Black and White Travel Photography Ideas from Cambodia
Battambang is described by Cambodia guidebooks as an attractive sleepy town with a few attractions nearby.
After the tourist hell of Angkor Wat and not knowing how touristy and commercial Thailand (my next stop) will be I decided to stop over for a few days.
They were not lying, not a whole lot going on in Battambang but it is an OK place to relax and even take some low key, practice photos (no, not trying to save face with that comment, really).
As usual I started to walk around town randomly stopping at pagodas and taking pictures of what interested me on the way.
The first photo on the top of this post shows a great find; I always hoped to photograph a “statue cemetery” a collection of discarded broken statues; not sure if they actually exist but this scene was a simplified version of that.
This photo has some more closely cropped (and more dramatic) variations as well but I feel this one tells the story best to someone who was not there.
A head of a statue resting on steps against interestingly chipped paint. If travel photography is like a treasure hunt this is a great example of a pay off:
A nice example of a pagoda shot using a circular polarizer filter to darken the sky making the clouds really pop out.
Even though some parts of the pagoda are painted in gold which look good against the deep blue sky, high contrast photos like this look so much better in black and white it is not even really a question whether to convert or not:
Another high contrast black and white photo of a great statue of an elephant next to a pagoda. It was not the easiest composition due to the background being very busy with trees, students, traffic and the fence of the pagoda.
Fortunately most of that clutter got eliminated by taking the photo from almost ground level looking up.
I remember being very conscious of the end of the white curling trunk ending up against the dark sky, if it were against the trees I would not have taken the picture:
This window on the building which houses monks did not look particularly captivating in real life but I felt that the power of black and white version would make the lights, shadows and the upper stone decoration dramatic enough:
This scene has nice colors in real life but this composition is already way too busy for color to distract from a simple viewing experience:
Many times I walk by scenes like this without taking a photo but many times I do remember to click the shutter. After being in Asia for several months I do not want to forget and and I do not want to stop appreciating the most simple details of the everyday life:
Another busy picture which gains simplicity from the removal of colors.
What caught my eyes were the neatly stacked (because everything is neatly stacked in Asia) white cups lit by harsh sunlight. The woman washing vegetables and the boy overlooking the grill add the human element:
Shadows, shapes, lines, textures … if in doubt for best results convert to black and white:
Living area of monks. The water run off on the ground is from the showers which are behind the doors on the left, dishes drying and the entrance to the house on the right:
Mid afternoon, man taking a nap in his hammock on the grounds of a pagoda:
Steps leading up to the living quarters of monks; the foreground is made interesting by the haphazardly put together tiles, some of them have seen better days or centuries:
A sneak peak of what is hidden under the benches of monks, a bowl, letters, envelops … no scandal here:
Monk’s clothes drying; I was interested how the juxtaposition of these elements would look with the added shadows. Would it look too busy or even interesting?
There weren’t many monks around, it was a quiet peaceful afternoon, I was not in a hurry and had ample time to walk around and experiment with different ideas.
And because hats are not supposed to be worn when entering a pagoda (or its grounds) the shade was the best place to contemplate the next shot on this blazingly hot day:
A majestic and powerful head on view of a different pagoda:
As I walked by a courtyard I saw young men in formation (as I later found out) in a drug rehab boot camp. After I went in I noticed it was a police station.
I asked someone if I can take photos, he said yes. I quickly started shooting because I was not trusting that yes to be a valid answer for long.
Few minutes later someone else came up to me and enjoying his moment of power trip told me to stop shooting.
I smiled and left; I got my shots already:
Most boys in Southeast Asia always have wrestling shirts on (really … an overwhelming majority … OK or Power Rangers).
The girls always wear something cute and the faces are always priceless:
Welcome to Battambang! If there could be only one postcard of Battambang, Cambodia this would pretty much sum it up: the river, some parts of the river bank always being worked on and cows: