Redux: Kathmandu’s Boudhanath Stupa

The classic shot of Boudhanath. Been there done that.  f/10, 1/480 sec, at 14mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

The classic shot of Boudhanath. Been there done that.
f/10, 1/480 sec, at 14mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

Kathmandu is a strange mix of Hindu and Buddhist culture. With only a few days to explore my friend Jon and I are sticking around Kathmandu. Our hotel is right across the road from Boudhanath – one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Kathmandu, Nepal. It’s also the most photographed spot in the country,  so how do you photograph it in a way completely different than (a) you’ve done before or (b) like no one else has done?

For me, it was trying to look through the obvious and observe what was happening. One of the first things you notice are the masses of people circumnavigating the stupa. I wanted to capture that movement. In fact almost every image of Boudhanath this trip has been about movement. I think it is because there seem to be people everywhere.  I set up my tripod in one of the corners and shot with a slow shutter speed and used the Multiple Exposure feature of the X-Pro1 to show the crowds and the movement.

Capturing the feeling of the crowds using multiple exposures.
f/22, 1/4 sec, at 14mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

Later that day as the sun went down, Jon and I got on the roof of a nearby restaurant and waited them to turn on the massive flood lamps all around the stupa. We wanted that classic post sunset blue sky with the Stupa all a glow. But guess what? No flood lights this trip.  We made do.

 

The Boudhanath Stupa at night. f/5.6, 3 sec, at 14mm, 250 ISO, on a X-Pro1

The Boudhanath Stupa at night.
f/5.6, 3 sec, at 14mm, 250 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

The next day we visited the hippie dominated Thamel part of Kathmandu. After being thoroughly uninspired we decided to return  to Boudhanath early the next morning back to get another look at a different time of day.

Of course there is more to Boudhanath than just the big white stupa. It is the home to at least eight monasteries and nunneries. As a result there are many maroon clad monks and nuns roaming, praying, playing instruments and generally living life. Given this is such a heavily touristed spot the monks are understandably sick of having their photos made.  So how do you photograph monk in a situation like this? There are several option. The first is to just put up the cameras. Not something I am fond of doing. Another option is to photograph the bigger picture -  if you can’t photograph a monk, then photography life around a monk.

 

If you can't photograph a monk, then photography life around a monk.  f/7.1, 1/2 sec, at 14mm, 400 ISO, on a X-Pro1

If you can’t photograph a monk, then photography life around a monk.
f/7.1, 1/2 sec, at 14mm, 400 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

One way to do this is to let the monks wander into your photo. This is just what I did in the following three images below.

 

In this case I was shooting the candles and the incense pot when the monk wandered into my frame. f/22, 1/30 sec, at 14mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-Pro1

In this image I was shooting the candles and the incense pot when the monk wandered into my frame.
f/22, 1/30 sec, at 14mm, 1000 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

Similar to the image above. I set up a tripod and shot several frames of  people, monks included, coming and going through this doorway.f/5.6, 1/15 sec, at 35mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

Similar to the image above. I set up a tripod and shot several frames of people, monks included, coming and going through this doorway.
f/5.6, 1/15 sec, at 35mm, 200 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

The moral of this lesson is take your time and rethink everything.  Remember,  there is almost always a way to get a unique perspective on an old image. Do this by looking at what is happening around you and try to photograph it in new and less obvious ways. When you do you will probably be surprised at what you come up with.

 

At duck, a host of ladies come out with large slate topped tables and place dozens of lamps on them for people to light. butter f/8, 9/10 sec, at 14mm, 400 ISO, on a X-Pro1

At dusk, a host of ladies come out with large slate topped tables and place dozens of lamps on them for people to light.
  f/8, 9/10 sec, at 14mm, 400 ISO, on a X-Pro1

 

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2 thoughts on “Redux: Kathmandu’s Boudhanath Stupa

  1. Pingback: Jon McCormack Photography | Kathmandu!

  2. Pingback: Swayambhunath: The Monkey Temple | The Digital Trekker Blog & Photography

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