Having just returned from Pattaya, Thailand, I was going through my photos and found two things: one, that I didn’t take all that many pictures of Pattaya itself (at least not with my camera, my wife’s has some I think), and two, that almost all of the shots I liked were from one place: the Sanctuary of Truth. Located in northern Pattaya, the Sanctuary of Truth is an enormous wooden structure that almost boggles the mind with it’s scale and complexity. It’s 105 meters tall at it’s highest point and is entirely made of carved wood. Pulling from wikipedia:

Sanctuary of Truth (Thai: ปราสาทสัจธรรม, also called Wang Boran and Prasat Mai) is a sanctuary under construction in PattayaThailand. It is an all wood construction building, resembling a temple, and filled inside and out with wood sculpture based on traditional Buddhist and Hindu motifs. The building, which resembles a temple, is close to 105 meters (345 feet) high and covers an area of more than two rais. It features contemporary Visionary art based on traditional religious themes. The project was initiated as an idea of Thai businessman Lek Viriyaphant in 1981, and is scheduled to be complete in 2025. – Wikipedia

The official website has a very interesting description of the philosophy of the carvings here that explains much better and more thoroughly than I possibly could. I am a little ashamed to admit that I generally rely on my lovely wife to read about structures and their importance and then tell me about them. I get really antsy standing and reading and usually find myself wandering off unintentionally mid way through the description. In any case, if she were siting next to me now, I’d have a much better grip on the specifics of the history and philosophy for sure, but what I was focused on was the way the place mede me feel. Visually, it is striking to the point of being moving emotionally. As this is one of the stated goals, they did a damn fine job pulling it off and I hope that the images I made convey some of the epic-ness of the place.

The first round of processing that I did was a batch of HDR shots from the exterior. The day was overcast but bright and there was a serious amount of texture between cloud layers making the conditions pretty perfect for the HDR processing technique I used. All the images were hand held and combined into one in Photomatix Pro and then finished with a custom preset in Aperture that I made to approximate the Canon preset I use in camera. This preset gives a lovely deep-sepia tone that I felt was appropriate for the setting and feeling of the structure. I will be working on several color/partial color images as well as several of the interior soon, so keep watching for more images!

Here are my favorite exterior HDR images of the Sanctuary of Truth: