The Royal Flora Ratchaphruek
... Revisited

I ended up at the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Exhibition. It was a lucky mistake as well as a happy surprise! I was planning on going to the Chiang Mai Botanical Garden and that's where I thought I was heading!

The botanical garden is there for my next visit but the Royal Flora Exhibition, a repeat of the 2006 original event, lasted only a few months... December 14, 2011 until March 14, 2012.

And I was in Chiang Mai at the end of January, just at the right time.

I could lie and say I planned it that way but I really had no idea where the songtaew (a kind of taxi) was heading.... or that this amazing event was going on at the time.

For all point and shoot photographers... all the images on this page were shot with a Nikon Coolpix. For my taste, the color is too saturated and there is quite a lot of noise in the skies at high resolution but, not bad! I tweaked the JPGs just a little in Photoshop and processed them for the web.

This was just after I got it so I was still learning more about it. Knowing your camera is the key to great photographs.

Here's a view down the Royal Path that leads to the Royal Pavilion off in the distance. The pavilion was the center of the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Exhibition.

Its an interesting composition... lots of patterns, lines, angles, colors and great perspective.

Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Royal Path

I love the curvy-sexy lamp posts. Don't they look like lilies perched on top of a long, slender stem?

  • This photo shows perspective! All those lines meet at the Royal Pavilion and your brain says.... it's way down the path.
  • There's lots of repetition.  Pattern...circular shapes, diagonal and vertical lines, the white and gold structures beside the path. 
  • And repeating colors.... white, brick red, different shades of beige and a golden yellow. 

In Thailand, yellow is special... the color of Buddhism and glory. Yellow's one reason
that the Ratchaphruek - the Golden Shower Tree - is the national flower.
The name means "A Royal Tree".

The Ho Kham Royal Pavilion was at the end of the Royal Path. The sun was incredibly bright and I couldn't get any detail in the white sculptures with my point and shoot. The difference in the darkest shades and the whites was too much! I chose to capture the dark and mid tones and sacrifice the bright whites.

It's really important to use your histogram and check your shots to make sure you're getting the most detail in your photos, but when the contrast is too much for your camera to handle.....

There are ways to get around losing detail! You can take multiple exposures of the same scene (with your camera on a tripod). Then you can use layers in Photoshop or other programs to sandwich them together. Or you could merge them to HDR, either in Photoshop or a dedicated HDR program.

I was more successful with my video camera. Video seems to be a little more forgiving in high contrast light. But I still had problems and I had to constantly adjust the exposure.

Of course you can only guess about the quality of the image until you see it on your computer.

Background On the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek

The original Royal Flora Ratchaphruek was held November 1, 2006 to January 31, 2007 at the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Park... which is  also called the Royal Agricultural Research Center.

If you missed this floral exhibition in 2006, I hope you dropped in for the revival.

Thailand got special permission from the International Association of Horticultural Producers to throw this shindig in Chiang Mai again - 14th December 2011 to 14th March 2012.

Love, the life-giving garden of this world.  ~ Rumi ~

The original version celebrated King Bhumibol's 60th Anniversary of his reign as well as his 80th birthday. He was the world's longest reigning monarch... Yeah Thailand!

The winter's re-run in 2011-2012 celebrated the King's 84th birthday, Queen Sirkit's 80th birthday and Crown Prince's 60th birthday!

Three's the charm.

Royal Flora Ratchaphruek
Ho Kham Royal Pavilion

Royal Flora Ratchaphruek, Royal Pavilion and reflections

REFLECTIONS:  Whenever you get the opportunity to photograph reflections... grab it. Reflections on water or in a mirror make for great photos.

Reflections will look  completely different if the water is still or if there are ripples or waves.

If you want interesting patterns, drop a stone or two into a calm pond.

And COLOR! Reflections double your opportunity for showing off exquisite color... like the luminous yellow and green patterns mirrored in the pond around the Royal Pavilion.

Before I left Korea, it was -14 degrees and it was a bummer adjusting to the heat in Thailand.

The hot sun really hit me walking around outside the Royal Pavilion!  All the gorgeous ceramic brick and stone really reflected the rays!

The view was gorgeous out here, looking out over the beautiful lawns, the gardens and the pond. The shapes and textures are amazing in this shot.

Tour the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek With Me

Take a couple of minutes and tour the park with me... took us 5 hours on foot, but here are some interesting stops along the way in just under two minutes.

The estimate for walking the entire area of the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Exhibition was 6 hours. But that didn't take into account that photographers move about as fast as slugs!

We didn't plan on the size of the park and unfortunately, we missed so much.

I was exhausted after 5 hours of walking in the heat. But so grateful for seeing what we could fit in. An awesome floral exhibition.

The video is a meager sample of 30+ participating countries' pavilions at the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek ... and it only gives a glimpse of this flower photographers' paradise!

Find out more about Chiang Mai and Bangkok attractions, including the 2011-2012 Royal Flora Exhibition.

Texture and Perspective

Wow, get a look at this great wall. ... I'd like this in my back yard. What a perfect example of a variety of textures. If you want to highlight texture in a photo, use side light.  The sun was high in the sky for this photo so this isn't side light, though my camera is positioned at one side. I'm using the lines in the wall to show perspective.

When you shoot from the front but you have the light strike your subject from the side, that picture will show all the beautiful details in your subject... like these stones and the grass.

This is the Belgian contribution to the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek. The wall is "L" shaped around a gigantic horn made of materials native to Thailand. There were hundreds of orchids inside the horn.

Watch the video above to see the entire Belgian exhibit.

The Orchid Pavilion
For orchids, think Thailand!

The Orchid Pavilion ... Unbelievable

...the color combinations, the detail in every bloom, the huge number and variety of plants.

The pavilion was exquisite. Of course, we're talking about a country famous for its orchids!

I love the orange and green together here. 

For composition, the image is full of parallel lines... in the strings of orchids hanging from the ceiling and in the green column.

If you're an orchid lover,  here's an orchid page for you! 

The Orchid Pavilion was one of the main attractions of the Royal Flora Ratchaphuek. When you're in Thailand, you're in orchid country! The displays were extravagant and the size of the entire orchid exhibition hall was humongous!

A class of local art students settled into this pavilion early in the morning and by the time we got back, they were well into working on their canvases.

There were several water features... watching and listening to them felt so relaxing. And a display of the orchid competitions was a dazzling kaleidoscope of color. As well, the scents of orchids swirling in the air almost made me feel dizzy.

Royal Flora Ratchaphruek, Orchid Pavilion - Thousand of Thailand's Famous Flowers

The orchid pavilion was our last photography stop. By the time we arrived back, we had only flitted over the entire Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Exhibition. This pavilion alone needed at least half a day to do justice to any photography.

The huge area and hundreds of orchids were overwhelming. In our short visit it was so disappointing to settle for so few images with such an incredible treasure trove of them. 

That's a Wrap Folks

It's a few years now since my trip to the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek.  You can still visit the park area and experience an awesome showing of flowers. The orchid pavilion will be waiting for you there and it's just as glorious.

But now, you'll be visiting the Royal Park Rajapruek. 

Go armed with your tripod, camera and an entire day. Don't skimp on the time you plan to spend photographing flowers and landscape scenes. 


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