I’ve long shared with you in this column that inclement weather provides prime photographic opportunities and time only reinforces this opinion.  Once monsoon season is over, and the rain is no longer cleansing the smog from the skies, all we’re left with is hot whitish boring skies.  If we’re lucky.  The end of monsoon season also signals the start of field burnings and a thick haze will settle over the northern cities of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai choking its residents with the worst air quality of the year.  Thai authorities will warn us not to go outdoors, especially to exercise, and then you’ll be gazing out your windows at something entirely different

Canon 1ds Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F11  1/250th  24mm  ISO 200

 

As monsoon season settles in to punish us in earnest many fair weather photographers gaze out the window watching the lightning as thunder rumbles in the distance.  They’re halfway glad they’re not out in the muck, and halfway bored because there’s only so much television a creative guy can take.

I’ve long shared with you in this column that inclement weather provides prime photographic opportunities and time only reinforces this opinion.  Once monsoon season is over, and the rain is no longer cleansing the smog from the skies, all we’re left with is hot whitish boring skies.  If we’re lucky.  The end of monsoon season also signals the start of field burnings and a thick haze will settle over the northern cities of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai choking its residents with the worst air quality of the year.  Thai authorities will warn us not to go outdoors, especially to exercise, and then you’ll be gazing out your windows at something entirely different!

 

Perhaps one of the most difficult places to properly photograph is the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya.  I make this one of four stops on my workshop “Pattaya Loop”, a fast paced whirlwind day taking us from Bangkok to the Khon Kheow Open Zoo , to the Siracha Tiger Zoo , ending up at the Sanctuary of Truth.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L  @F4  1/50th 70mm  ISO 1000

 

Perhaps one of the most difficult places to properly photograph is the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya.  I make this one of four stops on my workshop “Pattaya Loop”, a fast paced whirlwind day taking us from Bangkok to the Khon Kheow Open Zoo , to the Siracha Tiger Zoo , ending up at the Sanctuary of Truth.

 

This is a lot of driving and a lot of photography for a single day, but fortunately it’s nicely split up into three pieces so we get some recovery time in the air conditioned vehicle..:)  The Sanctuary of Truth itself is best photographed towards the end of the day, when the heat isn’t nearly as bad and when the brightest sun is hours past.

Canon 5d Mark II,  24-70mm F2.8L  @F5.6 1/25th 24mm  ISO 320

 

This is a lot of driving and a lot of photography for a single day, but fortunately it’s nicely split up into three pieces so we get some recovery time in the air conditioned vehicle..:)  The Sanctuary of Truth itself is best photographed towards the end of the day, when the heat isn’t nearly as bad and when the brightest sun is hours past.

 

Because of the heat, and the way it sets into the Sanctuary of Truth, and needing to be there in the last few hours of the day, two hours at this location is about all we’ll get.  I’d do the same even if I was staying in Pattaya to photograph this location every day for a week.  Images from the mornings and afternoons just don’t turn out well, while the later afternoons are perfect.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L   @F5  1/60th 45mm  ISO 100

 

Because of the heat, and the way it sets into the Sanctuary of Truth, and needing to be there in the last few hours of the day, two hours at this location is about all we’ll get.  I’d do the same even if I was staying in Pattaya to photograph this location every day for a week.  Images from the mornings and afternoons just don’t turn out well, while the later afternoons are perfect.

 

Each piece of the SOT is made of a hand carved wood by a local artist.  A large scale model is used to plan and mock things up, and the artists are on site in a covered working area turning out these pieces day after day.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L   @F8  1/60th 60mm  ISO 400

 

Each piece of the SOT is made of a hand carved wood by a local artist.  A large scale model is used to plan and mock things up, and the artists are on site in a covered working area turning out these pieces day after day.

 

If you’ve been watching the exfil shooting data I’ve been carefully placing beneath each image then you’ve noticed a wide variety of settings, lenses, camera bodies, and techniques have been employed.  This is one location where you benefit greatly from a workshop if just to have someone tell you what lens works where, where the light is coming from, what settings work best, and more.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L   @F5.6  1/40th 60mm  ISO 500

 

If you’ve been watching the exfil shooting data I’ve been carefully placing beneath each image then you’ve noticed a wide variety of settings, lenses, camera bodies, and techniques have been employed.  This is one location where you benefit greatly from a workshop if just to have someone tell you what lens works where, where the light is coming from, what settings work best, and more.

 

My passion is the interior.  Rays of light mix with the darkness and the exotic carvings lending a feeling and look you just won’t get anywhere else.  As you can see, even in the late afternoon it’s much brighter outside than inside, by a much wider margin than your cameras sensor is capable of capturing.  This means the later in the day you shoot, the darker the skies (think monsoon season), all work for you.  Different and somewhat advanced techniques such as HDR and exposure balancing helps a lot too.

Canon 5d Mark II,  24-70mm F2.8L  @F5.6 1/25th 24mm  ISO 160

 

My passion is the interior.  Rays of light mix with the darkness and the exotic carvings lending a feeling and look you just won’t get anywhere else.  As you can see, even in the late afternoon it’s much brighter outside than inside, by a much wider margin than your cameras sensor is capable of capturing.  This means the later in the day you shoot, the darker the skies (think monsoon season), all work for you.  Different and somewhat advanced techniques such as HDR and exposure balancing helps a lot too.

 

If everything lines up near perfectly you’ll be able to get some single exposure matches between the inside and outside, but it’s always a delicate balance.  You just won’t realize how much heavy dark rain filled clouds really help until you’ve been here a few dozen times and tried everything else.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L   @F8  1/40th 70mm  ISO 400

 

If everything lines up near perfectly you’ll be able to get some single exposure matches between the inside and outside, but it’s always a delicate balance.  You just won’t realize how much heavy dark rain filled clouds really help until you’ve been here a few dozen times and tried everything else.

 

Even on a cool winter day, 30 minutes before sunset, the skies will be very bright and if you’re lucky blue in color.  Notice the severe angle of light?

Canon 1ds Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8   @F8  1/640th   ISO 100

 

Even on a cool winter day, 30 minutes before sunset, the skies will be very bright and if you’re lucky blue in color.  Notice the severe angle of light?

 

Every inch of the ceilings are also intricately hand carved.  At times I encourage clients to lay on their backs and study the ceilings and make their best captures.  Laying on your back provides a great view, you can brace for some very low shutter speeds, and it’s a bit of a rest.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L   @F4  1/25th 54mm  ISO 800

 

Every inch of the ceilings are also intricately hand carved.  At times I encourage clients to lay on their backs and study the ceilings and make their best captures.  Laying on your back provides a great view, you can brace for some very low shutter speeds, and it’s a bit of a rest.

 

Everywhere you look you’ll find long passages with interesting lighting, hard carvings, and a feeling unique to the Sanctuary of Truth.  Not even Angkor Vat or Wat Rung Khun can give such a feeling.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L   @F5  1/60th 70mm  ISO 400

 

Everywhere you look you’ll find long passages with interesting lighting, hard carvings, and a feeling unique to the Sanctuary of Truth.  Not even Angkor Vat or Wat Rung Khun can give such a feeling.

 

A long wide view during the morning with a hint of fog in the capture.  It was foggy outside, but still very bright.  This was during my learning process before I learned the best time of the day is the late afternoon.

Canon 1ds Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8   @F2.8  1/25th   ISO 100

 

A long wide view during the morning with a hint of fog in the capture.  It was foggy outside, but still very bright.  This was during my learning process before I learned the best time of the day is the late afternoon.

 

The exterior is overwhelming.  Usually you don’t know where to start. Every square centimeter of the place is covered in an interesting carving and it isn’t until your 3-4th trip there that you begin to ‘section’ the exterior in your mind, isolating different views.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L   @F8  1/40th 67mm  ISO 100

 

The exterior is overwhelming.  Usually you don’t know where to start. Every square centimeter of the place is covered in an interesting carving and it isn’t until your 3-4th trip there that you begin to ‘section’ the exterior in your mind, isolating different views.

 

We’ve mentioned before how your eyes see 15-17 stops of light, and your cameras sensor only 5-7?  It’s a challenge to isolate scenes where the sunlight naturally models the carvings in a way very similar to the way you use strobes to model a live subject in the studio!

Canon 1ds Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4  @F8  1/30th  24mm  ISO 200

 

We’ve mentioned before how your eyes see 15-17 stops of light, and your cameras sensor only 5-7?  It’s a challenge to isolate scenes where the sunlight naturally models the carvings in a way very similar to the way you use strobes to model a live subject in the studio!

 

It’s a lot of fun to capture the light rays during the last light of the day.  You’ll need to balance your exposure almost perfectly, but if you take the effort and if you can stand still in the same place and watch the light change slowly at first, but as it reaches it apogee much faster, then you can make such captures.

Canon 1ds Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8   @F2  1/20th   ISO 100

 

It’s a lot of fun to capture the light rays during the last light of the day.  You’ll need to balance your exposure almost perfectly, but if you take the effort and if you can stand still in the same place and watch the light change slowly at first, but as it reaches it apogee much faster, then you can make such captures.

 

Other times it’s fun to see how wide and how close you can get to the main structure.  Sure, I could have fixed the perspective in CS5, but then sometimes perspective distortion lends a ‘look’ you wouldn’t otherwise be able to achieve.

Canon 1ds Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8   @F8  1/160th   ISO 100

 

Other times it’s fun to see how wide and how close you can get to the main structure.  Sure, I could have fixed the perspective in CS5, but then sometimes perspective distortion lends a ‘look’ you wouldn’t otherwise be able to achieve.

 

Depending on the holiday, season, and so forth the staff will put out flowers and silk which very much contrasts while enhancing the normally utilitarian view.

Canon 5d Mark II,  16-35mm F2.8L  @F5 1/30th 35mm  ISO 800

 

Depending on the holiday, season, and so forth the staff will put out flowers and silk which very much contrasts while enhancing the normally utilitarian view.

 

After you learn your lenses and views, then you’ll start to acquire favorites.  The inexpensive Sigma 20mm F1.8 lens is a favorite of mine inside darker temples, caves, and other such places you’ll often find within Thailand’s borders.  So much so, that this lens is almost always in my bag.

Canon 1ds Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8   @F2  1/25th   ISO 100 

 

After you learn your lenses and views, then you’ll start to acquire favorites.  The inexpensive Sigma 20mm F1.8 lens is a favorite of mine inside darker temples, caves, and other such places you’ll often find within Thailand’s borders.  So much so, that this lens is almost always in my bag.

 

Did I motivate you to get out of the house on the next rainy day and head to the Sanctuary of Truth?  How about the countryside?  Inclement weather opens many possibilities.  Take advantage of them and send in some images to share.  Biker Bart has really been pulling the entire load of the Readers Submissions area for awhile, and it would be great to see more work from a wider variety of people.  I hope you've enjoyed yet another brief look at a really great place to photography.

Canon 1ds Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8   @F8  1/500th   ISO 100

 

Did I motivate you to get out of the house on the next rainy day and head to the Sanctuary of Truth?  How about the countryside?  Inclement weather opens many possibilities.  Take advantage of them and send in some images to share.  Biker Bart has really been pulling the entire load of the Readers Submissions area for awhile, and it would be great to see more work from a wider variety of people.  I hope you've enjoyed yet another brief look at a really great place to photography.