Feature Photograph

River Kwai at dusk

This last week’s events and location visits haven’t left my mind.  I’m constantly running the things I’ve seen and learned through my mind over and over again.  Sometimes I do this when I’m trying to place myself in someone else’s shoes, or like this week in someone else’s shoes over 60 years ago.  Last week I visited Kanchanaburi and viewed the Bridge over River Kwai, the war cemeteries, and the excellent Death Railway Museum and Research Centre.

This picture is significant for several reasons.  First, I think it’s a good strong image with an extremely strong dynamic range that pushes the limits of actual prints and definitely exceeds that of the monitor you’re viewing it on.  In the background is the bridge as it passes over River Kwai.

Further significance is that I was suffering from what I’ve found out to be dysentery and after four days of such I was extremely weak and not in good shape at all.  We’d arrived in Kanchanaburi in the late afternoon and a quick drive by the bridge with all the tourists and vendors let me know I wouldn’t be getting the images I wanted that close in.

So.. we drove down the river and started turning in small dirt roads and between simple Thai river homes and asking for permission to walk to the river front and see if we “found the view” we were after.  An hour later we found the perfect place.  The bridge is distant enough so you can’t see the throngs of tourists, yet prominent enough in the frame (with a large print) to clearly see the bridge and its supports.  This view lets us see traditional wooden walkways and local flora much as you’d have seen it over 60 years ago.

Standing there amongst what many westerners would consider the “wreckage” of a simple Thai home, chickens threatening us, raw sewage seeping, cooking fires starting up, and feeling my stomach turning and feeling my weakness.. I think I could almost see and feel, very briefly, what the prisoners of war saw and felt every minute of every day.  In my case when I was finished I was able to climb into my air conditioned SUV and head back to my hotel to rest.  In their case they could only look forward to the end of the war and their release, or like more than 100,000 men.. an early death in a foreign land.

Vintage looks of a train on the bridge over River Kwai

This is a good example of using split toning to achieve the effect of a vintage print.  A modern locomotive as it passes over the River Kwai on the bridge.  I like the way the light plays off the top of the engine, its front windows, and the top arches of the bridge.  I can look at this image and almost imagine one of the old time engines steaming across.

In the coming weeks we’ll be visiting the war cemeteries and in a special treat I’ll take you inside the Railway Museum of Death and Research Centre courtesy of Mr. Rod Beattie.  You’ll learn more about this man in the coming weeks.