Travelling with Fujifilm X-Pro 2, Thailand part 2: Becoming buddhist monk

Becoming a buddhist monk is a tradition for young men i Thailand that most do. It is considered a rite of passage, an essential part of maturity. Many do it around the age of 20, but one can do it at any age older than 20. A man can stay a monk for some days, some weeks - or even for the rest of their lives. The old tradition was to be a monk for 3 months, but a modern way of living doesn't allow that for most men, so many stay for just a few days or weeks.

This is an important tradition for a Thai family, and it's not looked upon lightly. This is serious. But it's also important to have a big party and celebrate. I've been so lucky to take part in such a ordination and celebration from beginning to end over ten years ago, but I didn't have a proper camera back then. This year I had a proper camera, but didn't participate in it for more than just a few hours. But here's a few pictures from a ceremony and celebration, what I managed to get this time. 

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 35mm f/2WR, ISO 200, f/2, 1/1250 sec

I didn't get to see the start of this ordination, but here they are driving with the young man on the back of a pick up truck, with his family beside him. They are driving around the small town, heading for the temple. Before this his head and eyebrows are shaved.

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 90mm f/2WR, ISO 200, f/4, 1/600 sec

Dancing in the street. These people are genuinely this happy! They are marching and dancing in front of the man who's to become a monk, around town, heading for the temple. And the amount of noise (music) is incredible. So here's a few pictures of the band:

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 14mm f/2.8, ISO 640, f/8, 1/250 sec

Above - I love the XF 14mm for my Fujifilm X-Pro 2 camera. I was real up close to get this shot.

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 35mm f/2WR, ISO 320, f/5.6, 1/250sec

Above - when you see these speakers you understand that it was loud, and not very pure sound either. And that's hard for the ears. They were really ringing afterwards after following these guys for a while. It's been a few weeks now, but I'm pretty sure I had my camera set to auto ISO with minimum shutter speed at 1/250 sec to freeze any action. In Lightroom I see most of my pics have different aperture and ISO's, but the shutter speed stay above 1/250 so that means I probably had it at that setting. I usually don't use auto ISO setting, but with the light changing from dark shadow to very bright sunlight, and things happening fast, I think it was a smart move. As you can see from the shadows, it's right in the middle of the day! More pictures of the band:

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 90mm f/2WR, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/1100 sec

Above - the local guitar hero. :) These were all nice folks, and they didn't mind me taking their pictures at all. This trip to Thailand was the first time I used to XF90mm f/2WR lens. And boy, it focuses fast on the X-pro 2, and it is very sharp. But I'm not used to this long focal lenght yet, most of my X-Pro1, X-T1 and now X-Pro 2 shots have been at 14 to 56mm. But I think I got his whole face sharp at f/2.8. 

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 35mm f/2WR, ISO 200, f/4, 1/400 sec

Very harsh light, in the middle of the day. I shot in RAW format, and post processed in Lightroom CC. That helped me bring back some shadows. Also I went for a rather colorful processing this time. Many times I like the more desaturated nostalgic look, and even more often black and white. The Acros simulation in the X-pro 2 is fantastic. But - I decided when I saw all these strong colors that it had to be in color this time.

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 90mm f/2WR, ISO 200, f/2, 1/200 sec

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 14mm f/2.8, ISO 400, f/8, 1/250 sec

Above - one picture at 90mm, one at 14mm... I think both shots are nice - but they give a different feeling. The lowest one was very typical from that day. These people were so happy and loved to make eye contact with me and make me take their picture. So I did. I certainly don't think that street photography is all about those candid moments, not all the time. Sometimes the interaction between the photographer (me) and the subject makes a fun picture. 

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 14mm f/2.8, ISO 320, f/8, 1/250 sec

Once again, these people were happy to see me, and this time this lady offers me whiskey as she is passing by. She is perhaps slightly out of focus, but I was looking the other way and when I turned around she was there and practically holding the glass to my mouth. I managed to quickly take this shot. 

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 overheating issues...

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 14mm f/2.8, ISO 250, f/8, 1/250 sec

Above - once again at 14mm... As you can see from the shadows, the sun was directly over my head, it's some time between 12am and 13pm I think. And it was hot! And it was direct sunlight. And so, my X-pro 2 actually shut down a couple of times because of overheating. I know this has been asked in forums, if the camera can overheat. And yes, it can. In Thailand, in the middle of the day, staying in direct sunlight for over an hour, taking a series of shots at 8 fps - it happened two times. Did I miss any shots because of this. No. I never ever - almost ;)  shoot series of shots at 8 fps - unless I shoot sports. But I had to try it in the heat and see what happened. 

Bear in mind that it didn't happen any other time, even when trying out 8 fps series of shots again. So it could be that a firmware could fix this later on.

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 90mm f/2WR, ISO 200, f/4, 1/850 sec

Above - dancing and dancing. If I had stayed with using just the XF35mm f/2 and the XF14mm f/2.8 it would have been hard to get pictures without these people smiling, looking at me, and trying to talk to me. So, I was happy I brought along my XF90mm f/2WR - it opened the oportunity to get shots like this.

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 90mm f/2WR, ISO 200, f/2, 1/400 sec

Also this picture above is taken with the 90mm. And for all you full frame shooters out there, that equals to about 135mm. I fell in love with that lens on this trip to Thailand. I bought it just a few days before the trip. It's not just for "portraits and head shots" as I read on some forums before I bought it.

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 90mm f/2WR, ISO 200, f/2, 1/800 sec

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 35mm f/2WR, ISO 500, f/7.1, 1/250 sec

Above - The monk to be is throwing coins wrapped in paper. These coins bring good luck or something. I'm not totally sure of the meaning of wrapping these coins in paper, so leave a comment below if you know more about this. Anyway, the crowd went crazy.

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 35mm f/2WR, ISO 200, f/2, 1/350 sec

I was told that it was important and a tradition for the man to touch the top of the door frame before he is carried into the temple. 

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 90mm f/2WR, ISO 3200, f/4, 1/250 sec

Now the ceremony is soon finished. The man has changed into the traditionally orange robe, and doing his wows. This was not an easy shot. I was outside the temple, with my 90mm, but couldn't so close I wanted. It's cropped quite a bit, and it's at ISO 3200. So it's a bit noisy. I had to increase the exposure even more in post, and the white balance was way off. Shot in RAW. A Jpeg from the camera would had made a even worse result. I was thinking about lowering the ISO to 1600, and get a shutter speed of 1/125 as this was going on. Less noise. And the movements inside the temple was slow enough for that. But, I was not used the 90mm yet, it's a bit heavy, and there is no image stabilization so I was afraid of camera shake. So, I kept 1/250 sec as my shutter speed, and that gave me 3200 ISO. 

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 35mm f/2WR, ISO 400, f/3.6, 1/250 sec

Exiting the temple, and now a monk. This picture is actually taken at another man's ceremony as I never got to see the man at the beginning of this blog post finish his ceremony. 

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 35mm f/2WR, ISO 500, f/3.6, 1/250 sec

Receiving gifts from the family. To the right is the monks mother, I was told.


Some thoughts about photographing this event

First off, if anyone of you wonder if the auto focusing system on the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 i fast enough for this kind of photography, with lots of things going on and sometimes less than a second to see, understand and capture the moment- it sure is! Especially with the XF 35mm f/2WR lens. Also the XF90mm f/2WR lens was very fast too. After a few shots and checking the focus, I never worried about the auto focus again. Will you get focusing errors? Sure. I got some. But that was rare. And most of the times it was user error. 

What focal lenghts did I like the most? Well, they were all useful! I knew I wanted to use the 14mm and get up close, but I was surprised how useful I found the 90mm too. But that lens is heavy, and it's super sharp. And if you have too slow shutter speed you will see camera shake. I tried to shoot over 1/250 sec with the 90mm and 1/125 sec with the XF35. BUT - that doesn't reduce motion blur, so most of the time I was faster than 1/250 sec anyway. And to help me with that in changing light, harsh sun light, but with clouds sometimes covering it (rainy season in Thailand) and sometimes in the shadows... the auto ISO was very useful for me. 

I am a bit shy when it comes to photographing people I don't know. So I'm not a big street photographer, though I sometimes get a few nice shots. But on a day like this, with all these smiling people dancing, and trying to get me to dance and drink too, it was way easier. And it was fun!