Monday, December 31, 2012

2012, Day 365 - The journey ahead

I feel so fortunate as I reflect on the past year.  It was filled with friends, family, travel, adventure, puppies, and photography.  I have been lucky to have such great people around me and a successful business that has afforded me the pleasure of an epic adventure to Cambodia with great friends.  I also had a wonderful family vacation of theater, reading, board games, and laughter.  If fortune smiles on me the coming year will be just was amazing.

I wish you all a year of family, friends, and financial success!

Canon 1D X, Canon 24-70/f2.8L Mark II
50mm, f2.8, 1/50 sec @ 100 ISO

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012, Day 364 - Salt sauna

This is one of the work crew we met when we went out to the salt fields in Kampot.  Near the roads adjacent to large open fields are rough wooden sheds.  Each is filled to the rafters with salt and when orders are placed a crew is sent to start bagging.  There were about a dozen men working when we arrived to fill what we were told was a small order; one thousand fifty kilogram bags.  That is over one hundred thousand pounds and the bagging was supposed to be finished in a single day.

As if that wasn't bad enough the sun was beating down on the corrugated steel roof making the shed like a sauna.  It was nice to see I wasn't the only one sweating but everyone else was working a lot harder than me.  All I could think as I watched the men work was that the salt must be sucking the moisture out of them and if they aren't careful they are all going to end up empty husks.

Canon 1D X, Canon 24-70/f2.8L Mark II
70mm, f2.8, 1/160 sec @ 250 ISO

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012, Day 363 - Velvet

This is another photograph from one of the many walks I took yesterday.  Looking at life through a macro lens really alters your perspective.  The ordinary becomes exciting and little details make all the difference.  There was a bit of shift in the colors so I applied a little black and white toning to bring it down and allow the focus to be on the texture and the interplay of light and shadow.

Olympus OM-D E-M5, Olympus 60mm/f2.8 Macro
60mm, f5.6, 1/200 sec @ 200 ISO

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012, Day 362 - Pearls

The holidays are over.  Yes, I know, there is still New Year's but today marked the end of my celebration and my return to the gym.  Too much indulgence has eaten away at the progress made towards my fitness goals.  So instead of driving today I walked everywhere and when you add that to my walks with the dogs it totaled almost twelve miles.  Not a bad day and with my camera in hand I took the opportunity to explore the details of the world.

Olympus OM-D E-M5, Olympus 60/f2.8 Macro
60mm, f5.6, 1/200 sec @ 200 ISO

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012, Day 361 - Breakfast

In much of Asia rice porridge is a popular breakfast item.  Generally I've never been much of a fan because it is often rather bland and I don't care what time of day it is I want my food to have flavor.  That said, I did have some good congee in Cambodia with finely chopped vegetables seasoned with onion and garlic and finished with finely ground salt and pepper.

Below a woman eats breakfast after finishing the morning's butchering.  Eating in Cambodia is usually a social activity so while she may look alone her friends in the neighboring stalls were eating, chatting, and laughing together.

Canon 1D X, Canon 100/f2.8L IS
100mm, f4, 1/125 sec @ 250 ISO

2012, Day 360 - Winter's touch

The year is coming to an end, winter's grip is tight and the nights are frigid.  White plumes declare each exhalation and grass crackles underfoot.  It is beautiful but loveless, the peace if refreshing...

Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 50/f1.2L
50mm, f1.2, 1/6 sec @ 800 ISO

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

2012, Day 359 - Merry X-Mas

Now we play with all of our new toys and try to remember that, while playing, there are people out there who have nothing.  With the year coming to an end maybe now is the time to think about what we can do in the coming year to make life a little better for those less fortunate.  I will continue to volunteer at a shelter providing meals to the residents.  Maybe I will find another way to give back, it would take commitment but these kinds of tasks are very rewarding.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and that your holidays are filled with friends, family, and love!

Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24/f1.4L Mark II
24mm, f1.4, 1/160 sec @ 400 ISO

2012, Day 358 - Onion

Today, seeing as it is the holidays, I thought I would share a picture of my nephew Onion. Well his name is really Orion but to me he will always be Onion thanks to a fortuitous auto correct incident on the day he was born.

Right now he is, as many children are, obsessed with trains. Thank you very much Thomas. Fortunately he can entertain himself quietly for hours reenacting episodes that he has religiously watched. Here he was flipping through a Thomas the Train book while Grandpa loomed on and he patiently explained the plot of the book. Sometimes I think he is more lucid than his grandfather.

Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 50/f1.2L
50mm, f1.4, 1/320 sec @ 400 ISO

Sunday, December 23, 2012

2012, Day 357 - Severed

Tonight we go back in time to revisit the nuclear power plant at Satsop.  It was so much fun exploring and this room was fascinating.  To me it looked like someone excised a vital organ severing all the arteries and leaving in its place an empty shell and the suggestion of what once was.  It is a little sad but also endlessly fascinating; at the time I think we were all so overwhelmed by the sheer size of the plant that many of the questions the spring to mind now were just drowned out was the sense of awe.

Oh well, maybe we can arrange a return visit in the spring...

Canon 1D X, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f5.6, 1/40 sec @ 320 ISO

Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012, Day 356 - Bursting

This was one of the final scenes from our epic day of adventuring in the Kampot area.  First we went to the salt fields, then to the pepper plantations, next he had a delicious seafood lunch in Kep, then we ascended Bokor to see the old hotel casino under renovation, then we stopped off at a little mountain temple where we were greeted by this vista.  Many people would have preferred a clear day but I love that you can see rays of light penetrating the clouds and reflecting off the Gulf of Thailand.  It was stunning and an incredible way to finish a wonderful and productive day of exploring.  I think luck followed us throughout our trip in Cambodia :)

Canon 1D X, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
35mm, f8, 1/2000 sec @ 200 ISO

Friday, December 21, 2012

2012, Day 355 - Mincing

How could anyone fail to admire a woman who could reduce your face to a fine paste with a cleaver in each hand?  This photograph was taken at the Boeng Keng Kang Market in Phnom Pehn.  I wandered off while Araceli and Francene were trying their luck at a traditional Khmer breakfast of rice porridge and ended up walking down a narrow walkway with pieces of meat dangling from hook all around me.  Although I have been vegetarian for a decade now I don't find it disturbing and would rather see people consume fresh farm-to-table meats than the factory farmed stuff you get on styrofoam wrapped in plastic.

Canon 1D X, Canon 50/f1.2L
50mm, f2, 1/125 sec @ 500 ISO

Thursday, December 20, 2012

2012, Day 354 - Heavenly figure

That person at the top of the stairs is my friend Julie, she and I had a photo adventure last week after a lovely dinner.  It was windy and cold but we braved the elements and came away with some nice shots.  Sometimes a little discomfort makes for a great photograph.

Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24/f3.5L TSE Mark II
24mm, f4, 2 sec @ 400 ISO

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2012, Day 353 - Winter paradise

I am rather in love with being home again after my tropical adventures in Cambodia.  This is another photograph from Mount Talbert, I love the richness of the greens and yellows.  It is so lush and vibrant and ever so slightly primeval.  You can smell the rich earth with that slight tinge of sweet decay from the littered maple leaves and hear small bird flit in and out of the shrubs while the wind sighs through the trees.  It is beautiful and serene.

Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24/f3.5L TSE
24mm, f5.6, 1/20 sec @ 200 ISO

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2012, Day 352 - Stumped

With this morning's snowfall I felt that today I would depart from my large collection of unprocessed photos from Cambodia to bring you an image of Oregon.  I took this photo last week with my friend Jeff at Mount Talbert.  There is something about that small park, it doesn't get a lot of use but I find it to be stunningly beautiful.  We hiked through the misty rain along the soft path made springy with old leaves through the trees.  That these are temperate rain forests is made evident by the amount of moss clinging to every surface.  Through the leaves mushrooms strain to push clear and I suspect there are many gnomes building new homes.

While Cambodia was beautiful and I had a great time it is nice to be home even if it is near freezing and wet...

Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24/f3.5L TSE
24mm, f5.6, 1/25 sec @ 200 ISO

Monday, December 17, 2012

2012, Day 351 - Stained red

This is where we ended up on our day of travel misadventure near Cambodia's east coast.  We started out from Kampot, drove to Kep, went in search of the famous Kampot pepper plantations and ended up a stone's throw from the border with Vietnam.  Paved roads gave way to red clay and we sat in the car while I driver asked for directions.  Every time a truck passed massive clouds of fine red dust were thrown into the air and visibility was reduces to a few feet.  All the while this gentleman stood at the mouth of a side street selling his snacks.  I can only imagine they were a bit earthy and I don't recall anyone stopping but I am sure he stood out there all day or until his pot was emptied.  In retrospect I would have liked to have gone exploring but we were on a mission that, sadly, we ultimately aborted but which we achieved the following day...

Canon 1D X, Canon 70-200/f2.8L IS Mark II
135mm, f4, 1/250 sec @ 100 ISO

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2012, Day 350 - Ruined

Beng Mealea was probably the most exciting temple that we visited in Cambodia.  The architecture is quite similar to Angkor Wat but the temple layout, a series of galleries on a single level, is vastly different.  Beng Mealea is probably the most significantly damaged of the jungle temples but the authorities are quite permissive in allowing exploration.  Tumbled stones create somewhat precarious steps to the top of walls along which visitors are free to walk.  It truly feels like exploration but I expect that in the relatively near future access is going to become more limited.  The stress of people climbing through the ruins is threatening the integrity of the site which leaves me with mixed emotions.  I am glad that I got to experience this magnificent temple the way that I did but there is a lingering guilt that I have contributed to the degradation of their amazing place.

Canon 1D X, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
35mm, f8, merged layers of 1/13, 1/6, and 1/3 sec @ 100 ISO

Saturday, December 15, 2012

2012, Day 349 - Icons

There is no image of Cambodia more iconic than Angkor Wat at sunrise.  It is the shot that everyone with even the most remote interest in photography wants to remember their trip.  Although we have all seen many when it is you behind the camera it feels special.  On any given morning there may be a hundred people or more lining the edge of the reflecting pond in the hope of a good sunrise and the morning this was take was no different.  The bank of the pond was crowded with people trying to find enough space to take a picture.  Many had flashes going off lighting nothing at all and others were using their smartphones.  I had a tripod, multiple lenses, and a pouch full of filters.

We arrived a little later than I would have liked and our initial position along the pond wasn't great but as the sun crested the horizon people began to leave.  Soon there was space in the prime positions so I grabbed my Lee Big Stopper to push sunrise back a little bit and kept taking pictures.  Those people who left missed out, the colors got better as the sun rose.  I even had a Japanese gentleman standing by side looking at my images on the back of my camera as I shot.  He was impressed with the results and how I was achieving the look of sunrise when there was already so much light in the sky.  I kept taking pictures and explained what I was doing and he thanked me when I started packing up.  It's great to share tip and tricks; hopefully he was able to utilize them to get the pictures that he was hoping for because I know I got mine.

Canon 1D X, Canon 24-70/f2.8L Mark II
53mm, f8, 1/80 sec @ 100 ISO

Friday, December 14, 2012

2012, Day 348 - Open and shut

Preah Khan was the temple we visited without Brian and Nicole.  They were feeling run down and Nicole had a book, now published, to review so Araceli and I were on our own for the morning adventure with Mr. Mony.  True to form we left early so we arrived before the crowds and had the temple to ourselves which made it ideal for photography.

Preah Khan does not have multiple levels like some of the other temples at Angkor, it is a series of successive galleries with a Buddhist temple at the center.  Because of the the transfer back and forth between Buddhism and Hinduism there are also small Hindu temples within the compound as well.  You cans see in this image where one tree was cut down because it was dangerously unstable and was a threat to the integrity of the temple and to the life and limb of those visiting.  Otherwise Preah Khan is largely unrestored and trees have, with only some success, tried to reclaim the site as part of the larger jungle.

Canon 1D X, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f5.6, merged layers of 1/200, 1/50, and 1/25 sec @ 100 ISO

Thursday, December 13, 2012

2012, Day 347 - Golden sunburst

This sunburst of a building is Phnom Penh's Psah Thom Thmey, known commonly as the Central Market.  Built in 1937 the central dome has four massive hallways lined with stalls that radiate from the center.  When it opened the Central Market was thought to be the largest market in all of Asia.  It took two years to complete the construction and that doesn't include the time it took to fill in the lake that once stood where the market is now.  The Central Market was and is an Art Deco masterpiece, it is a gleaming gold and ivory monument to the French colonists and stands today as proof of Cambodia's colonial past.

Canon 1D X, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f4, 1/125 sec @ 800 ISO

2012, Day 346 - Angling

On our return from Koh Dach where we watched weavers spinning delicate iridescent fibers into thread that would be later woven there were a number of men fishing along the banks of the Mekong River.  With a little lens juggling help from Brian I was able to get a number of pictures but this one is my favorite.  In color it looked nice but I wanted to emphasize the composition so a little Silver Efex magic and this is the result.

Canon 1D X, Canon 70-200/f2.8L IS
200mm, f4, 1/1000 sec @ 100 ISO

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2012, Day 345 - Breakfast

Phnom Penh's Russian Market, despite being popular with foreign visitors, is geared towards local residents. In addition to the normal tourist kitsch there are people selling food, clothes, shoes, bedding, paint, hardware, tools, auto parts, tailors, hair dressers, and more.  You could buy almost everything you could possibly need at the Russian Market and for the locals there is an entire section that serves Khmer food.  Many people have breakfast at the markets before the do their daily shopping and, regardless of the time of day, there are rarely any empty seats.

The smell of onions, garlic, fish, chicken, rice, and noodles permeates the air and conversations are punctuated by the hiss of food hitting a hot pan.  There is a slight smokiness to the air as food is cooked.  The air is humid and warmer thanks to all the fires lit in this section of the market.  For those of us unaccustomed to the heat it is almost stifling but my fascination overcame my discomfort and I had to see what people were eating.  Honestly, almost all of it looked delicious!

Canon 1D X, Canon 24-70/f2.8L Mark II
24mm, f4, 1/125 sec @ 3200 ISO

Monday, December 10, 2012

2012, Day 344 - Butcher

I took this photo on our first day in Phnom Penh.  Brian, Nicole, Araceli, and I were running off of about four hours of sleep, all of us were unable to get too much rest and met over breakfast.  Little did we know at the time that we probably should have skipped the most important meal of the day.

With our scheduled arrival in Cambodia being later Saturday night it was decided that the best time to take a cooking class was the very first day.  Our hotel helped us direct our tuk tuk driver to the meeting point for the Linna Culinary School.  Before instruction began our hostess, the illustrious Linna herself, took us on a tour of one of the small local markets.  It was essentially a long crowded alley lined on either side with meat and produce.  This particular woman caught my eye as she relaxed behind her cutting board and hanging meats.  The wall behind had such great texture and her shirt provided such a nice contrast.

I love markets, I think it is one of the best ways to people watch.  Everyone goes to the market and only the wealthy manage to avoid it.  There is such a great bustle of life, people chatting, haggling, and laughing.  Little breakfast places interrupt the vendors and the crowds get thicker.  Some of the smells are tantalizing and others put you off the idea of eating.  Colors are bright and the sights and sounds are almost overwhelming but the excitement of the place is infectious.  I never tire of markets and would happily go every day.

Canon 1D X, Canon 24-70/f2.8L Mark II
70mm, f2.8, 1/400 sec @ 640 ISO

2012, Day 343 - Victorious

Preah Khan was not just a temple, it was also an institution of learning as well as the center of a city.  Historians believe that there may have been as many as one hundred thousand people who lived and worked to support the temple complex.  It is one of the many temples known for the aggressive advance of the jungle.  Trees have torn many walls apart leaving rubble behind.  The aptly named strangler figs have such a tenacious grip that it would cause more damage to remove them than to manage future growth.

Although named for the holy sword of King Jayavarman VII and his conquests it is clear the victory is fleeting.  The accomplishments of man, though impressive, are yielding to the power of nature.  It is an incredible fight to witness and the result is breathtaking.  We were fortunate to arrive early enough that when you stood still all you could hear was the call of birds, the hum of cicadas, and the slight rustling of the trees signalling their advance...

Canon 1D X, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f8, merged layers of 1/40 and 1/10 sec @ 100 ISO

Saturday, December 8, 2012

2012, Day 342 - Glory restored

One of the many amazing things that I did on my recent trip to Cambodia was visit Preah Monivong National Park where the old site of Bokor Hill Station is located.  Built as a resort town beginning in 1921 by the French to escape the heat and humidity the centerpiece was the Bokor Palace Hotel.  More recently the Khmer Rouge used the hotel as a stronghold when fighting the Vietnamese and because of the prolonged conflict, occupation, and subsequent abandonment the building has fallen into disrepair.

More recently the site of the old Bokor Hill Station has been under development.  A new hotel and casino are being built with a planned opening in the spring of 2013.  Sadly it looks like a monstrosity, it lacks style and elegance.  The Bokor Palace is not being ignored.  We were able to wander the site and while it is under construction it is still early days.  Bullet holes and broken sections of the exterior wall have been repaired and some work has been carried out on the interior but there is much left to do.  In another year I suspect it won't be open to the wanderings of curious tourists.  Although it is a skeleton now its current state speaks to its history and I find it hard to believe that the restoration will truly do justice to the original majesty of the hotel when the French reigned in Cambodia.  It is history before our eyes and soon it will be whitewashed and the importance of the Bokor will be harder to appreciate.

Canon 1D X, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f8, HDR of 1/20, 1/10, 1/5, 0.4, and 0.8 sec @ 100 ISO

Friday, December 7, 2012

2012, Day 341 - Time for a sacrifice

I couple weeks ago I posted an image from atop Pre Rup and tonight we revisit the site.  Built in the 10th century from brick and red stone, Pre Rup was used primarily for cremations.  Normally the late afternoon light only serves to heighten the rusty color of this temple but as the sun dipped towards the horizon the colors began to soften.  It wasn't long before we were living buffets for mosquitoes but the clouds and sky kept getting better and better.  With the help of OnOne's Perfect Effects I was able to drain almost all of the warmth from this picture and create the somber and funereal effect I sought.

Canon 1D X, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f11, merged layers of 1/250 and 1/30 sec @ 100 ISO

Thursday, December 6, 2012

2012, Day 340 - Sky temple

This is the view of the third tier of Angkor Wat from the terrace on the second tier.  The name Angkor Wat actually refers to a city temple where the two are one in the same but the beautiful morning clouds make it look like some celestial palace.  The size is really awe inspiring and the stairs to the top are even more steep than they look.  A second set of wooden stairs has been built atop the existing stone on one side to allow for a safer ascent.  It is still steep and though the climb only takes a minute it can be brutal once the sun hits the stairs.  The purpose of the steep stairs is to remind those climbing that they are rising closer to the divine and that is certainly the impression one gets visiting these amazing temples.

Canon 1D X, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f4, Merged layers of 1/3200 and 1/800 @ 100 ISO

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

2012, Day 339 - Still waters

Kep is a small coastal town on the Gulf of Thailand.  Originally a French resort town, Kep lost ground to Sihanoukville in the 60s and then was largely abandoned when the Khmer Rouge came to power.  Today the waterfront is home to some large hotels and picnic sites but many of the houses are ruined shells.  Once abandoned they are now owned predominantly by property speculators waiting for the market to peak in order to get top dollar.

We arrived after a morning of playing with salt and pepper to walk along the waterfront.  The clouds were remarkable and the ocean was a startling blue; a nice contrast to the muddy rivers from all the recent rainfall. There was a refreshing breeze and took a little edge off the sun's heat and we happened upon the ruins of a pier.  I took a few pictures but continued on with Araceli and Francene but I couldn't get the image out of my mind.  When we stopped for lunch I grabbed my tripod and headed back to take a few long exposures with the help of my handy neutral density filter.  It allowed me to extend the exposure and give the water that smooth look.  I love the beautiful calm of Kep, it won't be a sleepy fishing town forever but this is how I will remember it.

Canon 1D X, Canon 24-70/f2.8L Mark II
24mm, f16, 10 sec @ 100 ISO

2012, Day 338 - Religious solitude

These are some of the ruins at Wat Ek Phnom just outside of Battambang.  It is an interesting temple complex is part because there is a new temple that is built directly in front of the old crumbling one.  Built in the 11th century Wat Ek Phnom is not a very popular temple with tourists but it is frequently used by locals who come and picnic along the ancient baray, a large man-made body of water, filled with lilies.

When we visited there were a few other foreigners exploring the site but it was mostly unused.  The altar in the ruins is partially intact and the stubs of incense indicate that many people still climb the tumbled stones to pray.  It is a place suitable for quiet contemplation as it is off the beaten track so there is little to intrude on your meditations.  Wat Ek Phnom was the first of many temple ruins we visited and although it was not the most impressive it is a much more peaceful site than many we explored.

Canon 1D X, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f5.6, HDR of 1/200, 1/100, 1/50, 1/25, and 1/13 sec @ 100 ISO

Monday, December 3, 2012

2012, Day 337 - Modern farming

Cambodia is still a largely agricultural country.  When the Khmer Rouge took power part of their plan for independence was to force people out of the cities and make them into farmers.  Sadly, the the decimation of half the population through execution of the seditious or by forced labor, left the country still unable to feed itself.  People were starving and the leaders were too preoccupied with quashing opposition to do anything about it.

Now, decades later, many Cambodians are subsistence farmers and the average annual wage is about $1,500 when measured against the US dollar.  The economy is getting ready to explode but I think one of the big worries is to keep the growth responsible and sustainable.  Despite the opportunities for economic development I doubt we are going to see water buffalo disappear from the agricultural landscape any time soon.

Canon 1D X, Canon 70-200/f2.8L IS Mark II
200mm, f4, 1/400 sec @ 100 ISO

2012, Day 336 - The monk and the dancers

Angkor Wat is not just a place that foreign tourists visit, monks from all over Cambodia come too to absorb the majesty.  This monk and his companions traveled down from near the Thai border to see the temples at Angkor.  He was accompanied by a younger monk with greater seniority on his trip.  It sounded like he came to the monastery late in life; it may be that he is a widower who has looked to a retirement of a religious nature.

I took a series of candid shots but he and his companion later posed for us.  It was very kind of them to indulge us but they were so wooden and unnatural looking that I much prefer these.  The carvings on the walls depict Apsara, celestial dancers who inhabit clouds and water.  When clustered together the Apsara become divine guardians and here they serve to protect the mountain temple that is Angkor Wat.

Canon 1D X, Canon 70-200/f2.8L IS Mark II
200mm, f4, 1/250 sec @ 100 ISO

Saturday, December 1, 2012

2012, Day 335 - Benevolence

This is Bayon, the temple at the center of King Jayavarman VII's capital.  Built in the 12th century, Bayon is known for the serene smiling faces that adorn the towers.  Some scholars believe that the faces may be those of Jayavarman himself as it would not have been unusual for the king to be given a divine status; other scholars have suggested that the faces represent the Bodhisattva of compassion.  It was the last temple to be built in Angkor and was, when constructed, almost entirely Buddhist although it has since been modified by later Hindu and Buddhist monarchs.

This was the first temple we visited at the Angkor complex.  Araceli and I arrived in Siem Reap at about noon while Brian and Nicole had arrived the day prior.  Mr. Mony did not allow us to waste and he picked us up in the afternoon, took us to buy our temple passes, and then we went straight to Angkor Thom and this magnificent temple.  This is taken from one of the courtyards outside the temple proper and here you can see the entrance and the lichen covered faces looking benevolently out in the four cardinal directions.  Near the stairs to the main entrance you can see a member of the temple security staff walking away which may help to give you a sense of scale.  While Bayon is not a large temple it is still a huge structure composed of thousands of carefully laid stone blocks that have endured for almost nine centuries.

The smiling faces that adorn the towers really do give Bayon a warm inviting feeling.  It suggests that all are welcome and it was an amazing way to be initiated into the majesty of Angkor.

Canon 1D X, Canon 24-70/f2.8L Mark II
24mm, f5.6, merged layers of 1/100, 1/25, and 1/13 sec @ 100 ISO

2012, Day 334 - Just a facade

Tonight we return to Beng Mealea.  I can't get enough of this temple and the more I look at the images the more enchanted I become.  This is a small courtyard outside one of the large antechambers.  Tumbled stones are littered across the ground and trees have a death grip on the buildings but I still marvel that a structure built in the 12th century is still so intact.  Beng Mealea was abandoned to the jungle for hundreds of years and except where the trees have demolished sections the walls still stand straight and true.  There is no discernible settling even though it stands on silty soil and is surrounded by a lotus pond.  The architects and builders of these temples possessed a skill equal to our own the the kings that commissioned these holy sites possessed the patience required to ensure that they would last for centuries.

When I look at this photograph I can feel the humid around me, smell the damp earth that gives the trees and moss so much sustenance and the mellow scent of decaying wood, and hear the steady drone of the cicadas punctuated by the calls of birds.  If you have the opportunity to visit these temples I urge you to go, once you've been there the experience will be emblazoned on your mind forever.  These are living places with their own heart beat and if you listed carefully you can hear it but only if you allow yourself to be lost in the moment, to truly experience the place and not just see it.  To only see Beng Mealea or any of the temples is like that door, it is artificial, there is so much more than what you see, you need to allow yourself to take  in the whole experience otherwise it is just a facade.

Canon 1D X, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f5.6, HDR of 1/50, 1/25, 1/13, 1/6, and 0.3 sec @ 100 ISO