Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Pic(k) of the week 50: TEMPLES OF ANGKOR - PREAH KHAN

A few weeks ago, I blogged about my visit to Angkor Wat in Pic(k) of the week 48; likely the best known place in Cambodia. What a lot of people don't know, is that Angkor Wat is just a fraction of the Angkor site which covers about 400 square kilometers.

From the 9th till the 15th century, Angkor, Khmer for Capital city, flourished as a megacity. Until the industrial revolution, it was the worlds largest city with a population of more than 1 million people at its peak in the 12th century. It took researchers till 2007, by using aerial and satellite images, to conclude that Angkor was such a megacity, consisting more than 1000 different temples. What is left of the old Angkor city today, is anything from a piece of rubble in the jungle to entire temples like Angkor Wat and many others.

One of the harder ones to shoot is also one of my favorite temples in Angkor; Preah Khan, seen in the image below, is a large temple built in the 12th century for King Jayavarman VII to honor his father. The two large statues on the West entrance standing amongst the lush green, are especially photogenic. Beside some clearing of the jungle, the temple is largely left unrestored after it was discovered in the beginning of the 20th century adding to the general atmosphere and mystique.

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with the XF16-55 f2.8 lens
  • 1/250s, f8.0, ISO 4000, 27mm
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC Classic
  • Nik ColorEfex Pro by DxO for optimal contrast
Unless you are Cambodian, you must have an access pass, often also referred to as an "Angkor pass", to enter the site. As of NOV 2018, it costs 37,-USD for a single day and 62,-USD for a three day pass. More info can be found here

With 2 million people visiting the Angkor temples annually, it can get very busy, especially during the high season. Avoiding the crowds is therefore essential if wants to do some decent photography.

I personally used the services of Photo Cambodia, let by Dutch Photographer Eric De Vries. We did spend 4 days with Eric photographing remote villages outside Siem Reap and the Angkor temples; I can definitively recommend Eric's services, even if you can only hire him for a single day!

Today, Angkor doesn't really exists anymore as a city where people live; when visiting the Angkor temples, people stay in Siem Reap, which is just a short tuk tuk ride away.

As documenting some of the temples of Angkor, was one of the main objectives of my latest photo-adventure to Cambodia, I've made a short slide slow presentation, called "Temples of Angkor". A small resolution can be found below, but please make sure to watch it in HD for the best viewing experience at the following link here.

A gallery of all the "Temples of Angkor" images can be found here

Remember: "We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us" - Winston Churchill. 


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Pic(k) of the week 49: THE KIDS OF CAMBODIA

My last two Pic(k)s of the week, have been coming from a recent photo-adventure to Cambodia. Typically for most of my longer travel photography trips, I try to work on a short personal project during the trip.
In the late seventies, when I was about 9, I vividly remembered when a Cambodian boy came to my local school to attend classes. We were told that he had lost his parents and had come to Belgium as a refugee. At the time, we had no idea what was happening in Cambodia under the Pol Pot regime.

When I visited Cambodia for the first time last month, I learned that between 1975 and 1979, one in four people were killed in one of the largest genocides in history. 

Linking the facts together 40 years later, a new project called "The Kids of Cambodia" was quickly born! In this personal project, I'm showing 100 different kids in a variety of cities and small villages across the country. 

Although Cambodia is still number 14 in the ranking of the poorest countries in the world, I found a lot of smiley faces and mostly people that wanted to get on with their life's! 

The image below of a Western girl, sitting next to two Cambodian boys along the river in Siem Reap, is symbolic for the project.

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with the XF50-140 f2.8 lens
  • 1/250s, f9.0, ISO 1250, 77mm
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC, using Acros Y camera profile
Unfortunately I have lost track of what happened to the boy in my school, but I nevertheless would like to dedicate "The Kids of Cambodia" gallery to him! If anybody can help me find him, the school I'm talking about is the "Broederschool in Roeselare, Belgium" end of the 70's. 

Lastly, as I was traveling with my wife, some of the images in the gallery have been shot by her. Although she only recently has taken up photography, I'm impressed with some of the images she came home with! Well done.

Next weeks Pic(k) of the week, will introduce a second gallery from Cambodia, which is all about the great temples of Angkor.  

Remember:"Sometimes it's the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination