Day by Day in Phnom Penh

Back home, exhausted and a bit deflated. Four days of photography and a couple of work days had my mind buzzing in a way it hasn’t for some time. Stopping dead after a 6 day high is tough. Firstly I’d like to commend the high standards of training Cathay Pacific give to their crew. On my flight back from Singapore the attendant clearing away my “food” tray managed to drop it. There was stuff on the floor, on the table, in the seat’s magazine rack, on the arm of the seat……… everywhere but on me. A splendid trick worthy of Cirque du Soleil. I wonder whether the next person to sit in 17G will enjoy the tomato I spotted nestling in the entertainment guide.

Now I am going back through my images with a little more time.  A lot of “picks” are now clear “rejects” but after reviewing day one here are three that made the cut.




And yes, they are all in black and white but no they are not shot with the Leica. We worked in monsoon rains that afternoon and the Leica went back in the bag. The M9 is a fine camera by any standards but weatherproof it is not. So my back-up camera was the Fuji X100. I shot in RAW and jpeg simultaneously but each of these is a RAW converted to DNG and then processed in LR4 and finished off in CS6 for resizing and saving to web.

The tuk tuk shot is not my normal sort of image but nevertheless I kind of liked this. Most drive past shots get binned. They seem like a good idea at the time but usually fail to look even remotely interesting when I review them. The 35mm equivalent lens means the main focal area is quite small but it gives a decent sense of driving through the flooded streets.

The day two review will follow…………


I love Cam-bo-dia

I am on a photography workshop at the moment in Phnom Penh. What a fabulous place. I’m shooting with 5 others- we are 2 instructors, 4 clients. I want to do this justice when I return, but here is just a sniff of what we are doing.

Tough Guy


Trainee Tough Guy


The Would-be Moll


These are all young people from a local school, helping us learn. They are simply delightful kids, bursting with energy, fun and always playing up to the camera. With a few reflective moments in between, for them and us.

This is such a different environment from what we are used to. These youngsters have little in material terms but seem unequivocally happy. Their smiles are natural and infectious. I just happened to pick a few shots that look a little more sombre but in reality they had a ball and were rewarded with drinks and ice creams.

More when I return. I’d love to get some feedback from you before I leave on Sunday evening.

Here comes the rain again

Our weather is pretty poor for wildlife photography at present. There are dry interludes but I am not minded to venture far knowing that at any moment the heavens may open and I, and more importantly my gear, will be soaked. Furthermore I am going through something of a crisis of confidence at present. Whilst I have taken some ok images recently I can’t point to anything that says to me I am really making much headway. The balance is still tipped firmly towards the technical with little at the creative or aesthetic end of the spectrum. I have contemplated quite seriously giving up on my nature shots. Partly with this in mind I have been out a couple of times with my wife on shopping trips. Whilst she shops, I wander round the back streets, never more than 5 minutes from cover, taking pictures in the wet market. Here are a few of my shots and as you will see I continue to favour black and white over colour.

Whet whet whet


The Vendor


The Tattoo

I apologise to the lady in this image above. It is not flattering but I liked the reaction of the two passers-by and the tattoos are striking. I hope she would not be offended.

The tomato man


Winding down




The final image is of a lady beating an effigy with a shoe. The customers pay her to ‘put a curse’ on someone and the beating is part of the ritual. My wife tells me it used to cost HK$60 but I can’t vouch for whether or not inflation has caught up with the black arts in the same way that it has with the pak choi.

Beating out the curse

This last shot was taken at ISO 1600 with the M9 and shows clearly its limitations. To be fair it is also a crop. I could have done much better with the Canon 5D3 but the M9 is almost invisible by comparison. It is simply a trade-off.

You will notice that one colour image crept in. Well the hair didn’t stand out well in monochrome and although I would have preferred to see more of the gentleman’s face don’t you just love the bokeh from the 90mm Summi at F2?

So the question now is do I go back and try again for better bug shots or back to black and white ‘street photography’. Please, no arguments about what constitutes street photography. All the sanctimonious claptrap about is it candid, is it street or is it documentary interests me not one iota. People must be just too sad if they have to argue this issue. It is photography!