The Alms ceremony – Luang Prabang Laos

L1003035

The alms ceremony in Luang Prabang is a unique ritual that makes the charm of this small city. It is a also a well know one and pictures of the monks lining the streets of Luang Prabang at 5am are famous worldwide. I could not attend it the first time I was there 10 years ago, but I made sure to see it this time.

L1003047

The little lady above lives on the other side of the street, where I am shooting from. The people on her right on the first picture are tourists (Korean, Thai, Chinese?) renting a stool, and buying alms from the merchants. So this has become a real touristic attraction, many stools are ready for Buddhist tourists or anybody who want to participate, and the non participating are legion.

L1003057

I try to keep a safe distance and show respects for the monks but as usual this is not the case for everybody. This is a bit frustrating, but I generally prefer to miss a shot than to fight or be a nuisance. All of this spoils a bit the ceremony for me, but it can be that I am just a tad difficult.

L1003063

I may stand corrected but what make it unique is the fact that monks from the 7 or so monasteries in town go out in the street to collect alms in procession, rather that visiting houses of people who will donate food.

2018-14-M6-06-007

If you are out in the street at 5h30 you can assist roughly to one hour of procession, and i f you follow the rules you can approach the monks up to 3 meters.

2018-14-M6-06-010

We were sitting on the pavement of the main street and it is quite busy. I think there may be many “spots”, like places  where the procession turns who may offer better photo opportunities, same from the exits of the monasteries of the path along the river.

L1003089

Outside of the center you will see random people waiting for monks from place to place, which surely would enable a closer encounter with this local customs.

2018-14-M6-06-012

Regardless of the crowd it is a great experience.

2018-14-M6-06-013

We enjoyed very much sitting opposite the lady-from-across-the-street as we regarded her devotion more authentic. But this is quite subjective and I don’t want to be judgmental.

L1003080

Flash photography is forbidden or course, so high end DSLR will probably have the upper hand here.

L1003070

For this lady renting stools and selling alms this is time to ring the end of the show.

L1003082

2018-14-M6-06-016

2018-14-M6-06-015

2018-14-M6-06-017

L1003096

Color shots taken on Leica M262 with 50mm F2 Summicron v5, Black and white taken with Leica M6 classic and Summicron 28mm F2 Asph on Ultrafine Xtreme 400ISO film.

 

Advertisements
The Alms ceremony – Luang Prabang Laos

A wet day in chinatown

2018-27-IIIc-08-21

A small write up today, and I will avoid the temptation to make another complete roll review (although in fairness I was tempted).

The flea market that use to seat in Sungei Road east of the city center has been closed for building a MRT (the local term for underground). What used to be coined as the “thieves market” has slowly moved to Chinatown in the heard of the city.

2018-27-IIIc-08-22

I am not sure what the authorities think of it, but here is another attraction in one of the tourist hubs of the Lion-city. These guys sell mostly old junk, and it’s rare you will find anything you might want to bargain for … actually as odd as it seems I bought for 2$ a record of Industrial Music, and one of the sellers (not sure how to call them) actually has a few interesting cameras.

2018-27-IIIc-08-24

You will find old watches and Buddhist artifacts and amulets, and for the rest … you’ll see for yourself.

2018-27-IIIc-08-23

Sure this will come a popular spot for street photography.

The 4 shots above were taken in a rainy afternoon,  with Ultrafine Xtreme 400 iso with the Leica IIIc and the Summaron 35mmF3.5, probably 1/60 second and f3.5.

As I am here I also add as a bonus three earlier shots done on the same film with the Leica M4 and teh modern Summicron 50mm v5.

2018-23-M4-05-023

2018-23-M4-05-025

2018-23-M4-05-026

I hope you enjoyed the visit

A wet day in chinatown

Anandpur Sahib

The city is one of the most sacred places in Sikhism, it is a big hour drive from Chandigarh.

L1000484

The main Gurudwara is situated on a hill, you walk up from the parking.

L1000489L1000491

It is quite beautiful and offers a great view on the surrounding area.

This place receives a lot of pilgrims as it is the place where the last two Sikh Gurus lived, so it is quite interesting to see the infrastructure. Below a hall were pilgrims can rest.

L1000494

And below a young Sikh guarding the guesthouse for pilgrims (we unfortunately could not visit one).

L1000501

The communal kitchen of this Gurudwara is also hudge. They have big pots.L1000515

In the kitchen he lady below started singing while making chapatis.

L1000520L1000525L1000526

Finally a good shot of the chapati making machine:L1000527

L1000540

Next we walked to a nearby temple with a sacred well a hundred stairs below ground.

L1000551L1000558

From the outside there is a beautiful view on the Virasat-e-Khalsa, the museum of Punjab and Sikhism.L1000561

This museum is very well done, interesting and didactic, although it may sound a bit propagandist or proselyte , it gives a lot of information on the history of Punjab and Sikhism. I think it is a must do, to help memorize or clarify the things we learned through our trip.

Anandpur Sahib

CHANDIGARH – THE CAPITOL COMPLEX

 

The Open Hand Monument

So here we are on the last day of our trip, on the road to visit the Capitol Complex; the heart of Chandigarh, designed (partially) by Le Corbusier in the late 1950’s. An ode to modernist architecture that we have been longing to visit for years.

Palace of Assembly

Well not quite; aside from the bad planning (in my own opinion) of our travel agent, visiting Chandigarh is a bit more complicated than we thought. So apart from the 3 sites cited in my last post, there is nothing organised to visit the habitations buildings and finally you have to go through a guided tour to visit the Capitol Complex.

The Shadow Tower

This is not quite all : the two main buildings on the Capitol, the High court and the Assembly are in use (why should they not be after all?). So you cannot enter the High Court and you are lucky (we were) to enter the Assembly ( but no photos inside).

Punjab and Haryana High Court or palace of Justice

Add bye the time the guide assembled the small crowd of tourists we started our visit by mid morning, time was starting to be short and the light was quite bad for taking pictures.

As you can see above the high court is in use with layers in their work outfits.

Palace of assembly

In the opposite site of the plaza from the Hight court, the Palace of Assembly has a better lighting. It is overseeing a large pond and offers a spectacular view.


The holes in the front walls give nice perspectives and see through views.

Patterns on the assembly walls, reminding that man is the scale of the construction.

Getting out of the Assembly House the inevitable Ambassador car, now a civil servant official car, which used to be common taxis.

Mister Mohan

Our visit was accompanied by Mister Mohan, from the tourist Police who turned out to be a friendly person.

A few more things:

  • For the habitations buildings there are no restrictions to go and visit them, ask inhabitants,… we met some passionate french people who were spending a full week there. But Chandigarh is a big city so you better plan for what you want to see.
  • You can “pass by” on a road at the back of the Open Hand monument, in  a certain distance, without getting into a tour and then be able to take picture at better moments (I did not)
  • The tour of the Capitol Complex is a bit rushed through, you are not welcome to wander around or take too long with your photography nonsense,
  • You do not see on the pictures, the parking lots, the vans, the 20 Spanish tourists of our tour, the barriers,…
  • How did I manage to take so poor pictures of a site I longed to visit for decades? It shows (if needed) that some skills need working on.
  • Camera geekerry : color shots Leica M262, black and while Leica M6, Summicron 28 and Summicron 50
CHANDIGARH – THE CAPITOL COMPLEX

2017 – A(nother) year in film

Here we go again, here is my new year message to the world : happy new year to all go out and keep shooting film.

2017-47-M6-22-017
Camera n.1: Leica M6 with Cinestill 800T

I think 2017 has been another very good year for film photography; the medium is getting more and more momentum. We saw a lot of new films released :Cinestill finally delivered the 120 version of 800T and 50D, Rollei gave us the Vario slide, Kodak is working on reviving Ektachrome, Japan Camera Hunter made more street pan and now has a second line, and more niche brands are creating or reviving special films. Of course Fuji keep on thinning his product line and Film Ferania is still not able to deliver its products. All in all the future of film is bright and it looks we are living more than just a fad. On the down side film camera prices are going up, but for most of it probably just from insanely low to still acceptable. The most expensive gear, Leica like, has not gone up much. Only the lenses that can be used on DSLR or four third cameras has seen unreasonably hikes.

2017-57-iiiC-13-026
Camera N.2 : Leica IIIC with Ultrafine Extreme 400

As in the past (2015, 2016) lets see how I plaid my part this year.

2017-53-Hassie-9-001
Camera N.3 : Hasselblad 500CM with Cinestill 800T

I managed to beat my own record once again by shooting 65 rolls this year, 1 more that last year. With both 120 and 35 mm format that should be close to 2000 pictures. I would say that 1 roll per week is a good average, as I also shoot digital.

2017-40-M4-3-016
Camera n.4: Leica M4 with Polypan PF50

Below is breakdown of the rolls shot by camera:

Rank Camera Number of rolls Last year rank
1 Leica M6 25 1
2 Leica IIIc 13 5
3 Hasselblad 500CM 10 3
4 Leica M4 9 2
5 Agfa Isolette III 3 7
6 Kodak Autographic Jr 3a 2
7 Nikon F 1 6
8 Heineken Toy Camera 1
9 Dacora Digna 1

Clearly the Leica’s are the star of the year, now I shoot Leica digital, I always carry the M6 on holidays. Apart from a small issue on the winding side, this is a perfect image making machine and I now have a good set of lenses (28, 50, 90) that are foolproof and cover most situations. The Leica IIIc, is still my most used “lesser” camera, I invested in a beautiful 35mm F3.5 Summaron this year, and despite maybe a small intermittent curtain problem I can now use it without second hesitation.  I still love the M4, but lacking meter it stayed home most of the year, until I dig it out this autumn, this one is faultless. I still love the Hasselblad, but I hardly carry it with me on holidays anymore, pity because my fridge is loaded with 120 rolls ,I have a long standing project of portraits that I may finally launch this year… The rest is done with my older cameras which for most have issues now, so I managed to make some odd nice shots but I would think twice before using them again.

2017-32-Agfa-1-008
Camera N.5 : Agfa Isolette with Rollei 80s

This year again I offer you a breakdown of the films I shot :

Row Labels Count of Film No
Polypan PF50 9
Rollei Retro 400s 7
Cinestill 50D 5
Kodak TMY 400 4
Kodak TRI X 4
Cinestill 800T 4
Fuji Fuji Xtra 800 4
Kodak Portra 160 4
Ultrafine 400 3
Kodak TMX 100 3
Rollei Retro 80s 3
JCH 400 pan 2
Bergger Pancro400 2
Kodak Portra 400 2
Rollei Superpan 200 1
Fuji Superia 400 1
Fomapan 400 1
FilmNeverDies Shirokuro 400 1
Fuji Velvia 50 1
Rollei  Retro 80s 1
Ilford Delta 100 1
Rollei ATP 32 1
Rollei CR200 1
Grand Total 65

This is a big variety; but as last year majority is 35mm, back and white; but there are about 20 colors rolls (10 last year) and a total of 16 120 format films (7 last year). The surprise may come at the Polypan 50 iso coming first with 9 rolls, these (and more) were given to me by my friend Ray, I like how it goes out and enjoy shooting at iso 50. Kodak and Rollei are still high up in the list.

2017-62-KODAK-1014
Camera N.6 : Kodak Autographic Jr 3a with Cinestill 50D

The news was the Bergger Panchro, the Cinestill 50D and 800T in 120 format, but I did not made anything outstanding with them.

2017-46-NikonF-1-015
Camera N.7 : Nikon F with Polypan PF50

I confirmed this year my attachment to Leica systems, I nearly did not shoot any Nikon, apart on digital for some events. This year I plan to stick to the same program, camera and film wise, I have  a bulk roll of Ultrafine Extreme 400, so this will give me 20 roll of 36 shots more or less, and the fridge is still stocked (around 50 rolls in there). I plan to upgrade my scanner, I have the Epson 500 for 8 years now, it served me well, I may have scanned, 300 rolls with it so that’s 1.5 $ a roll for scanning, I think it paid well for itself.

2017-29-Dacora-1-006
Camera N. 9 : Dacora Digna with Bergger Panchro 400

Happy shooting in 2018 !

2017 – A(nother) year in film

Gurdwara dukh Niwaran Sahib – Patiala

L1000246

The Gurdwara dukh Niwaran Sahib is situated in the north part of the city of Patiala in Punjab, 80 km from Chandigarh.

L1000223

It  is the place where Guru Tegh Bahadur came to rid the by then village of a serious and mysterious sickness which had been their bane for a long time. The place where Guru Tegh Bahadur had sat under a banyan tree by the side of a pond came to be known as Dukh Nivaran (meaning eradicator of suffering). Devotees have faith in the healing qualities of water in the sarovar (pond) attached to the shrine.

L1000226

We were very lucky when arriving there late afternoon, as the Gurdwara was preparing for a celebration the next day. Plenty of people where gathering already some very colorful as the young Sikh above. Or the older gentlemen in the following pictures.L1000228

L1000242

L1000249

The gentlemen on the right was here with his family and used to live in what is now Pakistan before India’s partition in 1948.

L1000211

I always enjoy seeing people working; here partaking in the cleaning and preparation of the next day ceremony.

L1000216

We skipped visiting the kitchen this time.

All shots above Leica M262+Summicron 28/50

Below are some film shots, Leica M6, the other summicron, and Kodak TMY 400

Gurdwara dukh Niwaran Sahib – Patiala

Gurdwara Ber Sahib

Gurdwara Ber Sahib is situated in the Sultanpur lodhi town of Kapurthala Distt.

L1000002

It is situated on the bank of the rivulet Kali Bein, half a kilometre to the west of the old town; Guru Nanak performed his morning ablutions in the Bein and then sat under a Ber (Zizyphus jujuba) tree to meditate.

L1009992

Guru Ji meditated at this tree daily for 14 years, nine months and 13 days. While Bathing here one day in Bein River Guru Sahib disappeared and was missing and returned after three days. Upon returning enlightned Guru began his life long mission of preaching Sikhism. (http://www.sikhiwiki.org)

L1000005

I was most impressed by the pond, the contrast of its green color and the white stones around under the harsh midday sun. The black fish adding to the scenery, but I am afraid I did not manage to capture it properly.

As in every Gurdwara, we had to visit the langar hall, which was quite empty at that time. But being one of the most sacred place for Sikh it is quite big and can host quite a crowd.

The tea master

The man poured us some massala tea with the device below; which is quite a clever invention to serve the usual crowd.

The device

As an eminent foreign guest after having our tea we were hushed into the kitchen, where a group of volunteers were making chapatis.

A beautiful light was pouring from the windows.

We had to decline the invitation to make chapatis ourselves.

L1000038

Back in the Langar hall.

L1000020

Around the pool a enclosed bathing areas for women only.

L1000031

The living quarters.

L1000077

Outside the Gurwara, volunteers shining the shoes you have left before entering the temple.

Gurdwara Ber Sahib