March's featured Image ~ Cambodian Rice Fields

A fleeting moment is all it takes. One minute a photo doesn't exist, the next second, something has been born that you never, ever expected. largecambodianfields2.jpg

I guess that's what I love about Photography. The surprise, not knowing what is around the corner.

I shot this scene in Cambodia in 2006. It was the rainy season - October to be exact. I'd specifically gone at this time because I knew the sky would be thunderous and dark in the afternoons. As a result of this, the light would often be overcast and soft. Ideal for shooting in the middle of the day.

I find it interesting when people take their camera out on a sunny day because they think the light is great - it's possibly the worst time ever to shoot. When it's sunny, the shadows are deep and hold no detail, and the colour is washed out. Film, or a digital sensor cannot cope with this harshness.

The light during my visit was often overcast and soft. Ideal for shooting in. Yes, the camera sees differently from how you and I see.

I'd made friends with a local driver at the hotel I was staying at. I'd been in Siem Reap for a few days when I asked Deap where he lived. He told me he lived in a little village outside of the city. 'Do any tourists go there?' I asked to which he said that no one went. So I promptly asked him if he could take me there each day after the monsoon had ended.

So this photo was made on the way to Deap's village. Out in the rice fields people were working, and as we tried to drive through the mud slurry on the road I spotted this woman and her child. They were walking on the roadside and just as we passed, they stepped off the edge of the road into a waterway in the fields.

I could already 'visualise' the scene coming together in my mind. I remember tapping Deap on the shoulder and asking him to stop. I ran back to the scene and was lucky that I had the right lens on the camera. One quick click, and I raced back to Deap and his motto and we were off again.

When I got home, my mind was full of memories from the trip, but I have to say, this was one of them that had stood out and I wondered what the film would show. It was a great pleasure to see this shot when the film returned from the lab.

On a technical note, I shot it on a Mamiya 7II with a 150 lens and Kodak Portra 160NC with a Lee 3 stop hard grad.

February's Featured Image ~ Girls Fishing at Sra Sang, Angkor Wat, Cambodia

I’d been in Cambodia for around three weeks and one of the things I tend to do when I go abroad to take photographs is base myself in the same location for extended periods. In Cambodia’s instance, I based myself in Siem Reap for the entire time I was there even though it is so tempting to move around. Don't you feel the need to move and explore more locations? There is this fear that you’re not seeing enough, or that you may be missing a magic image that is only just around the corner, right? Wrong.

Well, I'm not really that black and white about things, but what may be a bland shot today, may not be tomorrow. Many things can change between two visits to the same location; the light may be magical one day and drab the other. On this day two girls decided to go fishing and I'd been patient enough to hang around for a while to see what might happen. It's all about anticipation.


The image was shot at a man made lake called Sra Sang. I'd been coming here on and off over the three weeks. On the morning of this shot, the sky had been thunderous and dark. Alongside this, there was not a breath of wind so I knew the lake would be completely still and the reflections of the thunderstorm would be nicely reflected in the lake. So I headed down here hoping to make some nice landscape shots. I never knew before hand that I was going to get a lovely 'people' image such as this.

Upon arrival, I had the usual greeting from the children there. 'Do you want to buy a bracelet?', 'Do you want to buy a postcard?'. The only thing that had been dropped from the conversation from previous outings was 'How long you you stay?' and 'Where you from?'. These two questions had been answered on my other visits to Sra Sang, and they were just trying their luck that I may buy yet another postcard or bracelet from them.

Anyway, after about a good hour, the children had pretty much got tired of me and I'd started to blend in as a semi-permanent fixture to their day. That's when the magic happened. Two of the girls in the group had gone back to fishing in the lake and because I was now semi-invisible, I was able to approach them and take this shot.

What gets me about it though, Is that I had no idea that I'd get anything like this before I'd turned up that morning. Each day brings it's pleasant surprises in life, and Photography is no exception. I'd gone to take some landscape shots and came back with a 'people' shot that was one of my own personal favourites of the trip......

I feel it works for a few reasons. The light is great, the composition is pleasing. Note how the subjects are leaning from the right into the frame, and they are on the right hand side of the frame. The reflection of the sky in the water makes it look as if they are actually on a ledge, hanging above the clouds. And that's happened because I've isolated the shot. There's nothing else at the sides and top of the frame to anchor the image. You have no reference point..... Plus, I think the rangefinder camera I used allowed me to be more subtle too. I really don't like SLR cameras for people shots because they are too noisy and it becomes hard for me to blend into the background.

But my point is; if I hadn't been repeatedly coming back to this location, I wouldn't have got this shot.

I'm glad I hung around.