Hey guys! Ale here. First of all I wanted to announce an exciting new feature on the ATP website – our “Behind the Scenes” look at some of our favourite photographs of Cambodia. With each post we’ll be chatting location, technique, thought-process, composition and camera settings to help you better understand what goes on behind the camera when our images are made. Without further adieu, let’s get started with the first feature!

Behind the Scenes

I’m starting off with my image, “The Drum,” which I made in the incredible village of Kampong Phluk during one of our Beyond Angkor photography tours. Drum ceremonies have been used for centuries in Cambodian Buddhism, particularly in the countryside pagodas where there was traditionally no way to tell the time. One loud banging of the drums would wake up the villagers before sunrise. Another at the end of the day would call back the workers from the rice fields before it became too dark. Nowadays, the ceremonies are more a case of ritual than serving any practical purpose, but are nonetheless fascinating to observe.

On this occasion I witnessed this monk play the drums for around fifteen minutes, with an interval of 1-minute between each beating of the drum – that meant that I had a bit of time to think more carefully about my settings and positioning rather than just rushing to get a shot. I chose to shoot with the excellent Nikon 16-35mm f/4 wide-angle lens and got myself down low to give more energy and dynamism to the scene, whilst also bringing the temple in the background along with the second monk at the far-left of the frame into view. I estimated a shutter speed of 1/200sec to freeze the motion of the drumming monk, and went with single-shot mode because I already knew the precise moment I wanted to capture – the moment when the monk’s arms were at their highest. I got a little lucky when a third monk, the young chap smiling as he emerges from the darkness, wandered right into the photograph at the perfect moment. It’s also quite unusual to see monks smoking, so that made for a rather interesting scene all-round.

Camera Settings

Camera: Nikon D810
Lens: Nikon 16-35mm f/4 AF-S VR

Mode: manual mode
ISO: 400
Aperture: f/4.0
Shutter Speed: 1/200sec
Focal Length: 18mm
Flash: No
Tripod: No
Filters: No
Processing: Adobe Lightroom 6

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