Photography Workflow

One question that quite a few people ask is "What do you do to your photos?..." It's not always a straight forward answer, but I figured it deserved a blog post to go over my photography workflow. So I'll try to explain it and hopefully not bore everyone, but keep in mind you are reading the words of a big nerd.

Actually, after starting to write this up I realized it's probably too much info (and would get way too boring) for one post so I'll break it out into several posts that will link from here.

Also as a blank statement for all these posts, I'm not a pro, I'm just a guy with a camera who likes taking photos, nothing more.

Getting The Shot
Post Processing


A Tough Place to Visit

Typically we've gone to places where you leave with a smile on your face, Tuol Sleng isn't one of those places. I decided to explore this site alone since Abby had visited it about 8 years ago and didn't feel she needed to go again. Before going I didn't quite grasp the full extent of why she didn't want to return, now I perfectly understand.

I hopped on the back of a moto-taxi, a.k.a. the back of a scooter, and told the guy to take me to Tuol Sleng, 3000 reil ($.75) later I was at the barbed wire gates of Tuol Sleng. In a one sentence overview: Tuol Sleng was a high school that was used as a prison by the Khmer Rouge during the mid to late 1970's and is now a museum of the genocidal acts that took place there. Even knowing that I don't think I was completely prepared for how I would feel seeing the place.

In 'Building A' there are 10 rooms similar to the one above. They were former classrooms that the Khmer Rouge used to torture prisoners. I visited each room and just stood there with an indescribable wave of emotions passing over me. The place just had a very erie feeling about it. Maybe it was the lack of people visiting at this time or the fact that a lot of the rooms were left very similar to the way they were found, but it just had a very strange sense about it.

I continued to wander through the other buildings (4 in total; Building A, B, C, D). Building A and those first few rooms were the most intense for me, followed by the cells where the inmates were kept.

All things considered I'm glad I was able to experience this place and I hope that it will make us all learn from it.


A Walk Around Preah Khan

Since a photo doesn't always explain what it's like to visit a place I decided to put together a little video of the Preah Khan Temple.


Khmer Thanksgiving

Well it's Thanksgiving and we're in Phnom Penh. We decided we'd head out for some traditional Khmer/Cambodian food.

Khmer Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving feast:
Spicy Chicken Stir Fry with Rice - chicken in a Kroeung paste (lemongrass, garlic, turmeric with red chilies)
Khmer Chicken Curry with Rice - chicken pieces with potato in a red coconut curry, with a overwhelmingly strong fish taste (possibly an oyster sauce)
2009 ViƱa Maipo Carmenere - a rather good medium bodied red with some hints of spicy chilies, one of the nicest wines we've had on the trip given our limited budget
Mango with Sticky Rice - fresh mango slices with sticky rice drizzled in sweet coconut milk

Overall not a bad Thanksgiving, the chicken curry wasn't exactly bad, but it wasn't good. Thankfully the wine was good and along with the mango and sticky rice it made for a nice evening.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

For our final day of touring Angkor we got up early and headed out as the sun was coming up. Fortunately we were able to explore the countryside and some further out temples with basically no crowds and with relatively cool temperatures. Unfortunately it wasn't until the last day that we discovered how great the early morning hours were for touring the area.

We hired a tuk-tuk to drive us the 30 km (19 miles) from Siem Reap to Banteay Srei. It's a relatively small temple about 25 km from the main Angkor temples, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in its intricate red sandstone designs. On our way out we got to see some of the beautiful countryside that surrounds Siem Reap. The golden rice fields, small villages on stilts and the friendly Khmer people. Once we got to Banteay Srei we found a mostly deserted temple basking in the newly risen sunlight. It really had a magical feel to it.

Temple Outlines

We rounded out the day exploring a few of the remaining Angkor temples we hadn't seen in the days before. Enjoying the early morning so much from the day before we got up the next day as the sun was coming up for a nice run. We ran out on some unoccupied side roads and ran back with a mass of scooters and cyclists heading into Siem Reap, it was fun being able to pass the slower moving ones.

We really enjoyed Siem Reap and the Angkor area. There are so many things to explore and the smaller size of the city made it really easy to get around and we both loved getting back on a bike.


Tragic Event in Cambodia

We'd both like to express our sadness for the lives lost on Monday night's water festival in Phnom Penh. Our thoughts are with their families and friends.

For more information on the tragic event...

Back on the Bike, Angkor Style

Heading for Siem Reap Ross and I had a very smooth border crossing into Cambodia, there are still a lot of scams out there (scam buses and overpriced visas) but doing a little research on internet goes a long way. Armed with information we took a bus from Bangkok's Northern Terminal to the boarder, ignored all of the touts and tuk tuk drivers trying to tell you you need this form or that, and then grabbed a taxi to our guesthouse in Siem Reap. All in all a very smooth entrance into The Kingdom of Cambodia and Siem Reap, the gateway to the Angkor temples.

Lucky for us we arrived during Bonn Om Tuk. The 'water festival' is celebrated every year when the current of the Tonle Sap, which swells so much during rainy season that it actually pushes water upstream, reverses and flows back into the Mekong River. Boat racing, an illuminated boat parade, and fireworks were celebrated all along the banks of the river. At night the locals also purchase small boats which they light with incense and float down the river to symbolize sending all of their troubles away. We caught quite a few of the races, ate at the street stalls set up for the festivals, and enjoyed the contagious energy of all the fans.

We decided to pick up a 3 day pass to the Angkor area so that we would have plenty of time to explore. We chose to rent bikes our first day and we loved it so much that we got them again on our second day. It has been over two months without getting on a bike so we were really excited to ride. There are bike rental shops everywhere here and so many of the locals ride bikes it is very easy, even in busy traffic, to get around. It also helps that the area around the temples is super flat so you can easily cruise all day and take in a lot of the sites. It also beats walking because it is hot here, really hot, and on the bikes you get a nice breeze.

On day 1 we started with the famous Angkor Wat. The temples are so old (some dating back to the 9th century), incredibly ornate (the stone carvings are amazingly detailed), and of such scale (there are over 1000 temples in the area) that you can't helped but be in awe.

After touring Angkor Wat we made our way around to several of the temples that comprise Angkor Thom.

Faces of Bayon II

On Day 2 we decided to head out in the late afternoon to catch the sunset at Angkor Wat. We got a great view and also got to see all of the locals come out to have family picnics in front of the temples on their Sunday evening. Cruising around on a bike in Cambodia is awesome!

More to come for day 3...