His Favorite Photos of 2011

His Favorite Photos of 2011

Of the all the things we’ve learned this year, photography stands out as it has provided rich documentation to our travels.  Sharing two cameras we’ve tried much, failed often, but succeeded more than expected.  While we often regret the shots we’ve missed, we can’t complain about those we have been able to get. The photos that I enjoy most are those with deep saturation, crisp details, and snapshots of lives that are different than my own.

Publishing our travel photos on LivingIF requires compromises.  Due to bandwidth availability in the places we visit every photo you see is just a fraction (1/8) of the actual detail.  The highest resolution photos we post are in our Photo Galleries (where you will find “Best Photos” from each country we’ve visited).  This week is different though, below are my Top 10 Photos of 2011 in High Definition, click here to see LOCAVORista’s favoritesClick here to see our single favorite photo of the year on He Said/She Said.

To see a photo in high resolution click on it.  This will open a new window with a larger version; click on the  photo in the new window to reveal the detail of our photos.



Father and daughter on a train to Ayutthaya, Thailand. Canon S90, 1/160, F/2, 100 ISO. Click on the photo to see it in High Definition.


On a packed train from Ayutthaya to Bangkok, Thailand, a father and daughter catch a quick nap.

This photo was taken blindly over the father’s shoulder from the aisle.  This is one of my favorite photos because it captured a serene moment in a very crowded, hot and noisy local train.  In addition to the scene itself, I love how the colors contrast the dark background. (See more photos of Ayutthaya, Thailand by clicking here.)


Dalat market

Ducks leaving the Da Lat Market, Da Lat, Vietnam. Nikon D90, 1/160, F/6.3, 200 ISO. Click on the photo to see it in High Definition.


Ducks taking a motorcycle ride from the Cho Da Lat market, most likely to local dinner tables.  It must have been quite a ride along the mountain roads for these upside down ducks.

While this photo may tell 1000 words, I wish we could have captured the noise made from the dozen or so ducks as the motorcycle left the market.  This detail of this photo amazed me, specifically the foot bindings, feathers and eyes of the doomed ducks.  (Find out what to do in Da Lat by clicking here.)


Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo, during rush hour; it's the world's busiest intersection. Nikon D90, 1 sec, F/5.6, 200 ISO. Click on the photo to see it in High Definition.


Foot traffic crossing the world’s busiest intersection, Shibuya Crossing, in central Tokyo.  The volume of people is astonishing.

Due to the quantity of people passing through this intersection and the commercial centers surrounding it, getting a photo was much more difficult than expected.  We tried for almost two hours from different vantage points in neighboring buildings, but it wasn’t until we got outside, in the middle of traffic, that we were able to get this photo.  (See our favorite photos we took in Japan by clicking here.)


Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum

North Koreans paying homage to Kim Il Song. Canon S90, 1/80, F/3.5, 500 ISO. Click on the photo to see it in High Definition.


North Koreans paying homage to their founder, Kim Il Song, pictured during the “victory parade” after the Korean War (or American War of Aggression) at the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang.

This was one of the only places in North Korea that we were allowed to take pictures of North Koreans.  Making this an even more valuable photo is that they are paying homage to Kim Il Song, who is revered religiously by North Koreans.  Knowing that they would be shuffled out of the room quickly after we arrived, we caught them in a moment of silence reserved for prayer in the Western world.  (Learn about our experiences and how to visit North Korea by clicking here.)


Cave 11

The Maitreya (future) Buddha at the Yungang Grottoes has maintained its color for over 1500 years. Datong, China. Canon S90, 1/30, F/3.5, 80 ISO. Click on the photo to see it in High Definition.


The future Buddha (Maitreya) in the Yungang Grottoes near Datong, China.  As traders traveled across the Silk Road to the ancient Chinese capital outside modern-day Datong, they also brought Buddhism, carving this and hundreds of other Buddha images from 465-494 AD.

While the colors and imagery of the photo are impressive, even more impressive is the fact that this pigment has maintained on the carvings for over 1500 years.  (Learn more about the sacred UNESCO World Heritage Buddhist Caves of China by clicking here.)



Two Geishas walk among the bamboo forest outside Arashiyama, Japan. Nikon D90, 1/60, F/4, 800 ISO. Click on the photo to see it in High Definition.


While Kyoto is known for being Japan’s historic capital, neighboring Arashiyama holds many of the most sacred sites.  While walking among temples we spied two Geishas walking among the the Sagano bamboo forest.

Luckily we had our camera ready when we saw these women walking.  While they had been surrounded by tourists snapping photos as we approached, they escaped to the empty path behind us.  We were able to capture their detailed kimonos contrasted by the surreal scenery.


Chiang Rai, Thailand; Wat Rong Khun, White Temple

Crossing Hell to arrive at the inner temple of the bizarre Wat Rong Khun, outside Chiang Rai, Thailand. Nikon D90, 1/1000, F/2.8, 100 ISO. Click on the photo to see it in High Definition.


Hell must be crossed to reach the holy yet bizarre White Temple (Wat Rong Khun), outside Chiang Rai, Thailand.

This photo was taken before the temple became crowded with people to see the unconventional temple. The temple features contemporary paintings and sculptures, capturing modern life and religious trials.  After becoming accustomed to Thailand’s Buddhist temples of yesteryear, we were left to wonder if the imagery in older temples may have been just as bizarre in their days as the White Temple is today.   (Find out how to visit Japan inexpensively by clicking here.)


young prayer

A very young Buddhist pilgrim circling the Barkhor in Lhasa, Tibet. Nikon D90, 1/640, F/2.8, 100 ISO. Click on the photo to see it in High Definition.


Making the rounds of the Barkhor in Lhasa is one of the holiest acts in Tibetan Buddhism.  True pilgrims raise their hands towards god, bow, then slide forward all the way around several city blocks.  Moving forward is only attained by sliding forward on one’s knees.

Most of the pilgrims are elderly, but this young man was working as hard as any, evidenced by the sore on his forehead from sliding across the ground.  I believe this photo captured the effort and sanctity of the Barkhor to Tibetans.  (Learn more about the pilgrims in Tibet by clicking here)


Wat Si Chum

Buddha hiding behind the walls at Wat Si Chum in Sukhothai, Thailand. Canon S90, 1/320, F/4, 80 ISO. Click on the photo to see it in High Definition.


Buddha sits exposed in Wat Si Chum after the roof to the temple was lost many years ago. Within Sukhothai Historic Park, one of Thailand’s ancient capital cities.

This photo was taken just before several busloads of schoolchildren arrived, creating a less photo friendly scene.  I love the soft white tone, contrasted by the exposed brickwork.  The closed door created a sense of privacy for the massive Buddha who has sat here since the 13th or 14th century AD (to learn more about Thailand’s ancient capitals click here)


4,000 Islands, Laos (Don Dhet)

Sunset on the Mekong in 4,000 Islands, Laos. Canon S90, 1/800, f/8, 160 ISO. Click on the photo to see it in High Definition.


The Mekong, near 4,000 Islands, Laos, provided some of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve seen around the world.

On a spur-of-the-moment decision we rented a boat for a sunset boat trip with friends we had met several weeks prior.  As the sun came closer to setting we captured the tones with our Canon S90 (to learn more about what makes Laos great click here)


MY FAVORITE PHOTO OF 2011 WILL BE REVEALED ON WEDNESDAY, in He Said/She Said: Favorite Photos of 2011.  Also watch for LOCAVORista’s Top 10 Photos of 2011 this Friday.

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» BKA :
Dec 29, 2011

Very impressive….your story telling, albeit brief, really helps bring the photos to life…..my vote goes to geishas, followed by those poor ducks……both provided me a sense of the “story” behind the pics……1,000 words probably aren’t enough to give full impact of the moment, the suurounding sights, sounds and smells are almost pervasive in your work……I am pretty sure they speak clearly to you and bring you back in time….peace……bka

» cindy :
Jan 6, 2012

Love the photos. My favorite is the geishas.


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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.


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