There is far more to the temple complex than Angkor Wat. However it is iconic, and thats what most people want to see. Here is a list of some basic tips for good light and timing to help you with your travels and photography at Angkor.
The author came to Cambodia for it’s culture and people.. Photography tours became a natural progression to his love for the place, sharing his knowledge and experiences.
Advice for photography spots and times for your visit to Angkor Wat.
Opening Hours 5.00am-5.30pm
Tripod restrictions – No (other than in the central sanctuary)
The Iconic sunrise at the pools
Entering from the west (main entrance) past the first gate, there are two pools. The pool on the left with it’s red waterlilies, is considered the best and most iconic view of Angkor Wat sunrise. It is also the busiest. Get there 30 minutes before sunrise to see the colours in the skies.
Early morning light at the rear of Angkor Wat.
As the sun rises, make use of the soft orange glowing light as it hits Angkor Wat from the east side (rear). It will cast interesting shadows lighting up some of the many reliefs giving great photographic possibilities.
Use the early morning light hitting the front entrance galleries and reliefs
There are reliefs in the front (west) gates, which may be lit from the early morning sun depending on the angle of the sun. Couple these magnificent carvings with Angkor Wat as a backdrop for an iconic memorable shot.
Plan to be at Angkor during less busy times.
Low season is the best time to visit the Angkor complex with reduced visitor numbers. Also expect dramatic skies and vivid colors. If this is not possible, consider a mid day visit to Angkor Wat when the tour groups are having lunch. The harsh mid day light is not the best for photos, but you will have some areas to yourself.
Late afternoon as the sun drops lighting up Buddhist structures and front gallery.
The front entrance gates to Angkor is lit by late afternoon as the sun is setting. Make use of this soft light in the west facing galleries and the buddhist structures found in the entrance gates.
Look for Symmetry
Enter Angkor Wat from the main causeway you have symmetry which works well in photography, also from each cardinal approach and inter-cardinal directions (diagonals). This is true of most temples in the park. Use the available light to determine which direction will work best.
Golden hour at Angkor Wat’s reflective pools
As the sun falls, Angkor is lit by the soft sunlight, glowing orange making this an ideal for photography in the reflective pools. It is also far less crowded than sunrise.
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