Phnom Bakheng Sunset

Sunset from Phnom Bakheng, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Sunset from Phnom Bakheng, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat is the most popular place in Siem Reap to see the sunrise. For sunset the title is held by Phnom Bakheng. The temple is on the top of a small hill overlooking the surrounding forest and the Western Baray.

The number of tourists allowed on the temple is restricted, but it’s still crowded at the top. Arrive early, bring a book, and enjoy those twilight moments.

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Channeling Michael Bay

Young monk sweeping courtyard at dawn, Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Young monk sweeping courtyard at dawn, Angkor Wat, Cambodia

It’s only when I start looking through images in Lightroom that I notice that I’m picking up certain habits while shooting. When using the Profoto B1 strobe, I tend to position it off to my right and a little higher than the subject. For natural light portraits I usually have eye contact, but with off camera flash I seem to prefer them looking out of the frame towards the light.

Elderly monk at dawn, Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Elderly monk at dawn, Angkor Wat, Cambodia

The unexpected result is that several of the images look like stills from a Michael Bay movie. All you need in the next frame is an asteroid, an autobot, or an alien spaceship.

Young monk at dawn, Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Young monk at dawn, Angkor Wat, Cambodia

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Banteay Srei Temple. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Banteay Srei Hindu Temple dedicated to Shiva. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Banteay Srei Hindu Temple dedicated to Shiva. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Banteay Srei may not be on the same scale as Angkor Wat, but the detail and beauty of its sandstone carvings are unmatched. It’s about 90 minutes by tuk tuk from Siem Reap but well worth the journey. To see the temple in its best light arrive early. You’ll also have the added advantage of beating the crowds and the heat.

Ornate carvings in the sandstone lintels above doorways at Banteay Srei a Hindu Temple dedicated to Shiva. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Ornate carvings in the sandstone lintels above doorways at Banteay Srei a Hindu Temple dedicated to Shiva. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Banteay Srei Hindu Temple dedicated to Shiva. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Banteay Srei Hindu Temple dedicated to Shiva. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Temple Guardians at Banteay Srei Hindu Temple dedicated to Shiva. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Temple Guardians at Banteay Srei Hindu Temple dedicated to Shiva. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Banteay Srei Hindu Temple dedicated to Shiva. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Banteay Srei Hindu Temple dedicated to Shiva. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Abduction of Sita (western lintel, central shrine) Banteay Srei Hindu Temple dedicated to Shiva. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Abduction of Sita (western lintel, central shrine) Banteay Srei Hindu Temple dedicated to Shiva. Siem Reap, Cambodia

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A new dawn for Pentaxians

Dawn at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Dawn at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

A few interesting things have been happening recently with regards to me working with the Pentax medium format cameras.

I did an interview for online magazine Apogee Photo.

Apogee Photo Interview with Travel Photographer Chris Willson

I also now have a Pentaxian Professional Profile on the Pentax Forums website:

Pentaxian Profile – Chris Willson

I feel I was able to step up my game with the use of on location lighting with the arrival of the new Profoto B1. Very pleased with the following shot of a monk smoking a hand rolled cigar at Angkor Thom.

Cambodian Buddhist monk smoking a handrolled cigar made with sankai leaf.

Cambodian Buddhist monk smoking a handrolled cigar made with sankai leaf.

And finally the photographic community is abuzz with news of the imminent arrival of the Pentax 645Z the successor to the 645D. I’ll put up a more comprehensive post in the next few days, but it looks like Pentax have once again produced a ground breaking camera at a fraction of the price of its medium format digital competitors.

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Prasat Kravan Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Prasat Kravan a Hindu temple constructed of brick. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Prasat Kravan a Hindu temple constructed of brick. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Prasat Kravan is the exception to the rule. Angkor Wat and nearly the all the other famous temples in the region are carved from sandstone, with foundations of laterite. The builders of Prasat Kravan (allegedly following the advice of a pig) built their temple of brick.

Boy at Prasat Kravan, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Boy at Prasat Kravan, Siem Reap, Cambodia

The interiors of the five brick prasats (towers) have wonderful detailed carvings. Several local kids were using the temple grounds as a meeting place, and luckily for me they were more than happy to have their photos taken.

Prasat Kravan a Hindu temple constructed of brick. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Prasat Kravan a Hindu temple constructed of brick. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Boy at Prasat Kravan, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Boy at Prasat Kravan, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Prasat Kravan a Hindu temple constructed of brick. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Prasat Kravan a Hindu temple constructed of brick. Siem Reap, Cambodia

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A monk and a lawyer

Nheam the Cambodian Monk with his adopted son at Angkor Wat

Nheam the Cambodian Monk with his adopted son at Angkor Wat

The title of this post sounds like the start of a joke. A monk and a lawyer walk into a bar… It’s almost a given that the joke will be based around the godliness of the monk, and the parasitic or predatory nature of lawyers. This hostility to lawyers isn’t even a recent phenomenon, in Shakespeare’s Henry the Sixth, Dick the butcher says “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

One day, while at Angkor Wat, I see a Buddhist monk in traditional orange robes taking a photo of his son. Great moment so I also take a pic. A few minutes later we bump into each other inside the temple and begin chatting. His name is Nheam, and the boy is his adopted son. He has been a monk for many years, and the boy was an orphan and needed a parent. As you might have guessed, he’s a lovely, lovely man.

Nheam the Cambodian Monk with his adopted son at Angkor Wat

Nheam the Cambodian Monk with his adopted son at Angkor Wat

I ask what he does everyday, and he says he’s studying at the local university to be a lawyer. Being an ignoramus, filled with lazy stereotypes, this doesn’t seems logical to me. I ask why a monk would want to be lawyer. He looks across at me and says that where there is poverty and corruption, they need lawyers to protect the poor and needy.

Nheam, a monk and a lawyer, and a wiser man than me.

Nheam the Cambodian Monk at Angkor Wat

Nheam the Cambodian Monk at Angkor Wat

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Kobudo Master Yukio Kuniyoshi – Under cloudy skies

Kobudo Master Yukio Kuniyoshi.

Kobudo Master Yukio Kuniyoshi with sai

After shooting in the studio we asked Kuniyoshi sensei if I could take a few shots outside the dojo. I used powerful battery powered Profoto B1 light for illumination and asked Kuniyoshi to stand on a table to set him against the sky.

Kobudo Master Yukio Kuniyoshi.

Kobudo Master Yukio Kuniyoshi with suruchin

In the first three shots the sun is behind the clouds just right of the image. The B1 was at full power (500w/s) or approximately eight regular speedlights. This allowed me to shoot at around f16 and darken down the sky to show detail in the clouds.

Kobudo Master Yukio Kuniyoshi.

Kobudo Master Yukio Kuniyoshi with tonfa

The following shot with the sun shining directly towards the lens has a definite epic feel to it. Normally I don’t want sections of the image to be completely blown out, but in this case, I think it works.

Kobudo Master Yukio Kuniyoshi.

Kobudo Master Yukio Kuniyoshi “I am Okinawa!!!!!!”

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