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Now, remember what I’ve told you so far: get in and get the shot that no one else is getting. If you find that’s not hard enough, then may I make a few suggestions to make life more difficult: add Chinese tourists. They can pretty much make anything more difficult. Is it the rudeness? Your finger is on the camera trigger, ready to go, and then someone just 3 inches away from your left ear hawks and spits. Get the shot lined up again, and someone walks in front of your camera. Wait a minute, your tripod was flush with the wall, it was a lot easier to go behind you. But no, someone steps in front of you, tempting you to just put your foot on their fat ass and push them down an eight foot drop into a moat of scummy water in front of Angkor Wat. And when that sun comes up over the horizon, one begins singing, because he’s “the funny guy” of the group. Which in turn prompts “the funny guy” of all the other groups to do the same idiotic thing. Is it any wonder French restaurants in Paris are banning Chinese tourists? If you still got the shot, congratulations, it was actually worth getting up at 0430 to get the classic reflecting landscape shot of Angkor Wat. A few bits and pieces of advice, if you can leave early, do it. You can get to a lot of smaller temples before the bussing hordes arrive and have some of the cooler places all to yourself. The kids selling stuff haven’t arrived either, giving you a few precious moments of relief from the annoyance of telling them to bugger off. I get it, they don’t have any money. And just when you think you’re safe, your tuk tuk driver takes you to a lunch place where the prices turn out to be $5 a dish. This is beyond outrageous, since you get the same thing (in a much more hygienic state) for $1. Save yourself the bother, and bring a snack. Or, get your hotel to make you a boxed lunch, and munch away on a 1000 year old picnic bench. OK, back to the photos. Siem Reap presents you with a lot of difficulties, but you can turn those into learning opportunities. If ever you had a chance for an Indiana Jones style shot (light from above with dust swirling, illuminating a thousand year old object) it’s here. Try everything, and don’t forget to look up, there be clouds. HDR might seem like the solution to everything, but there’s others ways, flash included. Got problems with tourists everywhere? Get an instant perspective change with that tripod you’ve dragged everywhere. Extend it to maximum, and lift it up in the air, triggering your camera with the wireless trigger you brought. Now everything comes from 10 feet in the air, you giant, you. Don’t forget to frame everything that can be framed, through windows, doors, cracks on the walls, and so on. Force yourself to choose your subject in complex lighting conditions, the blazing midday Cambodian sun will force you to make choices. As always, the best conditions are at sunrise and sunset, but you can’t be everywhere at that time, and you’ve only so many days. When you get tired of that crappy Photoshop saturated colour that looks like everyone else’s pictures, show some originality and process it differently, starting with colour curve approximations of Velvia, Superia, Ekatchrome, and so on. Those old pictures look better than your digital pictures for a reason. Thus endeth the lesson. Tomorrow it’s on to Vietnam, Hue style.

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