Koji Inchiro desperately needed to get this right, his fragile military future depended on it.  His next assignment would either be a relatively cushy job as part of Admirals Staff documenting the Imperial Fleets victories in the Pacific, or assigned as a prison guard serving out the war in this hell hole of South East Asia.  Balancing the 1920’s vintage American made Afgha ‘Clipper’ view camera on a triplex of carefully hewn poles formed into a crude camera stand he carefully measured his focal distance to avoid parallax error, gently took up the slack on the film advance winder ensuring the film lay flat against box, and holding his breath incrementally pressed the shutter release until he heard the worn shutter slide open over the film, and then back again.  Roughly 1/20th of a second.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F8 1/160th  24mm  ISO 100

 

 

Koji Inchiro desperately needed to get this right, his fragile military future depended on it.  His next assignment would either be a relatively cushy job as part of Admirals Staff documenting the Imperial Fleets victories in the Pacific, or assigned as a prison guard serving out the war in this hell hole of South East Asia.  Balancing the 1920’s vintage American made Afgha ‘Clipper’ view camera on a triplex of carefully hewn poles formed into a crude camera stand he carefully measured his focal distance to avoid parallax error, gently took up the slack on the film advance winder ensuring the film lay flat against the box, and holding his breath incrementally pressed the shutter release until he heard the worn focal plane shutter slide open over the film, and then back again.  Roughly 1/20th of a second. 

 

 

The camera was a trophy taken from an British prisoner, which he’d discovered in the property room the week before.  Diligently he studied it’s odd language markings and functions all of the last week until he was confident he understood it’s secrets.  If Imperial General Headquarters were impressed with his photographic skills, perhaps the cushy staff position would be his.  Excited with his capture he rushed off to his makeshift darkroom to develop his last remaining negative.  All around him prisoners of war were busy working, hammering spikes, laying rails, and moving heavy logs with the help of the local Thai’s and their strange beasts called elephants.  The blistering heat and stifling humidity were barely noticed today in his haste to develop his prize.  A thousand thoughts went through his mind as he practically flew down the hill towards his improvised darkroom.

 

 

The camera was a trophy taken from an British prisoner which he’d discovered in the property room the week before.  Diligently he studied it’s odd language markings and functions all of the last week until he was confident he understood it’s secrets.  If Imperial General Headquarters were impressed with his photographic skills, perhaps the cushy staff position would be his.  Excited with his capture he rushed off to his makeshift darkroom to develop his last remaining negative.  All around him prisoners of war were busy working, hammering spikes, laying rails, and moving heavy logs with the help of the local Thai’s and their strange beasts called elephants.  The blistering heat and stifling humidity were barely noticed today in his haste to develop his prize.  A thousand thoughts went through his mind as he practically flew down the hill towards his improvised darkroom.

 

I made that up.   Yep.   Fun isn’t it?  In reality I probably spent a solid dozen hours processing this one image over and over again, trying to make sense of its vintage construction amidst modern surroundings.  7-8 color versions didn’t work for me, 2-3 black and white versions didn’t look right either.  This was when I started researching the history of the bridge and my mind wandered back  in time 60-70 years and I briefly became Koji Inchiro.  It could have been a true story, maybe it was, that’s the fun of writing.

 

Initially I wanted to tell you how difficult it is to make such a capture, especially to the degree of accuracy and lucky weather I was fortunate enough to combine.  But the history won out.  You see, when I started researching his bridge I found much conflicting information.  

 

The general consensus and that listed on Wiki claims this bridge was built by Dutch, British, Australian and American POW’s as was The Bridge Over River Kwai which is well documented in the Death Railway Museum in Kanchanabui.   Others would lead you to believe  that while the road was completed the 135km’s from Chaig Mai to Pai, and from Pai into Burma, the bridge was never completed until after the war, and only then because it benefitted the locals.

 

The more accurate historical account was a bridge was completed by the Japanese using POW labor and local Thai’s using their elephants to drag 30” diameter logs from the local forests used to construct the wooden bridge.  However, the Japanese burned down this bridge as they retreated from the area and then another less solid wooden bridge was built by the locals, but didn’t last long when a storm that same year took it out. 

 

Later, the villagers petitioned the government to move the Nawarat Steel bridge from its then current location.  Their wish was granted and over the course of the next year the bridge was erected, and is the bridge we see today which we call the Ta-pai bridge, or by its other name “The World War II Pai Historical Bridge.”

 

This wood and steel bridge very much resembles The Bridge Over River Kwai.    The similarities in construction and materials are evident.  Yet, it doesn’t stand up to history that it was built by Allied POW’s.  But the wooden bridge before it was. 

 

 

This wood and steel bridge very much resembles The Bridge Over River Kwai.    The similarities in construction and materials are evident.  Yet, it doesn’t stand up to history that it was built by Allied POW’s.  But the wooden bridge before it was.

Bridge Over River Kwai, Kanchanabiuri.  Canon 1ds Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L  @F8  1/250th  32mm  ISO 100