Jason Frankle is a commercial videographer and content creator based in Los Angeles, California. He is also a member of the Alpha Collective and enjoys traveling and photographing unique landscapes in his free time. He can be found on Instagram and TikTok (@worldpins and @jasonfvideo) where he produces photography tutorials and behind-the-scenes looks at how he captures images with his Sony cameras. We caught up with Jason to find out how he captured the Phraya Nakhon Cave in Thailand using his Sony Alpha 7R IV and Sony Xperia 1 IV phone.
Photo by Jason Frankle. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/125-sec., f/2.8, ISO 100
Using his Sony Alpha 7R IV and Sony Xperia 1 IV, this content creator captured stunning images and behind-the-scenes subterranean imagery in Thailand.
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Thailand where I photographed in the renowned Phraya Nakhon Cave. The cave is home to the Kukha Karuhas pavilion, which is the smallest temple in Thailand, and is often illuminated by sunlight streaming through the cave's rooftop opening. The Phraya Nakhon Cave can be reached on foot in a number of ways. One option is to make the two-hour hike to the cave from the park's visitor center. Although there is a steep climb at the end, the trail is well-marked and generally simple to follow. The hike can also be shortened to about 30 minutes by taking a boat from the visitor center to a pier close to the cave. Although there are many difficult, rocky, and uneven steps on the trail to the cave, the views from the top are well worth the effort.
To photograph this cave, I brought along my Sony Alpha 7R IV and Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master lens. The 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master lens is perfect for situations like this because I can use its wide aperture to let in as much light as possible. The ultra-wide 16mm focal length is also perfect for capturing the cave in its entirety and to give a sense of scale to the final image. I will often pair this lens with the Sony Alpha 7R IV camera because I can capture incredibly high resolution images with its 61 megapixel sensor. If I need more zoom, I will often set the camera to APS-C crop mode or "Super 35mm." to get an extra 1.5x magnification. The Alpha 7R IV is also great because of its 15 stops of dynamic range so it's perfect for capturing the shadows and highlights of the cave.
Photo by Jason Frankle. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/400-sec., f/2.8, ISO 100
I also brought the Sony Xperia 1 IV smartphone to Phraya Nakhon Cave to capture behind-the-scenes footage and high-resolution, slow motion video. One of my favorite features of the phone is its ability to record in 4k resolution at 120 frames per second. This is great for capturing unique videos of places I photograph since I can slow it down by 5x when editing. I always try to make sure to have this phone with me on trips because it makes for the perfect second camera to share what I am capturing on trips.
My goal with photographing the Phraya Nakhon Cave was to capture it at the moment the sunlight was streaming through the roof and illuminating the pavilion. I did this by planning the sun's path using the Sony Xperia 1 IV, and I found that 10 am was the perfect time to be in the cave. Once I was inside the cave, I placed my Alpha 7R IV on a tripod and set my 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master lens to f/2.8 aperture. This allowed me to let in as much light camera sensor as possible and reduce noise in the final image. Finally, after waiting for a break in the clouds, I was able to capture this image of the light rays shining inside the cave.
Photo by Jason Frankle. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/160-sec., f/4, ISO 100
After this, I moved closer to the pavilion in order to capture a unique angle with the plants in the foreground. I used a wide aperture to blur the foreground in order to get a nice bokeh effect while keeping the background subject in focus. The 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master is great for these situations because I am able to capture a wide landscape image while still capturing nice bokeh in the foreground.
Before leaving the cave, I switched to the Xperia 1 IV to capture slow motion video. I first set the phone to record in 4k and 120 fps in the Video Pro app. Next I quickly moved the phone close to the plants in the foreground before pulling up and recording the ceiling of the cave. The Xperia 1 IV is perfect for capturing slow motion videos like this because I can film unique angles close to the ground that would be more challenging to pull off with a larger camera. I finally played back the footage at 1/5x speed to get the unique slow motion video effect that you can see in this behind-the-scenes video: