Event Coverage

We take the Panasonic LUMIX GX8 to the streets of Phnom Penh

By Bryan Chan & Alvin Soon - 3 Nov 2015,10:00am

Street Photography with the Panasonic Lumix GX8

f/2.2 at 30mm, 1/200 sec, ISO 200.

This is a short story about two things. One is a hands-on shooting experience with the new Panasonic LUMIX GX8, and the other is about walking around the streets of Phnom Penh for a day.

Note: These sample photographs were shot in JPEG with the Panasonic LUMIX GX8. They have been processed and cropped, click to see the original, full-resolution images. Focal length is given in 35mm equivalent. The images are copyright to SPH Magazines, they are provided for your reference and we ask that you do not reproduce them elsewhere.

Our group started the day early, catching the sunrise along the riverbank. A fisherman had come in, and his family was scaling and selling the fish that had just been caught. His kids were playing along the riverside, doing what kids all over the world do, yelling, fooling around, holding on to mom and dad.

f/2.8 at 24mm, 1/80 sec, ISO 200.

As we sat beside the fisherman, the early morning sun rose and bathed his skin in its warmth, turning his skin into rich, chocolate tones. Without fear or hostility, he allowed us to photograph him and his children.

f/2.8 at 24mm, 1/60 sec, ISO 800.

We caught the rest of the morning light in a wet market, rich with the smells of fish, skinned chickens, chopped meat, and fresh vegetables. Motorcycles, overwhelming with produce and meats, squeezed in the narrow lanes together with people. Even though they realized a camera was pointed at them, people still smiled.

f/1.7 at 30mm, 1/60 sec, ISO 320.

f/2.2 at 30mm, 1/160 sec, ISO 200.

f/2 at 30mm, 1/160 sec, ISO 1600.

f/8 at 30mm, 1/80 sec, ISO 1600.

Coming out of the monastery, we managed to catch (presumably) the head monk as he left the temple. When asked if we could take his photo, he nodded, and stopped for two steps, even though it looked like walking was an effort for him.

f/6.3 at 24mm, 1/500 sec, ISO 200.

Near sunset, we disembarked right in front of the grand palace, where the setting sun was making amazing light. 

f/11 at 30mm, 1/100 sec, ISO 200.

We crossed the road, to a small shrine streaming with people. People lighting up their incense, praying, some with smiles on their faces, many more looking grim. Beggars surrounded the shrine, mixed in with old grandmothers selling offerings, and kids selling caged birds — you could buy one’s freedom for US$2.

A man sat on the ground, on — his waist? We couldn’t tell under the folds of his shirt if he had legs. All we could see were the stumps he had for hands, and how small he was, like the size of two footballs stacked on top of each other. We couldn’t take his picture.

He was like someone from Vietnam who had been a victim of Agent Orange during the war. Impossibly small bodies below adult faces, with limbs that didn’t look like they belonged.

People often talk about photography as learning to see. They’re right. It's about learning to feel. Because if you cannot feel before you take a photograph, nobody can feel anything when they look at your photographs.

f/3.2 at 30mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 200.

The shrine was truly amazing. The story of the looks on people’s faces as they brought their hopes and despair to the gods. The story of orange against blue, as the sun set and the lights came on. The story of movement, as people streamed in and out of the shrine, and the traffic streamed past in the background.

f/1.7 at 30mm, 1/10 sec, ISO 250.

Our last picture of the day came just before we left. We saw this child eating right beside the busy road. For one moment, he was caught in the headlights of a passing car.

f/1.7 at 30mm, 1/10 sec, ISO 320.

People told me how much they’d seen the country change in just a few years, and how fast it is still changing. What does the future hold for this child, and all the others like him in Cambodia? I don’t know, but we hope it welcomes them warmly, like the people of Phnom Penh welcomed us for one brief day.