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Buddha Statue_Mihintale_Sri Lanka


Hasselblad 500CM camera and Hasselblad 150mm f4 Sonnar lens with Kodak Ektacolor Gold 160 film

Hasselblad 500CM camera and Hasselblad 80mm f2.8 Plannar lens with Kodak Ektacolor Gold 160 film

Situated on a rocky outcrop, just 11 km north east of Anuradhapura, Mihintale is of enormous spiritual significance to the Sinhalese as the place where Buddhism originated in Sri Lanka.

The route to the top follows a 1,500 year-old paved road to a terrace, half way up the 311-meter hill. From there a climb up many, many steps awaits. Finally the visitor is rewarded with wonderful views and inspiring monuments.

This image was made with a Hasselblad 500C camera and Hasselblad 80mm f 2.8 Plannar lens with Kodak Ektacolor Gold 160 film. I used a Polarising filter to dramatically darken the blue sky. The result was quite intense with the near White Buddha statue standing out against the deep blue sky. I’ve previously sold the original color print, which I’d hand printed in the darkroom to 16″x16″ (40x40cm) in size, through exhibitions. Today I decided to revisit the image and explore other forms of representation.

I employed Adobe Photoshop CS3 to convert the original color image into black-and-white. I wanted to increase the graphic nature of the image and enhance the luminance of the statue. The outcome is similar to what would have been achieved with black-and-white film and a deep red filter. The red filter passes (lightens) its own color and blocks (darkens) the other primary (blue and green) colors. As a result the already deep blue sky is rendered almost black.

Travel can be  seen as an attempt to escape from the difficulties associated with one’s own life. From my experience this is not always the case. Nothing induces concentration or inspires memory like an alien landscape or a foreign culture.

Romantics believe that it is possible to lose yourself in an exotic place. My experience, possibly brought on be the stresses of an alien environment or the repetitive physical effort associated with a climb, is somewhat different. I feel an intense nostalgia, a harkening back to an earlier stage in life. But this does not happen at the exclusion of the exotic present. What makes the whole experience vivid, and sometimes thrilling, is the juxtaposition of the present and the past: a particularly happy childhood memory re-visited from a mountaintop, or in those moments of intense quiet between the madness of a local train or bus ride.

To really live is to be engrossed in the moment. Do we travel to learn and, thereafter, contribute, or to shop duty free?

© Copyright All Rights Reserved

Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography


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