A review of Sihanoukville (Cambodia)


Well I’m going to fast forward in time from my last post and bypass some experiences best forgotten: Bangkok with it’s theft and expense, Siem Reap almost bedridden with sickness for a week, going to Phnom Phen only to find the government is filling in the lake, it’s already substantially smaller than it was the year before.  But anyways, onward to good things: Sihananoukville


 I arrived Monday afternoon after only a few hrs in a relatively comfortable bus from Phnom Penh.  It’d only been about 4 hrs including the rest & “get made to feel guilty by kids selling fruit” stop of a half hr and I was feeling pretty good.  A moto driver immediately came up to me offering his services and after assuring me that we could transport all my gear (to which I was initially dubious as with all my photo & laptop gear I was carrying 4 bags) we were off.  I knew I wanted to stay near Serendipity beach as the guide book told me that there’s two main beach areas for budget m in Sihanoukville, one is the backpacker central which is the grubby beach just in from the port and the other is the much nicer and less crowded serendipity beach.  I knew which of them I wanted.


I was brought to a guesthouse a block from the beach and after being shown the large, clean room with private bathroom, furniture beyond just a bed and even cable tv for $6 a night I was sold.  Anyways after check in I wandered up the beach and although it was a far cry from the wide surf beaches of back home it was nevertheless also a far cry from Phuket.  It was relatively clean and the water, depending on how the light hit it could even be called clear.  I threw a meal down my neck and went for a wander.  Up by the end in by the headland I found a nest of bungalows all with balconies with their own hammocks looking out to the sea.  After enquiring the price and finding out the double bed ones were 15$ I immediately made a reservation for the following night.  That night I enjoyed a couple 50cent happy hour pints of beer and then after happy hour finished at tad a few more @ $1 a pint.  Stumbling back to my guesthouse a block away from the beach was only a few mins walking but I couldn’t help but think the the next night I’d be swinging on a hammock listening to the ocean.


And I was.  Been here for a few days now.  Food in the restaurants up and down the little cove here is generally brilliant and though more expensive than other places in Cambodia it’s still cheaper than you’d pay for the equivalent western meal in Thailand.  I go to sleep and wake up with the sound of the ocean lapping the shore.  Not a single day has been too hot in fact the weather has been beautiful.  Mild to hottish days, thankfully lacking the humidity of back home, quenched by afternoon/evening rain storms and lightning shows.  My only wish was that the water was a little clearer and cooler, you can’t jump in the ocean in the middle of the day to cool off a tad as it’s just very warm, no coolness or feeling of refreshment to it at all.


There’s only one way into this little beach headland and you have to walk up the beach to get here.  That means that everything I need, including internet and a range of restaurants is available before I hit a road, means no dealing with tuk tuk or moto drivers that ever seem to be hounding you for rides as in most other SE Asian locations.  Also for the most part there’s nobody trying to talk you into their shops or sell you things.  The odd kid comes past with the morning paper or selling bracelets and stuff but they are quick to move on when they see you aren’t interested.  It’s definitely a low stress place to stay.


It means I get to kick back in this little bungalow and really relax, check the net when I want to and eat when I want to without bracing myself for the string of “Atay Akun”s (no thank yous) that I’d have to deliver in the other Cambodian locations I’ve stayed at. And when I’m not doing that or wandering around the headland path for a view of the sun going down I’m in my bungalow doing some editing, or some writting, or reading a book swinging in the hammock with the sound of the ocean in the background.


All in all a very peacefull and serene place and a great one, I think to get lost for a little while…


From my balcony:









On the road again

Well I’m back over in Asia again for more touring around and exploration.  Flew into KL, Malaysia Tuesday and immediately got out of the big (and dirty) smoke to head north to Penang.  Not too much to report so far so I’ll just throw up a couple shots from sunset & early evening yesterday.  Both are shot from the top of the Komtar shopping complex, which lies at the base of the Komtar tower.



Lighting Tutorial - Fortune Teller shoot

This is the first in what will hopefully be a long series of tutorials I’ll be posting on how I’ve achieved the effects I have in some of my shoots.  The subject for today is one of the more creative setups I’ve come up with.  It’s the kind of setup that you run over in your mind and are never sure if it’ll work until you give it a go…First up here are a couple of the shots I took with the setup:

Now there’s not as much photoshop done to these images as you might first think.  Just some local contrast adjustment and colour tweaking, that’s it.  The effect was achieved by the use of 3 strobes.  The first two were standard rim lights set up behind and to each side of the model to provide separation between her and the black background.  The third was the creative one, I actually had it shining up from the bottom through the crystal ball.

The setup was as follows:  I started with a small round glass table & used cloth to mask off around the edges and even most of the table top, just leaving a circle in the middle, the strobe was placed under the table and faced upward so that it would fire through that circle and not spill anywhere else.  I then got a large glass bowl and a drinking glass both of the same height & placed the drinking glass in the bowl and the crystal ball on the glass.  I then filled up the bowl with hot water and dropped some dry ice in the bowl of water for the smoke.  The result being that with the smoke flowing out of the bowl of water and the crystal ball being of the same height of the bowl that the ball appears to be floating on smoke, with light coming from underneath through the table, bowl, glass and finally crystal ball to illuminate the smoke & the models hands and face.

I wasn’t sure it would work before we tried it but couldn’t have been happier with the results.  Often when you try playing around with ideas like this (and even less adventurous) some little thing you never figured on ruins everything and you have to play around a lot to get something decent out of the setup.  This was one of the rare experiments that just WORKED, straight up.


Beck in the snow - 19th August 2008

When Beck contacted me a few weeks back to tell me she was going to be in NZ for a week and was keen to shoot I was dubious to say the least.  Thing is I’ve had a couple bad experiences with Beck pulling out on shoots we had organised previously, however she seemed very sincere in her desire to shoot & it’s always good to give people 2nd chances when you can.  Well she exceeded all expectations, it was a cold morning with temps hovering around -5 to -10c and I can hardly recall a single complaint out of her.  Last shot of this set isn’t how I like to depict women.  It’s a bit objectifying and I like to shoot naked girls without trying to demean them in any way, but it was just shot as a pisstake and I think it’s good for a laugh, I had to really work Mikey to get that exaggerated Macho look out of him :)





Session at a kicker, Remarkables 7th August 2008

Was a booootiful day for shooting this one, no lighting equipment used.

Boarders - Mike & Eddy
Camera - 5D
Lens - Sigma 12-24
Location - The Remarkables, New Zealand

Post was limited to some slight s-bend curves for added pop plus logo removal & noise reduction for stock.  Trying to talk Mike into doing a back flip on this next session.