Thailand : With and Without (Subject/No Subject) Reverse Symmetry (Positions and Practice Portfolio Experience Write Up) | Project Development | Informing Contexts

The next element of my project was to practice the effects of symmetry, two images placed together to create a Rorschach impact that may spark different shapes to the viewer. Also, to capture certain landmarks with and with out a portrait subject, creating a contrast that would give the viewer two perspectives whilst viewing the landmark alone and then with someone else, implying that the presence of a figure with in a landscape adds an additional interest to the image. I also searched and came across landscapes and situations that resonated with the word impact, a change that had been made over time, something broken or something blocking a path making and creating a physical impact to potentially unlock a feeling that represents boundaries.

Physical Impact

This quest began with a long drive, scouting for locations, a large temple was spotted in the distance, to get there I had to drive along a dirt trail which had a large lake surrounding the path, temple itself and bridges scouted around. With the temple in sight, I came across one of the bridges, but this one was different – it lead to no where.

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To me this was a unique find which I was excited about, a case of physical impact which I could attempt to display side to side showcasing the two sides to this bridge, one with accessibility, the other leading to the unknown, in a place which felt like the middle of no where, not very safe. With the sun at full blare, I lined up the shot as best as I could both ways, high shots and low shots, then continued my way on towards the temple.

  Click on image to enlarge

This first temple was large, and I mean large. As my partner went over, it gave me an opportunity to showcase the size contrast between herself and the building, a form of visual impact I had not planned for but I thought was very interesting. I experimented with a wide angle shot and a close up, both trying to get an angle where she is visible enough, my only grips with this shot is that I didn’t move more to the right so that the smaller shines behind her did not interfere with the shot. My lens is not a very powerful one and it may not seem like it, but she was very far away.

Moving on, another form of contrast I was able to come across was in the second temple. This temple was another unique sight, at least for me, as it was half built, but not just here and there, the top was pretty much finished – the bottom half not so much…

There is something about this temple that lines a connection in with my project impact which I find hard to describe in words. The contrast, the upper half looks visually pleasing, the lower half, not so much. An impact of change of appearance so, clean cut. If this temple was half way built vertically then I think these shots would have improved a lot.

As one of my tasks was to capture landmarks with and with out a subject, it occurred to me that the people in photo make an overall difference to me. Take these two for example…

To your left you have the temple with out a person in the distance, to your right you have the image with. I feel it just gives the image that something more to it when a person is included in a landscape wether clearly or a silhouette – it all adds to the mystery. Who is that person? What are they doing there? What is their life like? I would be interested to see if others think a similar to the perspective I have on this.

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I tried to keep the images as centred as I could with a hand that has been clenching away at a motorcycle throttle for the best of an hour. Shooting in this heat I find also requires some stamina to be able to keep still when focusing a centred shot through the viewfinder. when shooting I found myself in a little debate wether to include the various selection of tools and materials to the right, as it does add to the scarce/constructed feel to the area. I hope to one day return to this temple to capture its final completed form.

I finished up taking a side on shot of temple to see if I could get an alternative perspective of the contrast between the finished exterior and construction. I noticed that one of the buddha statues were missing, not sure if that was deliberate or not…


I then experimented the symmetry effect by placing a copy of the images together but by flipping one of them upside down. In my mind I thought it would be an interesting sight to have the constructed side on top. The bottom half had to be cropped slightly so that the lighter white walls could be touching, I imagined it to look like that of a chess board. I found this image to be underwhelming, it looked better in person. I feel this image would have looked better a night time with the use of a tripod so that both the upper level and lower level could be exposed at a more equal amount. As you can see the blaring sun made it difficult to expose the lower levels with out the upper levels becoming over exposure.


These religious grounds were wide in diameter and were scattered by large/small shrines around the main temples photographed. I took some miscellaneous shots whilst on the way back to the bike to continue the journey onwards to the next location. These will be used to experiment with at a later date.- Contact Sheet

A long journey brought me to a stop at a bridge covering a fast flowing river…

But that wasn’t all, I watched the body of a dead bright yellow snake flow down the river and get caught up on on a stone pillar, it took me a few moments to realise when I took a step back and widened my vision, that it was the remains of a deceased bridge…

This was great as it was a strong from of physical impact, but it wasn’t enough, I needed the contrast, so I decided I needed to find a away down there to be able to get a shot that would contain the broken bridge and the constructed bridge I was currently standing on.

I looked around the beginning of the broken bridge from this high point of observation but I could see no clear paths down on towards it, but I did discover that the road leading to the broken bridge was half destroyed, which was great for me, I immediately took several shots to capture a perspective which could show the road structured and destroyed in one shot…

This road literally looks as if its been impacted by something, like a meteorite of something, at least thats the way I look at it. I really liked this scene, however I still needed to find a way down there…


It was apparent that their was access to this deceased bridge/road, it just wasn’t clear where the entry point was. I had to retrace my steps, follow the river and push back the way I drove and try to figure it out. Heading back, there was a small temple next to the river, I drove the bike into there, went around the back of the temple but no luck, I could see the bridge but any access was complete blocked by greenery. I was at the point of giving up, I thought there was no way for a member of the public to gain access. Setting off home now for good – happy with the photos I got but a slight feeling of disappointment as I couldn’t get the finalising shot. Just as I was leaving the area, there was a dirt trail headed downwards to the right. Bumpy as it was, (after foolishly trying) I realised the bike wouldn’t be able to get down there, but I could. I ran down there quickly to see if headed in the direction of the bridge, and it did. A couple of small fields, bushed and trees later, I realised this was the way in…

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I went to the edge of the broken bridge to start shooting, testing different angles. A clear shot was blocked by small plants on the edges, I had to rise as tall as I could to get the contrast shot of both bridges. I was happy with the result, a good perspective shot of them both. A working bridge and non working bridge. It’s practicality is no more as all that remains is its former self.

I also experimented with the impacted road at a close distance….

Contact Sheet

Subject Impact

Another form of Impact I was to experiment is the effect a person has being in an image as opposed to the image without. As I’ve stated before I feel a persons involvement in a photograph has great impact to how the image is received – e.g more questions will arise for the viewer.

I started off with early mornings, first case was an escalator which is normally pretty occupied but I was able to capture it completely empty and then with one family onboard.

But this was only small section of the practice to what I had visualised.

A 4:00 am start and a 80 KM drive to view point.

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It was here that I had envisioned taking the photos of a subject looking out at a view in two parts, with and without the person to enable different reactions to the viewer. Before we warmed up and set up, there were a group of people already taking photos among themselves, I used this opportunity to start shooting…

As you may see, to me, I already feel much more drawn to the image with the person involved. It adds something to the image. Although some may just prefer the view point alone, to appreciate the landscape without distraction, I would like to know if someone feels this way. I also like this image as it represents and window of a window, taking a photographs of people taking photographs.

Once the people had moved, I first tried this out with a bench on one side of the view point, to me the image represents how benches are an open space for people to take a seat and reflect. Many different people will make use of the bench, each with a different state of reflection.

I then moved along to the left side where the view was even more clear upon a cliff side rock…

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Here I took a direct shot behind my subject looking out on to the view, the image I envisioned…

Once completed, I wasn’t finished there, there was a temple fairly near by which I had been to on my previous trip to Thailand. It has about 8 floors, but I remembered that their was a large window on the second floor over looking the temples garden, that was the vision I had in mind…


I applied the same technique to the window and subject…

The harsh, natural shadows real do it for me in this image. Un-processed, this is exactly how it looked by eye, a blend of darks and lights, pale to bright colours that can be appreciated by itself or joined by a mysterious girl wandering what is outside whilst her shadow that lays across the floor in what I see is the shape of a robot…

Contact Sheet

Finally for this stage, travelling to Bangkok by bus, I had a front seat view of the sun setting right in front of me. I took this opportunity to make use of the view I had a capture some shots before it completely settled.

One shot I was happy to have captured is this bus coach passing by. Not only was I able to capture the reflection bouncing off the windows, at a first glance, it can make the viewer – or at least for me, think to themselves, how was this captured? As it looks as if one would have to lean out of the window to take it, but this is indeed taken through the window.


It looks even more complex when applying the symmetry reverse technique, is it clear it is a bus from first glance?…

Example (Final)


Final Outcomes.



Thank you.


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