Bhaktapur is one of our destination during our recent trip to Nepal with my fellow friends. In 2012, I have spent much time with wide angle lens. Since established shot was not my aim for this trip, I decided to use only 1 lens looking for any chances for portrait.
On our way from Sarangkot down to Bhaktapur, a friend of me, Leanna Chong asking me if I dare exchange our camera. So she will be using my Fujifilm X-Pro1, and I will use Fujifilm X100. I have no hesitate to take that as a challenge.
I struggled for half an hour to understand how X100 works. A lot of guessing within the menus and finally I get the some basic understanding how does it working.Basic means to know simple setting like aperture, exposure, shooting modes, shutter speeds and ISO. I believe X100 provides a lot of features, but I don’t want to spent so much time and perhaps missed any potential shots along the way.
This post is simply about collection of doors that attracts my interest during our recent travel photography trip. They came with various characteristic. Some with stricking colors, while other with seasoned feature. It can be just a simple doors like what we can see in our hometown. Doors with padlock are common in Nepal especially when visiting Bhaktapur & Patan.
I haven’t done any research about the doors role against local community here in Nepal but I suspect it must be related to Buddhism practice. The way they paint the doors with striking colors, amazingly detailed hand carved woods tells us how important the doors are related into their life. Only the windows and doors are mainly painted or decorated while the other part of the house or building left seasoned.
From photographic viewpoint, it is very easy to photograph the doors or windows. There is no need to deal with people so you don’t think about your life and death of asking people to photograph them. You can do it even with your phone’s camera. No special technique and if you like me, no need to carry any lighting equipment to get this done. Often time when travelling, I will pack as minimal as I could so that I don’t clutter my mind of taking care of my gears in my bag while moving around. The less the better.
These are my collection : Doors of Nepal
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own. – Susan SontagLife is like riding a bicycle: you don’t fall off unless you stop pedaling. – Claude Pepper
While in Nepal, I’m pretty sure you will attracted by the detailed carving on doors and window at homes and even at their shops.
Even you’re in streets of Kathmandu, this exotic looking windows & doors are everywhere. For locals, they even don’t notice about that rich carved doors because it was just normal to them but not “everyday” to me. You can see this even in impoverished homes or building. Their little doors say so much about where they have come from, their struggle and their optimism for the future. These are “an inevitably essential part of the architectural complex and received considerable embellishment in spite of the limited scope offered by the trellis-like tracery of the window-panels. They are examples of artistic perfection within the confined frame-work of geometric precision.” Wood-carvings on a window or door is not only a decoration, but there are religion, myths and tantras (mysticism) interwoven in it. You may not imagine that there are technical names for the component parts of a window. But there are meaningful words for them. Every part of a window represent something of religious significance. (click here for further reading)
These are some my collection of the beautiful work of Nepal. The Traditional Nepalese Carved Windows & Doors
While travelling, it is easy of me to neglect such detailed carvings. These are kind of boring shots. Most of the time, I will wait for someone to enter the frame to add more point of interest as well as to provide better story telling. I do have some of it in my collection. For this post, I would only present it without any subject so that we can appreciate those amazing work of Nepalese.
It’s been almost 3 weeks after returning from our travel photography trip at Kathmandu. Back at home, I’d spent most of my time with my beloved family rather than looking or examining all photos taken during the trip. Just taking my time for a quick editing & upload to my flickr account so they will be ready when I’m about to write something in my blog. I’m using lightroom through my entire workflow until the selected photos uploaded in my flickr account with its provided publish service. Maybe I will share some tips about publishing photos to flickr via lightroom in another post.
In November 2012, when I first travel to Nepal, I have already taken what I call “established” photo. With those “established” photo already in hand, I’m now put more effort to get portraits. A portrait with permission, not just a candid. This is where our communication skill get tested, it really pumped up my adrenaline most of the time simply because of just asking a stranger whether it’s okay to take photo of them. For most of you, maybe this is just an easy task but you got to believe me that it really hard on me. Maybe it really hurts me when I get rejected, feeling of upset and stressful moment when you really found someone with the characteristic features you wanted but refused to be photographed. I’m using Fujifilm X-Pro1 with 35mm lens, it means I will shoot just about 3-4 feet away from them just to get their portrait, I know they will feel awkward but this is where “trust” plays its role. When we get trusted, there is a good possibility that they will accept your request.
Below are portrait series of Nepal (Kathmandu – Nagarkot – Bhaktapur – Pokhara)
Portrait of lady above was taken when we about to leave from Sarangkot after spending 3-4 hours for the sunrise viewing. We were the last group leaving Sarangkot that morning. While waiting for our friends at our meeting point, I see this lady inside her shop. So i made some contact with her, investing few rupee for a bottle of Coke. I can’t deny the lighting that moment, and I said to myself, the worst thing I could get is just a rejection. Suddenly I speak before my mind even made decision yet, can I photograph you? She nodded.
The Smoking man is Mr. Bhubanashur, 60 years old and a Newari Hindu. We met at Bhaktapur while I’m waiting for my phone sim to get activated, I don’t expect the activation of new number will cost such amount of time. This guy, his is selling CDs of Nepal Traditional Music. He looks approachable to me, so I made my move to start a conversation. We talked about 5 minutes and he started to light up his cigarette and you know whats next.
A guy with nice blue fleece. The are about 3 mens were talking when we passed by, then one of the member asking where we come from, knowing that we all come from Malaysia, he spoke Malay with us and sharing some of his work experiences in Malaysia not long ago. My eyes actually fixed to his friend with blue fleece. I told him how good looking he was with that fleece and made a request for taking his portrait.
61 years old Tibetan Lady at Tashi Palkhiel. She is one of the villager selling tibetan handicraft near the Tibetan Refugee Camp. I bought few pieces of “friendship bracelet” and ask for a quick portrait shoot before leaving.
This beautiful girl above is Ms. Barsha, a 17 years old Tamang living at Nagarkot. She study in a boarding school somewhere in Kathmandu. That day, is a special day for Tamang which Lhosar Festival was celebrated. Actually, this shooting location is not in our list of destination that day, but as we passed by the village, I asked our driver to stop after seeing so many village gathering like having some kind of celebration. I have never regret of stopping by this village.
I took these two ladies photo at Swayambhunath Stupa or also known as The Monkey Temple. There were about 5-6 ladies in the same spot, when I was following my friend Wazari Wazir. I’m grateful he made his move communicating with them, a short warming up session and I took this opportunity to photograph some of them.
As he wrote in his blog:
“I simply could not resist photographing them, the light was so wonderful. I’m sure, I will be haunted by this moment if I didn’t get the shot, well, at least I should try to ask them. Photographing strangers, isn’t easy, nobody ever said it was” – Wazari Wazir (read more here)
He did mention too about his experience being rejected after asking permission to take someone’s portrait, getting “NO” is not the real big thing but thats what keeping us to explore more and take it as challenge to make a portrait of a stranger. Follow your heart, your instinct are telling you something. You need to trust yourself first to be trusted.
“A photograph is both a pseudo-presence and a token of absence. Like a wood fire in a room, photographs – especially those of people, of distant landscapes and faraway cities, of the vanished past – are incitements to reverie.” – Susan Sontag
Alhamdulillah. It was all started from scratch until me and Wazari finally managed to organise our first travel photography trip. It never comes into my mind to organise this trip but with full support and inspiration from Wazari, it finally come true. I remembered he once said “Make It Happens”, so I take that as a challenge, a healthy challenge. Thanks to Wazari Wazir for his support, I wouldn’t have done this without him. He has been inspired me from every aspect.
We have chosen Nepal because we had visited Nepal in 2012. It was my first time, I still remember how excited I am by just enjoying the view for Kathmandu from airport to Thamel Road. I said to my selves, this couldn’t be real, am I dreaming?
Our trip to Nepal is actually only 6D5N trip but because the flight fare hikes in the process, I decided to extend another 1 more day as the flight fare difference is about as equal to afford a night stay at Kathmandu.
To all 11 participant, I can’t express how thankful I am to have amazing friend like you. Thanks a lot for your trust & support.
If you interested to join our next photography trip to Nepal, please let me know. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/sms 0198838780 for more info. I am planning to organise another trip this coming November.