10
Jul 17

Outside Studio Ghibli

On our most recent visit to Japan, we visited the Studio Ghibli Museum in the town of Mitaka. There aren’t any cameras allowed inside the museum and that’s completely understandable, so you’ll just have to take our word that a visit to the museum is a must and well worth the trip. I managed to do a little street photography while touring the town and found this joyous face.

Mitaka Japan, 2017.

We are tremendous fans of the films of Miyazaki and the museum pays tribute to both the spirit and playfulness of his films while offering a rich interactive experience. I had a great time playing inside a life sized Neko bus from “My Neighbor Totoro.” My favorite Miyazaki film is “Nausicaa Valley of the Wind.”


29
Jun 17

Buddhist Monks of Laos

The saffron robes of buddhist monks are gorgeous, but even more beautiful are their serene faces.

Buddhist Monks. Laos, 2017.


23
Jun 17

Motor Scooter Monks, Cambodia

Buddhist Monk. Cambodia, 2017.


06
Mar 17

Travel in Bhutan

Bhutan is unique and special. The flight into Paro Airport is legendary and exciting. Nestled on the southern slope of the Himalayas, this small buddhist country has become famous for it’s “Gross National Happiness” in contrast to gross national product. Indeed it’s main sources of revenue are hydroelectric power and tourism. The people are lovely, their fabrics colorful and the yak tasty.

Monk twirling prayer beads, Bhutan. 2016.

As with many paces in Asia, the people don’t mind being photographed as long as it is done in a respectful manner. It is not acceptable to photograph inside a shrine or temple or to photograph monks during prayer.

Master Monk, Bhutan. 2016

The Bhutanese are master artisans and take pride in preserving their traditional arts and crafts.

Weaver, Bhutan, 2016

They have worked closely with the Japanese in developing their paper industry. Being a paper junky and collector I visited one of their paper making facilities and had a great time watching and photographing them at work. It is very similar to other handcrafted processes I’ve seen in other countries yet they manage to put their own unique stamp on it.

Papermaker, Bhutan. 2016.

While visiting one of the remote monasteries, a group of nomads arrived with their families to receive blessings from the monks and masters. It was a fortunate time for us to be there.

In the kitchen, Bhutan. 2016

 


30
Jan 17

Exploring Varanasi India

As we traveled deeper into India, it felt as if we were traveling back in time.

Varanasi Snake Charmer

Varanasi Snake Charmer

Our guide Rohit told us to expect this felling and it was true. Nowhere did this seem truer than in Varanasi, one of the oldest and most sacred human settlements in the world. The streets are ancient and lined with shopkeepers and holy men, the spaces in between filled by unfortunates begging for alms.

Smokes. Varanasi, India.

Smokes. Varanasi, India.

Hindu Devotees. Varanasi, India.

Hindu Devotees. Varanasi, India.

Cows and pigs wandered the streets eating garbage and fertilizing the ground. Keep following the streets and they will take you to the shore of Mother Ganges. Mother Ganges, the river that provides the water of life, washes, blesses, purifies, and accepts the ashes of the dead.

Varanasi Cremation on the Ganges River

Varanasi Cremation on the Ganges River

All day every day Hindu families bring the bodies of their loved ones to the Temple of Shiva on the shore of the Mother Ganges for cremation. The fires burn constantly and the bank of the river is blackened with their ashes. This has been taking places since the beginning of time.

Musicians. Ganges River, Varanasi, India.

Musicians. Ganges River, Varanasi, India.

We sat in a small boat just off shore, transfixed by this ritual, watching eleven cremation fires burning in front of us. Under these conditions your mind goes to places tucked away deep in primordial consciousness. Varanasi is the bottom of the rabbit hole that is at the bottom of the rabbit hole.


14
Dec 16

Visiting the Taj Mahal

We spent the afternoon in Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. I didn’t realize it until I got to the Taj, that it is part of a huge complex of grounds and buildings. Photographs have a difficult time conveying the sheer scope of the place. What sets it apart from other sacred Islamic sites I’ve visited isn’t the size, it is the quality of the workmanship and materials, the craftsmanship, and the carving and ornamentation of the luminous white marble. The Taj Mahal really has to be seen to be believed, it is exquisite.

Taj Mahal. Agra, India. 2016

Taj Mahal. Agra, India. 2016

The light was soft and beautiful and I wanted to photograph the classic view. Three of the minarets had been cleaned and were gleaming white. The fourth minaret was in it’s scaffolding waiting it’s turn. I don’t think it detracts from the photograph, rather it shows that the Taj, no matter how seemingly perfect, is imperfect.