I have been returning regularly to Cambodia and the temples of Angkor Wat since 1999. My latest journey there being in November, for a photo shoot and a travel photography workshop I was running.
Before flying out to South East Asia I had recently changed cameras as I am starting to shoot more HD time lapse sequences aswell as my photography for stock agencies and commissioned photo shoots. On this trip I decided to bring along a new bag with me too, the Manfrotto Bravo 30. I needed a day bag that I could use to carry my photographic equipment and laptop that I use for my time lapse photography.
I had been using my new Canon 6D camera for a couple of months before my departure and was pleased with its handling, especially for time lapses. My new Manfrotto bag had not yet been put through its paces, though a 3 month photo shoot in Cambodia, Burma and Vietnam would surely do this. My Manfrotto tripod bag has been around the world with me for at least 10 years, so I knew the bags are built to last.
After a short flight from Bangkok to Siem Reap, I had planned a dawn time lapse shoot of Angkor Wat the next day. Even though I am very familiar with the location, I visited the afternoon before the dawn shoot to check that there was no ugly scaffolding on the towers of Angkor Wat as it is constantly under renovation. Also I wanted to check the water level of the lake in front of it, as I wanted the temple reflected in the water for the time lapse sequence.
In all the years that I have been photographing here I had never seen a boat on the lake, which made for a unique view. My only concern was that it might get in the way of my time lapse the next morning, so I found an angle where it wouldn’t be in the way, as had these Buddhist monks.
Having already pre planned the dawn shoot, that evening I packed my Manfrotto Bravo 30 bag with my Canon 6D camera, 24-70mm f2.8 lens, Lee ND graduated filters, laptop, Canon timer remote release, lens cloths, phone, pen, torch, card reader, external hard drive and my water bottle as there was going to be a long wait whilst shooting the time lapse.
Taking a new bag away with you can take some getting used to as I knew where everything was in my other bag, infact I could probably find everything in it blind folded. As the new bag was primarily for just carrying my equipment when shooting time lapses, I found a place for my kit easily. I am very used to locating everything in the pitch black without the need for a torch. But better safe than sorry, make a double check everything is packed and once again too.
I set my alarm for 4am, this would become a regular time to get up for the next 3 months in the tropics.
Arriving in the dark I set up my rock steady Manfrotto tripod and set up my camera shooting in RAW, my Lee ND grad filter and remote timer. Before starting the time lapse I took some stills to check for focus and check the composition, very important when you know you will be shooting over 900 frames in a couple of hours. It is also important to make sure the shutter speed is shorter than the time interval between frames, especially when starting a time lapse from dawn. I was after the tsequence starting in dawn light and ending with the sunlight bursting from behind the towers of Angkor Wat and the sun rising up from there. Below is one of the frames from the sequence, note, the boat had disappeared over night!
I had set up my tripod slightly in the water so it didn’t get accidentally knocked by anyone watching the sunrise, here it is taken with my phone.
Once the sun had risen high enough out of the frame it was time to move on, My first stop was at a nearby cafe where I know the owners. I wanted to download the sequence on to my computer and back up on to my external hard drive that I’d packed in my bag.
The new Manfrotto bag became the one I regularly used around the temples and around Siem Reap.
As most of the locations I was returning to I know really well I knew which bits of kit to take with me, so I wasn’t over burdened with carrying too much equipment.
The water festival was on in Cambodia whilst I was there, which made a break from photographing at the temples. Luckily the Manfrotto bag was waterproof as I did get wet photographing the festivities..
Next stop Burma for a month and then on to Vietnam for 6 weeks with my new travel companion the Bravo 30.