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Why I Love Photographing Cambodia

I first travelled to Cambodia in 1999 and it was the first place after visiting countless countries as a travel photographer to truly capture my heart. I have been returning to Cambodia ever since this first visit and I am still truly in love with the country.

The reason I originally travelled to Cambodia was of course to visit the vast and sublime Angkor Wat complex.

Digital travel and landscape photography holidays vacations workshops photo tours to Cambodia Angkor Wat hosted by Stephen Studd

However it was the friendly and charming nature of the Cambodian people that so quickly stole my heart.

South East Asia Cambodia Siem Reap Angkor Wat temple complex UNESCO World Heritage site portrait of Cambodian Khmer old woman with traditional headscarf digital photography holidays holiday vacations tour tours workshop workshops to Myanmar Burma Cambodia

During my early visits travel around the country was incredibly slow going. Quite often I would find myself clinging on to the back of a motorbike for hours on end as the bike balanced on the banks between paddy fields, slowly picking its way to a far destination promising unique treasures such as deities carved in river beds on sacred mountains.

Digital travel photography holidays to Cambodia ANgkor Wat Asia hosted by Stephen Studd photographer

Nowadays the roads and transport have greatly improved, opening up more of this rustic and unspoilt country.

Digital travel and landscape photography holidays photo tours vacations workshops to Cambodia Angkor Wat hosted by Stephen Studd

Despite the improvements to roads, it is still very rare to see other tourists anywhere but the hot spots around Angkor. The bulk of the country remains undeveloped with red dust tracks

Digital travel and landscape photography holidays photo tours vacations workshops to Cambodia Angkor Wat hosted by Stephen Studd

and rice paddies peppered with the tall spikes of sugar palms.

Digital travel and landscape photography holidays, vacations workshops photo tours to Cambodia Angkor Wat hosted by Stephen Studd

Combined with the traditional wooden Khmer houses that rest on stilts and the occasional passing ox-cart

Digital travel and landscape photography holidays photo tours vacations workshops to Cambodia Angkor Wat hosted by Stephen Studd

this landscape is rich with photographic gems offering a literal plethora of amazing locations for photography.

digital travel and landscape photography holidays vacations tours workshops to  Cambodia, Angkor Wat, Myanmar, Burma, Vietnam, hosted by Stephen Studd

The coast of Cambodia boasts amazing sunrises and sunsets

Digital travel and landscape photography holidays photo tours vacations workshops to Cambodia Angkor Wat hosted by Stephen Studd

and small towns like Kep, famous for the crab market, are places to head for at sunset to see the days fresh catch hauled back to shore.

digital travel and landscape photography holidays vacations tours workshops to  Cambodia, Angkor Wat, Myanmar, Burma, Vietnam, hosted by Stephen Studd

I have been taking photographic groups to Cambodia since 2012 and one thing that I hear being said again and again is “I can’t believe we are the only ones here”.

digital travel and landscape photography holidays vacations photo tours workshops to  Cambodia, Angkor Wat Asia hosted by Stephen Studd

Cambodia still feels fresh and vibrant in comparison to its tourist weary neighbours and moves at a gentle slower pace.

digital travel and landscape photography holidays vacations tours workshops to  Cambodia, Angkor Wat, Myanmar, Burma, Vietnam, hosted by Stephen Studd

For the discerning travel and landscape photographer Cambodia has it all and in my opinion is Asia’s best kept photographic secret.

Digital travel photography holidays vacations workshops tours to  Cambodia Angkor Wat, Burma, Myanmar, Vietnam,  Wales the Gower, Bluebell woods of Gloucestershire UK


I run travel and landscape photography holidays and tours in Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam the USA & UK.
Please visit the website for full itineraries and dates of tours: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com


Stay connected:
Facebook: DigitalPhotographyHolidays
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Twitter: @PhotographyHols

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Photographing pre-sunrise & post sunset

It always amazes me when on travel and landscape photography shoots how people react to photographing a sunrise or sunset. At popular locations near these times the place can be really busy with excitable people. The main event happens and as soon as the last slither of the sun sets or first slither of the sun rising, the place becomes quiet and deserted as most people will have left rather quickly.

The after show is where the party is at for me. Once the sun has set, wait and watch the skies and the bounced around atmospheric light play on the landscape. A stillness seems to reappear that hasn`t been felt since dawn. This twilight can last for a while so patience is needed, a good tripod as exposures will be long and it is important to move your camera to manual focus.

Germany, Fussen, Alps reflected in Lake Forggensee, dawn

The shot above was taken about half an hour after sunset in Germany with the Alps in the background at pretty much my default  ISO of 100, when using my tripod.  Aperture in this case was f11 with exposure @4 seconds and lens 35mm. I also used a 0.3 ND grad filter to bring the sky and lake together exposure wise. (In this case a 0.3 as sky and foreground were pretty well matched as the sun had set half an hour earlier)

There is also a pre-show event the time between night and sunrise. This one usually has far less attendees and has its own light and colours in the sky and play on the landscape and is generally much stiller and quieter.

digital travel photography holidays vacations tours to Burma myanmar hosted by Stephen Studd, Bagan temples

Myanmar (Burma): Bagan – sunrise  ISO 100  f20 @ 16sec  ND 0.6 (2 stop) graduated filter

Both need the same equipment and patience to photograph but they are equally a joy to photograph (though on cold mornings the pre-sunrise shoot can be tough to get up for!) The main pleasure at these times of day for me is in the sky lottery, what colours are going to be produced? how long will it last? is it going to completely cloud over? When the conditions all come together a joy fills the heart and you know instinctively that you have the shot and walk away with a spring in your step.

You will need a torch, to get you to your location pre sunrise or away post sunset, it also helps you with your camera dials in low level light conditions. A tripod and shutter release cable are needed and I always use mirror lock on my camera as exposures can be long and you don’t want camera shake. I use the cameras spirit level which helps me get those horizons straight. If you do use autofocus, move it to manual, as autofocus struggles to work in the darker conditions, I always shoot in RAW mode too.

Depending on where you are photographing on the planet determines the length of the after or pre show party. In the tropics you generally only get a maximum of half an hour pre sunrise or after sunset. The point from basically photographing in the dark as the shot below to sunrise daylight happens in about 15 minutes, so you have to be ready and quick to react to the fast changing light.

digital travel photography holidays tours to Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam, Marrakech and Gower Wales hosted by Stephen Studd photographer myanmar hosted by Stephen Studd

Cambodia: Angkor Wat sunrise. ISO 100 – f8 @ 30sec

I’m often asked whether I prefer sunrises or sunsets, I much prefer sunrises as the lazy photographers are not out of bed and it is always stiller, calmer, more peaceful and accompanied by the sound of birds waking up and filling the air with song. Which do you prefer?

Go out and enjoy these spectacular times of day, you will usually have them to yourself, they still the mind and fill the soul with joy.


I run travel and landscape photography holidays and tours in Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam and the USA.

I also run landscape photography workshops and weekends in the Gower, Wales and Bluebell woods photography workshops in Gloucestershire, please visit the website for full itineraries and information: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

Newsletter subscribers receive special offers throughout the year on my travel photography holidays and landscape photography workshops, you can subscribe here

‘May the light be with you’



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Angkor Wat, Cambodia, and Siem Reap, Best Travel Destinations 2015

Trip Advisor has just announced that Angkor Wat is the top Landmark in the world to visit, with Siem Reap voted 2nd best Destination in the world.

UPDATE: Lonely Planet has just voted Angkor Wat as the Best Travel Destination to go and see 2015.

digital travel and landscape photography holidays, vacations, tours and workshops to Asia, Cambodia: Angkor Wat, Vietnam, Burma (Myanmar), Marrakech Marrakesh Morocco, the Gower Wales UK

Monks in front of Angkor Wat.

I have been photographing here since 1999 and it is truly a magical place, Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The whole Angkor complex stretches some 400 km2, so there are always new places to discover.

Of all the different temples that make up the Angkor complex, Angkor Wat is the jewel in the lotus and also the most well preserved of them all.

digital travel and landscape photography holidays, vacations, tours and workshops to Asia, Cambodia: Angkor Wat, Vietnam, Burma (Myanmar), Marrakech Marrakesh Morocco, the Gower Wales UK

Angkor Wat, sunrise

The stone carving here is some of the most exquisite of all the temples.

digital travel and landscape photography holidays, vacations, tours and workshops to Asia, Cambodia: Angkor Wat, Vietnam, Burma (Myanmar), Marrakech Marrakesh Morocco, the Gower Wales UK

digital travel and landscape photography holidays, vacations, tours and workshops to Asia, Cambodia: Angkor Wat, Vietnam, Burma (Myanmar), Marrakech Marrakesh Morocco, the Gower Wales UK

Apsara detail, Angkor Wat

Even though the place sees a large number of tourists each year, local life still goes on in and around Angkor Wat.

digital travel and landscape photography holidays, vacations, tours and workshops to Asia, Cambodia: Angkor Wat, Vietnam, Burma (Myanmar), Marrakech Marrakesh Morocco, the Gower Wales UK South East Asia Cambodia Siem Reap Angkor Wat temple complex UNESCO World Heritage site young boy fishing in the moat of Angkor Wat sunset

Boy fishing at Angkor Wat

Siem Reap is the gateway to the temples and a town that has expanded over the years but never lost its charm.

digital travel and landscape photography holidays, vacations, tours and workshops to Asia, Cambodia: Angkor Wat, Siem Reap. Vietnam, Burma (Myanmar), Marrakech Marrakesh Morocco, the Gower Wales UK

Shrine on the banks of the river, Siem Reap

digital travel and landscape photography holidays, vacations, tours and workshops to Asia, Cambodia: Angkor Wat, Siem Reap. Vietnam, Burma (Myanmar), Marrakech Marrakesh Morocco, the Gower Wales UK South East Asia Cambodia Siem Reap Angkor Wat temple complex UNESCO World Heritage site portrait of Cambodian Khmer old woman with traditional headscarf

There are now great places to eat and drink to suit all budgets in Siem Reap. I’m looking forward to heading back again this November. There are places available on the photography holiday if you want to improve your photography skills. Because of my extensive knowledge of the area I get you to the best places for the best light.

My photography holidays here also support some NGO’s helping street kids, the rural poor, people with disabilities and also a nature conservation project.


Details of the travel photography holiday I run to Angkor Wat can be found on my website: http://www.digitalphotographyholidays.com


You can follow my journey over the years of photographing at the Angkor Wat temples on the Manfrotto website: http://www.manfrottoimaginemore.com


Keep in touch:

Websites:

My travel photography holidays & UK photography workshops website: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

My travel and garden photography website: www.stephenstuddphotography.com


Social Media:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/DigitalPhotographyHolidays

https://www.facebook.com/stephenstuddphotography

Twitter

www.twitter.com/PhotographyHols

www.twitter.com/StephensPhotos

Google +

https://plus.google.com/+Digitalphotographyholidays

https://plus.google.com/+Stephenstuddphotography


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Behind the photo: Portrait of Khmer woman, Cambodia

South East Asia Cambodia Siem Reap Angkor Wat temple complex UNESCO World Heritage site portrait of Cambodian Khmer old woman with traditional headscarf digital photography holidays holiday vacations tour tours workshop workshops to Myanmar Burma Cambodia Angkor Wat Venice marrakech Paris Morocco Prague hosted by Stephen Studd

Cambodia is one of my favourite places for travel photography. On a recent trip there I wanted to photograph the sugar palm village which is on the way to Banteay Srei temple, part of the Angkor Wat temple complex.

The sugar palm tree (Borassus flabellifer) is the national tree of Cambodia and has over 800 uses. The root of the tree is used in traditional herbal medicine, the hard heavy wood is used for house building and for furniture making, the palm fronds are used for thatching roofs, making mats, baskets, hats and fans and also weaved to make the walls in traditional Cambodian homes and the fruit is used to make, palm water, syrup and sugar., which has a very low glycemic index.

The sugar palm village is always a hive of activity with bubbling vats of palm sugar steaming away. I was wandering around the village greeting people in the Khmer language, when I came across this lady. She spoke back to me in Khmer and I replied back, much to her amusement. She called out all her family and got me to speak to them. They all found it funny that I even bothered to speak their language, they spoke no English. I was invited to their house to drink the sugar palm water with them, which is highly prized. It had a lovely sweet and very earthy taste.

I was just about to ask if I could take some photos, when the lady had already pointed at my camera and stood up, I always find it amazing that thought always seems to have no language barriers. I took some photos of her and when she looked at them on the back of the camera gave me the seal of approval.

It is these chance encounters that really make me buzz when I am on a travel photography assignment as I love meeting the people of the country. Over many years of travelling to Cambodia I have learned some words and phrases and they always break the ice when meeting people, this is the same when travelling to any country.

I was pleased with the portrait and decided to convert the photograph to black & white in Lightroom and then split toned the image, which is a favoured technique of mine for black & white photography. I used my favourite Canon 24-70mm f2.8 lens, at 70mm – aperture f6.8 – shutter speed 1/80th sec at ISO 500 as the light level was quite low.


I host small group travel photography holidays and tours to Cambodia, Burma, Marrakech and Venice, further details can be found on my website: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com


 


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Photography tours & holidays to Burma, Cambodia, Marrakech.

I am running travel photography tours and holidays to some of my favourite places in the world for photography.

Book now to ensure your place, there is no single person supplement.

digital photography holidays holiday tour tours workshop workshops to Myanmar Burma Cambodia Angkor Wat Marrakech Venice 2014 2015 South East Asia

U Bein bridge, Burma

Full itinerary for the Burma photography tour click here: http://digitalphotographyholidays.com/516995

digital photography holidays holiday tour tours workshop workshops to Myanmar Burma Cambodia Angkor Wat Marrakech Venice 2014 2015 South East Asia  South East Asia

Angkor Wat, sunrise

Full itinerary for the Cambodia photography holiday click here: http://digitalphotographyholidays.com/388262

digital photography holidays holiday tour tours workshop workshops to Myanmar Burma Cambodia Angkor Wat Marrakech Venice 2014 2015 South East Asia  South East Asia

Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech

The Marrakech photography city break itinerary can be found here: http://digitalphotographyholidays.com/559913

We welcome non-photographer partners on all our holidays and city breaks, each location we go to there is a special package for them.

I look forward to welcoming you on one of my Digital Photography Holidays.

 

 


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Travel photography tours and holidays to Burma, Cambodia, Marrakech & Venice.

Join me on a photography holiday to awe inspiring locations that I have a great working knowledge of, getting you to the best locations at the best time of day for stunning photographs.

The photographs on this blog are from last years photography holiday guests.

Burma I call photographers gold at the moment, a country that is starting to open up to the outside world after years of isolation. My photography tour to the Golden Land is unique as I have secured permits to travel overland between Mandalay and Lake Inle in the Shan State, a truly memorable experience as we travel through different landscapes on the way and getting to places tourism hasn’t hit.

Myanmar Burma Digital travel photography holidays vacations tours workshops

We also travel by train from Bagan to Myingyan on a classic rail journey full of photo opportunities.

Stephen G Young Digital Myanmar Burma travel photography tours holidays vacations workshops 2014 2015

From Myingyan we take the ‘road to Mandalay’, made famous by Kipling.

Between Yangon and Bagan we fly as we also do between Lake Inle and Yangon. There is a full itinerary for the Burma photography tour on the website: http://www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

 

Cambodia is one of my favourite places for photography, a place I have been returning to since 1999, since then I have forged very strong friendships with local people and also NGO’s. This photography holiday is not just about photographing the magical temples it is also very much about the people too.

This photography holiday supports organisations that help street kids, disabled people and the rural poor, enabling them to receive education, training and skilled work.

Brian K Smethurst cambodia Phare circus siem reap Angkor Wat Cambodia travel Photography tours Holidays vacations workshops

On the photography holiday we spend a day with the floating village community on Tonle Sap lake, which helps to support their community handicrafts project and also the local nature reserve.

D Elder Tonle Sap Lake Cambodia travel Photography tours Holidays vacations workshops

At the time of year we visit the water level is 10 – 12 metres above ground level, exposing only the tree canopy above water.

Tonle Sap Lake Cambodia travel Photography tours Holidays vacations workshops

Last years guests in the tree canopy above the swollen Tonle Sap lake. Photo: P Lawson photography.

Release your Indiana Jones as we explore and photograph the magical temples at the best times of day for the best light, beating the crowds, literally having the temples to ourselves for an hour or more every morning.

Angkor Wat Cambodia travel Photography tours Holidays vacations workshops

Further details and full itinerary can be found on the website: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

Marrakech & Venice photography city break.

I have had the pleasure of photographing in both Marrakech and Venice many times over the last twenty years, this year for the first time I will be leading photography tours to these destinations. Join me as we explore these great short haul destinations for photography.

Moroccan man Souk Soukh Marrakech Marrakesh Morocco Digital travel photography holidays vacations workshops tours to Marrakech Morocco 2014 2015

Full details can be found at www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

I look forward to welcoming you on one of my Digital Photography Holidays, “may the light be with you”.


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Memories: pop up photography exhibition

Sorry, the pop up photography exhibition is now closed. A big thanks to the thousands who visited.