When I am on a photography trip, I am always looking for scenes that show patterns. I am particularly drawn to sets of threes, especially if all three things are identical in some way. Our brains are wired to prefer odd numbers, so 3's and 5's work really well in photographs.

But once in a while, you run across a scene that plays out just a little differently than you'd expect, and you get something like this photo. When I was visiting Angkor Archeological Park in Cambodia, I climbed to the top of the highest land point in the park, hoping to catch a nice sunset. Over the horizon to the left (off camera) was the large Angkor Wat temple that is the symbol of the park, and of Cambodia itself. The sunset was expected to light it up beautifully.

I wandered around the top of the temple, while I was waiting for the sun to drop. Much to my delight, I spotted these 3 novice monks in their brightly coloured robes, who didn't appear to be all that excited to be in the same place I was. They were just looking down at their sandals most of the time I watched them. I took some photos of them from various angles, which worked out really nicely, especially since their faces were not that visible, so it could be used commercially really easily.

The images I had were already good, because of the set of 3, and the brightly contrasting colours compared to the background. But when the elder monk (their wrangler?) appeared on the scene, the photo became even better. This allowed me to continue the series and include an "odd man out" additional element. This emphasizes the repetitiveness of the original three elements by showing that "one of these things doesn't belong" because it is different from everything else. Sure I now had 4 people in the set, but the 3 orange robes still stood out as a set of their own.

Not only was the elder monk wearing a less-bright robe, he was also more animated than the three novices. And with him using a mobile phone to take photographs (like we all do), made things even better. Scenes like this don't happen every day. It's often serendipity. But you can consciously look for series and patterns in nature and in public locations like this. Sometimes you get lucky with the odd man out.