On Tuesday night Micki Aston gave a talk about her recent trip to Cambodia and Vietnam illustrated by about 400 photographs to show us, which she said was only about a tenth of what she took on the trip. I have to say I often find it difficult to find 15 of mine to enter in competition but every one of Micki’s would qualify for me. She had decided to go in April to avoid tourists in her pictures but the downside of that is it is the hottest month with temperatures of 38 and humidity of 98 percent. Micki referred to the wars in 1960’s – 70’s and wondered how the Americans coped in such conditions as for her, it was difficult just to photograph things in that heat.
One of the things Micki first noticed in Hanoi was the chaotic traffic and getting across the road was a nightmare – they just hung on to the guide who said just walk slowly across and the traffic would avoid you; she showed a picture of a lady crossing the road with a pushchair with a child in it to show us the dangers of crossing the road. It was fascinating to see the amount of merchandise and people that fitted on to all forms of transport and I believe she saw five people on one motorbike. People work hard and some find unusual places to sleep and we were shown one guy stretched out sleeping over a motorbike
After Hanoi, Micki then went on a two day cruise across Ha Long Bay, a place where a lot of tourist go to see the limestone islands with green trees on them. However, she had realised the cloud and the mist was always around and had to adapt to getting the best from the light (a lesson for us all) but the reflections in the water worked well. Micki did not elaborate but said one night on the boat was enough.
Micki made various stops on her journey taking in the history and culture. People in Vietnam have wonderfully characterful faces and it was a joy to take images of them. One of her secrets was to try and make contact first and although she could not speak the language engage in smiles and point out things to them.
We were shown Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the French Vietnam Prison where American Prisoners were held and tortured; the Americans called it the Hanoi Hilton but not a good place to have been. Micki went on lots of farms to see the agriculture and pointed out to us that a girl picking onions can squat all day doing the job something we in the West can not do. On the lakes, rivers and sea people do various kinds of fishing and we were shown how different some of the methods were to catch fish.
The people dressed in bright colours and were much thinner boned than we are in the West. Some of the pictures had backgrounds of blue and yellow, the yellow was an influence of French Colonial days and blue goes so well with the yellow. We were shown various characters and Micki bought a newspaper from an old lady which turned out to be a month old, lol. Micki said it was a joy to go down the streets taking shots of interesting people and the clothes they wore. Also there were some very artistic graffiti although the guide did say it was a bit dangerous being there.
Then it was off to Hoi An, famous for having expensive graves where families will spend several years’ worth of income on a relative’s grave. At night Micki photographed the city skyline of Hoi An across the river using a tripod and ISo 100 and sunsets that she had not seen the likes of before. Also the only Japanese bridge which was lit in the city.
Next a flight to Saigon (Hoi Chi Minh City) where 8 million people live by the river where Micki was able to take the modern Skyscapers against the older buildings. There were floating markets to which it has been said they will eventually disappear as the younger people prefer the office jobs to working the market boats.
Notable here were the vast tunnels in Cu Chi and traps were set during the war and American fell into them and died. As the Vietnamese people were so small they were able to hide in holes and act as snipers – one of the reasons why the Americans lost the war.
Micki went in April to avoid the tourists but came across all these people imagine this scene in the tourist season lol
Micki put in a great deal of detail into the talk and the pictures were stunning. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and informative evening.
Next Tuesday is winner on the night and I understand one can still enter three images or prints or a mixture as per last competition
Competition – Winner on the Night (2) Print or Digital (Open)
Tuesday November 21, 2017 from 20:15 to 22:15