Saturday, February 8, 2014

There's One In Every Crowd

Scouts Practice Flag Raising Ceremony As A Body Is Cremated At the Village Wat

On Wednesday of this week, Duang and I drove out into the sugar cane growing area of Tambon Nongwha to attend the funeral ritual of one of her friends.

He and Duang attended the same elementary school in Tahsang Village.  According to Duang they spent a great deal of time "boxing" - fist fighting.  They fought each other.  Like Duang he left school after four years to work in the fields to help support and feed their families.  One day when Duang was tending her uncle's water buffaloes she came upon him tending to some other water buffaloes.  Sure enough, they had another fist fight.  Apparently as they both got older they mellowed out and gave up fighting each other.

This week the man died of a heart attack at age 50.

After his funeral ritual was completed we walked from the nearby Buddhist Wat to his home to say goodbye to everyone.  Several Tahsang Villagers asked for a ride back to the village.  After all the goodbyes had been said I headed off down the road to where our truck was parked followed by Duang, and the Tahsang Village stragglers behind her.  Well as the saying goes "Saying good bye is so very hard to do" With 10 people it is even ore exponentially difficult to do.  I very quickly was wandering down the road by myself.

I noticed a school off to my left.  The school property was surrounded by a four strand barbed wire fence.  On the other side of the fence many students were in a big circle.  Since it was Wednesday they, boys and girls, were dressed in their scout uniforms.  Since it was 3:00 P.M., I assumed that they were conducting a flag lowering ceremony for the end of the day. The students were too far away for a decent photograph withe lens that I had so I quickened my pace but knew that I most likely could not get down to the entrance to the school and back up to where the flag pole was located.  When I was just about even to where the students were assembled, I got a break, or more accurately there was a break in the barbed wire fence.  The middle two strands had been pulled away from each other to create an opening that was not to small, not too low, and not too high but just right for me to slip through.

Once they lowered the flag, the students did not fold it up for storage.  Instead, they proceeded to have a flag raising ceremony like had witnessed before in the morning.  Apparently these scouts were being trained for leading the morning start of day ceremony.  The start of day ceremony involves raising the flag, singing the Thai National Anthem, singing a song about the King, saying a prayer - Buddhist prayer, and inspection of fingernails, teeth, and uniform.

As I was photographing the training, I got the idea to take a sort of "artsy" photograph.  Two students out of focus creating a frame for the chimney at the Wat crematorium belching acrid black smoke.  Between the framing students and the chimney were the other uniformed students - sort of a commentary about life going on and the future that awaits all of us.

I squatted down to get the perspective that I wanted for the shot.  I checked my framing, and the other variables that you need to for an acceptable shot.  I took the shot and reviewed on the camera's 3 inch monitor.  It looked good.

Yesterday when I was post processing the shot, I was surprised but not shocked.  I have seen too much of what I saw in the photo to ever be shocked.  I was surprised to see in the back ground of my artsy photograph - a boy busily picking his nose!

You are supposed to always check the background before taking the shot for any items that can detract from the photograph.  I know that.  I have known that for a long time but I guess I had gotten careless, lazy, or too involved in the moment and did not.

The photograph below is a blown up section of my "artsy" photograph which is at the start of this blog.


As I am sure, every wedding photographer has learned "There is one in every crowd" - some one picking their nose.

I learned a lesson that I hopefully will never forget "Check the background before taking the shot".

Was it meant to be a lesson or was it something else?  Quite often whenever and where ever I see a child picking their nose , I ask them in Lao "Sep bawh?" (Is it delicious?).  The parents and grandparents always have a big laugh and the children are taken aback at a falang speaking to them in Lao.  However I do live in the lands of karma and perhaps this was karma - karma for being such a wise guy.

There is one in every crowd.  Please be sure it is not you!

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