Inside Banteay Samre

Angkor Temples

Inside Banteay Samre

Any explorer who loves ruins has a dream of going to see the Angkor Temples in Cambodia. Always wanting to discover something new that no one else has found is a dream of any explorer.  Inside Banteay Samre was an experiment to find something hidden inside a lost temple where the ruins tell us a story.

Banteay Sambre, HDR Angkor Wat, Angkor Temples,

Using HDR Photography the inside walls of the hallway show off the volcanic rock which makes this temple very solid.

How to Capture the Details Inside

The problem with experiencing some of the Angkor Temples in the Angkor Wat region of Cambodia is it’s dark inside and hard to see. Your eyes are used to the bright light outside. Even in the daytime it’s dark within those thick stone walls. This is explorer’s heaven, where the movies romanticized these classic stone temples of the Gods.

Lost in the Darkness

What are we missing when we can’t see the inside? The wonders of the architecture, the small details in the art, and maybe some secret scriptures?  There’s a lot to see in those dark hallways, It’s a mysterious place. These are the interiors few people ever see in detail but now I have photographed them in such a way you can observe what its like inside. There are over 100 temples in the Angkor Temples area just outside of Siem Reap. Too many for me to photograph, but at least you can see for yourself what its like inside these musky interiors inside Banteay Samere, one of many Angkor Temples.

Inside Banteay Samre, Angkor Temples

This is one of the hallways you walk through that goes outside, and there’s another building to walk into using the stairs you see.

Details Inside the Walls

Many of these Angkor Temples show artistic details in the walls and hallway areas. In the photographs  there is a lot of detail carvings on the left side of the window in this photograph (below). This is called HDR method of photography, but I only use it in rare circumstances. Several ways of working with HDR is in camera where the camera processes the image. You get what the camera gives you. Another way is to take multiple exposures using a tripod and then process these images in a HDR software program. This is my method because it gives me more control.

Drama During the Photoshoot

It adds a little drama including more details to the insides of these ancient temples. I took multiple exposures each time I found a good place for my camera and tripod to sit. They watched me as I wondered around looking through my view finder. My Tuk Tuk driver Sok, was very interested in what I was doing, and the grounds keepers had a confused look on their faces and thought I was nuts as I carried my tripod and camera around. They kept sneaking into my camera frame when I was shooting, and I had to stop every time that happened and wait until they were gone. Just a small language barrier, English vs. Khmer. Understanding each other wasn’t going to happen, especially from across a large grassy area.

Inside wall and ceiling with air hole..

This is looking up inside one of the temples interiors made mostly with volcanic rock. The art carvings were made in the sandstone blocks which adorn the door and window sides.

The inside of this interior goes a long ways up and then there is a small hole where you can see the light entering. That’s the starburst that you see at the top of the photograph. This is the inside Banteay Samre. It is a marvel of architecture when you see these huge heavy volcanic stones go up about 30 feet. Where did they learn to build the buildings?  Just above the door are sandstone blocks that look like they may have had some kind of art carved into them. Or possible the marks are from the cutting of the stone. Above the sandstone and going all the way to the top are the volcanic stones.

Inside Banteay Samre

From the inside looking out. The beautiful carving in the sandstone is very detailed on the lift side of the window.

They used two kinds of stone for a reason. One is sandstone, the other is volcanic that are inside Banteay Samre temple.  The sandstone was used to carve art because its is a much softer kind of stone. You can see the art they carved in these photographs. The volcanic rock is very solid and used for the base for most of the temples, but not all of them. The volcanic rock has a very rough texture and is a very solid, great to use to build these huge temples out of for stability.  Impressive is all I can say, you would be speechless if you saw them in person. It’s an awesome sight exploring Angkor Temples and one of the seven wonders of the world.

HDR Photography

To overcome the problem of photographing these dark walls inside and exposing them without using flash, I went with HDR photography and a tripod. Because I’m an “old school photographer”,  I don’t like to rely on gimmicks unless there is a reason. HDR is not gimmick photography, but often its overused or overdone by some photographers in my opinion.

Who knows what’s inside these temples? There’s so much to possibly miss seeing. Now see what it looks like from inside Banteay Samre in the early 12th century. Maybe you can notice something in these photographs that no one else has noticed before?  Everything inside is made of stone; most of the floors are rock too.

This was a photography experiment for me, first time using HDR inside a temple. A Canon DSLR with a solid tripod were used to take these photographs. Bracketing exposures is important (different  shutter speeds) and then sandwiching them together using HDR software called photomatix. I processed the images in Adobe Light Room and Adobe Photoshop so you could see for yourself the inside of a Angkor temple in Cambodia. 

I made a total of about 15 shots for each photograph and out of those 15, I used only 3 to 5 for the final photograph.

There will be more Temples of Angkor to show you soon.

Outside Banteay Samre

Inside Banteay Samre,

The details in the teeth of this serpent are extraordinary.

Inside Banteay Samre

One of several courtyards in this large temple.

Inside Banteay Samre

My Tuk Tuk Driver Sok

I stay at Happy GuestHouse in Siem Reap

© 2015 Travel Food & Health Magazine

Author: TL

Editor & Chief, professional photographer who’s passionate about fine arts, travel and food photography. Traveling in SE Asia currently. Thomas Levine Photography sells photo stock, products designed with his images, and educates others on how to take great photographs. Travel Food & Health is Tom’s way of sharing the world. Geared for both travelers or arm chair travelers.

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