The heat has been cranked up in Thailand for almost two months now.  Super bright days that bleach every bit of color from a landscape, heat that ensures a steady trickle of sweat every moment you’re outdoors, and skies that have no soul or color.  What is a photographer to do during the hot months?

This is a time to challenge yourself.  Most of the time, most all of the day, will result in terrible photographs that look like your grandmother captured them on her Kodak Easyshare.  Still, there are photo opportunities out there just waiting for the creative mind to capture.

Night shots would be one.  Charles has been out there during these hot times working on his night photography techniques and from the looks of his latest pictures he’s doing quite well!  Once the sun goes down everything pretty much looks the same as any other month with few exceptions.

Exceptions would be the “after colors.”  Never heard of after colors?  That’s because they’re a secret.

From the time the sun sets, to as much as an hour later, when the sky appears dark/black to your eyes.. there might still be very colorful and vibrant colors in the sky not visible to the naked eye.  However, your digital camera can see them if you set the exposure to capture them. 

You can’t just expect to set a longer exposure and the colors will be there every time.  It doesn’t work that way.  Instead, there is what I call the “magic minutes” where for just a few minutes these colors (wild greens/yellows/reds and blues) will be in the sky waiting for the photographer patient enough to keep testing the sky for color in the hour after the sun sets.  If you have a DSLR that you can set to expose for long periods of time, including up to an hour or more, you can often capture some obscenely wild colors in the middle of the night!  Experiment and see what you can come up with.

Another exception would be the violent thunderstorms so common to Thailand this time of year.  Shots of lightning are great.  Try your hand at capturing lightning.  Set your aperture for just about any value (of course the sweet spot of your lens where it’s the sharpest is better) and then vary your shutter speed to effect great captures of lightning.  The longer the exposure, the longer the bolts.  Sometimes a 2-3 second exposure can capture multiple strikes.  Experiment.

Thunderstorms mean clouds.  Beautiful rain swollen dark clouds, often backlit by the sun.  These are the times you’ll capture the most beautiful landscapes.  But you need to be there at the right time.  Often, when thunderstorms are predicted in an area I’ll just go out to the countryside and drive around looking for the right compositional elements.  Once there I’ll hang around when I see the clouds moving in and position myself so the sun is behind or to the side of me, and the dark clouded skies to the front.  It’s a great way to capture dramatic landscapes.

Even though it’s hot and the photo opportunities seem slim, it’s still all about the amount of imagination and effort you put into your photography.  Next time you know thunderstorms are predicted, take a drive in the countryside and see what you can come up with.  Maybe you’ll make a dramatic capture of a lifetime!

Until next week.