Monthly Archives: April 2017

Yesterday and Tomorrow

Danang is the third largest city in Vietnam, following Hanoi and HCMC (“Saigon”). The beach strip to the south of the city, across the road from the former US Army base, is being rapidly developed with high-end hotels and developments. Soon it will be a Vietnamese Miami Beach, or maybe Las Vegas.

Han River, Danang © Harold Davis

Han River, Danang © Harold Davis

The photo was taken from the walkway of the Dragon Bridge, which crosses the Han River above the port of Danang. The dragon snorts water! It exhales fire! Yes, it does! But only on Sundays and holidays. It is a post-modern stylized metal dragon.

The colorful fishing boats represent the fishing port Danang used to be; the modern bridge and buildings in the distance represent the future rushing to overwhelm what is past and soon to be gone forever.

© Harold Davis

Dragon Bridge © Harold Davis

Posted in Vietnam

Field Trip in Hue

At the tomb of the last king of Vietnam, near Hue, I saw these cute kids on a school field trip. It’s amazing how kids are kids the worldwide, regardless of cultural variations!

Field Trip © Harold Davis

Field Trip © Harold Davis

Posted in Vietnam

Regarding Scale and Wonderment

There’s something very tricky about creating images that capture a truly vast wonder of the world such as the Grand Canyon or the Son Doong Cave. The sense of scale is literally mind-boggling, so it is very hard to make a photo that allows the viewer to take in what is being portrayed; and, even if it can be taken in, it is hard to convey the emotional content of the scene when viewing it “for real”.

Scale and Wonderment © Harold Davis

Scale and Wonderment © Harold Davis

The typical way to deal with this scale problem is to forget about the wonderment. If you throw some people into the mix, the scale of the phenomena becomes visually obvious. Unfortunately, the resulting images are banal, commonplace, and usually look like travel brochure ads. 

My goal is to go for the wonderment and the sense of the spiritual. Although this image uses human scaling to some extent (if you look closely you can see the tents of our expedition, and the porters around their kitchen) the proportions and scaling would work without the human element. With or without the tents, this is an image that requires careful visual analysis to discern the clouds far below (the cave generates its own weather system) and the sizing of the distant mountains, valleys, opening to the sky, and other topographic features.

Posted in Landscape, Photography, Vietnam

Portals

Son Doong Cave—Wind River Cave—is located in the impenetrable mountainous jungles along the old Ho Chi Minh trail on the Vietnamese side of the Vietnam-Laos border. To get to the cave, you have to slog down a jungle mountainside, up a river bed, then through another vast cave. The exit on the far side of this first cave opens on the otherwise inaccessible valley that is the starting point for entering the Son Doong Cave. We were told by our expedition leader that fewer people have been to Son Doong than have been to space.

Portals © Harold Davis

Portals © Harold Davis

Within the cave, there are vast areas open to the jungle above. These never scaled heights let in shafts of light, unusual flora, and the occasional monkey descending on vines.

To get the picture, think one part Avatar, one part the glittering caves of Aglarond from the Lord of the Rings, one part Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan of the Apes (the original books, not any of the film versions)—with an added pinch of Eustace’s adventures on the Dragon Island in the third book of the Narnia series.

Posted in Landscape, Photography, Vietnam

Eric in Son Doong

Son Doong is the world’s largest cave, located in the remote mountains along the Ho Chi Minh trail on the Vietnamese side of the Vietnam-Laos border. This photo shows Eric in Son Doong on top of an unnamed formation in Doline 2 within the cave. In caver’s lingo, a “doline” is an breakthrough opening to the outside world above, in this case the untrackable and wild jungle.

© Harold Davis

Eric in Son Doong © Harold Davis

Posted in Vietnam