23
Jun 17

Motor Scooter Monks, Cambodia

Buddhist Monk. Cambodia, 2017.


15
Mar 17

Namaste India

Namaste, India. 2016

 


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.


21
Dec 16

The Tigress of Ranthambhore

We traveled half way around the world to photograph tigers at Ranthambhore National Park. This fantastic location in Northwest India offers some of the best tiger viewing in the wild. Even so they can be elusive, we had heard stories of photographers coming here and not having a single tiger sighting for several days. We were with one of the best guides in the park so we felt good about our chances. A good guide and a positive attitude make all the difference.

Spotted Deer. Ranthambhore, India. 2016

Spotted Deer. Ranthambhore, India. 2016

On our first outing it was really quite beautiful to see a large buck, standing up to it’s shoulders in a lake munching aquatic plants and herds of spotted deer. Beautiful but not why we were here. We also saw monkeys, wild pigs and the occasional crocodile. As the afternoon wore on, the light became magical. In combination with the animals and 10th century ruins that dotted the landscape, the light helped created a fairytale landscape. Darkness began to fall and we’d had no signs of the elusive tigers.

The next morning we were up before dawn. Our jeep was the first through the ancient stone gates and into the park. Almost immediately we were greeted with fresh tiger paw prints and the alarming howls of monkeys. Monkeys are the first to see these predators due to their high vantage points in the trees and excellent vision.  Our guide was very methodical in tracking the big cat. Judging by the prints, it was a female, a tigress. Stopping every few minutes to examine the ground and listen to sounds, he narrowed the search to a section of jungle that was inaccessible to our jeep. Maybe she’ll continue to move or maybe she had already had her morning kill and was bedding down for a nap. For the time being we set off in another direction to explore other known tiger territory and discussing our options.

Borrowing a little from William Blake and a little from Hindu religion, Christy came up with a mantra in an attempt to induce a tiger to reveal itself.

“Tiger Tiger Burning Bright, Carry Durga Day and Night”

Stalking Tigress. Ranthambhore, India. 2016

Stalking Tigress. Ranthambhore, India. 2016

We all joined in the chanting. Within a few minutes we came across another guide stopped in his jeep. A tiger had been spotted about a kilometer up the road. We kicked up a big cloud of dust as we took off toward the sighting. Slowing to a crawl we pulled along side two other jeeps. Their camera shutters were clicking away, lenses pointed across a gulley through the jungle undergrowth. I didn’t immediately see her but with some effort I spotted her head at least 50 yards away half hidden in the tall grass. She was intently watching a heard of spotted deer. Several minutes passed, then she stood and began to stalk, like lighting she was gone into the trees.

Christy, myself, the guides and the driver all looked at each other and chanted.

“Tiger Tiger Burning Bright, Carry Durga Day and Night”

Tigress with fresh Spotted Deer kill. Ranthambhore, India. 2016

Tigress with fresh Spotted Deer kill. Ranthambhore, India. 2016

A minute later she reappeared, carrying a small spotted deer in her mouth and she was walking right toward us!

“Tiger Tiger Burning Bright, Carry Durga Day and Night”

Tigress cleaning her kill. Ranthambhore, India. 2016

Tigress cleaning her kill. Ranthambhore, India. 2016

We all held our breath, pressed our shutter releases and marveled as she walked past our jeep and continued down the road. She settled under a tree a little further along and began licking her kill. She stayed there for about five minutes before moving further away into denser cover. It was the most marvelous experience we had ever had. Our guides agreed and told us this was only the second time in 10 years they had seen this happen. Jai Durga.

Tigress with fresh kill. Ranthambhore, India. 2016

Tigress with fresh kill. Ranthambhore, India. 2016


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.