Vietnam In Focus

After a lovely, all be it overcast, few days in Cat Ba Island, it was back to Hanoi to catch a flight to Bangkok. Before we did, however I had the chance to spend the day trying to improve my photography skills with the lovely Colm from Vietnam In Focus. I paid just $40 for what turned out to be a one-on-one, five hour workshop which included a tour of Hanoi as well as many cups of iced tea/coffee and a yummy local lunch. I met Colm outside St Joseph’s Cathedral (Nha Tho) in the Old Quarter. Over iced tea number one, we got properly acquainted, chatted about travel and motorbikes and Colm explained the day’s itinerary. The main focus of the workshop was to learn how to create a ‘three picture story’ (I assure you this is much more difficult than it sounds). Not dissimilar to a beginning, middle and end, the three picture story included an establishing shot, a relationship shot and a detail shot.

The Establishing Shot – We bagan by photographing the cathedral. As well as explaining and demonstrating the manual settings to the full potential of my camera, Colm showed me some tricks to make a potentially very boring photo of a building or place a little more interesting. We experimented with angles, composition and using the surroundings to create a frame for the picture, limiting vast expanses of boring grey sky.

The Relationship Shot – Next up was Hoan Kiem Lake. Bustling with synchronized exercising grandmas, skipping children and bumbling tourists, the lake offered a plethora of opportunities for capturing human interactions.

Unfortunately for me, by the time I’d seen a potential shot, set the camera and dodged the human traffic, I was usually too late! I gave it a good go though but decidedly, I need a lot more practice.

The Detail Shot – Over on ‘Pagoda Street’ we got down to detail. Overwhelmed with colour, weird, flashy (literally) statues, silk and stamps, I shot like a mad-woman. Here’s some of my favourites.

My Three Picture Story – On ‘Chinese Medicine Street’, despite every effort from Colm and myself, The shots I captured weren’t everything I was hoping for but that’s ok. With a bit more practice I think I can get to where I want to be. Here’s what I got:

1. P1080103

2. P1080113

3. P1080133

and a few more…

Afterwords, we met Colm’s partner (business partner, not life partner) Alex for a debrief, chat and a final iced tea. Alex even gave me a lift home on his Minsk! One day I’ll go back and do one of their week-long photography/motorbike tours! All in all, I had a great day, learned loads and I can’t wait to put my new skills into practice and score some killer shots of Koh Tao! 😀



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