Turning a Landscape into a Portrait: When a Person Makes the Picture

IMG_0032This morning the five of us who were in Siem Reap early for my Cambodia and Burma photo safari decided to get a head start with a sunrise shoot at one of the royal reservoirs. Then we hopped across the road to one of the less visited but still beautiful temples, Banteay Kdei. As an unexpected treat the Buddha shrine at the center of the temple had been recently decorated with offerings and even better a Khmer woman was kneeling in prayer.

What a great photo op. Her presence helped turn a relatively mundane “scenic” of the shrine into a poignant image of Cambodian life. Then her two small children came tumbling into the scene, putting on a show for us. We had only one problem. Like many Cambodians the woman was so polite that she kept trying to pull her children out of our way so they wouldn’t “ruin” the photo! Of course we were all delighted to have them in the scene and wanted to take full advantage of it. A few gestures and some help from our local guide later she was laughingly letting them be boys.

This Khmer boy certainly didn’t taking being in a holy shrine very seriously.
Banteay Kdei, Canon SD1300IS, Portrait Mode

I had my Infrared D70 on the tripod and my tiny Canon SD1300IS in my pocket and experimented using each of them to capture the moment. In particular I wanted to see how the Canon did at capturing this type of quick action in low light.

Infrared D70 Converted by LifePixel
Converted to Black & White using nik SIlverEfex Pro
Banteay Kdei, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Aside from the touching experience and some fun photographs the best part was that the entire event was genuine. Neither the woman or her children wanted anything from us although both of the boys loved looking at their images in the camera LCDs and the smaller one loved trying out Betty’s point and shoot. What a great way to start a trip!


Betty kicks off her workshop experience by giving some tips of her own
to a Khmer boy whose mother was worshipping at a Buddhist shrine.