Cambodia (Part 4): The Jungle Temples


My previous posts from Cambodia focused on the temples near Siem Reap. This makes sense because that is where some of the most spectacular and most accessible temples are. But, one of the nice things about hiring local photographers to show you the ropes is that they tend to know about or can get you to places that you would never be able to get to on your own. I owe a huge amount of credit for this post to the folks at Peace of Angkor because without them I would never have gotten to these places.

I would also like to thank the folks at Sleeklens. I was recently approached and asked to give a review of their Through The Woods Lightroom workflow (for non-photographers Lightroom is an Adobe editing and file management software). While this post doesn't have a ton of landscape shots I did use their workflows on some shots that have been giving me a bit of trouble. I'll talk more about the photos and my process when I get to them.

Without further ado, off to the temples...

Our first stop was the spectacularly detailed Banteay Srei. This smaller temple was made out of a red sandstone. This has two effects. One, is that the color of the temple is unique compared to the other Angkor temples and the other is that the soft stone allowed the builders to be much more detailed in their carvings and reliefs.

This last shot is one of the first I used the Sleeklens workflow on. I was having a hard time with the colors and light. The one on the left is my original edit and the one on the right is the one I came up with using aspects of the Through The Woods workflow. What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below.

After Banteay Srei, we got in the car and headed north east in the direction of Koh Ker. The drive takes a few hours so most of the afternoon was spent in the car. If I remember, it also poured rain on the way. Since it was the rainy season that part isn't as strange as the fact that that was the only rain we saw in the time we were there.

When we arrived the first stop was a group of small temples called Prasat Pram. These temples are being totally choked by the roots of fig trees. In my opinion, these were probably the most impressive example of the jungle reclaiming the land that we saw. However, I had a hard time shooting them (man would I like another crack). As with the last shot from Banteay Srei I edited a few on my own and a few using the Sleeklens workflow. For these I really like the look achieved using the workflow. I feel like they have more of an etherial feel than I was able to achieve on my own. Again, my first edit in on the left and the Sleeklens edit is on the right.

It was starting to get late so we started heading to our destination for sunset. This would be the Prang or pyramid of Koh Ker. This impressive seven-tiered pyramid is still in good enough condition to climb so we did. And we then shot sunset from the top of the Prang.

That night we stayed in a small guesthouse in the small village near Koh Ker. The next morning we woke up and did a bit of exploring of the town. As with the rest of Cambodia, the people there are amazing. There were smiles all around and we felt totally welcome. I took some shots on the street before we wandered over to the local monastery.

This is a gas stations. Jonny Walker bottles, classy.

The monastery consisted of mostly child monks. Much of the town seemed to be there too hanging out and enjoying the morning. The bright orange robes of the monks were really set off by the bright green foliage of the rainy season.

After our morning, we did a circuit of the small temples around Koh Ker. I again really struggled with the shots so I don't have many. This is unfortunate but also a total reality of travel photography. If you only have a short period of time to spend in a place there is a chance you aren't going to get the shot. For me that is ok because it just means that I have to go back again!

I did edit one shot from those temples though, in black and white. And since I am comparing my edits to the Sleeklens workflow I decided to see how their workflow handled black and white. Again, my edit (done with Nik Silver Efex Pro 2) is on the left and Sleeklens is on the right. For this I think I really prefer the Nik edit. Not that there is anything particularly wrong with Sleelens, I just think that the Nik software is much more powerful when it comes to black and white. But, what do you think? Let me know if the comments below.

Our last temple stop was on the way back to Siem Reap. This was the temple of Beng Mealea. This remote, ruined temple was only cleared of landmines in 2003 so it isn't as popular as some of the temples closer to Siem Reap. That doesn't mean that it isn't beautiful though. And, the fact that it is still in a mostly ruined state is pretty cool in my opinion.

On the way back to Siem Reap we weren't in a rush so we took the scenic route. The countryside of Cambodia is just as beautiful as the temples that we were there to see. The land, the color, the people, everything was spectacular.

After a long few days we were pooped, and ready to head back home (to Shanghai). This was a great adventure and one that I would love to do again. Once again I really want to thank Dave, Elliot and Sorn from Peace of Angkor Tours for leading us around. And thank you again to Sleeklens for letting me try out your Through The Woods workflow. I will definitely be trying it out on some of my recent landscape shots and posting some more examples soon.

Lastly, I have a bunch of new material coming around the corner, and believe it or not it is actually local. Stay tuned for photos from my trip through Oregon, Washington and California, as well as my recent excursion in Colorado shooting the amazing fall foliage. If you want a heads up when they come out just subscribe below and you will be the first to know when they are available.

Until the next time,

Ian

If you missed any of my previous posts in my Cambodia Series you can check them out HERE.

If you like that you should check out my other recent series from Iceland.

Remember most of these photos are for sale on my blog prints page HERE.

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