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Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

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Perhaps one of the most photogenic of the Angkor Wat temples, Ta Prohm was left pretty much as it was found intertwined with the jungle. Even though it has been cleared a little to allow for people to visit the various sections of the temple complex, it still has that “swallowed by the jungle” look and feel.

Ta Prohm was built by Jayavarman VII as a Buddhist monastery and university. It is built in the Bayon style of the 12th and 13th century, and is similar in design to the Bayon. It has modern notoriety due to its use in the Laura Croft Tomb Raider movie.

And yes, you can get a shot of the doorway (along with about several hundred other people) from the movie. Critical to getting a good shot is your willingness to get close as possible so to be able to get the shot of the doorway without other’s getting in the way. I found a spot to the front and to the left to be the best location from which to shoot.

Like all the temple sites within the Angkor Wat Archaeological Park, you will be asked to show your pass to the guards at the entrance to the site. You will also be surrounded by kids and some adults eager to sell you trinkets and such.

At first when you enter the site, there doesn’t seem to be much to see. There are a few out buildings and the like, but as you proceed into the site, it seemings to unfold and the photogenic qualities of the location become obvious to the trained eye.

There isn’t necessarily one special spot to photograph – unless you are a fan of the Tomb Raider movie, there is the doorway that the crowd of folks definitely photograph!

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I found that you often had to wait as groups of tourist would pass through, so often you will find yourself in a location for a shot and having to wait for others to filter through. You will find that the groups come through with little space or time, so getting setup and waiting for the shot is critical. The time between tourist groups will work against you if you find yourself having to setup your camera for each shot.

I found the mix of the Khmer architecture and the jungle to be beautiful and took a lot of photographs. Even with all the possibilities, you will end up with your favorites. The old adage, not all photographs are equal, will be critical here. There are just so many shots, but you will find yourself gravitating to only a couple as they all begin to look similar to one another.

So looking for the unique and different becomes the clarion call for photographing this temple complex.

We spent several hours here (against the better judgment of our tour guide), and I was not disappointed with the shots I got here. For me personally, it matched the possibilities for photographs that I found at nearby Banteay Kdei temple with a similar mix of temple and jungle.

The difference being that Ta Prohm is a much larger complex and so there was always just one more photograph to take!

I found that my 24-70mm lens served me best at this location. I did try my telephoto lens (70-200mm, but found myself shooting at the 70mm end). The structures are close together and with the trees coming out of the temple buildings, I found that my wide angle lens, the 16-35mm was too wide to do justice to the location. The only concern I had here was that there were so many people walking all around that it is difficult to setup a tripod. So many shots I took were hand held. As you truly are in a jungle, the light requires either for you to use a slow shutter speed, or increase the ISO setting to get decent shots.

Other Posts in this Series "Angkor Wat"

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Next Post: Bucket List: Angkor Wat


David Cote is a landscape and travel photographer who makes stunning photographs of beautiful locations around our wonderful world. When not selling photography at art shows or online, he can be found sharing his love and knowledge of photography with others who love photography.

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David Cote

Back in 1982, my Air Force roommate was in desperate need of some cash, and he had a camera. And I was in the market for a camera as I had TDY (Temporary Duty) orders for Cyprus and was looking for a good camera to take with me. So over some beers and some negotiations with my roommate (and a few hundred dollars later), I found that I had become the owner of a brand spanking new Canon AE-1 camera with an assortment of lens, including a Canon 50mm, a 35mm lens, as well as a telephoto lens. Fast forward to today, and I am now an owner of a Canon 5D Mark II (looking to upgrade, but waiting to see if Sony comes out with a 'A9' before I upgrade) and a bunch of Canon glass and I am primarily a landscape photographer. Yea, that means that I get up before the sun rises and am out after the sun sets. Makes for interesting times! Thank you for joining me on this photographic journey and hope to hear from you!

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