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Wheel of Law_Lhasa_Tibet

Hasselblad 503CWi camera and Hasselblad 150mm Sonnar f4 lens with Kodak Portra 160VC Professional film

The Wheel of Law represents the teachings of the Buddha and the endless cycle of death and rebirth known as Samsara. The hub represents moral discipline, which stabilizes the mind; the spokes wisdom to dispel ignorance; and the rim training in concentration to hold everything together. The wheel’s eight spokes are also a symbol of the Noble Eightfold Path from the Buddha’s teachings while the motion of the wheel is a metaphor for the rapid spiritual change possible by adherence to these teachings. The Wheel of Law is often a central element in a Mandala, which is a geometric representation of the Buddhist universe.

The wheel or chakra is a significant symbol in Buddhism. The Buddha’s teaching are referred to as the Dharma, so the term Dharmachakra, which literally translates as the wheel of law or transformation, symbolizes both the Buddha and his teachings. When flanked by two deer, as is commonly the case in Tibetan Buddhism, the wheel symbolizes the Buddha’s first sermon at the deer park in Benares, known today as Varanasi, in present day India.

Today’s image features the Wheel of Law photographed on the rooftop of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. The image was made with a Hasselblad camera on medium format color negative film. After scanning the image was processed in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

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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

Quiet Amidst the Turmoil_Sri Lanka

 

Hasselblad 503CW camera and Hasselblad 150mm Sonnar lens with Kodak Ektacolor Gold 160 film

Hasselblad 503CW camera and Hasselblad 150mm Sonnar lens with Kodak Ektacolor Gold 160 film

Situated on a rocky outcrop, just 11km north east of Anuradhapura, Mihintale is of enormous spiritual significance to the Sinhalese as the place where Buddhism originated in Sri Lanka. It is here where, in 247 B.C., King Devanampiya Tissa was converted to Buddhism after an encounter with Mahinda, the son of an Indian King and the first missionary of the Dharma. Apparently Mahinda appeared to Devanampiya Tissa in the place of a deer the King had been hunting.

Today, the feeling of seclusion and tranquillity still exist in this lovely, relatively isolated location.

The stupa or dagoba, an architectural innovation imported from northern India, usually enshrines relics of the Buddha and other celebrated illuminati associated with early Buddhism. These solid hemispherical domes, which blend simplicity and serenity, provide a subdued but effective expression of the essence of Buddhism.

The above image features the 1st Century B.C. dagoba, situated on the summit of Mihintale Kanda, which is said to contain a single hair of the Buddha. The site offers magnificent views of the surrounding country‑side, including a superb view toward the great dagobas of Anuradhapura.

Due to years of civil strike Sri Lanka is somewhat off the tourist map for most travellers. It is, however, rich in history and natural beauty. It remains one of my favourite photography destinations.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography   

Buddha Reflection_Saiging Hill_Myanmar

 

Hasselblad 503CW camera and Hasselblad 150mm f4 Sonnar Lens with Kodak Portra 160VC film

Hasselblad 503CW camera and Hasselblad 150mm Sonnar f4 Lens with Kodak Portra 160VC film

Despite their relative expense and technological sophistication cameras remain relatively dumb tools that need to be mastered and given direction by the user.

Photographing reflections provides an interesting problem. Cameras do not recognise subject: they have no idea as to whether you are photographing a baby, a bahmitzfa or a birthday cake. As the camera has no concept of water or mountain, how could it possibly know what area of the scene should be focused upon. In the case of a reflection an auto-focus camera will usually focus on the surface of the mirror-like subject (water, glass, etc). More than likely this will emphasize surface scum, smears and the like and render the actual reflection, which occurs underneath the surface of the water or mirror, somewhat soft.

The solution is to manually focus on the reflection itself and use Depth of Field (DOF) to control the relative sharpness of surrounding areas.

The above image was made inside a temple on Saiging Hill, not far from Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma). Critically focusing on the reflection of the Buddha statue allowed me to place emphasize on it and use the surrounding mirror work to provide a kind of layered appearance, thereby emphasizing the illusion of three dimensional space.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

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?

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

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