Thailand Through The Lens competition: 2011 winners spill the beans

Slawek Kozdras, Ken Lindsay & Matt Light: winners of the Thailand Through The Lens competition 2011.

Last year’s Thailand Through The Lens competition produced three worthy winners: Slawek Kodzras, Ken Lindsay, and Matt Light. By submitting some excellent photographs, they not only won a 7-day photographic trip to Thailand -one of the most beautiful and photogenic countries in the world – courtesy of EVA Air and Tourism Thailand, but they also each won a Nikon D3200 kit.

With the closing date for the 2012 Thailand Through The Lens competition approaching (31 October, see here for entry details.), we asked our three previous winners to give us their thoughts on Thailand, the trip itself, and to pick their favourite photo taken while they were on the trip.

All three are very good photographers but have different personalities and interests. It’s fun to hear their different perspectives of the same experience.

After winning his place on the photographic trip last year, Slawek Kozdras has built on the experience he gained in Thailand by publishing photographs in travel magazines, including National Geographic Traveller. His most recent travels have taken him to Japan.

The five things Slawek most liked the most about Thailand included: “the sun, super-friendly people, unreal food, the east meets west feel, and the variety of things to see and do.”

His lists his top five experiences as:

1. Travelling on a speedboat between paradise islands.

2. Cycling through tiny villages between temples in Ayutthaya.

3. The amazing panorama of Bangkok from a skybar.

4. Watching bulls fight on Koh Samui.

5. Every single meal!

Slawek’s favourite shot

“My favourite photo is the one of the guy with a tattoo. What I like about it so much is that the meeting with the guy in a jungle was quite unexpected. We walked together and talked for quite a bit before he decided to show me his tattoo. I also like the toothbrush he used to hold his hair.”

Tattooed man in the forest, Thailand. Photo © Slawek Kozdras 2011.

When we contacted Ken Lindsay he was in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, attending conference (and hopefully finding time to take photos) but he kindly made time to provide us with his top five favourite things about the trip to Thailand:

1.  Such entertaining company on the trip (flattery gets you everywhere), with like minded photographers.

2.  Visiting a country for the first time with such a wide variety of interesting photographic subjects and places.

3.  The opportunity to spend as much time as you wanted taking photos without any restraints or interruptions (e.g. spouse etc. !)

4.  Surviving a potentially disastrous crash on a bike in the market, overturning a 3-foot wide pan of hot cooking oil.

5.  Seeing the concern on Joanna’s (our host from Tourism Thailand) face when I crashed on my bike in the market, overturning the 3-foot wide pan of hot cooking oil …

Luckily, Ken didn’t cause too much damage either to himself or onyone else in the market incident!

Ken’s favourite shot:

“My favourite photo is  ‘Buffalo in conflict’. This was taken in the late afternoon against a low sun creating rim lighting on the fighting water buffalo.”

Buffaloes in conflict, Thailand. Photo © Ken Lindsay 2011.

Despite the Buffalo fight in Chiang Mai being something the the winners stumbled on by accident enroute to another destination, it appears to have been a favourite topic for two of our photographers – Ken and Matt. We think all the photos they took were excellent.

Our three winners in action, Thailand, 2011.

Matt Light was very excited about going on a guided holiday specifically to take photos with fellow photographers. And he was interested to see Thailand from a different perspective: luxury hotels instead of backpacking. Not surprisingly, he loved it!

If you’re wondering how such a photographic trip is organised and what each day might be like, here’s Matt’s take on the experience:

“Our cameras were rarely out of our hands and despite often photographing the same subject at the same time we would have very different images and styles. In the mornings Slawek would photograph the beautiful temples, Ken would photograph the beautiful stall holders and I would shoot the rather scruffy temple cats; at lunchtime Slawek would shoot the beautiful food, Ken would shoot the beautiful waitresses and I would shoot the hungry tortoise beneath the table; in the afternoon Slawek would take pictures of the beautiful beach, Ken would take pictures of the beautiful girls in bikinis and I would give my camera and my eyes a well deserved rest. Busy but fun days!”

Matt’s memorable moments:

  • Riding bikes through quiet villages enthusiastically waving “hellobyebye” to any child caught in our path.
  • Attempting to climb coconut trees.
  • Slipping and stumbling along muddy jungle tracks defiant in our rather fetching leach socks.
  • Driving golf buggies through peaceful temples while blasting musical horns at surprised scattering tour groups.
  • Playing volley ball on empty beaches.
  • Tipsy midnight swims and generally just having a lot of fun with some great new friends. A genuine once in a lifetime experience.

Matt’s favourite shot

“This is one of my favourite shots from the trip because it was very nearly missed. I was worried the animals would be mistreated but I was assured this was never the case and that it would be unique spectacle. The water buffalo bulls were genuinely treated with the utmost respect with each animal being thoroughly rested, washed and painted before a fight. The winner was allowed a thundering lap of honour before the loser was rescued from the ring, to be washed and rested and pampered again until the next time.”

Fighting water buffaloes, Thailand. Photo © Matt Light 2011.

How Matt got the shot

Matt wanted to freeze the fighting buffaloes correctly in the frame and with enough dynamic action to portray their power and strength but also to capture the expressions of the gambling crowd.

He used a relatively high shutter speed to freeze the bulls and opened the aperture wide to create a shallow depth of field to slightly blur the people. He then focused on the foremost bull and tracked the action. Using mono rather than colour helped to add drama.

Matt is currently considering either a trekking trip to Nepal or will revisit Myanmar (Burma), although an 8-month trip to Nepal and India may also be on the cards…

Reminder: The closing date for entries for the 2012 Thailand Through The Lens competition is 31 October 2012. Click here, for details.

Good luck & happy snapping!