Smoky Serenity in Bagan

This is our entry in The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene.

This post highlights another photo shoot in Bagan, Myanmar, with the international award-winning photographer Maung Maung Bagan.  (The first photo shoot is described at Bagan Photo Shoot 1: I need a map.)

This is a temple we visited in the late afternoon. It was locked, but Maung Maung had arranged for a “key man” to let us in for about $4 US.  He had also arranged for the novice Buddhist monk to be our model for another $4. 

We know that there must be particles in the air to capture sun rays in photos.  In the West, either a smoke machine or a can of spray smoke is used to illuminate the sunbeams. These normally come with strict warnings about allergies, safety, etc.  Gavin Hoey, one of our favorite presenters on YouTube, carefully describes these warnings each time smoke is used.  Maung Maung brought small bundles of some kind of dried grass, tossed them in the window behind the little monk, and lit them. The smoke was both photographically effective and choking.  After the shoot, we stood in the window where the monk is seen in the photo. We had difficulty breathing and our eyes watered.  Only then did we realize what we had just put the little novitiate through.

This photo was taken on February 8, 2017. Specs are:

Canon SL1, ISO 1600, f/7.1, 1/80 sec, focal length 18 mm

The Oxcart Models — Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: All Things Farm Related

This is our entry in Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: All Things Farm Related.

These are farmers that we met in Bagan, Myanmar, while traveling with local photographer Maung Maung Bagan. We were traveling down a dirt washboard road at (what seemed like) a high rate of speed leaving a quarter-mile dust plume behind the hot, un-air-conditioned car. Suddenly, Maung Maung turned down a path that was even worse and sped up. Apparently, he saw these farmers at a distance and chased them down to pose for us. The locals all seem to know that Maung Maung will arrange a tip for them if they pose. A lot of people were willing to pose and the tip seemed like a fair exchange to photograph interesting people going about their everyday lives.

This photo was taken on February 8, 2017. It was converted to black and white using Silver Efex Pro. Specs are:

Canon 100D, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, 55mm.

Bagan Photo Shoot #4: The Alms Line

This post continues our series describing photography sessions with the photographer Maung Maung Bagan in Bagan, Myanmar.  As our morning photo shoot with the young monk was nearing 11 am, we made one last stop at an “alms line.” This line of 20 statues is headed by Buddha, indicated by the Ushnisha (enlightenment elevation) on top of his head and the elongated ears.   He and the following 19 monks hold alms bowls. We cannot read the signs at the feet of the statues, but they are probably lessons in Buddhism. Our model is carrying his sandals because the walkway beside the statues is sacred.

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Alms Line

This photo was taken on February 8, 2017. Specs are:

Canon 100D, ISO 400, f/5, 1/1000 sec, 37 mm

For the earlier posts in this series, see:

Bagan Photo Shoot 1: I need a map

Bagan Photo Shoot 2: The Firewood Seller

Bagan Photo Shoot 3: The Monk at Prayer

Stay tuned for more posts in this series, using different models in the afternoon of the same day.

Bagan Photo Shoot 3: The Monk at Prayer

After our photo shoot at the colonnade, our photographer guide, Maung Maung Bagan, loaded us and the monk into his car and started driving down dirt paths. It was getting hot and we noticed that the only part of his air conditioner that still seemed to function was the ON light. On the other hand, we were zipping down roads at 40 miles per hour when other vehicles were crawling along at about 10 mph. We also left quite an impressive plume of dust.

We arrived at a temple and entered. At Maung Maung’s “suggestion”, we bought a pack of candles from a small shop inside the temple. We then went through an arched doorway which, to our surprise, led to a long cave containing only a large reclining Buddha. Placing the candles on stands and on the fingers of the Buddha, Maung Maung lit them and our little monk began to pray. The following photos show the  results.

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Praying Monk

Specs: Canon 100D, ISO 400, f/5.0, 1/6 sec, 37 mm

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Praying Monk

Specs: ISO 1600, f/5.6, 1/25 sec, 32 mm

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Reclining Buddha with Praying Monk

Specs: Canon 100D, ISO 6400, f/5.6, 1/125 sec, 43 mm

Both closeup photos of the monk were taken with tripod-mounted cameras. The long view of the Buddha was taken with a camera propped on a table.  For all the photos, the only illumination in the dark cave was the candelight seen in the photos.

For our earlier posts on our photo shoots that day, visit:

Bagan Photo Shoot 1: I need a map

Bagan Photo Shoot 2: The Firewood Seller