Photographing Ankgor Wat

Everybody wants to travel to Cambodia and experience the beauty and grandeur of Ankgor Wat. The area is quite large and crowded so be prepared to do a fair amount of walking to explore the complex of lakes, moats, out buildings, and main temple.

Monk. Angkor Wat, Cambodia. 2017

Sunrise photography seems to be the thing to do. Guide books will tell you to arrive at the complex as early as 5AM in order to photograph the main temple complex. The problem is that everybody will be lined up in front of one of the lakes at the entrance and the sunrise will occur in the east, in your face, backlighting the all the buildings. There will be no beautiful morning glow, only silhouettes. Perhaps there will be clouds in the sky with an interesting orange patina, but honestly if you’re not prepared, it can be really disappointing.

Sunrise Crowd. Angkgor Wat, Cambodia. 2017

Christy and myself hadn’t realized we would be facing in to the rising sun when we got up at 4:30AM to take our tuk tuk over to Angor Wat. I had prepared as I typically do by ensuring that my gear was cleaned, batteries charged and everything was in order the night before. I even took the time to assemble my tripod and get out my 24mm landscape lens for the first time in months.

When we arrived at shortly after 5AM, there was already a large crowd, and looking at the sky I realized that the light would be all wrong for what I had envisioned. Perhaps some lovely silhouettes? If I were to prepare to photograph Ankgor Wat at sunrise again, I would do a time laspe.  Ultimately though, if you want to photograph the temple complex in beautiful light, late afternoon is the time to go.

Lacey White. Angkor Wat, Cambodia. 2017

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