The iconic shot in Siem Reap is the sunrise at Angkor Wat temple with temple reflected in the one of the ponds.  The photography aspect of this shot is quite simple.  What we didn’t realize is that this particular sunrise shot is extremely popular, even to non-photographers.

Leaving the hotel in the pitch black at 4:45am, we arrived at the temple complex as it was opening at 5am. Streams of people made their way across the grounds using smartphones to light their way in the dark. It was more a scene from a rock concert audience than a revered temple.

Thank goodness we had hired Alessandro (the Italian Professional Photographer) who could guide us to the proper location. As the first pond edge was already full of people, we headed to the second pond.  We set up with our tripod legs in the edge of the water. There was no way we were letting anyone get in front of us.

It was an hour before we could even make out the temple outline in the sky. By that time the crowd was 4 deep behind us.


Colors of sunrise over Ankor Wat


Colors of sunrise with the sky

Here is a quick iPhone shot that Jeff took as we walked away. it doesn’t capture those lined up on the walkway, or the steps, or the bridge, or the other pond.

Jeff's iPhone photo of some of the sunrise crowd

Jeff’s iPhone photo of some of the sunrise crowd

In the end, it was worth waiting for the light.