The crowds at the Siem Reap Water Festival, or Bon Om Tuk, were massive. People from all over Cambodia had come to the city for the boat races and they all seemed to have gathered along the riverside to watch the event. The challenge was to capture that in a frame. I went for a face in the crowd.
My daily walking route along the Siem Reap River, where I’d usually see a few joggers, a smattering of monks, and perhaps some often-disoriented tourists, was heaving with thousands of people. But how do you capture that in a single photograph?
One of the easiest ways is to get up high and shoot through the crowd to show the depth of the crowd and the number of people. The problem is that Siem Reap is very, very flat and there wasn’t a high vantage point along the particular stretch of river I wanted to photograph.
This being Cambodia, of course, there are children everywhere. So when I saw children being hoisted onto their fathers’ shoulders to get through the crowd, I knew that I had a shot. I just had to wait for the right opportunity.
Now, many people would think that a wide lens would be good for this sort of shot, however a wide lens would ‘flatten out’ the crowd a bit too much and would not allow us to engage with individuals in the crowd.
So I reached for the longest lens I had in my bag, my AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4D IF-ED — my favourite compromise lens when I know I’m going to need a telephoto length that’s longer than the reach of the 80—200mm f2.8.
As I don’t cover sports or birdlife for a living, the wonderful AF-S Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II is not really practical to keep in my kit when it would only get an outing a few times a year — and I have better things to do with US$7000.
I waited about 15 minutes for the right subject to come along — this boy in the bright orange football outfit who was enjoying the great views from his dad’s shoulders. I like the look of wonderment on his face.
While I think the photo above works well for our newly designed site, I think the vertical I took, below, gives a better sense of depth of the crowd, and would probably be the one I’d choose to include in a set for a magazine.
Details: Nikon D600, AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4D IF-ED @ f/4.0 @ 1/250 sec @ ISO 640