Life, Worship and Sitting around: Bhaktapur, Nepal

Playing the triangle for Puja.f/1.4, 1/80 sec, at 35mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

Playing the triangle for Puja.
f/1.4, 1/80 sec, at 35mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

Bhaktapur was the capital of Nepal until late in the 15th century. As a result it has many amazing wood and stone temples and statues all around the city. Both days Jon McCormack (Check out Jon’s images here.) and I shot there it was rainy and overcast. Not the kind of rainy skies that give dramatic dark clouds, the other kind of sky, the white and boring washed out kind.  Luckily bland cloudy skies are good for shooting portraits and detail shots of life. This is precisely what we did. We roamed the city looking for culture unfolding before us. Life as it is lived in the 21st century Bhaktapur. The trick is get up early, really early, before the tourists rise. The locals are already up and about by 5:30am. We would arrived around 6. Just in time for morning puja and the vegetable markets. (Note: if you can’t see all of an image due to a small monitor just click on the image and it will popup and fit your screen.)

The Triangle Playerf/1.4, 1/180 sec, at 35mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

The Triangle Player
f/1.4, 1/180 sec, at 35mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

A priest in the mirror (left) listens to the morning songs of prayer.f/3.6, 1/55 sec, at 14mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

A priest in the mirror (to the left) listens to the morning songs of prayer.
f/3.6, 1/55 sec, at 14mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

A man sleeps outside one of the many temple in Bhakatpur while another man rings the temple bell.f/2, 1/120 sec, at 35mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

A man sleeps outside one of the many temples in Bhakatpur while another man rings the temple bell.
f/2, 1/120 sec, at 35mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

Morning Puja in Bhaktapur, Nepal.f/4, 1/110 sec, at 14mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

Morning puja in Bhaktapur, Nepal.
f/4, 1/110 sec, at 14mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

Lighting oil candles for morning puja.f/2.8, 1/150 sec, at 14mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

Lighting oil candles for morning puja.
f/2.8, 1/150 sec, at 14mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

A hand rings the bell in a Hindu temple to awaken the godsf/1.4, 1/75 sec, at 35mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

A hand rings the bell in a Hindu temple to awaken the gods
f/1.4, 1/75 sec, at 35mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

Early morning in Bhakatpur, an old man prays to a idol.f/4.5, 1/50 sec, at 35mm, 400 ISO, on a X-Pro1

Early morning in Bhakatpur, an old man prays to a idol.
f/4.5, 1/50 sec, at 35mm, 400 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

Yet another man sitting on a roadside porch in Bhaktapur, Nepal.f/2.8, 1/220 sec, at 14mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

Yet another man sitting on a roadside porch in Bhaktapur, Nepal.f/2.8, 1/220 sec, at 14mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

Waiting outside a temple/ f/1.4, 1/500 sec, at 35mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

Waiting outside a temple.
f/1.4, 1/500 sec, at 35mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

This seems to be a favorite pastime for men in Bhaktapur, sitting on these old porches. f/1.4, 1/500 sec, at 35mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

This seems to be a favorite pastime for men in Bhaktapur, sitting on these old porches.
f/1.4, 1/500 sec, at 35mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

A portrait on the streets of Bhakatpur. f/1.4, 1/550 sec, at 35mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

A portrait on the streets of Bhakatpur.
f/1.4, 1/550 sec, at 35mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

Technical Note: I want to take a few minutes here and  note that I was pretty frustrated this trip shooting with just my two Fujifilm XPro 1 bodies. Not because of any slow focus or odd flash sync speeds, but because of my limited lens choices.  Part of this is my fault and part of it is Fujifilm’s fault. When I shoot with my Canon 5d MKIII (a full frame camera) I usually shoot two bodies and two lenses: the 85 mm f/1.2 or the 70-200 mm f/2.8 on one body and the 16-35 mm f/2.8 on the other. I didn’t have this option and I felt the pain more this trip than in others. This is mainly because I did a lot of close up work that would have benefited from a 16 mm lens choice. So it is Fuji’s fault in that they just don’t have a wide enough lens yet. They are promising  a 10- 24 mm f/4 OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) later this year. That would be the equivalent to a 15 – 36 mm in a full frame camera. Until then I am left making the 14 mm (21 mm full frame equivalent) work for me. It was my fault because Fujifilm does have the new 55 – 200 mm f/3.5 – 4.8 OIS (84-305 mm full frame equivalent) but I don’t own it yet. So it is what it is. All-in-all I was happy with what I did photograph. It is that age old fact the creativity happens when limitations are present.

 

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10 thoughts on “Life, Worship and Sitting around: Bhaktapur, Nepal

  1. To paraphrase Chase Jarvis, ‘The best Canon is the Fuji you have with you’ :-)
    Really diggin’ those shots and as you say, the gaps in the lens line-up are slowly but surely getting filled. Today, there’s the announcement of the 23 mm and we should have the 10-24, which I’m also eagerly awaiting, not to mention the 56 1.2!

  2. Pingback: Jon McCormack Photography | Bhaktapur, the Ancient

  3. Matt, these images are wonderful. I particularly love the first portrait, right at the top of the post, of the guy with the triangle. Beautiful light, magical expression and sense of engagement with you, and a strong composition. It has it all. I also love the last portrait of the guy in the rain-washed street.

    I shoot with the Sony NEX-7 mirrorless camera in addition to my Nikon SLR system and feel similarly frustrated by the lack of an ultrawide lens offering of sufficient quality – I share your pain there!

    • Thanks Ian. When I saw the old guy in the bottom photo he was standing on the side of the street. I actually asked him to move to the to the center of the street. I could see it would be a much stronger shot this way and it was.

    • Jeff, 10- 24 mm f/4 you mean. But, yes that combo will make a great one, two punch. Frankly the XF56 mm f/1.2 R might be a better choice than the 55 – 200 depending how you shoot. Frankly my only gripe about the 10 – 24 is an f/4 and is much slower that 16-35 mm f/2.8 I use with 5D MKIII. At least it is OIS.

  4. Some beautiful images here, the first guy has a great, relaxed expression.
    Did you need to interact with the subjects very much in these shots? I see you mentioned moving the chap in the last shot, which is something I always struggle with.

    • Yes, I spent maybe 20 to 30 minutes with the guy in the first photo and his friends — just sitting, listening to their music and photographing. The other guy, I simply asked him to stand in the street. I didn’t give him any directions outside of inviting him to stand in the street.

  5. Pingback: Life, Worship and Sitting around: Bhaktapur, Nepal | The Digital Trekker Blog & Photography | silvia paganino | fotografie

  6. Pingback: Life, Worship and Sitting around: Bhaktapur, Nepal | silvia paganino | fotografie

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