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Thread: Angkor Temples

  1. #1
    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Angkor Temples

    I visited the temples in Angkor, which are near the modern city of Siem Reap in Cambodia, in September 2009. I wish I could go back there again soon as I'm far more comfortable behind the camera nowadays. If anyone is planning a vacation in SE Asia I highly recommend a visit here.

    These temples were built between 1000 and 1200AD and were swallowed up by the rainforest until recently. Some are in complete disrepair while others are being restored.

    Angkor Wat is the most famous, and is the largest single place of worship on Earth. Before our visit I'd seen Angkor on travel shows but the first time you walk across the causeway, through the entrance gate and towards the main temple it simply takes your breath away.

    Other famous temples in the area include Ta Prohm, made famous and a tourist attraction by Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider and the Bayon Temple which has many 4 headed statues facing the cardinal points of the compass. We had 8 days relaxing in Siem Reap, dipping in and out of the temples, but most visitors cover it quickly in 1-2 days. Next time, I'm off for at least 10 days to shoot shoot shoot!

    All shot on a D90 and 18-105mm kit lens - it held up well really, apart from CA and some nasty bokeh in some cases. I really want to have a reshoot with full frame, primes, pro zooms, ND filters, the works. One of the most amazing places in the world to visit. Here are a few shots as B&W conversions, and I will add more colour shots from the area on request.


    1. South Gate to Angkor Thom

    Angkor Temples


    2. Covered corridor in Angkor Wat

    Angkor Temples


    3. Bayon Temple

    Angkor Temples


    4. Ta Prohm

    Angkor Temples


    5. Central Temple in Angkor Wat

    Angkor Temples


    6. Covered Corridor in Angkor Wat

    Angkor Temples


    7. A Library, Khmer Style, framed by a window in Angkor Wat

    Angkor Temples


    8. Statues lining the bridge on the entrance to Angkor Thom

    Angkor Temples


    9. Bas reliefs on the third tier, Angkor Wat

    Angkor Temples


    10. Bayon Temple

    Angkor Temples


    11. Ta Prohm

    Angkor Temples


    12. Angkor Wat

    Angkor Temples


    13. Hundreds of meters of intricate carvings - Angkor Wat

    Angkor Temples


    14. Angkor Wat

    Angkor Temples


    15. Ta Prohm

    Angkor Temples

  2. #2

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    Re: Angkor Temples

    I agree, Phil, that Angkor is incredible and your images do it justice. My wife and I spent three days there and could easily return for more. The Bayon and Ta Prohm are my favorite temples. Indeed, I have an image of the same tree as your last shot of Ta Prohm.

    I noticed that this series of images doesn't include Bakong or Banteay Srei. Did you get to those two temples?

    By the way, Tom Till is a fabulous pro based in Moab, Utah who is selling a print of Ta Prohm. Unfortunately, his title is Angkor Wat. I mentioned it to the manager of his gallery and sent Tom a note years ago, but he hadn't changed it the last time I looked.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 29th August 2012 at 12:12 PM.

  3. #3
    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Angkor Temples

    We went to Banteay Kdei, Phnom Bakheng, Srah Srang, the terraces and some of the East Mebon temples, but didn't venture out to Banteay Srei. Next time!

    Did you get a good sunrise over Angkor shot? I had terrible problems with humidity and cloud on my four attempts, with only one clear morning. Good water levels in the reflecting pools though.

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    Re: Angkor Temples

    Please post a few images from Leper Terrace and Elephant Terrace. There are some very important carvings there including a five-headed horse at Elephant Terrace. Very few people see it because you have to walk in between two walls very close to each other to see it.

    If you knew my wife's affinity for studying the underside of her eyelids, you would appreciate a how few sunrise images I get. So, I have no sunrise images of Angkor though we were there once at sunrise.

    By the way, I found the book, Ancient Angkor, written by Michael Freeman and Claude Jacques to be invaluable for learning what time of day, often provided down to the precise hour of the day, to visit this or that place and this or that carving.

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    Re: Angkor Temples

    I forgot to mention Sanctuary by Steve McCurry, the photographer who made the famous image of the Afghan girl. The book is photos of Angkor. Almost every image includes either a person or a dog and my favorite image of Angkor Wat is one he created at sunset of a man gathering lotus flowers from the pond.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 29th August 2012 at 01:01 PM.

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    Re: Angkor Temples

    Here's a sunrise HDR from Angkor Wat - the humidity was horrific though!

    I'll look through my old colour images for the terraces. I think that was the day my camera never demisted! I may have some images from my wife's point and shoot. Next visit will be a proper photo expedition

    Angkor Temples

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    Re: Angkor Temples

    Awesome pix. can you please post more.
    Thanks.

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    Re: Angkor Temples

    I've not traveled all that much but have been in some sites which like yours are normally overrun with other tourists making wide clear shots rather difficult. Arriving early, especially in hot climates, doesn't beat the usual overladen buses that are also waiting for the gates to open. Just curious about this site if you just had a slow day or went on your own earlier than the masses.

  9. #9

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    Re: Angkor Temples

    You'll find very few people at the so-called minor temples regardless of the time of day. The major temples have lots of people the entire time they're open. However, some of those major sites, such as Ta Prohm, are intentionally only partially excavated. It's easy to capture images of them without people because the visitors go only to their most accessible areas, leaving the other areas of the temple to you (and me).

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    Re: Angkor Temples

    Hi Andrew

    I visited in September 2009, and the temples were busy but not as busy as when there isn't a recession. Generally tourists take a 1, 2 or 3 day tour package including guide. As such there is a preferred route for tourists to take through the area, taking in certain temples at certain times of the day. Angkor Wat is busy for sunrise, but everyone sits on the western side of the reflecting pools to capture a sunrise shot, so the view is clear. Then people generally move on to Angkor Thom which is next door, including the Bayon Temple and the terraces. They then move on to Ta Prohm before lunch and then back on the trail again. A bit like visiting Disneyworld, you can plan around this itinerary and beat the queues.

    The itinerary is planned to arrive at each temple when the light is best for each one, so often you would want to be with the crowd. However, as they arrive in waves literally by the coach load there are lulls when you have a quiet time.

    Angkor Wat, on our last visit when the light was at its harshest at lunchtime, was literally ours alone. Incredible!

    Some of the smaller temples around the outskirts of the site are quiet at all times and there are some gems. Ta Prohm was made famous by TombRaider, and now has lots of unsightly wooden platforms for snapshots so some of the views are hindered. There is a lesser known temple, called Banteay Kdei, which has been opened in much the same way, with trees growing through and around the walls. This is much quieter.

    I was inspired to go by the photographer Robert Clark and his work for National Geographic in July 2009. Here's a couple of links:

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/20...kor/stone-text

    http://www.robertclark.com/site/newSite/rc_main_01.html

    He had access to temples after their closing time in the evening which would be incredible, and used strobes in a lot of his photography. Something I wasn't comfortable with before before but I would definitely use now for the bas reliefs and statues in lower light.

    Compare my rank amateur attempt at emulating a shot at Srah Srang (which no-one visits) after 6 months with a DSLR, to Robert Clark's. I'd like to think I could do a bit better nowadays

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/20...rk-photography

    Angkor Temples
    Last edited by dubaiphil; 30th August 2012 at 04:36 AM.

  11. #11
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    Re: Angkor Temples

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew1 View Post
    I've not traveled all that much but have been in some sites which like yours are normally overrun with other tourists making wide clear shots rather difficult. Arriving early, especially in hot climates, doesn't beat the usual overladen buses that are also waiting for the gates to open. Just curious about this site if you just had a slow day or went on your own earlier than the masses.
    When you visit Angkor, there are several different types of passes you can buy. All need a photograph and certain amount of US$. To beat queues it helps to arrive in the afternoon to get your pass and if you are staying for several days to get a multi day pass. That way you just flash your pass on entry and beat the queues whenever you enter the complex.

    I don't know why, but during my visit I never saw a buddhist monk in orange robes. Not one. Lots of other peoples photography have monks everywhere!

  12. #12

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    Re: Angkor Temples

    It's really interesting to follow your comments, Phil. As an example, I went there in 2004 (three years after the first Tomb Raider was released) and the platforms that you saw at Ta Prohm in 2009 weren't there.

    I'm also really surprised that you didn't see any monks at the temples. I saw many of them, photographed a few of them, and had an extensive conversation with two of them. I was sitting on one of the roofs of Angkor Wat for what seemed like a few minutes talking with a young monk when my wife came up and reminded me that we really had to go. Apparently the young man and I had been chatting about our families for over 30 minutes.

    It's also interesting that photos by a National Geographic photographer inspired you to visit Angkor. When I first saw a major article in National Geographic, I think in the 1970s, I immediately vowed to go there some time.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 30th August 2012 at 06:32 AM.

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    Re: Angkor Temples

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    It's also interesting that photos by a National Geographic photographer inspired you to visit Angkor. When I first saw a major article in National Geographic, I think in the 1970s, I immediately vowed to go there some time.
    That's my romanticised memory. Just after I bought the magazine, my interest was increased with an edition of Globe Trekker on the Travel Channel, and an episode of the Amazing Race!

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    Re: Angkor Temples

    Great shots Phil, I went there about 6 years ago and got to Angkor for dawn which was amazing. All of a sudden a convoy of coaches arrived with at least 2000 people and invaded the serenity. Definitely worth getting up early to have it to yourself for a while. I wish I knew more then about photography as the light was hard with dark shadows on the art work. Regardless it was one of the best things I have seen. Thanks for sharing.

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    Re: Angkor Temples

    I enjoyed viewing your images; especially, number 5. I was in Cambodia in 1974 when Chinese visitors were wearing Mao suits. I loved some of the country's landscape images that contained abandoned temples.

    Karm

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