It was my first night in Cambodia, and I was in a restaurant ordering an authentic Cambodian dinner:
“I’ll have the Amok Curry. Which is it better with; fish or beef?”
“Fieef”, the waitress said.
“What was that again?” I said, “fish or beef?”.
“Fieeef”, she replied.
“Ok. That sounds good. I’ll have that.” I said.
I like surprises, and Cambodia would be full of them.
One of the big surprises was the Cambodian people. I’d read about how it was not safe to travel at night, and given their war-torn history, I was expecting a crime ridden, battle-hardened, every-man-for-himself culture. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Cambodians are genuinely friendly, honest and have a strong sense of community. If you ask to take a picture of someone, you almost always get a positive response.
I brought my Nikon D300, 18-200mm VR and a 10.5mm Fisheye. While that two-lens combination works well when I need an ultralight setup, I would have been better served with a 12-24mm and 50-150mm combination. I pulled out the 10.5mm Fisheye whenever I needed something wider than 18mm (which was often), but the fisheye look gets old really quickly if you use it too much. The 12-24mm would have been better here, and when I needed more reach, it would have been a quick and easy swap for the Sigma 50-150mm out of my shoulder bag. I might have just thrown the fisheye into the bag as well because a fisheye is just too much fun!
I did convert some shots to black and white. My visit to the S21 Tuol Sleng torture prison was a very sobering experience, and I felt that black and white was the way to convey that feeling across.
I couldn’t have made my Angkor Wat sunrise shot without a tripod. A small tripod is certainly nice to have with you, and I brought along the Slik Sprint Mini with RRS BH-25 Ballhead.
I’ve been getting comfortable using high ISOs with my D300. For night shots, I’ve been cranking up the ISOs. I will use ISO 3200 if the shot needs it, but it is pushing it. ISO 2000 yields very good results, and is my current high ISO ‘limit’. Adobe Lightroom does a pretty good job dialing down the color and luminance noise.
And in case you were wondering what I was served that first night in Cambodia, it was beef.