Angkor Wat is the largest religious complex in the world. A UNESCO world heritage site and symbol of Khmer architecture and Cambodia.
Photographing Angkor Wat without people is a utopia but you can always find little frequented corners. Anyway, photographing at Angkor is not easy. Starting with its enormous dimensions. This forces general shots to have to be taken from a long distance. This is where a wide-angle becomes almost essential.
If you want to photograph the sunrise you will have to be very early on the shores of the lagoon (between 5-6 am) to find a free space where to put your tripod. Yes, that’s where you get those photos of Angkor Wat reflecting off the ponds as the sun rises from behind. But apart from fighting head to head with hundreds of other photographers, onlookers, and Instagramers, you have to be lucky. If the sky is covered you will not have that desired sunrise.
In addition, the light conditions change in a very short time. In this case, You will have one of those sunrises that don’t allow you to jump for joy. But it’s quite an experience to be surrounded by so many early risers. It makes you feel like you’re not such a freak.
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Photographing the sunset is even more difficult as the main facade of Angkor Wat faces west. Therefore the orange hues of the sky are just on the other side. And the already dark stone facade is being submerged in the shadows. That is why you will hardly find pictures of movie sunsets at Angkor Wat. If you move away you will not get much either because the trees cover the towers of the temples from afar. There is a temple that has become famous because they say that you can get good photos of the sunset. But the queues to upload are several hours long, and the images I’ve seen from there are not exceptional either.
On the other hand, the amount of statues and sculptural motifs full of visual appeal is enormous, so your camera will fume. The contrast between dark areas and bright areas is brutal so you will have to fight with the manual settings to get the most out of your camera or do bracketing (exposure bracketing).
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The best light is that of the afternoon when the sun begins to fall. The tones become warmer and the light that falls laterally allows to define the forms by giving them volume. And don’t forget to photograph the monks. The coloring of their robes offers very visual scenes.