If you are a photography enthusiast, Angkor Wat is a must-visit place in South-East Asia. Situated in Siem Reap, second biggest city after Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, Angkor Wat is the main place of interest among hundreds of temples in Angkor complex. Angkor Wat is the largest temple in Angkor complex, built by the Khmer civilization around the year 1100 AD. It was probably built as a furnerary temple for King Suryavarman II (1112-1152), to honour Vishnu, one of the Hindu God.
Shooting sunrise in Angkor Wat is supposed to be an enjoyful thing to do. Anyway, you should get here by 5 AM in the morning to be ready-to-shoot on-site before the sunrise, and most importantly before the place gets crowded by tourists. It is suggested to leave your hotel in Siem Reap at 4.30 AM, get your transport and go through temple-pass checking station at Angkor complex gate.
The most favorite spot for sunrise in Angkor Wat is in lotus pond in front of it. Bring your torch as it will be still dark in early morning and there is no lighting at all in the temple. You have to cross the moat and go through the Angkor Wat main gate and walk a couple hundreds of meter to get to lotus pond.
Suggested gears for sunrise photo shoot in Angkor Wat are: wide lens 16mm or at most 24mm, tripod and graduated ND (neutral density) filter. Tele lens would be an addition, but tripod is a must to avoid camera shake due to low light condition at dawn. Graduated ND filter is mandatory, as you are facing a high-contrast light condition in sunrise time. Catch the reflection in the lotus pond, set your white balance correctly, and make sure you have enough power in your camera battery and enough space in memory cards.
Shooting time would not be last after 5:30 AM, as the sun will be high after that. You will be surrounded by other visitors with their camera. Give respect to them, and you will be respected. But stay in your position, unless you want to let your place taken by other visitors.
There are local people with their business offering you a simple plastic chair and coffee. Just get one, pay US$ 1 then you will be fine in your position of shooting. This is the latest situation I recognized on my visit, late July 2010. There wasn’t that kind of business on my previous visit to Angkor Wat, November 2008.
Enjoy your Angkor Wat sunrise shooting.
Original post of the picture above in Fotografer.net: Romantic Angkor