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Towards the Border_Tibet

Canon New F1 camera and Canon 24mm lens with Agfachrome 100 film

The last leg on that momentous 1988 journey from Lhasa to the Nepalese border, via Chomolungma (Mt Everest), and then onto Kathmandu and beyond found my friends (Liz and Lee) and I driving for the last few hours on a steep descent down to the border. The hard and mostly barren landscape and the dry, rarified air of the Tibetan Plateau were being replaced by gentle, green water-filled views and moisture-laden air as we continued our descent towards the border. I remember feeling invigorated and extremely alert. It’s amazing what a dramatic change in landscape and a heck of a lot more oxygen will do for ones sense of well being. My skin was tingling with excitement.

Closing the aperture down to f22 provided the large depth of field (DOF) I required and, with the resulting slow Shutter Speed, allowed me to emphasize the speed and softness of the flowing water. It’s a fascinating concept be able to record movement within the still frame. Just remember the slower the Shutter Speed the more mist-like the water will appear.  It probably only took about 30 seconds to jump out of our 4WD and make the shot. And I’m glad I did. The trip was so long ago, and there have been others since, that a photograph is often the best way to trigger memories of places, faces and friendships. Here’s to more of the same for us all.

The original 35mm transparency was brought back to life through scanning prior to being processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Adobe Photoshop CS4 where I applied split toning to produce greenish shadows and subtle yellow and pink highlights.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Memories of Shangri-la_Part 2

Tiksey Gompa (Monastery), Ladakh, Inida. Canon New F1 camea and Canon 50mm f1.8 lens with Agfachrome 100 film

Today’s post is the second of two articles on my first overseas trip. It’s a reasonably long article accompanied by 4 photos so, even if you don’t feel like reading it all, please make sure you click on the More symbol and scroll down to see the rest of the photos.

It was early August 1988 and I had crossed the border from Tibet into Nepal. After a difficult trip to Kathmandu, where the upper end of the highway to the capital had been washed away in a flood, I hiked for an afternoon and much of the next day until the state of the road improved and I was able to catch a bus the rest of the way to Kathmandu.

Nepal wasn’t a major part of my travel plans. I had originally planned to travel overland from Hong Kong through China into Nepal, around the top of India and then through Pakistan into Kashgar in far northwest China. Striking out from Kashgar I would journey across the country, via the fabled Silk Road, to Beijing. From there I would travel back to Hong Kong from where my return flight home was booked. The ticket included a special return trip to the Olympic Games in Soul. I wasn’t that excited by the event, but the opportunity to travel to another country was certainly enticing.

Anyway the dodgy meal I’d mentioned in my last post, on my journey from the Chinese border to Kathmandu, continued to cause me problems. I suffered from terrible stomach problems (I’II spare you the details) and, as a consequence, saw very little of the country. After around 10 days I took a flight to Varanasi, the famous city on the holy Ganges River. It is here where Hindu’s hope to be cremated and have their ashes cast onto the river. I remember reading at the time that, as the very poor couldn’t afford the cost of the ceremonial cremation, deceased babies from poorer families were often singed, rather than cremated, and their bodies thrown into the river. In an attempt to deal with the problems this practice was causing a species of crocodile had been introduced into the river to finish off the bodies. This policy wasn’t popular with local fisherman whose boats were little more than large canoes. They were, naturally, sacred of the crocodiles.

After a few interesting days, including a sunset boat trip on the Ganges, where my latest travelling companion was hasselled by our boatman causing me, once again, to swing the tripod, I took a night train to New Delhi.

Well, that train trip was certainly an adventure. I was robbed in my sleep. The next morning I was without my passport, plane ticket home, travelers cheques and all my cash, albeit for about 80 cents. There was no doubt that the eight or so seudo professionals, who bordered the train in the middle of the night, were suspicious characters. A guard approached with a 303 rifle pointed straight at them but, with a “now look here my good man” approach they embarrassed him and caused him to back away and leave the carriage. Outside of an old B-grade movie I doubt that I’d ever seen someone outside of a hospital or medical clinic wandering around with a stepascope around their neck.

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Memories of Shangri-la_Part 1

Canon New F1 Camera and Canon 50mm f1.8 lens with Agfachrome 100 film

This image was made during my very first overseas trip. Some folks will recognize the Potala Palace, the former winter palace of the Dalai Lama, in the background. The year was 1988 and I was 26 years of age. Now, I need to take a moment to apologize for several things. Firstly, the hat I’m wearing in this picture. Akubra hats, made popular by golfer Greg Norman, were popular with some types of Aussie tourists during the 80’s. I was a bit young for that demographic, but was sold the hat by legendary Collingwood footballer Bob Rose, who my mum loves to say danced with her at the Collingwood town hall in 195o something. She even mentioned this fact to him at a function in the 90’s. Surprisingly he didn’t seem to remember. The second thing I need to apologize for are the photos themselves. I was an experienced wedding and portrait photographer with some extra experience as a newspaper photographer. But I had little experience in landscape and photojournalism. Finally, camera problems and poor processing ruined most of the images I made during the trip.

Nevertheless I believe there’s value in what I have to share so I’ve decided to outline some of the more memorable moments from the 3½ months trip over 2 separate posts. Part 2 will be posted a week from today, while part 1 can be summarized as follows:

Melbourne to Hong Kong

The day before the trip’s commencement I began to feel ill. I ended up flying with what seemed to be the worst flu I have ever had. My sinuses were blocked and the pain suffered was quite severe. None of the drugs in my substantial medical kit seemed appropriate to the task.

My trusty guidebook recommended backpacker accommodation in Kowloon for some unbelievable price, I think around US$3 or US$4 a night. To this day I’ve never met a local, either now or then, who believed that price. It was an absolute dive and most of the people who stayed there, one room for guys and one for gals, were pretty sleazy. They seemed to spend most of their time involved in a range of dodgy activities with the sole aim of extending their stay and, as a result, avoid returning home. Small time black market activities including currency exchange and off-loading hard to buy electrical goods in nearby countries seemed to be popular activities. The thing is they never seemed to do anything of value. They existed rather than lived.

The highlight of my stay was a trip on the Star Ferry where I met Stephanie, a local gal who a few years later moved to Vancouver because of her families concerns regarding Hong Kong’s re-unification with China. We became good friends and stayed in contact for many years afterwards.

Hong Kong to Shenzhen

I took the train into Shenzhen; one of the then newly established special economic zones. Upon arrival I looked for accommodation. With no luck I headed back to the railway station at dusk. The area seemed to be deserted. I was immediately surrounded and harassed by a bunch of thugs outside the railway station. Weighed down by a 20kg backpack on my back and holding a camera backpack and tripod I was forced to do a Lancelot and swing the tripod around. There were so many of them that, if they really wanted to hurt me, I’m sure they could have. Nevertheless, it took all my wits and a dash of post-colonial bravo, to get out of that one.

After about a week in Shenzhen, most of it spent at a brand new, soulless and extremely expensive hotel on the outskirts of town my sinus infection had eased enough for me to get back on the road. Though it is a condition that returns to this day I’ve found ways of managing it. Understanding what your body can cope with physically and being better able to manage stress can help protect your immune system from attack from such debilitating and prolonged illnesses.

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The Track Back_Trephina Gorge_Central Australia

Leica M6 Camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M series lens with Kodak Ektachrome 100VS Professional film

Situated 85km east of Alice Springs, along the West MacDonnell Ranges in Central Australia, and known for its sheer quartzite cliffs and river red gums, Trephina Gorge offers excellent opportunities for photography and hiking alike.

Today’s image was made, at dusk, from a viewpoint above the gorge. I’d hiked up earlier to photography the sunset and had to hurry to get back down before darkness descended. But the surroundings were so beautiful in the soft twilight that I stopped to make a few quick pics on the way down.

In putting together an interesting image I wanted to explore the space between the foreground rocks and trees and the cliff face beyond. The dualities of hard rock against soft foliage, the warm/cool color contrast and the relatively limited orange and green palette dominated compositional considerations.

The original film based image was scanned then processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Buddha Statue in Red_Bagan_Myanmar

 

Buddha Statue in Red_Bagan_Myanmar

Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M series lens with Kodak Professional Ektachrome 100VS film

The above image was made in Bagan, ancient capital of Myanmar (Burma). The Buddha statue was positioned in front of a mural depicting significant moments from the Buddha’s life. The original image was made with Kodak Ektachrome E100VS film. The ‘vs’ stands for vivid saturation and, with the films slight magenta/red color bias, flesh tones and warm colors sometimes photograph a little too hot for more liking.

In the above image I decided to employ Adobe Camera RAW to de-saturate the image, in particular red and orange, and balance the image out by pushing up the green and blue saturation. I feel a more realistic 3-dimensional representation has been produced.

 

Buddha Statue in Red_Bagan_Myanmar_BW

Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M series lens with Kodak Professional Ektachrome E100VS film

In the second version I chose Adobe Photoshop CS4 for a black-and-white rendering with varying degrees of split toning throughout shadows, mid tones and highlights.

If you have a favorite I’d be interested to know your preference.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

 

Buddha Statue_Bagan_Myanmar

Buddha Statue_Bagan_Myanmar

Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M series Aspherical lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color film

Myanmar (Burma) was a revelation for me. I loved it and can’t wait until I can re-visit this spectacular country.

I discovered the above scene while wandering around the ancient capital of Bagan. The strong side light emphasized the shape, texture and tonality of the Buddha statue and the brick platform on which it is situated. As you can see I made use of the architecture and used the doorway to an adjoining room to frame the statue.

The original color transparency was scanned prior to processing in Adobe Camera RAW. Subtle color tones were applied throughout the image (shadows, mid tones and highlights) in Adobe Photoshop CS4.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Monk_Sri Lanka

Hasselblad 500C camera and Hasselblad 180mm f4 Sonnar lens with Kodak Ektacolor Gold 160 film

Hasselblad 500C camera and Hasselblad 180mm f4 Sonnar lens with Kodak Ektacolor Gold 160 film

I photographed this monk during a brief break while travelling with my old friend Darren Cuttler (Cutts) from Colombo to Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka.

The monk was happy to walk with me to the top of the ancient stone steps for a view of the ruins and forest below. After a few quick frames it was time to get back on the road and continue our journey.

As well as the original color image I’ve included a black-and-white version for your perusal. Which do you prefer?

Hasselblad 500C camera and Hasselblad 180mm f4 Sonnar lens with Kodak Ektacolor Gold 160 film

Hasselblad 500C camera and Hasselblad 180mm f4 Sonnar lens with Kodak Ektacolor Gold 160 film

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

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