Shooting Angkor Wat the right way

Catching sunrise in Angkor Wat

It is not just about Angkor Wat

Well, if you already came shooting pictures to Cambodia, you probably will take photographs of the famous temples, but will you stay with this only. I’m sure you will shoot daily life, countryside, your family or friends enjoying your vacation, etc. Cameras and lenses that I suggest in this blog are useful in every situation.

Make your shooting good with a good camera

I really don’t recommend to use fully automatic “point and shoot” cameras when you can’t adjust almost anything. You will struggle in different light conditions and that is always an issue in temples. You are in a temple where you fight with the lack of light and then you get outside to the bright light of the tropical sun.

It is perfect if you have Canon 5D and professional expensive lenses, but you don’t really need to spend thousands of dollars in order to get good images. A camera like Canon 750D or Nikon D5200 will make a nice job for you as well.

What lenses makes your shooting easier

More important for your shooting than camera body is lenses. You will meet very different environment on your photo tour through the temples. I recommend a set of three lenses that can cover different situations.

A Basic Lens – 17 – 50 mm or 18 – 55 mm, because you can use them everywhere and actually if you don’t want to carry a heavy backpack you can feel comfortable just with this lens.

Wide Angle Lens – (depends, if you have a full frame camera or cropped sensor) 16 – 35 mm or 10 – 24 mm. It is not only good for shooting landscapes but it has a good use in narrow spaces and there is plenty of them in temples.

Telephoto Lens – Sometimes you are far away from a subject or you want to get a close detail, so you will need a telephoto lens like 55 – 250 mm or 70 – 200 mm. It can be very difficult to get close to sculpture that you want to shoot in detail. There are many situations like this in Angkor temples because you are not always allowed to get close enough and if you try, there is a lot of temple guards who will push you back.

It is a very good idea to have lenses with constant aperture, for example, F2.8 than a lens with variable aperture let say F4.5 – 5.6. You’ll be almost all the time in a constantly light changing environment, so wide and fixed aperture will make your shooting much easier.

Angkor Wat Sunrise
Shooting sunrise in Angkor Wat needs a good lens and a firm tripod.

Don’t forget a good tripod for stable and sharp pictures

I would say that eighty percent of the visitors want to shoot sunrise in Angkor Wat and sunset somewhere else. A good tripod is essential in order to get perfect images. Please, for your own good avoid cheap tripods in a range of $20 – $50. Again. You don’t need to spend high money for a professional tripod, but you can expect that steady and light tripod will cost you around $200.

A proper outfit is important in temples

Many people think they go to visit something like a Disneyland. Forget it. You are in temples, the most sacred places for Cambodian people, so, please, respect it.

A shirt or T-shirt which covers your shoulders and trousers that cover your knees is necessary. That is even more important for women. Be aware that when you buy your entrance pass, they watch you and if you don’t have a proper outfit you will be sent straight back to your hotel to change it. Ladies should know that guards usually don’t accept a scarf to cover your shoulders or your legs.

Also, Cambodia is a conservative country, people don’t kiss each other in public and it is recommended that you avoid this kind of behavior in temples.

You are in a tropical country. Don’t forget your hat and a raincoat.

Sunset above a broken tree
Shooting sunset in Cambodia can be wonderful even without temples.