“Vicissitude of life” – processed from two images (Indonesia, Borobudur & Myanmar, Bagan) according to Lord Buddha’s Teachings.
From the radiology room to the rolling landscapes of Vietnam and Myanmar, Weerapong has a lifetime of knowledge under his belt at the age of 52. His subject, being one part scenery one part humanity, he is driven by the underlying hope to “inspire us earthlings to preserve mother nature”.
It was an early retirement that forced Weerapong back into his artistic tendencies from childhood. Much like nature functions as a cycle, his creative nature has returned to him later in life - scouring near and far to fuse his imagination with the backdrop of Asia.
But Weerapong doesn't believe that magic transcends from the landscape itself. While the scenery is sure to take your breath away, it is the mind of the photographer that harbours the real magic.
“It depends on the objective and what your imagination is like. Simple places may be of importance if you have an inspired mind. My most inspirational place is in Bromo, Indonesia. It is unbelievable that such a place and atmosphere still exists on this planet, you have to go there to absorb everything yourself before you shoot.”
In fact, many of his “philosophies” are mirrored in the person behind the camera. Forget the subject and equipment - if you have no enthusiasm your art is lost. Weerapong lives by a simple principle: “Love intensely and everything else follows harmoniously.” This love, both for nature and his craft, is what he hopes to pass onto both the viewer and his apprentices.
Weerapong is a staff member of two photographic websites in Thailand, and he works with hopeful photographers as a way of giving back to the community. He organises intense one-on-one or small group photo tours in Thailand and across Asia, passionately delivering one important lesson of an experienced photographer.
“To create a project, you must do homework about the place; which season and period of time are optimal for taking photographs, what is the vantage point, which lens should be used, and what your post production process is going to look like.”
It is exactly this methodical way of working that helps him capture such powerful works of nature.
Star trails make up a large body of Weerapong’s work, and he approaches these with a different technique from most photographers. Instead of using long exposure photography, he prefers to take around 30 - 50 continuous shots and stacking them together in post-production. This process ensures his photographs won’t have “hot pixels”, the battery life doesn’t drain, with less noise due to lighting blend.
However, this way of working also presents some disadvantages. The stacking of clouds makes the photo look unnatural, so the post-production work is what brings it back to reality. Luckily, Weerapong studied processing and retouching years before his interest in photography sparked.
Lighting plays a crucial role in his work too. “When shooting landscapes, it is 100% natural, and pinpointing the exact time of day to shoot, whether that be 30 minutes before the sun begins to rise or 30 minutes before sunset, is a constant challenge. But that’s also what makes it all worth it,” he says.
As an artist, he strives to be satisfied by his own work first, but this means nothing if doesn’t mange to touch the viewer. He quotes fellow landscape photographer Peter Eastway: “I am not creating a historical document for someone to look at in a 100 years’ time; instead I am creating images that come from my imagination.”
This imagination, he hopes, will remind us all of the beauty that surrounds us and encourage everyone to treat nature with greater respect.
© Weerapong Chaipuck