A storm moves through Bangkok and the rain swollen clouds promise flooding.  Fortunately the new BTS skytrain station is complete, yet still not operationa.  

Have you ever seen a darker sky in Bangkok?  Sheets of rain are falling on the city creating Bangkok’s infamous floods, lightening flashes across the sky, and thunder rolls through the skyscrapers reaching my ears 5-7 seconds later.  If we were in tornado country I’d be watching for a funnel to drop.  Not even ten minutes later the storm had reached my home and winds registering upwards of 80kph (on my Krestal) hit the towers and rain starts coming down so thick you can’t see the neighboring towers 20 meters distant.  And honest to goodness storm!

Most people would sit tight in their apartments and wait for clear skies.  Not me.  I’ve already packed my favorite Safari World lenses and I’m down the lift and driving out of the car park just minutes later.  I’ve become a sort of storm chaser.  No, I’m not into taking pictures of storms.  More, I’m into hanging out in storms in prime photo locations and waiting for the one cloud to break and allow the sun to light my subjects with a beautiful directional beam of pure golden light.  Today I’m making the 20  minute drive to Safari World and hoping for the best.

This picture is significant because of the explanation above.  Bangkok has tons of pollution but look how clear the air is in this photograph, the high levels of contrast, the air is so clean it looks like the giants used a full bottle of Windex on the skyline!  A few weeks worth of thunderstorms have cleaned the air in the city and the sky is perfectly clean.  Something that happens just a few times a year.  Behind my location the clouds opened up and lit the city like a giant studio strobe might.

An African Crown Crane at Safari World Bangkok Thailand  

30 minutes later the skies are still black, rain is still pouring down, and I’m sitting in my car inside Safari World watching this group of African Crown Cranes.  They’re beautiful birds and I know if another break in the sky opens up, especially one to the rear or side of me, then I’ll have a beautiful high contrast image.  My wish is answered and the image of the African Crane Crown above is my reward.  Beautiful colors, high contrast, and perfect light.  This scenario repeats itself 7-8 more times at different locations in the park producing more portfolio quality images than my previous 10 visits!

It’s taken me years to learn the little nuances of photographing Thailand and of course I’m still learning.  Most often Bangkok has dirty air, haze, and a low contrast look.  The sky is so ‘hot’ it’s usually blown out in most pictures you see of the area.  A solution is to shoot in the rain, on days most would never dream of venturing outside, and to take advantage of the recently cleaned air and spectacular light.  It’s always a good time for photography, but after/during such a rain storm it can be a great time!