The Story

Never in my life have I ever seen a spectacle illustrating the relentless power of nature over manmade structures as in Ta Prohm, Siem Reap, Cambodia. I’ve seen images and heard stories from friends who have visited this area but none of that came even close to the jaw-dropping awe that I experienced as I stood here, looking at these gigantic tree roots cut through solid temple walls like a hot knife through butter. It was both beautiful and terrifying at the same time.

Photographing around Ta Prohm was, without a doubt, the highlight of my trip so far. We’ve been traveling with an absolutely fantastic guide here in Cambodia and he was masterful in getting us to all of the best parts of this area before any of the other tourist hordes arrived. I cannot express how much having your own private guide is worth every penny. With areas that are as feature rich as this one, you really need to think on your toes and start picking off the shots that you think will be keepers. Every minute that went by brought the tourist hordes closer and closer – and trust me, there were a few times when we were overrun. It’s the nature of the beast and I totally get that. But I’ll be damned if I don’t try to take every possible advantage I can get to be one of a handful of people occupying this area at any given time. Ultimately, it boils down to getting the frames. That is and always will be my priority when I’m out shooting and I suspect that more than a few of you can sympathize.

In terms of processing

This is a seven exposure tone-mapped HDR image using Photomatix Pro.

Stylization was done in Perfect Effects 4 by onOne Software. I masked in Vecchio onto the roots and used a Multiple blending mode. Next, I applied Magic Forest to the entire area because I really liked the particular color style that it applied. I finished things off with a Hollywood Glow using a Soft Light blending mode.

Next, I sent the image into FocalPoint 2 (also by onOne Software) and rendered the area through the doorway out of focus to give the image a 3D feel.

Final touches were applied in Lightroom 4.3 RC.

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