Northern Territory and surely you don’t come to Port Hedland to track and then ‘bag’ crocs. To put myself out of my misery I admitted I’d been listening in and asked them what they were talking about. Akin to ‘taking the red pill’, the answer to that one simple question opened a door to an alternate universe that can now never be closed. A world where nothing is really as it seems. A world where deceptively normal people are out hunting and collecting every single day,

all over the planet, in covert operations carefully timed and planned so as not to alert the general populous to their clandestine ways. They are known as Geocachers and we were in a caravan park full of them. Within minutes laptops were set up on the picnic tables and gadgets and gizmos were switched on. Another family appeared with a very enthusiastic young girl who excitedly told me how many caches she’d collected while her mother pulled up maps and charts on the laptop that would’ve made even Captain Picard’s head spin. I was trapped, I’d asked the question and now I was getting the answer. Luckily Dave (my other half) appeared. I thought he’d come to rescue me but the steaks blazing away on the barbie apparently needed rescuing first. The concept of Geocaching seems easy enough, people from all over the world hide log books along with a small ‘gift’ in a secret location and then post a clue along with the GPS co-ordinates onto the Geocache website. The ingenuity is in the actual places that these things are hidden. Some are easy finds, quite blatant apparently, but many are cleverly disguised. It was the idea of these caches being hidden in plain sight that really intrigued me. They told us stories of removable traffic bollards and hollow metal fence posts, some of which have tops SELFINDULGED 21

that screw off to reveal a cache inside. Powerpoints on public walls which aren’t really powerpoints, reflector discs on bollards which pull off to reveal the hidden cache, fake drains, fake taps, fake bricks...the list goes on. By the end of the evening we were keen to give it a go. We didn’t have a handheld GPS but we’d been told that there was one hidden on the big field gun opposite the Esplanade Hotel. We didn’t have much time to spare for the ‘exploration’, we were booked on the Port Hedland iron ore tour (try saying that ten times, fast) and needed to get to the meeting point. Like two loonies with a fetish for field guns we twisted bolts and felt in gaps and explored pretty much every inch of that gun. We suddenly became very self conscious and realised if anyone walked by they would think we were nuts. After a 15 minute fertle we walked away empty handed. We concluded that; 1. It was the wrong gun 2. We had no chance without an actual GPS 3. It was a silly game anyway!

That was all months ago now and we have since bought a hand-held GPS. Having another go at Geocaching has been at the back of my mind but I’d never set the time aside to actually register

myself on their website. At first glance it’s a little scary. Although still intrigued by the concept of Geocaching, I was bewildered by their website, confused by the terminology and frankly, a little afraid of becoming an acronym spruiking geekoid who dreams of GPS co-ordinates and ‘the ultimate cache’. A fear I thought well founded when I searched for caches local to

“I was bewildered by their website, confused by the terminology and frankly, a little afraid of becoming an acronym spruiking geekoid” Perth and found this bizarre log report posted by a successful hunter; “Found it this evening during a caching walk around Perth. A few muggles opposite, who cleared away to go and do muggle things, and coast was clear. Made a quick grab. Sat down to sign - only to find a muggle lady, who appeared to be waiting to be picked up in a car, stood right on top of the GZ. Couldn’t be closer if she was standing on it! Had to go and have some tea at the local 24hr place, and when I’d had my fill - she was gone. Love the camo! TFTC” *

The reference to ‘muggles’ clearly is a warning sign, these people are in a world of their own. They speak a language that only other Geocachers understand....hmmm, interesting. After reading several similar posts I registered myself on the website (more for research purposes than anything else) and discovered entire explanations about how the whole thing worked, the more log reports I read, the more the acronyms deciphered themselves in my head. After all this time I finally looked up the gun location from Port Hedland and saw on the log report the following; “Searched high and low for about half an hour but could not find it. We gave up as we were attracting too many unwanted stares” * Great news! Even proper, bonefide GC’s (see it’s happening already) couldn’t find the cache... maybe there was some hope for me. I searched the website for some local co-ordinates that would be easy to begin with. I cheated and fed the GPS co-ordinates into Google Earth, I know Perth city quite well so knew exactly where I should be looking. And that is how I found myself in the middle of Hay Street Mall, surrounded by hundreds of shoppers, trying to look inconspicuous and understanding exactly the frustrations of all the other cachers who’d been moaning about the presence of muggles.

From reading the other the log reports for this particular cache on the website, I knew that this was going to be a tricky one to find. There was a clue on the website about ‘some steps’ so the actual location (as with the gun) was known, it was just a case of ‘twiddling’ some stuff to see what came loose.....and then I found it!! Oh joy! The urge to run around screaming “I know something that you don’t know” was overwhelming but I bit my tongue and resigned myself to the fact that I had taken a step into this parallel world, and from here on in, there was no going back. As I walked away I couldn’t stop the smug little smirk from spreading across my face. I’d found my first the middle of the city, in plain sight, and those muggles didn’t have a cluep

S ″ 5 7 4.


1 ′ 1 5 3°





short break! That’s what we needed. With only four days to spare, I didn’t really fancy all the usual ‘short break near a winery’ haunts so a quick jaunt to Kalgoorlie seemed like just the ticket. The Prospector train ticket! We could have taken the quick (but not so cheap) option of flying, but decided that heading out to Kalgoorlie by rail would be more of an experience. Besides, the prospect of taking it easy on The Prospector for the 6 hour journey seemed like the perfect way to unwind. The train itself first came into service in 1971 but in 2004 the new ‘state of the art’ Prospector was introduced making the rail trip competitive with road travel (in terms of time) for the very first time. The Prospector stops at tiny tonguetwister towns along the way with names such as Cunderdin, Kellerberin and Burracoppin. Around lunch time the train stopped at Southern Cross and one solitary man got off the train with his kit bag slung over his shoulder. There were no cars or people at the deserted station to greet him and he wandered off into the distance.... and into oblivion! I watched him until he was a dot on the horizon, ordered a beer from the buffet car and rushed back to my seat to catch the start of the ‘in-train’ movie. SELFINDULGED 25


We arrived at Kalgoorlie station just after 2pm. Conscious that it was still going to take a few hours to drive to Menzies and Lake Ballard before sunset, we picked up a hire car, zoomed down Hannan Street for our first real glimpse of ‘Kal’ and headed out onto the open road. As we pulled in to Menzies it was quite obvious that the once bustling township was now a ‘one horse town’, actually the horse had probably left as well! According to the tourist guide, the shire of Menzies has a population of about 400 with just 70 of these actually inhabiting the town. A big drop in numbers from the gold rush days of the late eighteen hundreds, when Menzies was home to thirteen hotels, three banks, four churches and over 10,000 people. The town hall, built in 1900, still stands and is a beautiful old stone building with a lovely new clock in the tower, proudly showing the world the correct time. The story surrounding the clock takes the saying “W.A. – wait awhile” to a whole new level. Apparently a clock for the tower was ordered from England and was sent out on the Royal Mail steamer the SS Orizaba in 1905. Unfortunately for the inhabitants of Menzies (and the Captain of the ship) the Orizaba ran aground just off Garden Island and, although the crew and much of the cargo 26 SELFINDULGED

were salvaged, the clock never made it to the Town Hall. And so, the tower stood without a clock for 100 years until New Years Eve 2000 when the newly installed clock was unveiled to celebrate the Millennium. To be fair, without a clock in the town, no body actually realised just how long it had taken for the new one to arrive! Running short of daylight hours, we checked in to the Menzies Hotel and set off on the 55km drive to Lake Ballard. The dirt road was firm and flat and dusty...very dusty. We were following another car which, although never seen, gave away its presence with the thick yellow clouds that it left in its wake. There were roo bodies scattered along the roadside, an ominous reminder that one could jump out in front of us any minute and we wouldn’t even see it coming. While my other half drove I sat in stony silence, vowing that next time we hired a car I wouldn’t be so tight and would fork out the extra cash for the additional excess cover! The dust hung in the air and, in the late afternoon light, it was like driving through an episode of the Twilight Zone. Nearly an hour later we were relieved to be pulling up in front of the huge salt plain, Lake Ballard. At first glance the dried out lake appears largely featureless aside from a mound that rises out of SELFINDULGED 27

the centre. On closer inspection you begin to see little black lines within the landscape and, as you walk towards them, these ‘lines’ seem to morph into life-sized human figures. The work of British sculptor, Anthony Gormley, these 51 sculptures were created to mark the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Perth International Arts Festival in 2003. The sculptures themselves are steel and were made from laser scans of the local inhabitants. They are spread over about ten square kilometres and the footprints of past pilgrims to the lake leave dark lines in the salt leading on to other lonely figures. We walked around them in eerie silence, breaking the top layer of salt with each step and leaving big orange muddy footprints as we went. As darkness descended we headed back across the lake to the carpark with the very odd feeling of being followed! The drive back to town was as hairy as the drive out. The roos bounded out of the darkness and into the glare of the headlights missing the car by literally millimetres. Back at the Menzies Hotel we were greeted with an open fire and warm hospitality. We chatted to the new owners over a beer at the bar and learned that they had recently bought the old SELFINDULGED 29

hotel and had big plans to restore it to its former glory. With nowhere else in to stay in town, we’d booked our night at the Menzies Hotel out of necessity, not choice. With some time and money spent the dilapidated old building could be a real treasure. As we walked up the creaking and dusty stairs to our tiny room and listened to the snoring of another guest through the paper thin walls, we decided we’d put off visiting again until after the renovations had been done! Up and out early the next morning, we skipped the bit where you have a shower (the shared bathroom needed renovating too!) and headed back to Kalgoorlie, comforted by the fact that we would be checking into a ‘modern’ hotel that afternoon. Still quite early, we parked up on Hannan St, the main road through the town, and wandered past the wonderful old hotels that give Kalgoorlie its character and charm. With a pub on every corner I was already starting to like this town. Too early for a pint of liquid gold, we headed to the Australian Prospectors Miners Hall of Fame to find out what this gold-mining town was really about. Once inside the Miners hall of Fame we 30 SELFINDULGED

stumbled across the original statue of Paddy Hannan.....the one standing on the street that was named after him is an imposter! This lucky Irishman was the first person to discover gold (100 ounces of alluvial nuggets) at Mt Charlotte in 1893, a discovery which led to one of world’s last ‘great gold rushes’. The area came to be known as the Golden Mile, the richest square mile of gold producing earth ever discovered! We panned (unsuccessfully) for gold and joined Jim, a retired miner, down one of the old mining shafts and listened to his tales about the lives of the ‘old timers’ and the risks they would take underground whilst retrieving the gold. With so much to see and do at the Hall of Fame, time was running away from us. We had an appointment to keep that evening at the local brothel and we hadn’t even had a shower! On arrival at the All Seasons Hotel, we were welcomed with a fortune cookie with the promise of a ‘free beer at the bar’ inside it. I may not have discovered any gold yet but my fortunes were definitely bucking up! The relative luxury of the All Seasons Hotel after being in Menzies was greatly appreciated. On the way to our ‘appointment’ at Langtrees SELFINDULGED 31


we popped into the grand old Exchange Hotel. True to Kalgoorlie form, the skimpies were serving behind the bar and I took a seat while my other half took an unusually long time to order two pints of beer. From the skimpies, straight to the brothel he must have thought all his Christmases had come at once but we were on official tourist business and took a seat in the lavishly decorated Langtree’s lobby as we waited for the rest of the ‘guests’ to arrive. The infamous Hay Street is home to three working brothels, the oldest of which is Questa Casa, easily recognised by its tin shed appearance and pink doors, it is best known for its ‘starting stalls’ and is the only original brothel still standing from the gold rush days. The Red House is right next door followed by Langtrees at number 181 and it was here that we sat, trying to look inconspicuous and, if I’m honest, feeling a little bit uncomfortable about being in an actual working brothel. Our guide was an ex-mistress who escorted us through each room. She was funny and uncensored as she walked us through the themed rooms. From the Great Boulder Shaft Room with mirrored walls giving the impression that the shaft goes on forever, to the Afghan Boudoir which celebrates the Afghans and SELFINDULGED 33

their camels trains (incidentally, the reason why the roads of Kalgoorlie were made so wide was so that the long camel trains could turn around), each room fondly depicts an era or characteristic of Kalgoorlie making the brothel well worth an ‘official’ visit. On the final day of our quick Kal jaunt, we’d booked a tour of the Super-Pit with a tour company called Finders Keepers, based in Boulder. Boulder is like the poorer cousin of Kalgoorlie. It’s name actually makes up the second part of the City’s official title which is Kalgoorlie-Boulder however, in keeping with great Aussie tradition, this typically gets shortened to just ‘Kal’ and Boulder doesn’t even get a mention. It is literally just down the road and has its own splendid hotels and character as well as a somewhat misplaced art deco theatre! Burt Street is Boulders’ Hannan Street equivalent and, although the place could mostly do with a lick of paint there was no mistaking the shiny new sign out the front of the Finders Keepers Prospecting Shop and Tour Company. Run by local couple Matt and Tracey, Matt used to be a Miner and started the business by taking tourists out on gold prospecting adventures on his weekends 34 SELFINDULGED


off. Their entrepreneurial spirit paid off and, through his mining connections, he was able to get permission to add a new tour to his list...the Super-Pit tour. A whopping great hole in the ground covering most of the area that was once the Golden Mile, the Super-Pit is run by Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines. In 1989 Alan Bond bought most of the leases on the land around the Golden Mile and consolidated the whole lot to form KCGM. The open pit is now 3km long, 1.4km wide and 370m deep and, aside from becoming a miner, the only way to get ‘on-site’ is on the tour...and if you like Tonka trucks, you’ll love the tour! For safety reasons we mostly stayed in the van as Matt drove us around the working areas around the top of the Pit. The massive dump trucks drove right past us and we gave them a wide berth for fear of becoming a tourist van pancake. With Matt’s running commentary explaining every aspect of the mine and how the gold is extracted from the earth, we left with a greater understanding of just how complicated this process really is and how much time and money goes into extracting the tiniest amount of gold. 36 SELFINDULGED

Back at the shop, Matt passed around a real gold nugget that he’d found on one of his prospecting tours. None of this powdered earth rubbish that needs chemicals and expensive processes to extract, this was a proper honest-to-goodness gold nugget! You could see the changing expressions on everyone’s faces as ‘gold fever’ started to setin and we managed to get out before the mad dash to buy metal detectors began. The next morning, as we settled into our seats for our relaxing ride home, I thought we’d come away unscathed.....but I was wrong. We’d caught it! Gold fever! We’ll be heading back to Kal but next time we’ve agreed – we are taking a tent, plenty of water.... and a metal detector!


f l e s



...and go into the draw to WIN an iPAD! Entries close 20th November 2010 See the website for details!


the ancient


utthaya kingdom

For over four hundred years, Ayutthaya was the magnificent capital of Thailand. Destroyed by the Burmese in 1767, the remaining ruins still make for an impressive landmark and it’s well worth escaping the modern Capital of Bangkok for a few hours to take this step back in time. Before I went to Thailand I hadn’t even heard of Ayutthaya. We’d been to Koh Samui with some friends and every side street market there had small canvases for sale depicting a Buddha head entrenched within tree roots. I didn’t want to buy the canvas, I wanted to take that photo myself. After making a few enquiries back in Bangkok we discovered that the head in the roots was located at Wat Mahathat, just one of the many Wats in the Ayutthaya kingdom. A tour from our hotel would cost the equivalent of AU$80 each, not bad really for a full day but I didn’t want to be driven along the expressway in an air-conditioned car....I wanted far less

luxury. I wanted to catch the local train. For the princely sum of 80 cents we jumped on a train at Hua Lamphong Station (they run to Ayutthaya every hour) and settled in for an hour and a half ride on the tracks. On this occasion, it was a pleasure to be on a train in a country that has no health and safety laws! (I use the term ‘on this occasion’ because I once spent 16 hours on a hard seat in a train in was NOT a pleasure) The windows could be opened and you could even ride between the carriages if you felt so inclined. I didn’t but if I’d have wanted to, I could’ve. Upon arrival we were swamped with touts offering tours. We asked for a price and agreed to pay for a four hour block with an older local man and his little blue tuk tuk. He couldn’t speak much English but we managed to convey that we were from Australia, to which he seemed overjoyed and pulled out an official looking card SELFINDULGED 41

Wat Yai Chai Mongkhol

that some politician from Queensland had left with him. He also had a small collection of Aussie coins but no 50 cents pieces. I managed to find one in the depths of my camera bag and he added it with a big grin to the rest of his glove box collection. At Wat Yai Chai Mongkhol we saw the giant sleeping Buddha and climbed up (well, Dave climbed...I stayed on the ground with my camera) the massive 60 meter high chedi: Phra Chedi Chai Mongkhol. We’d only set out to see a head in some roots and had no idea that so many temples were here to be explored. We walked past the line of yellow cloaked sitting Buddhas and marvelled at the size of the frangipani trees in the surrounding gardens. As we moved on to Wat Mahathat, the day became overcast and the smaller temples were largely free of other tourists, it was kind of eerie and surreal exploring these crumpling temples in the middle of the dark day. I finally got the photo I’d been waiting for even if I was a little taken aback by the size of the head. I’m not sure why but I’d been


Wat Yai Chai Mongkhol

Wat Mongkhol Bophit

If you think that that’s ‘slumming

Wat Mahathat

Wat Mahathat SELFINDULGED 47

Wat Mahathat

expecting something huge. The Buddha head was actually very small, nestled comfortably in the roots and cordoned off with rope that had been tied with yellow scarfs and flowers. We ate locally at a small ‘outdoor cafe’ just round the corner from the Buddha head. A fresh stir fry was prepared and we shared our lunch with the driver. Our remaining time was spent exploring the other ruins but it was becoming hard to keep track of which Wat was what! Although I think in the end, Wat Chai Wattanaram was my favourite. A Lonely Planet review describes it as “one of Ayutthaya’s most impressive homages to the Angkor/Khmer style. A central prang is flanked by minor prang arranged in each cardinal direction, in a prime riverside setting”. After five hours of exploring (we paid for an extra hour because we’d wanted to see more) we were ready to head back to Bangkok. The entire day had cost a fraction of what we would have paid on a ‘formal’ tour, a saving that we could pass on to our driver for being so patient and friendly. He didn’t seem to mind waiting at all, in fact at one point I’m sure he’d been waiting for his own delivery which was nothing to do with us. We got back to the tuk tuk just in time to watch as a local pulled up with ‘half a sheep’ rolling around in the back of his van cut into what looked like huge but indiscriminate

chunks of meat. Our driver picked out his piece, wrapped it in some dirty old newspaper and put in into an esky that he had hidden away in the back of his tuk tuk. Maybe there are some times when health and safety rules should be heeded!


Wat Mongkhol Bophit

Wat Mongkhol Bophit


COMPETITIONS Photography competitions are a great motivation to process that image that’s been sitting untouched since you came back from the last trip. There are usually all sorts of Australian & International contests out there for both amateurs and professionals, below are just some that I found while trawling the web. Please make sure you read all of the rules carefully. I usually try and avoid entering anything that takes away my copyright... however, if you’re not a pro and you don’t care you should go ahead and enter. Who knows? You may even win!


Where’s Dave? Every issue a photo of Dave will be’s up to you to tell me where in the world he is...this first one is pretty easy if you’ve been paying attention.


The first 3 people to go to the ‘CONTACT’ page on the Self Indulged website and send in the correct answer will WIN a copy of the new BEN HUR Stadium Spectacular DVD! Don’t forget to include either your contact number or your postal address in the ‘comments’ field along with your answer.


Sights of Sydney...


I’ve only been to Sydney a handful of times and usually it’s a fleeting visit. This time I was there for the Arts Freedom Rally but again was restricted by time. I’d chosen to stay at the new, Sydney Harbour – The Rocks YHA for several reasons. Firstly, I’m tight (the double rooms with ensuite start from just $128 a night), secondly, I like to be around other travellers. I consider myself a constant ‘tourist’ and enjoy finding out what people from other nations think about places, especially when I’m on ‘home turf’. Even though I’m Australian I still try and do as much touristy stuff as possible whenever I visit another Aussie city. And finally, I chose the YHA for their roof top terrace. A place where I could set up my tripod at dusk with a cold beer in hand and shoot the iconic Opera House to my heart’s content. There’s something pretty magical about Sydney Harbour and so much to see and do within a relatively small area. My self imposed itinerary for this trip included the Sydney

Aquarium, the Chinatown Friday night markets, The Rocks weekend markets, a look around Manly and a day at the zoo if I had time. I didn’t. I had been to Taronga Zoo before on our very first trip to Sydney. We spent the entire day there and were lucky enough to be shown around the new ‘Roar and Snore’ enclosure where you can camp overnight with the animals, in the comfort of luxurious purpose built safari tents, while looking out over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge in all of its evening glory. I’m not much of a bird fan but the acclaimed ‘Free Flight Bird Show’ literally bought a tear to my eye during the spectacular finale as scores of white and black cockatoos soared across the sky with the Opera House as their stage backdrop. At the Aquarium, I somehow managed to walk in through the wrong door (I was trying to avoid a classroom full of raucous school kids who had gone in just before me) and found myself at the tail end of the exhibit near the gift shop wondering

how I’d missed the dugongs. I should mention at this point that Dave (my other half) was not with me on this trip. He usually keeps me on the right track as direction and logic are not my strong points. I always eventually manage to muddle myself through but alas, much embarrassment is usually suffered on my part whilst working through this process. I then looked down and noticed the arrows on the ground pointing me in the right direction and soon I was happily on my way exploring the underwater tunnels. I spent the whole afternoon there....not because I’d got lost again but because there was just so much to see. Unfortunately the Chinatown night market afterwards was a bit of an anticlimax. I don’t really know what I was expecting but whatever it was I was expecting more. There were plenty of food stalls with woks ablaze and splendid smells but the rest of the stalls just seemed to be selling the same old ‘stuff’. Clothes and mobile phone holders, plastic bits and bobs but nothing really exciting or different which was a stark

contrast from The Rocks markets the next morning. I’d wandered down for some breakfast. I had my camera with me and was strolling through the markets as they were being set up. I noticed a dried bunch of basil leaves hanging from a cart waiting to be set up on someone’s stall and crouched down to take a photo. The guy who was setting up on the next stall along started squealing, “Camera. Camera. CAMERA!” to the bloke who apparently ‘owned’ this bunch of leaves. The ‘squealer’ then loudly proclaimed, “We don’t like photographers at this market” which is always a lovely way to greet a tourist on a sunny Sydney morning. I told him I had no intention of photographing his stall and that I’d taken a picture of the bunch of basil hanging from the cart. The ‘basil owner’ didn’t mind but his neighbour seemed to be going into ‘meltdown’. I nearly told him that 500+ photographers would be converging at The Rocks the following day for the Arts Freedom Australia rally but decided instead



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to keep quiet and let him find out for himself. Once the markets were set up I could understand (to a point) why they are so precious about photography because there were lots of ‘artworks’ on sale. A really lovely collection of local arts and craft under roofed stalls on George Street and a fantastic collection of food stalls along Playfair Street, I spent an hour or so wandering around and then caught the ferry to Manly where I enjoyed lunch in the sunshine and a paddle at Fairy Bower Pool. I love the tidal pools that you find dotted along the East Coast of Australia. They’re fabulous to photograph and shark free! The next time I head out this way I’ll be hiring a car and taking off up the coast with my camera.... tidal pools here I come!




P O T S P I shooting TFor from behind glass!


Please, please, please turn off your flash! Light BOUNCES off glass.


Turn up your ISO. Not so fast that you get unacceptable ‘noise’ but fast enough to capture a moving subject.



irly still fa is t’ c je b u ‘s e th If wary) you (as with this Casso the glass m o fr y a w a p e st n a c using a and get away with eye out for zoom, keeping an s within any light reflection tuation a the frame. In this si lp because polariser won’t he ch light. u m o to t u o t u c l il it w ugh glass This was shot thro 150mm. f o th g n le l a c fo a t a


Wear black so that you cause minimal reflection in the glass, wait for othe r visitors to move on as they may also be casting light refl ections in the glass.


Take some time in post production to smo oth out any noise. Selective sharpenin g only on your subject sh ould help to minimise a ny distracting backgro und noise.


ave h y a m nt! You e i t a p e B s of d r a o h r o rough to wait f h t e v o om you people t e r o f e b bit the exhi ood shot. ag have d can get n a e ur tim Take yo fun!


Further information along with a found by clicking here anytime a


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an online booking facility can be after the 5th of September 2010.



“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

dra Herd at SHOTS international 2010 All rights reserved.

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