This photo was taken standing just outside of the entrance to the Ta Prohm temple, called the Tomb Raider temple by many because it was a location in the film of that name. Sunlight breaking through the overcast sky provides dramatic lighting for the trees against a background of dark, threatening rain clouds. Angkor Wat and the surrounding countryside are in the middle of the annual rainy season featuring almost daily rain showers, steamy humidity, and enervating heat.
I had a 20mm lens mounted on the camera. I love this lens – another superb piece of equipment by Nikon – but the distortion caused by the very wide angle of the lens limits the situations where it can be used effectively. In this photo, I think the distortion adds tension to the composition and this enhances the already dramatic lighting.
I visited this small site after walking through Ta Prohm. If there was a sign with the name of the place, I did not take note, and I could not find a likely location searching the maps I have. Beyond the entrance area, it seems that not a great deal has been done to develop or maintain this site; the jungle surrounding the buildings was dense and rather eerie.
After walking to the big open area in the center of the main Angkor Wat temple, this stunning building, which cannot be seen from inside the temple, is off to the left (with the temple entrance at your back) and through a couple of doors. In front of where I stood to take this photo, there is stairway down to the grass area. I found a map of the Angkor Wat temple complex online that labelled this structure the North Gallery. That name does not really reveal what the function of this building was.
I just spent a week in Siem Reap (Cambodia) and this gave me a chance to revisit some of the sites that are part of the vast Angkor Wat temple complex just outside of the city. Angkor is a truly magical, awe-inspiring place. I was with my brother visiting from the US on my first trip in 2018 – we hired a licensed guide and heard a great deal about the temples we visited. How much of this was part of the historical record and how much was fanciful is for someone other than me to know. In any case for this visit, I teamed up with my friend Ansel living in Siem Reap these days. We dispensed with a guide in favor of our cameras. We walked and climbed around several temples and shot a lot of photos, only a few of which, in my case, will see the light of day.
On our first day out, we headed for the main Angkor Wat temple, arriving before six in the morning, hoping to get one of those iconic images of the sun rising behind the famous domes of the main temple. Instead, we got a mostly cloudy sky with a bit of patchy sunshine. The light was actually lovely, but there were no sunrise shots, much less spectacular ones.
The image here spent a good deal of time in the digital darkroom. The sun was behind and to the right of the entrance way to the temple. The original raw file showed the foreground temple building in deep, almost black, shadow against a washed out, almost white, sky in the background. Fortunately raw files allow significant adjustments of shadow and highlight areas without compromising image quality beyond repair – I shoot all raw for this reason. There are, however, limits to what even a raw file can take, and this image is at the borderline. The front of the temple has a lot of digital noise to the detriment of clear, sharp details. But for a small, compressed jpeg image, quality is still acceptable.