Angkor Wat: 4 different ways

We visited Cambodia in December 2014.  And it was a wonderful vacation.  The people are extremely friendly and generally the country is reasonably well set up for tourism.  And its really inexpensive.  All of this makes for a great combination but most people really visit Cambodia for Angkor Wat, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It is truly remarkable.

We visited Angkor Wat during the afternoon and it was truly stunning.  This was taken with my favorite film camera, the Contax G2, loaded with Velvia 50 film.

But to truly experience the beauty of Angkor, one must go in the morning. I had done my research on when to go and which pond to stand in front of to get the sunrise reflection shot – exactly the same position from where the day photo above was taken. So, three of us woke up at 4:30am and left the hotel to go to Angkor. As expected, there were tons of tourists ahead of us but I knew that patience was the name of the game and the tourists would be gone as soon as the light became interesting from a photographer’s point of view. Luckily, my opportunity came soon enough and I got a position right in front of the lake.

Angkor Wat Velvia Day

I had taken my tripod, Sony A7R with Zeiss 16-35 FE lens and the Contax G2 with the Zeiss 28mm. I started taking shots with both cameras. The one below was taken with the Contax G2 loaded with Velvia 50.

Angkor Wat Velvia Pre Dawn

This was going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity (ah well I may come back to Angkor Wat but its surely not going to be frequent occurrence). And the clouds were wonderful. Much as I love film, when you want to shoot tons of images, digital is obviously the way to go. Also, given the huge contrasts and fast changing light, multiple exposures were called for.

This one below is an exposure blend of 3 photos taken with the Sony A7R and Zeiss 16-35 FE just before sunrise.

Angkor Exposure Blend Pre Dawn

 

And this one is again a blend of three exposure but this time taken just after sunrise.

Angkor Exposure Blend Sunrise

Amazing isn’t it, how light and photography medium shape such different looks from the same subject.

And by the way, I spoke of exposure blend for 2 of the photos above. I think High Dynamic Range imaging is a great technique for fulfilling photographic vision given the limitations of sensors compared to our eyes. However, I do not like most of the garish HDR stuff we see on the internet. There are lots of examples of HDR done “right” that I hope to compile some day. In the meanwhile, if you are interested in the concept, this free tutorial from B&H is the perfect place to start.

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