My Favorite Things: Books and Photography

I had such a wonderful day yesterday doing urbex at the old, abandoned train yard in Toul Kork. It was as dangerous as other people say — the ground is soft, which means you may lose solid footing and fall helplessly over broken glass shards, sharp rocks, goopy mud and human fecal matter either mixed or separate, merciless red ants, trash, and the occasional broken syringe. We took extra care to avoid stepping on those things and/or accidentally inflict ourselves with hepatitis or some other deadly illness, so we really took our time to carefully walk towards the ruins.

I must say, I felt momentarily removed from Phnom Penh and instantly transported into a different time and country altogether — one where railroads, trains, and buildings from the 1930’s are surrounded by golden grass. Pretty soon, this nostalgic view will be gone forever. Which is why I am glad that my friend and I visited it before it disappears on the face of the planet for good.

The building itself is totally run-down. The doors and windows are all barred with corrugated roofing material and wood; the roof itself was also in shambles, the walls giving in while its paint are either chipping off or darkened by pouring water on rainy days, and those pumping machinery were just completely rusted, useless, and forgotten. It was in such a sad, sad, state but ironically that’s just what contributes to its charm.

I got myself a 30mm Sigma lens! Hurrah!!

Taken with Nikon COOLPIX S640

As much as I love my 14mm pancake lens from Leica (it truly is a fantastic wide angle lens), I felt limited by its ‘wide angle-licious-ness.’ I wanted to photograph my subjects up close, but the 14mm would give me a hell of a time doing so, and I would end up cropping most of my photographs during post-processing. Therefore, it was a no-brainer that I finally get myself a standard lens (mostly for portraits) for my m4/3 camera. But all Phnom Penh has to offer me is the 30mm Sigma, which is a wonderfully sharp lens. I did my research months ahead and knew that the 30mm Sigma was a candidate, but I had much preferred the M.Zuiko 45mm by Olympus, which came highly-recommended as a portrait and ‘everyday’ lens. However, even if there is an Olympus distributor in the city, it was very disappointing to be told that they don’t have that specific lens on hand (or any Micro Four Thirds lenses for that matter). So I put in an order but Lord knows when it will arrive!

Free polarizing filter (taken with Nikon COOLPIX S640)

The Sigma lens came with a nice,

thoroughly-padded lens bag and a  FREE polarizing filter!!

@@@@@

The next day. I got up from bed and started doing our Theme Assignment for a photography group I’m involved in, which is “Books.” I decided to do a ‘vintage book’ motif with hardbound, retro covers and a cup of tea (in my favorite floral bone china). Of course, I used my 30mm Sigma for this and had a marvelous time shooting away, trying out different angles and arrangements. I must say, I am really impressed with its image quality — really sharp and crisp. It was also a great change to not have to constantly move in closer to my subject to get a close-up view so, it was money well-spent buying this lens.

My original set-up, but found it a bit “too much.”

My final pick and assignment submission.

This evening before getting my groceries, I discovered that there happens to be a booksale on the top floor of one of the malls here in Phnom Penh! I was so overjoyed that — I guess you can say I ‘splurged’ on books yet again! I couldn’t help myself. There were just plenty of good stuff in there! But of course, I only bought a few books in the end — just the ones I really, really liked. What a happy day!

 

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