Upcoming Trip to Cambodia!

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My daughter is spending the year in the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and we (my wife and I) are planning to visit her over the Christmas holidays.

My daughter (and I) have wanted to visit Cambodia and this trip to Korea seemed to be the perfect opportunity!

So we are going to visit two locations in Cambodia, Siem Reap and Koh Rong Samloen.

Siem Reap

Siem Reap, for those who may not know, is the town which sits next to the area known as Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is the city/temple complexes built by the Khmer people of Cambodia between 900 CE to 1300 CE. The area covers just over 400 square miles of jungle with temples and ancient cities and monasteries. It is the largest complex of religious structures in the world, and is the location of the Laura Craft Tomb Raider film (filmed at Ta Prohm temple).

We have plans for a day trip with a tuk tuk and a guide, and will be visiting the following sites (not necessarily in this order):

  • Angkor Wat proper
  • Angkor Thom
  • The Bayon
  • Preah Kahn
  • Ta Prohm
  • Ta Nei
  • Ta Keo

Apparently, from what I have read already, ‘Ta’ is the Khmer word for temple. So you can see that much of what is here to offer are temples to various Hindu deities.  Many of these temples were converted into Buddhist temples, however much of the Hindu nature of the locations remain.

We choose to do a tuk tuk tour as this is our first time visiting, and although I’d love to rent a bike and explore, it is good to have someone give us a sense of what is here and to hit the majority of the locations I wanted to photograph.  As this is both a pleasure trip and a photography trip, I have to work within the time frames given me, and we arrive in Siem Reap on Saturday evening and fly out late Monday morning.

So I considered that the tuk tuk tour would provide me the biggest bang for my limited time frame.  And maybe, I will be lucky enough to return and visit again, and if so, then I will already have a sense of what I want to photograph.

There will be two opportunities for sunrise photographs (one will be of course Angkor Wat among the thousands of other tourist gathered!) as well as two sunrises.  It is the sunrises I need to figure out where I want to be. So I do have some planning to do!

Koh Rong Samloen

Koh Rong Samloen is one of the major islands off the coast of Cambodia, and is about a 45 minutes boat ride from Sihanoukville. We are planning on staying at Saracen Bay and will visit the other areas, like Lazy beach (isn’t that a wonderful name for a beach?) on the island which are all within walking distance.  This island has at least three different spellings, so if this spelling looks different from what you see on maps, just beware that there isn’t a consistent spelling.  This has made planning difficult as I have had to double and triple check to make sure that I have the right location for my reservations!  So I have chosen to settle for this spelling, I like it, but not sure if the locals will.  Not that they really care, just as long as I show up and enjoy the views and hospitality!

My  daughter wanted to visit this island, so we are all going together. The island is known for its beaches and has great sunset and sunrises, so I am really hoping to capture some great photographs!

Planning

As always, I plan for these kinds of trips, and I will share with you all my planning as I prepare for my trip to Cambodia. My initial concern is my camera equipment.

Camera Equipment

I currently have a Canon 5D Mark II and no, I haven’t upgraded yet as I am not sure which camera I want to upgrade to. I have three great choices – the Canon 5Dsr, the Canon 5D Mark IV, and the Sony A7rII.

So I am currently renting the Sony A7rII to determine if it will be usable for my style of shooting and my lens kit.

I will follow this with renting the Canon 5DSr, and then the Canon 5D Mark IV.

I will look at the images I get, and determine which of the three cameras I will rent to go along with my 5D Mark II to Cambodia.

I consider my trip to Cambodia to be the “final job interview” to help me decide if the camera I choose is a suitable replacement to my 5D Mark II which has done me well over the past four years.

As a side note, I decided not to upgrade to the 5D mark III as I didn’t consider it to be significant enough of an upgrade to warrant the cost. I did try out the 5D mark III, I used it to shoot a wedding and to take some landscapes, and it was a step up from the Mark II, but not enough for what I shoot, which is primarily landscapes.
I did consider the Canon 6D, and even rented one and took it to Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, but again, not enough of a significant benefit over the 5D mark II.

So I decided to hold out and wait. And I have been really tempted by the Sony, but as of yet I remain unconvinced. I did test the Sony A7r and was impressed, but it didn’t work as well with non-Sony lens as I wanted it to.

Now with improved focusing system and IBIS (in body image stabilization) I am hoping that this version will be a significant improvement over the A7r body.

Some may ask why didn’t I try the Sony A7r II earlier, and the rationale I use is that I wanted to compare it against the 5D mark IV.

Before the 5D Mark IV, Canon came out with the 50 MP monster, the 5DSr. And I really wanted to check it out, but again, wanted to wait until the 5D Mark IV.

Now that it is out, I want to check all three cameras back to back to back so that I can make a decision on which one I want to take to Cambodia, and ultimately, which one I want to pick up. As I use my cameras for years, I want to ensure that I have the best camera for what I shoot and how I shoot.

Regardless of manufacturer!

Oh, and I will write about all three and which one I decided to bring with me to Cambodia for the final interview!

Photography Planning

I will write separate articles about each tool I use to plan out my trip and photography shots. But just wanted to quickly go over the tools I am using and explain my rationale for using them.

The first tool I use is Microsoft OneNote. I use OneNote to collect websites and hand written notes (I have a Microsoft Surface 3 with the pen, so I can create hand written notes). I like using OneNote as I can create easy handwritten notes, take captures from webpages, or even complete webpages, and make annotations. I also can use OneNote on my Samsung Note 4 (I was going to upgrade to the Note 7, but we know how those upgrade plans went – up in smoke 😉 as well as on my desktop. This is my collector of information, if you will.

My second tool is The Brain. This piece of software allows you to in a sense create a mind map, but it is more comprehensive than that. I can attach my OneNote files, Excel spreadsheets, images, etc. to any “thought” I create in my “Brain.” It is a really unique tool in that it allows you to link thoughts together and across different thought groups. It is an excellent organizer of material and thoughts. And I can use it across all my devices, my Surface 3, my desktop and my Note 4.

My third tool I use is Google Earth. This is an important tool as I can get right down at “street level” and look around the various sites at Angkor Wat or on the island and determine from where I want to take photographs, and allows me to see what obstacles I might have to account for on-site. This info I will also include in my Brain so that I can access it on-site.

My fourth tool I use is the Photographer’s Ephemeris, which I use to see what the sun will look like in terms of angles and locations on the horizon if I am looking at either sunrise or sunset. This info will go into my Brain that I can access from anywhere!

So hopefully I will have a lot to share with you all in the next two months, and you will find it interesting as well. I am planning on doing some instructional videos showing how I use all these tools together so you can see what I do and how I use it all in my planning and once I am on site how all this information helps me to obtain the best photographs possible.

This is a lot to take in, but I hope that you are up for the action; I can’t wait to get into all of this with you! Thanks!

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