KAMPUCHEA

Twenties tones sweeten the humid air surrounding the Two Moons Hotel. Amok and Anchor set the pace for a relaxing stay in this sleepy town at the base of Bokor National Park, The Hill as it’s locally known. Retired teachers, wayward Dutchmen, and renegade backpackers gel together with a glue long forgotten in the bustling cities of The West.

The fresher mornings bring with them a cacophony of tired engine splutters as eager adventurers mount their cheap steeds and head off into early morning mists.

It’s only just light but the beer still flows in the local bar, music spilling out across the neighborhood un-apologetically. Ex-rockers, aging hippies, millionaires and wannabe gangsters hug the bar to refill their glasses and tell tall stories to friends old and new alike. As stories go, you can’t get much taller; Vintage guitars are tonight’s topic as a once superstar drummer-turned-guitar-mechanic recounts his hedonistic history of American stardom to eager ears and full glasses. Retiring to my eight dollar room at the Two Moons Lodge next door, I can still hear the gentle laughter and gasps, the clinking of glass on wood, and catch a sweet smell of sticky bud carrying gently on the evening air.

A small table-fan bolted to the wall provides mild relief from the heavy summer night-sweats, Geckos chat happily all night long about the latest gossip from Kep, and the local dog pack digs up our freshly preened garden.

This place is blissfully untouched by commercial tourism, but with cruise ships smudging the horizon and Casino skeletons on The Hill, an apocalypse is coming.

Angkor Wat

D4 / 70- 200 f2.8 / Phnom Penh

Barnaby Jaco Skinner
Colonnades corral the time-beaten fascia of Cambodia’s most revered treasure, the faces of all-powerful Hindu gods now weathered away leaving raw stone and scaffolding in their wake. Thousands of pale white eyes look skyward for the twenty dollar silhouette cast by a dawning sun. It’s mildly disappointing, to be honest, a beautiful stone-hewn building now aggressively blacked out by the harsh rays of first light. Within thirty minutes the hordes have dispersed back to their Tuk-Tuks, ever eager to get to the next breath-taking monument before their competitors.
Hanging back, however, reveals a visual marvel. A taller sun now sheds its light over the archaic complex, colouring the once black rock with reds and greens and oranges and browns, revealing complexities in the smooth stone surface texture, a rainbow of hues shining from within. Angkor Wat reveals its full magnificence and claims the real capital of Cambodia.

The North Gate

D4 HDR / 14 – 28 f2.8 / Siem Reap

Barnaby Jaco Skinner
A heavy summers rain sets in, all too soon filling the sunken stone passages to bursting. Water spills from the foreboding entrance of this stone-hewn labyrinth, oppressive dark clouds dissuading the dying light from illuminating what lurks within. Dancing shadows draw a maze of black twisting tunnels blocked and barricaded by rock-fall and mutant trees. At the centre of this Tomb-Raider puzzle stands a small altar surrounded by four abandoned passageways, each twisting off to black oblivion. Light particles break through a rupture in the stone ceiling, a single beam of amber illuminating the ancient stone shrine.
A child’s laugh echos momentarily somewhere within the underground maze, shrill sound waves bouncing off cold wet walls, beckoning me deeper. I pick a tunnel and venture down the causeway, knee deep in water following eerie echos from behind the gloom. Tripping hard on an uneven submerged stone I stumble through a dense curtain of wet vines and tree roots, falling through a small opening in the thick stone wall out to another world, the light of a mid-afternoon monsoon flooding my senses. The jungle here lays heavily over hidden red and green stone, a place of worship once devoted to monks and their daily routine, the entire area now laying derelict and eroded by zealous Fords and would-be Angelinas. Climbing large sodden stone steps, I make my way up to the tree line in an attempt to get a feel for the direction back out to civilization. I’m mildly lost, and it’s started to rain again.

Ascendence

D4 / 70-200 f2.8 / Angkor Wat

Barnaby Jaco Skinner

A Makeshift Pool

D4 / 500mm f4 / Phnom Penh

The summer monsoons leave Phnom Pehn thigh-deep in rancid sewer waters, roads inaccessable, carparks flooded, business on hold. As water fills the streets below, so too the flat roofs become makeshift swimming pools, with a little help.
Barnaby Jaco Skinner

The Shore Line

D4 / 70- 200 f2.8 / Kep

Barnaby Jaco Skinner
Still waters quietly lap at the wooden bow of a small family fishing vessel, garish turquoise mirrored in a dull grey soup. Ancient nets are upholstered on board the cramped platform whilst a young boy stands thigh-deep in a morning ocean, guarding his family’s only means to a living.

Kampot Lightning

D4 / 70- 200 f2.8 / Kampot

Barnaby Jaco Skinner
A crack of thunder ignites the swollen air as turbulent dark clouds encircle their prey. Static rains down from the sky striking with effortless speed, a precision with no remorse.

Hauling Wood

D4 / 70- 200 f2.8 / Siem Reap

Barnaby Jaco Skinner
Clouds of swirling droplets tail two creaking bicycles as they forge a path through the ferocious summer deluge. Laden with firewood, the cyclists take turns to lead the pelaton, shielding one-another from oncoming tidal forces ricocheting off stampeding trucks.

A Pink Hoodie

D4 / 28 – 70 f2.8 / Cambodia Vietnam Border

Barnaby Jaco Skinner

Chasing Fish

D4 / 70-200 f2.8 / Southern coastline

Barnaby Jaco Skinner
Wading through a knee-deep ocean, the fisherman ventures further than usual on his morning wrangle. A long wooden stick pounds the water as he goes, corralling startled fish towards the shore-line…

Grazing

D4 / 70- 200 f2.8 / Siem Reap

Barnaby Jaco Skinner
Nestled amoungst the aging temples in this dense rainforest, farmers graze their cattle amid the morning monsoons.

Tuol Sleng

TUOL SLENG Tropical green foliage does little to hide the stark horror of a decaying concrete prison built by the bloody hands of Pol Pot and his Red Army. You can hear the screams echo still. Wandering the levels, one finds cells divided floor to ceiling by brick and...

Kep

KEP Scents of oak filter through the morning stream of sunlight, wisps of white wood smoke twirling and dancing to the heartbeat of another day in Kep's busy crab shacks.Not particularly interested in joining in the morning dance, I opt to sit as far away from the...

A Hidden Pack

A Hidden Pack A piercing howl shatters my early afternoon serenity as a monstrous alpha-male emerges from the grey-green undergrowth, a tangled curtain clinging to one of the many derelict concrete structures littering the coastline. Snarling, sharp ivory flashes in...

Stuck In The Mud

Stuck In The Mud With Bear and Ralph Somewhere on the outskirts of the Cambodian jungle I crossed a desolate railtrack, two black-iron beams nestled in to the green foliage adorning the forest floor. That was hours ago. The civilization of the twin iron-girders seems...

Angkor Wat

Magnificence encapsulated by hand-worked stoneColonnades corral the time-beaten fascia of Cambodia's most revered treasure, the faces of all-powerful Hindu gods now weathered away leaving raw stone and scaffolding in their wake. Thousands of pale white eyes look...

Riding Shotgun

Riding Shotgun Topping 60 and things get a little dicey as I traverse the mountain road to Bokor national park. It's not the speed however that upsets my balance, more so my limited attention span. In a split second, I'm riding shotgun, watching the grey tarmac and...
WHY #10IMG?

After 15 years shooting digital, my field-work attitude had shifted for the worse; I became accustomed to the high FPS my Nikons could turn over, became lazy when bracketing for HDR, began to abuse high ISO, just accepting the grain in all weather. I’d even leave my tripod at home and just make do with image stabilistion. Above all, I’d become lazy, relying on technology to finish a process I’d start in my mind. I didn't start like that during my analog days; back then it was sacrilege to 'fill the buffer', as it were - we thought, composed, and captured with each and every click. Romanticised maybe, but true.

So I changed.

Capturing one solid image for a collection is pretty easy, anyone can take a great image with a bit of skill, practise, and luck. Seriously, anyone. Two great images - still not hard and sometimes they even look good together. Three, four, and five start taxing the cranium; you need to start thinking ahead, above, and beyond. You start to sweat. Working up to ten images takes dedication, time, and skill, but once you have your collection, you get a real sense of achievement.

Forcing ourselves to select a limited number of images amongst an infinite number of possibilities enables us to think deeper about our photography, it gives us motivation and focus during times of lack-luster malaise, and it aligns our thoughts, encouraging exploration and thematic expression in collections.

IOIMG isn't typically about obsessive image matching for competitions or exhibitions (although I'd go so far as to say the images in your collections should, in some way, compliment each other), nor is it particularly constrained when choosing subjects or themes for image pools; I like to use  IOIMG as more of a guiding principle designed to help maintain standards and encourage exploration in my photography as I explore the many different avenues within the discipline.

Without a guide, we'd get lost.

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