Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Uncommon Light Volume 55 Number 2, March/April 2002
Text and Photographs by John McDermott

Inspired by a solar eclipse, infrared images of Angkor evoke a dreamy, surreal landscape.

[image] [image]
Left, the Bayon stands at the exact geographical center of the ancient city of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the great Khmer Empire. Right, two elephants and riders pass through the enormous south gate to the city of Angkor Thom. [LARGER IMAGE 1] [LARGER IMAGE 2]

In October 1995, the shadow of a solar eclipse would sweep over two of the earth's great spiritual sites--the Taj Mahal in India and the ancient temples of Angkor in Cambodia. Having long wanted to see Angkor, photographer John McDermott decided that this would be an intriguing time for his first visit. He remained in Angkor for several days, photographing the temples and ruins using infrared film--which captures light frequencies invisible to the naked eye--to create a dreamy, impressionistic effect similar to what McDermott experienced as the eclipse neared totality.

Photographer John McDermott's recent work includes photographs for The Extraordinary Museums of Southeast Asia by Kristin Kelly (Harry N. Abrams, 2001), and is also featured on his website at

© 2002 by the Archaeological Institute of America