Thailand photography – Images from our recent trip around Thailand
Us Birmingham photographers love travelling …. maybe it’s got something to do with the fact that we are stuck here working in Birmingham for most of the year!!
So even if it’s not part of a commission or a commercial photography job I relish the chance to do a bit of Travel photography, especially in somewhere as vibrant and diverse in culture and scenery as Thailand.
This particular trip was to visit friends and family and they were kind enough to take us to some fantastic places while we were there.
In a place such as Thailand there are possibilities for lots of different types of photography … landscape photography is probably the most obvious as it has some beautiful scenery and coastlines, but because of the diverse culture over there it can be ideal for street photography, candid shots an portraits of local ‘characters’ too.
After arriving in Bangkok our first short trip was up to Kanchanaburi towards the west of the country near the Myanmar border.
Kanchanaburi is probably best known for the ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’ (pronounced khwaae). This bridge is the start of the infamous World War II Death Railway to Burma (now Myanmar) made famous by the film of that name depicting some of the events during the war. The line crosses over the River Khwae Yai via the Death Railway Bridge. Displays at the local War Museum honor the prisoners of war who died building the bridge and nearby, thousands of Allied soldiers are buried at the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.
We arrived at the bridge just before sunset and so it was an ideal time to get the tripod out and capture some twilight shots. (Click on the images for larger versions)
The next morning we got up early and took a ride on the train that crosses the river, it was very early and dark, and so photography of the scenery was difficult, but I did manage to get some quite interesting effects images using the movement.
As the sun came up it became easier to photograph things along the route and on the train itself and try out some candid photography.
As we reached the end of our journey we came to another interesting section of the track … I’m not completely sure, but to me it looked like the section of track used in a very moving scene in the film ‘Casualties of War’.
On the next day we visited the The Erawan National Park, home of the beautiful Erawan Falls, which are among the most beautiful waterfalls in Thailand, and a must-see if time and budget allows. The waterfalls are on ascending levels and you need to hike up through the forest to reach all of them. Although my wife made it up to level 7, I only managed to get up to level 4, which in the heat was probably a wise decision. Also, I’d looked at the images in the parks visitor centre and worked out which the most photogenic levels were and decided that the higher levels probably weren’t worth the extra hike. When travelling you often need to keep the weight of your photography kit as low as possible and so for these waterfall images I used my Nikon D5300, 18-55mm lens, which is essentially my backup camera, but it is much smaller and lighter than my D800 and so it’s ideal for travelling with. These shots were taken using an 8 stop ND filter combined with a polorising filter to darken the frame and get a long enough shutter speed to achieve the ‘milky water’ effect on the images. Obviously with a shutter speed of around 15 seconds you’re going to also need a sturdy tripod to get a sharp image too and for this as I needed something light to travel with I was using the Manfrotto befree tripod. While you’re at the park it’s also worth keeping an eye out for the fish, and various birds and insects you might see along the way.
Next we visited Wat Tham Suea which is a Thai-Chinese style temple that contains a huge Buddha image. Visible from far away, the temple features an impressive Buddha statue and chedi on the top of a hill. The Buddha statue, seated in the posture of giving blessings, is covered with gold mosaic and protected by an unusual shell-like structure. The huge chedi is an impressive 69 meters high and 29 meters wide.
Sometimes the tiny things can be just as interesting as the large things, and with travel photography it’s always good to look a bit closer and capture the details. As I was walking around the temple looking for photo opportunities I noticed something reflecting the light. When giving blessing over here people often take small squares of gold leaf and place it onto the Buddha statues, occaisionally the gold blows off in the wind and gets scattered …. here is a shot of a drain cover I found in the temple grounds …. look closer and behind it sits a spider, inadvertently collecting the gold leaf fragments that have blown away in its Web… maybe catching it so it doesn’t get washed away!
Often at some of these temples you’ll see dogs, cats or monkeys hanging around – this little monkey was at another temple we visited afterwards and after he’d stopped crawling oll over me, I managed to get this shot of him.
In Thailand photography is all about the culture and ancient history so next on our itinerary was one of my favorite places in Thailand … the ancient city of Ayutthaya.
Founded c. 1350, Ayutthaya became the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai, but it was destroyed by the Burmese in the 18th century and afterwards Bangkok became the capitol. Ayutthaya’s remains are characterized by the prang (reliquary towers and it’s a magical area especially early morning before the throngs of tourists have descended upon it.
We arrived early evening, and I managed to get this shot across the river while waiting for some food to arrive at the local restaurant we ate at.
Early the next morning my brother in law, P Ket kindly drove us to the area with the temples so that we could get some shots as the sun came up.
Our next major visit was the Island of Koh Libong.
Located in Trang province, south of Phuket, the whole island enjoys national park status, and so is very quiet and is mostly unspoilt by the usual tourist trade. Ko Libong, features beautiful beaches, lots of rubber plantations, unusual landscapes, deep starry nights and Muslim fishing villages. If you’re very lucky you might catch a glimpse of an endangered Dugong, although we didn’t manage to see one unfortunately. However there is lots more to see on the island especially the wildlife and quiet beaches.
Early mornings and sunset are also great times to get photographs here.
We did take a boat trip to try and see the rare Dugongs and even though we didn’t see any we still found some interesting wildlife to photograph around some submerged trees.
And even near our hotel we could find some fascinating things, including hermit crabs, and these insects too. These shots were taken using the Nikon 60mm macro lens, allowing me to get really close up shots of these amazing creatures.
We almost walked into this beauty too – a Golden orb spider.
After Koh Libong we headed north slightly to Phuket to visit my wife’s Uncle Bob who lives there.
Old Phuket town is a fantastic place to try some candid photography and street photography, some of the architecture and things you’ll see there are great for these type of shots.
These stickers were on many of the old doors and buildings around the old phuket china town area …. I was told the are blessings ….. sometimes when you travel somewhere new it’s the tiny details that are worth searching for.
And more wildlife …
And on the subject of cats, we found a ‘cat cafe’ where you can get a drink and sit and pet the cats – we found some very interesting looking felines there.
for more of my general travel and Thailand photography click here
More info on Thailand photography destinations we visited …
Thailand photography travel blog post by Paul Ward