Balancing light at Angkor Vat Cambodia

Angkor Vat 2006

 

It's been several years since my last trip to Angkor Vat and currently I'm busy planning my next trip.  This time I'm going to drive and I hope to turn it into a very unusual and interesting workshop.  If you're interested please email me at workshops@bkkimagaes.com.

Looking back through my images I vividly remember each step taken through the Angkor park.  I can still smell the mustiness, feel the cold of the stone walls as I venture deep inside further from the sun, and feel the fine dust that collects on my clothes and gear.  Angkor Vat is a photographer's treasure chest of opportunity.  Opportunity to be explored at an easy and relaxed pace.  Opportunity which manifests only with careful thought and purpose.

While scouting out the image above I almost regretted carrying along my tripod.  Almost.  Others with cameras looked at my tripod, turned and checked out the bright sunshine, and then shook their heads whispering to each other.  These people lacked creativity and imagination.  More, they lacked the desire to make a capture not already seen 1001 times on postcards and restaurant menus.  As I carefully stepped or climbed over loose stones my gear grew heavier and heavier and I noticed I was totally soaked with sweat.  So as I stopped I'm not sure if it was because my subconscious was screaming silently in my mind "LOOK AT THIS DUMMY", or if it was because I was just so knackered I needed a rest.

I stopped moving forward and squatted.  This was when I saw this scene.  Multiple door frames illuminated with random streaks of light making their way through cracks hundreds of years old.  Different thicknesses of green moss on the walls and stones.  And the rugged pile of stones in the frames center gently and precisely illuminated as if for my pleasure only.  After all, with all the thousands of tourists in the park I was the only one right here at this moment.

Besides for the streaks of light I was in total darkness, at times using the LCD from my mobile phone to illuminate my way.  By feel I set up my tripod, mounted the camera, and connected the external shutter release.  Using the cameras illuminated LCD's I adjusted my settings.  The tripod allowed ISO 100, the highest quality setting.  By now sweat was streaming down my face and my back like small rivers.  For some reason I imagined clouds covering the sun and my scene ruined and a cold chill ran down my spine.  The sort of chill that makes you momentarily shiver.  With a renewed urgency I completed my settings and made the capture.  Quickly packing my equipment I moved on not knowing then that two years hence I'd rediscover this frame, nor how happy it would make me.  Lost memories found.  This is why this image is significant.

 

Bangkok Images.  Siem Reap Cambodia, Angkor Vat Park

Angkor Vat 2006

 

Another sample using near the same technique.  A balance of the light that falls on the walls and arches, with the light filling the interior chamber.  These scenes certainly aren't rare in the Angkor Park, so why is it I see so few images of them?  I think this image would have been significantly better if I had sat on the ground for a different perspective than this one I captured standing.