Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Angkor Wat Sunrise

Before Sunrise
We got up very, very early to photograph sunrise at Angkor Wat.  Our guide enjoyed photography, and knew where some of the best vantage points were.
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Our guide also knew how early we needed to arrive to have an unobstructed view.  The crowd grew very quickly, and mostly people sat or stood quietly, although there were some people who wanted to squeeze in close to get their shot.
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We waited, and waited, and waited some more, as the sky slowly changed.  The colors were constantly shifting, and we took a lot of pictures, but we also just watched, and listened to the sounds of the natural world around us waking up.  When it was a little more light, we watched a man wade and swim into the pond in front of us, where he collected lotus blossoms.
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By now the crowd had settled down to wait, and there wasn’t as much jostling for position.  There was enough light now that shutter speed and maintaining crisp detail were no longer constant concerns.  The earliest shots were the only time on the entire trip that David would have used a monopod or tripod, but both had been left behind in the interests of weight and simplicity, and we were both able to get sharp images a full hour before sunrise, with care.
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Finally, the sun peeked through the toothy profile of one of the shortest towers on the temple.
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The scene we’d been watching slowly evolve started to change very quickly.  In just a minute or two, the balance of colors and light shifted completely, and the air was filled with the sounds of shutters clicking and murmured oohs and ahhs.
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Soon, the soft dawn light was gone, and the cool morning air with it.  The light was now intense and unforgiving, and the air was turning hot and muggy.  As we walked away, we took some pictures of our traveling gnome, Mr. Bee, and also found a few more interesting sun angles to photograph.
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This is our guide, Rani, to David’s right, taking a moment to get a few pictures himself.
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Mr. Bee took a moment to enjoy the sunrise by himself.
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Reflection
After we finished up with our sunrise photos, we headed back to our hotel to eat breakfast, check out, and head to the airport. Sunrise at Angkor Wat was a great way to end our time in Cambodia. It’s an iconic shot that few photographers would want to miss, and while we did get our shots, we’re also glad that we spent a couple of days seeing the rest of the temples around Siem Reap, which are quite different. It is truly a place of compelling beauty.