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Kids Hanging Around_Lhasa_Tibet

Canon F1 camera and Canon 50mm f1.8 lens with Agfachrome CT100 precisa film

Today’s image is from the archive. Made on my very first overseas trip in 1988, this image from Tibet features a near candid of 4 likely lads.

The original transparency (slide) has not had an easy life. Adversely affected by poor processing and then scanned with, by today’s standards, the quite average Kodak Photo CD workstation, it’s one image that I never could throw out. So, while far from portfolio standard, its fun to finally get it out into the world thanks to Photoshop.

In the process of preparing this image for posting I couldn’t help but wish I’d made more of my opportunity and photographed the boys individually. They’ve all got such interesting faces. To think they’d all be in there 30’s now. Assuming they’ve survived. I wonder how their faces have changed and if they’re still in contact with each other.

The circumstances surrounding the making of the original image are very vague now. The positioning of the boys with their fly’s down or belts out adds both a sense of humor and an important design element to the image which, I think, is why I made the shot in the first place.

Image processing was conducted in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS5.

© Copyright All Rights Reserved
Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

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Ronbulk Gompa_Tibet

Canon F1 camera and 50mm f1.8 lens with Agfachrome 100 CTi Precisa film

Regular followers of this site will no doubt remember several articles I posted recently regarding my first overseas trip in 1988. During the research for those articles I discovered a number of images that would otherwise have remained unpublished. I’ve decided to bring those images back to life and share the results through this blog.

The above image was made at Ronbulk Gompa (monastery) in sight of Chomolungma (Mt. Everest). My travelling friends and l made a quick visit to the Gompa, prior to taking the short drive on to Base Camp, where we camped overnight.

During processing I employed a bit of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop hocus pocus to add extra depth and sharpness to the image that, together with most of the photos made during the trip, had been adversely affected by a camera fault resulting in significant overexposure. I also applied a sepia-like tone to add a sense of old world nostalgia to the final image.

© Copyright All Rights Reserved

Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

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.

© Copyright All Rights Reserved

Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

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.

© Copyright All Rights Reserved

Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Pic of the Week_River_Everest Region_Tibet

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

My friends Liz, Leif, Lee and I crossed this river, with the aid of a 4 wheel drive and our Chinese driver, on the way to a night spent at Base Camp in the valley directly below Chomolungma (Mount Everest) in Tibet. This was 1988 and our 1,000km trip from Lhasa to the holy mountain and then beyond to the Nepalese border involved passes of around 5,000 meters above sea level. I thought this was a pretty fair achievement for a lad from a small town in Western Victoria in South East Australia. Then I met a young western woman (possibly Swedish, though I can’t remember with any certainty) who was undertaking the trip on horseback.

On our arrival I remember passing an English mountaineering expedition who were not very happy with the fact that we would be camping closer to the mountain than them. I befriended an Italian climber who asked me to join his team for breakfast. He was a really nice guy and made sure the team’s doctor checked me over as I’d had trouble due to the high altitude.

My friends and I were treated with a wonderfully clear night by which to view the north face of Mount Everest. We then spent a very cold night huddled together in our tiny tent, prior to the last leg of our journey down to the Nepalese border.

The original 35mm transparency was scanned prior to being processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

© Copyright All Rights Reserved

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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