During our photo tours, sometimes we get lucky. Normally, during a full day day something will go right. We may start with a rainy dull day, but at some point the light is right for the situation we are in. On the odd occasion we just happen to be it the right place at the right time, wether it be on photography workshop or a scouting mission. The following photographs are some of the more luckier moments, sometimes with of our clients. I guess you always need a bit of luck, but in this game it’s a case of improving your chances.
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Angkor Wat, Monks in the Central Chamber
1/250th s F10 ISO160 Canon 6D Lens Canon 16-35 f4
I have seen a picture similar to this when doing google searches. Given the popularity of Angkor nowadays, I did believe this kind of opportunity would never happen again. In the past we were able to ask monks to pose for us but those days are gone due to the stricter rules of the Apsara authority.
The story of this picture. On a half day tour, my client wanted to see ‘nice spots’ within the Angkor complex. Arriving after mid day I choose to visit Angkor Wat first, then onto quieter places for the better light. As we entered, there were a few visiting monks inside. We hung around and kind of followed them for a bit. They then went into the central chamber. I mentioned to my client about this picture I had seen on the internet. If only we were ahead of the monks..
We proceeded up and into the central chamber. A second set of visiting monks were there, so we snapped away including monks taking selfies with their phones, all goos fun.
Exiting the central chamber, I got my client to wait to see which way the monks walked. Amazingly, they went the way we wanted. Hurrying to the diagonal corner, we got our cameras set. The monks walked in the shade, then out in the harsh sunlight right in front of our cameras using their umbrellas for shade! No time for tripod on this one. With a few hand held snaps, combined into photoshop I was able to remove the few people who were in the shot at the time. We were so lucky. The monks in the right place at the right time, also the fact that Angkor was very quiet. On exiting Angkor, more and more people were heading in, how lucky can you get!
Angkor Wat Sunrise from the West
1/250th s F22 ISO400 Canon 6D Lens Canon 16-35 f4
I was wondering on my own one morning looking for a photograph for this website. What a wanted was a spectacular sunrise and a photographer. As so often happens, the great sunrise did not mature. During high season we often get an orange glow in the sky, a cloud would be a bonus to give something for the sunlight to reflect off of. This day, nothing happened. Being high season, there were over a thousand people (estimate) at the reflective pools of Angkor. My only hope was for a starburst as the sun came over Angkor Wat. As the sun rose, I squashed into a spot on the left pool buy a photographer who was set up on a tripod. Upping the f-stop to 22, I played with different positions to get the star burst.
I was happy with this result but only after post process. The picture paints a tranquil scene, photographer and Angkor. The reality, I was surrounded by cameras and smartphones, all trying to capture the moment. What you don’t see id the two people at the bottom of the picture I edited out on post. There’s also a photographer to the left in the shade of the tree. Who said a photo never lies!
Meditation, Angkor Monks Under Candlelight
2.5s F6.3 ISO800 Canon 6D Lens Samyang 14mm
Visakha Bucha, the birth of Buddha ceremony, is held every year. The event in Angkor is a strictly private. Being a local photographer, I was invited along to take some pictures by one on the head monks, an opportunity not to be missed!
I have been to a few of these ceremonies now, knowing people who have participated in the ceremony. It is a magical experience. For the photographer, it’s hard. I want to enjoy the moment at events like this, photography tends to come second .
In 2016 there were approximately twelve hundred monks and nuns take part. On the evening of this photograph I got the head monk to turn off the gearing flashlights they use to light up the monks. We had all all the monks and nuns meditating under candle light outside one of the most famous monuments in the world, truly amazing.
Angkor Wat Sunrise from the East
1/100th s F11 ISO100 Canon 6D Lens Canon 16-35 f4
For photography workshop at the beginning of rainy season, i convinced the client that sunrise was not worth the effort. We had afternoon storm clouds all week which had consistently produced a blanket of cloud during sunrise. Coupled with this, the Apsara authority are undertaking archeological excavations in the pool in front of Angkor Way, draining toe pools, hence no iconic reflective photos.
We decided on a late pickup (5.30am) with the intent to catch some early morning soft light as the sun rose on Angkor Wat. Entering the site, there was a chance that the sun would break through the clouds. There was also a dark cloud behind us which would add to the drama if Angkor got lit up from the early morning sun. I hurried my client to the rear of the temple and there it was. A bit of ops processing was used to remove the odd person who had get to the back and to bting out the colours. The sun hits this face every day when there are no clouds. What makes this for me is the sky behind, giving great contrast with dark blues and Angkor gold.
Meditation, Angkor Central Chamber
1s F2.8 ISO2000 Canon 6D Lens Samyang 14mm
Visakha Bucha ceremony again. This was taken inside Angkor, a truly memorable occasion. This is the first time I have been into central Angkor with the monks meditating. I had been working on a time-lapse project at the time, and ran one on the monks inside. Having one camera, It was frustrating. I eventually quit the time-lapse and took a few photos, thankfully I got something. To witness this is something special, I will never forget.
30s F6.3 ISO640 Canon 6D Lens Canon 16-35L f4 + B&W Big Stopper filter
I was lucky to be in Angkor this day, the day after trying to get a sunset ‘golden hour’ shot with a client. I had entered the Angkor park with the intention of doing some time-lapse. As i was working, a dark storm cloud appeared over Angkor Wat. Getting into the correct position at the south west corner, I ran a time-lapse of the storm, great. The clouds dispersed, so with a little time left, I wondered to the front of Angkor where the reflective pools are.
I set the camera up, long exposure using a B&W big stopper ND filter to smoothen out the pool in front as there was a bit of rain still coming from the storm cloud. Shot just before sunset, I got the golden light on Angkor, however, the reddish pinks in the sky came a few minutes later.
The two shots were combined in Photoshop to get possibly one on my best shots of this famous temple. With all aspects of the picture leading your eyes into Angkor, it’s one lucky picture!
You may also like Seasons of Angkor explained.
Heading to Cambodia? check out our guides to photographing the temples on the blog page.
Don’t forget to check our Angkor Wat Survival Guide, essential tips for visiting the temples.
Why not book a photography workshop around Angkor!