Thailand is one of the most interesting and fascinating destinations for a photographer to visit and explore. The many natural wonders of Southern Thailand are truely a sight to behold. From the rich tropical island locations and natural cliff formations to the restful sunsets and relaxation of beach life – they are all well worth adding to the traveller’s ‘to do’ list. Places of photographic interest are Phuket and the surrounding Phi Phi archipelago in the Andaman Sea and the island of Ko Samui off of Thailand’s southeastern coast, with its many surrounding smaller islands.
Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Ko Samui is Thailand’s second largest island. It’s tropical white beaches, aqua waters, coral reefs and coconut trees add to its exotic appeal, making it a must see tourist destination for Southern Thailand. It is surrounded by some sixty other islands, which compose the Ang Thong Marine National Park, Ko Phangan, Ko Tao and Ko Nang. Samui is a mix of natural paradise, pulsating nightlife and layed back sandy beaches. For photographic experiences it is a dream destination if you favour the surf, sand and exotic appeal of island and tropical locations.
Phuket and the Phi Phi Archipelago
The exotic Island of Phi Phi Leh is home to the beautiful ‘Maya Bay’, location for the hit movie ‘The Beach’. The water here is a vivid pure aqua hue, tending towards aqua green or blue depending on the time of the day. Photos are often best taken in the early morning with polarised filter to capture the colour depth of intensity of this location. This is truly one of the most amazing locations of the Phi Phi archipelago, in the Andaman Sea. Once immersed in the waters of Maya Bay you may never want to leave. There are also many amazing surrounding coves, islands and reef locations, where the water changes through several shades of aqua blue and aqua green; from emerald to rich pure aqua blue.
Just be careful to protect camera gear and study up on photographing in humid environments before traveling. Waterproof camera bags and protective or polarised filters are most useful when on the water, or with high reflective light of equatorial zone. Another thing is to be very careful with the rocks when swimming as they are often just under the surface depending on the tide and can be razor-sharp and quite dangerous. Usual safety concerns are there when travelling alone with expensive cameras, however when with a group or trusted travel guides it is not so much of an issue.
‘James Bond Island’, Phang Nya Bay
This island landmark was popularly named after the movie ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. Natively known as Khao Phing Kan, the island is located in Phang Nga Bay northeast of Phuket. Be prepared for Throngs of tourists and intimate lone shots are often hard to acquire. Trips usually include some light canoeing an some mild hiking/walking, so a wide range of scenic imagery can be capture of this lovely and picturesque location.
When travelling to a variety of locations in southern Thailand it is recommended to take the very best camera gear you can afford – especially if you are planning to visit the more picturesque islands. This is not only for ease of photography in general, but essentially for capturing the natural beauty of these locations in their best light. A variety of lens options are often good, as wide-angle shots of the islands and close-ups are two very different subjects – especially in terms of what is to be expected on a quick trip out to the islands. You are often some distance from shore too in terms of boat travel that take you to the islands, so a zoom lens of 4-500mm can be most useful.
Often one fixed focal length lens and a telephoto zoom might suffice, yet to just take one telephoto like a 80-400mm or 200-400mm is often ideal for quick trips. A variety of lenses may be more appropriate when if it is more of a day trip, or when you have more time to access more locations or sites for the day. Also, it is often sometimes wise to make the decision before you go to either take the gear and be prepared for a little work and sweat to get some good photos, or just relax and enjoy the scenery and be in the moment. Otherwise you may not enjoy the trip if your expectations are not met by failing light conditions, crowds, lost, damaged or faulty equipment, al which can ruin the magic of the moment.
Approaching one on the neighbouring island to Phi Phi island. These island mountains are truely breathtaking, with this one looking like a giant transformer or rock giant is about to break out of the mountain. The local Thai people even have names for them like monkey island or Ancestor island depending on their traditions and story. The lighting was perfect on approach and a polarised filter was used to capture the naturally rich colour and full image definition.