LA RÉSIDENCE D’ANGKOR

During my trip to Cambodia in November of 2019, I was tossing between the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor and the Belmond La Residence d’Angkor for my accommodations. After reading multiple reviews and watching countless Youtube videos, I decided to go for Belmond. The hotel features Khmer architecture surrounded by a lush tropical garden creating a sense of being in the middle of the forest despite being situated right in the heart of the city. The resort is one of the first luxury hotels to open in Siem Reap and is renowned for its luxurious accommodations and excellent service. Here are some of the photos I took around the hotel as well as of my suite overlooking the magnificent pool, which I think is the centerpiece of the entire resort.

TRICOLORED HERON

Four years ago, I met a Japanese photographer whose hobby was traveling all over the United States photographing wildlife in national parks. We met at a common friends wedding he was photographing and I mentioned to him my interest in wildlife photography. He suggested I check out the Wakodahatchee Wetlands Nature Park, a nature preserve in Delray Beach, Florida, which is a sanctuary to a large number of birds plus a few other animals. He said that I’ll get a lot of good shots of these birds in their natural habitat. I’ve been planning to visit the park since then but I always fail to find time. This morning I decided to be a little more spontaneous and drove 30 miles to the park.

At the park, I encountered hundreds of birds but what really caught my attention was this lonesome tricolored heron that was trying to catch its breakfast in one of the many ponds around the park. I was standing on the boardwalk right above it but my presence didn’t seem to bother it all. I was able to take photos of it quietly standing behind the reeds preparing for its attack as well as of it flying over the pond to catch its next meal. My only regret is failing to capture it with a fish between its beaks.

Today I was finally able to try on fast shutter speeds (used 1/2000) to photograph this heron on flight but unfortunately missed to program my camera to multiple shots, which would have allowed me to take more shots of the entire flight. Still, I’m very happy with the results including the lighting and colors resulting to very minimal need for post-processing. I used a Canon Rebel T6s camera with a Canon EF-S 18-200mm lens for these photographs.

THE PINK LOTUS

The pink lotus is a sacred symbol in the Hindu and Buddhist faiths and in Asian culture it symbolizes purity and enlightenment. This majestic flower thrives in muddy swamps and its existence is oftentimes used as a metaphor to our daily lives with the muddy waters symbolizing the craziness around us while the pink lotus blooming above it symbolizing our ability to bloom into the best version of ourselves despite the circumstances.

These photographs of a pink lotus were taken near the ruins of Beng Mealea outside the city of Siem Reap in Cambodia. This solitary bloom was situated right in the middle of a swamp and I wanted to move closer for a close-up but my guide warned me of snakes so I opted to stay within the snake-free zone. I realized I’ll never be a National Geographic photographer as I don’t have the balls to risk it for the perfect shot. 😬

DREAMY VENICE

Venice is probably one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever visited. It’s like being in a dream, like you’re in a fantasy world. And it gets better at twilight when most of the tourists have returned to the mainland for the evening. Suddenly it seems like you have the city all to yourself with the sounds of life becoming softer and a stronger connection with everything around you is felt. You also start noticing the many things you failed to notice earlier in the day: the Renaissance-inspired architecture, the rich earthy tones of the city, the cobblestone streets leading to neighborhood squares, the narrow canals and the stone bridges that crosses them and the multiple arches and columns that line the many narrow alleyways turning the city into one giant maze. Venice is such a magical place and it surely is every photographers paradise. I was like a child in a candy store the first time I visited the city. Here are a few of the many photographs I took the day I fell in love with the City of Love.

VENICE NIGHT AND DAY

I took these night and day photos of the island of San Giorgio Maggiore from my hotel suite window at the Baglioni Hotel Luna in Venice, Italy. The belltower of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore has been an iconic landmark of the Venetian lagoon and a focal point of view from the Piazetta. The first photo below was taken right before sunset while the second one was taken at night. Torn on which photo to use as my primary feature for this post, I decided to play with both by merging them together. I thought it amusing to see different times of the day on the same photo. By the way, I took these with my camera handheld so it’s just pure luck that I captured the same spot at almost the same angle. I used a Canon Rebel T6s for these photographs and the app Pixelmator to combine both photos.

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