Adobe Lightroom and the Temples of Angkor

by George Mann

Well it is official now, Angkor Wat is not one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Here in Siem Reap, the town just down the road from the Angkor Temples, there is of course a lot of disappointment. But the news does not stop the tourists and the photographers from arriving here in ever increasing numbers.

Unfortunately this is the extremely rainy part of the rainy season, so I have stuck close to the town and not had a chance to explore the temples yet on this trip. What I have done so far though is put together an on-line trip report about traveling overland from Thailand and generally enjoying the town of Siem Reap, in those moments that the rains decide to let up.

My trip reports can be found at -

My traveling camera is a Nikon D40, I decided beforehand that my main lens for this trip would be the Nikkor 12-24mm DX. I have several other lenses with me but so far I have not used them and have now decided to just leave them in the room while I go out, so I can travel lighter. I am doing a lot of walking, so even a few ounces less weight is making a big difference.

I took my trusty Mac laptop with me on this trip and to make things easier (in case I take a lot of pictures) I exported my previous catalog (image database) out of my computer (to an external hard disk drive and a DVD) and started with a clean catalog for the trip. I also took a small (80GB) FireWire pocket drive with me for back-ups, this drive is powered by the computer so no extra power supplies are needed, only the one for the computer.


Every time I come back to my hotel room, I immediately download my memory cards to my internal and external drives and then import the new images from the internal drive to the Lightroom Library. I still don't let the application do the import and back-up directly from memory cards (old habits die hard) and I import directly from the internal drive file location (choose the - Import photos at their current location - selection of possible file import methods). This leaves plenty of room on my internal drive for more new images.

My first task in Lightroom after importing the images, is to find suitable images for my daily trip reports. Since I am limited on computer time while traveling and the trip reports are mainly aimed at cross-country travelers, I just do some very quick editing of the images in Lightroom. The editing mainly consists of Crop, Exposure, Lightness, Clarity, and maybe a Curve or two. I then I export the images to the appropriate file folder in the on-line version of my website. After placing the image on the page, I then add some descriptive text and upload the new pages and images to my website.

As a side note of interest to photographers, I am currently staying at the Peace of Angkor Villa in Siem Reap, which is run by British photographer Dave Perkes and specializes in providing services and tours for photographers visiting the Angkor Temples.

The Peace of Angkor Villa -

Next week we will hopefully have a report on photographing (and processing in Lightroom) the Angkor temples themselves.


2007-07-21 16:07:33
Travelling with Lightroom and a laptop is fantastic. My workflow is pretty much the same as yours, though I add location metadata and do some keywording right after I import. It's great getting back from a long trip with most of the grunt work done.

Some advice for shooting at Angkor:

1) If you care about location metadata, take notes of which temple you're at when you're shooting: there are so many that it's easy to lose track. My trick was to take a picture of the sign at each new temple we visited, so I had a rough idea of where we'd been.

2) Take a break in the middle of the day. Go back to Siem Reap for lunch (Blue Pumpkin is brilliant) during the hottest part of the day. The light isn't great at that time, anyway.

3) You're going to be climbing up some really steep staircases, probably on all fours - make sure you have a way to secure your camera close to your body so it doesn't smack into anything.

4) You can probably take advantage of all the water from the rain to make some really amazing pictures.

We were there in February and had an amazing time and got some great pictures.

2007-07-27 00:12:20
Hey George, I had the same setup as you did - had my laptop (powerbook) with lightroom on it when I was there last month. Siem Reap and the temples are awesome! I had a lot of fun shooting the folks at the Ton Le Sap River area though. I still haven't gotten around to process and post all of my photos...

Lightroom is really really good in organizing and quickly enhancing the photos so you can easily share them.

I do agree with Simon - I shot the signs of temples whenever I can because it's pretty hard to distinguish one from the other.

George Mann
2007-07-27 01:20:52
Simon and Mike, thanks for the comments and the good advice. I just visited the Tonle Sap Lake area yesterday and will include some images in my next post.