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Sonntag, 23. November 2014

The "great lake" in Tung Saliam

Since the hill top idea will provide some time to become a serious option for my tours I was remembering the beautiful landscapes in Tung Saliam. An area about 60 km out of Sukhothai City but still in the province of Sukhothai. I had passed it several times on my way back from the north but never found the time to explore this region and mark some spots.

There are bizarre mountains, caves and a bigger lake with another 2 small water reservoires some 20 km away from the lake. In fact a little bit too much for a single day to find out. I focused on the lake and went cross country on my way to find some nice spots for photography. At about noon time I reached the garage of my friend Damm located at the edge of Tung Saliam town. Very closed to his place is a temple at the top of a hill and he thought it would be nice to show me. We went on his four wheel truck and I believe good old Jimmy (my 35y old Datsun truck) would have a bit of a problem to master this steep dirt road. The whole top was crowded with trees and there was not a single chance to get a good photograph up there. Nevertheless it is a nice view.

Next destination was a cave. This time we jumped on my truck. Some steps on a rotten concrete staircase and we where ready to enter the cave. A small hall welcomes us and several small hallways where leading in to the cave. It was completely dark and the floor covered with thick moss. The LED torch was down in the truck, very clever. I had a little inflammation in my knee and did not feel keen for this adventure this time. I would not take the risk to lead some guests in here anyway.

So the lake it is. And it really is a highlight. It looks easy to find on the map. But if you do not know the tracks through the fields there is not much of a chance to find it. I wanted to go on a boat to do some test shots and check out the island. Damm was calling a fisherman on the phone and while we where waiting for him to arrive I was wading into the water to do some first photographs.

We found the three of us in a shaky little canoe. The lake is beautiful, the panorama perfect and many trees stick out of the water. A paradise for photography. Since I had the intention to check the area I did not focus to get the best shots but was observing where they would be. The boat went quick and it was already late again. So it happen I did only see half of the lake area.

When we arrived at Damm´s mother´s place dinner was already prepared. I definitely have to come back another time to fulfill the mission. The fisherman told me he can organize a bigger boat but I have to see it. I also do know too resorts nearby but I have to see the rooms and talk to the reception. And I do need some more spots to shot for the second day. I do want to see the other cave and the two little reservoir. There is another even bigger lake about 30 km in the other direction which must be beautiful too. Well I will be back very soon.

Back home I got the idea of building a raft from empty 200 l tanks. I could leave it at Damm´s place and it would be nice to go out there by myself or with guests sometimes...

Donnerstag, 20. November 2014

Road shots

The Ramkhamhaeng Natinal Park in Sukhothai is an area of 341 square kilometers and became declared as the 18th National Park in Thailand in October 27 1980. That´s where I do most of my photography and of course my photographic tours. Over the years I have discovered the most beautiful corners of this countryside and of course I have my favorite spots. The landscape not only changes rapidly over the year but also from day to day. Where today a rice field provides a great foreground is no subject at all the next morning as the rice is gone. These changes are happen to be very quick. Some times from one day to the other. Dry season or rainy times does make a huge difference as well.  So having guests coming in for a tour means to go out and check the favorite spots for its use. In the dry season it becomes very hard to find idyllic landscapes at all. You can not trust on some romantic hazy atmosphere and it requires specific subjects to create something great. Basically what you do is getting more in to the details. Concentrating on a single tree to photograph can be a challenge of its own. To work it out in black & white can be even more sophisticated. But sure I am on my way many times just for the fun of it too. Providing a photographic tour is not like walking through a zoo. I do not want to take my guests to the same location over and over again even though the customer changes. To keep a tour personal means to me to offer something new all the time as well. That´s why I do not stop thinking of something different to do  and do not stop searching for new locations. Amazingly I still come across new locations after all these years and I go out almost every second day.

It happen to became a habit of mine to do these road shots on the side. Composing a great landscape requires not only brilliant light but means to find a great composition a well. Therefore I often need to walk in to the field while trying to find the best constellation. Sometimes I am kind of late because the light already is perfect or the sky just looks great but I did not match up with a great composition. That´s where the road shot comes in. To try to make the best out of a situation always has been my slogan...

Samstag, 15. November 2014

Sukhothai Hills

At the bottom of the Ramkhamhaeng Mountain Range are a lot of hills not tall enough to be called mountain. Not only that I was curios to explore these hills, I also thought it might be a good idea to make it a new content to my photographic tours or embedding it into one as a special event. You need to know there are no regular trails up these hills. One rather need to find a passable track through the jungle. What you do is to observe the terrain and figure a rocky spot at the top. As photography is the goal you do not want to have a lot of tree tops in front of your lens, right? It helps a lot to talk to the locals to figure the best trail. So it happen I found myself on the way up at a nice clear sunny afternoon. It actually was easy to walk but still straight up all the time. Half way I had a sneak view through the trees.

As you can see it is not to high up but already a nice view. The target was a rocky cliff. The vegetation became more bulked and I soon arrived at my destination.

In the distance I could see an upper peak at the next hill who promised an even higher and more open view towards the Mountains. But this would be a walk for another day. It was just about time to go back down because the sun went down quickly.

Another day another hill. This time I had chosen an area more close to the mountains. The road already is on a higher level there. I recognized a rocky platform at the top with almost no vegetation. The perfect spot for photography.
I parked the car on the side of the road where I found a little trail leading in to the forest. It was ending very soon. This time it became more steep and the walk more difficult because of the rubble ground. I met 2 farmer woman on her way back down with buckets full of mushrooms. I told them what I am up to and ask for the best direction to go. They said I am on the right trek but it still is a long way. The walk became a climb and I had to rest several times. It was kind of late as I did not want to go down this way in the dark. So I paused not to much and regret my decision to carry only a small 300 ml bottle of water. Through the trees I could see the platform several times. It did not look far but every time I looked the distance seems not to shrink. When I reached the rock at the top I was totally soaked. It took me an hour but the magnificent view was worth every step.

video snapshot

The clock was 5.00 pm and I gave myself half an hour for photography and to relax. 6.30 pm the sun is down and one hour to go down should be enough I thought. Up there I did study the hill formation to figure a more easy way back.Walking down the ridge should be longer but more comfortable. Back in the woods the jungle dictated my way. I slightly ripped my finger on some thorns and was ending up in the dark climbing down large rocks following a riverbed. This should be a safe way to find back to the bottom. And it was. I finally came out of the forest only 50 meters from where I had parked my car. I guess I underestimated this little adventure and my time schedule was simply wrong. My knees where shaking and I felt exhausted. The next little store was not to far to go and a fresh cool beer brought back my animal spirits. I believe I had own it. This is definitely not proper for a tour. Otherwise anyone who ask for it is welcome. Well there many other little peaks to explore. Many more easy to enter like the first one. But this will take some time...

Dienstag, 22. Juli 2014

Flash lights in action

Nice to see Rob again. He had an american friend in company.His name Klaus clearly suggested German roots. However the German language did not survive the generations. Klaus definitely is a nice guy with a long time photographic experience. So the three of us would be a perfect team..

The schedule was landscape photography in the morning and the Historical Park in Sukhothai. An overcast sky did not provide the best light for landscapes. At 6.30 am we left the rice fields in front of the mountains and went to see the ruins in and around the Historical Park. With gentle rain every now and then we where almost alone in the whole area. A really rare condition and perfect for photography. and the diffuse light through the cloudy sky had its very own charm.

© Andreas Minge 2014
Tomorrow we wanted to shoot a model and get the flashlights in action. I was on location search 2 days before the tour. After the Park we went to select the locations and developed a strategy for the next day until it became time to go for our evening shooting.

Beside the lake where I produced my "atmosphere" series are several small water reservoirs in the area. Perfect for a landscape with reflections and sundown. Sometimes you are lucky. Two fisherman where just about to pack their gear to go home. I persuade them to stay to be our model in the scene. We managed to create a great picture a la Steve Mc Curry. A large part of his photographs are contrieved even you probably would not notice it at all. I guess we did a great job.

© Rob Collins 2014
the next day:

Beside his new Sony Alpha 7R Camera Rob brought a new flash system along. The three YN-560III Yongnuo flashlights are controlled by the Yongnuo 560 TX transmitter. Operating these flash lights with the transmitter is very simple and intuitive. With regards to the price this Chinese product puts all leading brands in the shade. A long lifetime is not a matter of concern. It does not provide TTL but when you work with 3 lights on a set you switch to manual mode anyway.

We decided to work with Rob´s Sony only. Avoiding everybody to be busy with ones gear we where able to focus on the optimum composition of the photograph and the work with the model. It felt a little bit like on a film set. This kind of team work not only was a lot of fun but very constructive as well. Working just on your own one hardly achieve such results.

Dinner at the hotel became a long stretch in to the night. We all had very little sleep when we met at 6.00 in the morning with our model. A traditional cloth has already be ordered at the week end at the local costume rental store. So early the Historical Park still was abandonment. Despite the overcast sky it was very hot and humid. Our shirts where soaked in sweat. Within such an diffuse light one would think not to need any flash light at all. Instead the difference is clearly visible. We did a shooting at 3 different ruins and had variable light conditions at each of it.

© Rob Collins 2014
For the reason of the very wet conditions at the rice fields we decided to skip the landscape for one more time. Plan B took place: the motorcycle garage of my local friend Djugg. Our model brought a friend along and Djugg became an actor himself. A few bike buddies with a Harley where expected to stop by. Since you never know what is really become to happen we decided to start which what we have got. We moved some bikes and built up the setting. It was pretty dark inside the garage and to get the light right was a challenge. Three busy hours, a couple of beers and a lot of laughter until we´ve got our picture in the can. I would say it was the highlight of these two days. We where all very happy.

Kind of exhausted we dined extensively again. After a short night Rob and Klaus went  to the Pitsanulok Airport to fly back to Bangkok. I guess they had a nice nap at the plane.

Montag, 23. Juni 2014

Landscapes at the Verdener Kunsthaus Galeri Casaretto Art

Exhibition "Landscapes" at the Verdener Kunsthaus near Bremen/ Germany extended until the end of August 2014

                   with the painter Werner Heinze, Puck Steinbrecher and the photographer Gianni Pinna          

with the photographer Frank B. Ehemann

with the painter Werner Heinze

Mittwoch, 14. Mai 2014

show at the Cortisen in Austria


and will be happy to meet you at the Vernissage on June 15th 2014 at the:


Pilger Strasse 15
5360 St. Wolfgang
ph.: +43 6138 2376 0

with Britta Aquistapace

Mittwoch, 7. Mai 2014


...I was busy to put my new computer together and have transfered 9 TB of data.

ADONE Magazine published an article about my very first project reffering to my "Lines" series.

Seamless Spotlight posted an interview:

I am on my way to organize my participation at 2 group shows in Bremen/ Germany and Salzburg/ Austria. Means after almost 2 years I will be back in Germany for a while. I´ll keep you up to date...

Dienstag, 25. Februar 2014

switch on the light

after you have push the trigger do not forget to switch on the light. The button is at the back of each photograph ;)