As Cambodia has grown in popularity with international tourists, the image of the sun rising behind the towers of Angkor Wat has firmly cemented itself as the country’s most iconic image (the temple is so revered, in fact, it is emblazoned on the national flag of Cambodia). Standing at the edge of the reflecting pool in the early hours, witnessing the day’s first light has become a right of passage for the those exploring the vast ruins of Angkor.

You might expect the ATP team would be a little tired of dragging our butts out of bed before the roosters have even begun to stir, having hosted photography workshops in Cambodia for almost 10 years now! Far from it. We believe each sunrise is a unique and unrepeatable spectacle, with its own opportunities. But what makes each sunrise so different?

First off, you never know what show Mother Nature has in store for you, and with the weather conditions varying so wildly from wet to dry season, there is always a chance of seeing something truly unique. The position of the sun changes day by day, sweeping north to south (via east, of course) throughout the year, with the equinoxes of March and September marking the two busiest days on the calendar as the sun rises precisely behind the central spire of the main temple. Then there can be the human element, perhaps a Buddhist monk, or just a helpful chap who brings you coffee so that your brain can work your camera a little better. No two sunrises are truly ever the same.

We’ve been lucky enough to be present for more than our fair share of stunning starts to the day. As we look forward to welcoming back guests as Cambodia opens its doors to foreign tourists again, we wanted to share some of our favourite sunrises of the last decade.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

1 – The classic sunrise at Angkor Wat, nothing fancy here, just a sky on fire…

2 – Starry skies are common in the dry season, and rain clouds are regularly found from May to November. On lucky mornings you might find both.

3 – Sometimes the weather doesn’t exactly play ball. Wind and rain made the famous reflection barely visible on this morning, forcing an outside the box approach to capture something different.

4 – Angkor Wat is a prime candidate for large print. This panoramic is formed from 4 photos taken vertically on a high megapixel camera, and is now ready to fill a billboard (or melt a computer).

5 – While you’re more likely to find throngs of tourists at the famous reflection pools, the resident Buddhist monks can still be found marvelling at the sunrise if you look carefully.

6 – Often the best opportunities come right after rain, with fiery skies making for excellent opportunities to dabble in low key fine art pieces like this.

7 – Cambodia has never been famed for its punctuatlity; here it seems night and day are not entirely sure what time the shift change was meant to be. 

8 – In especially wet years, so much rain falls that the reflecting pools can overflow into the surrounding lowland, creating the opportunity to capture sweeping reflections like this,

9 – Sometimes you’ll get a sky that just screams “Go wide!”. We did just that with this 5-frame panorama. Candy floss, anyone?

10 – The reflection is the famous part, right? Well, here it is. No temple necessary. This is another example of creative thinking leading to a unique image of a much photographed place.

Let us know what you think in the Comments Section below… Do you have a favourite? 

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