Part 4: The Jewel in the Lotus ओं मणिपद्मे हूं
Creating this blog has been a journey in itself, looking at my photography of the temples of Angkor Wat, spanning some 14 years of visits, there have been big changes in my photographic style from the early days when I just shot medium format.
Most recently I have started to use lens flare to create photographs full of light.
My tripod is still a main player in my photographic kit and coupled with the use of a cable release when the camera is mounted on the tripod and mirror lock up (MLU) enabled in the camera, this reduces vibration and helps to maximise image sharpness, especially with longer exposures. I also use Lee neutral density graduated filters to balance the light in the shot, as I prefer to get everything right in camera, reducing post processing time on the computer. I always shoot in manual mode and manual focus. For the shot above even though there is lots of light, the exposure was 0.6sec @ f/22 – ISO 100, with the camera on my Manfrotto 055 tripod and a Lee 0.9ND soft grad filter used. As you can see, camera lens filters can drastically improve your shot at the time of capture when used properly.
My earlier fine art photography of the temples was partly conceived to raise money for land mine clearance, as so many Cambodians were victims of them at that time.
Since my first visit in 1999 I have been lucky enough to have hung out of helicopters for commissions to photograph Angkor Wat.
I have seen Cambodian friends grow up, have children.
My passion for the country and its people is still there and the jewel in the lotus for me nowadays is taking guests on my travel photography holidays and seeing their photographic interpretation of the places we go to. I really enjoy teaching photography on these holidays, seeing the improvement in guests photography over the time we spend together and passing on my professional hints and tips. All levels of photographer from absolute beginners to professionals have been creatively inspired by the temples and been captivated by the light.
From my years of experience photographing the temples I have got to know the best places to go to for the best light and those hidden corners full of photographic gems.
I am always discovering new places to photograph with great light. The shot below was taken at dawn with an exposure of 6 sec @ f/22 set at 100 ISO with Lee 0.6ND soft graduated filter, camera on tripod, taken in November just after the monsoons.
The journey still continues and will always evolve and change much as the place does. My photography holidays to Angkor Wat now support some NGO’s helping street kids, disabled people, artisans, rural poor and environment education programmes.
It has been enlightening creating this 4 part blog. I have seen big changes in photography and also my photographic style. I still really love the whole spirit of the place and try to capture this in my photography of Angkor Wat, its temples and people, conveying my emotional response to this place of mystery, wonder and beauty.
I am still in love with the country, its people, the place, and look forward to returning later in the year.
Stephen Studd is an award winning professional travel & garden photographer from the UK. Stephen also runs photography holidays and workshops to Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Burma (Myanmar), Marrakech, Venice, Prague & Paris with his travel photography company Digital Photography Holidays.