Buddhists monks shout during an animated philosophical debate in the mountains near Diskyid Monastery. A clap is used to emphasis a point and also teach the ability to remain focused and calm when teaching or meditating.
Ladakh – Photo Tip

Get low to add drama

Photo by Timothy Allen

Ladakh – Photo Tip Get low to add drama

Traveling around Ladakh on a motorbike for three months allowed me to visit a lot of Buddhist monasteries.

Timothy Allen
Timothy Allen Travel Photographer

In fact, once you leave the main tourist trail in this part of the Himalayas, there are not many guesthouses or hotels and so I ended up staying in quite a few monasteries. The temptation to photograph a monk or two is something very few travel photographers visiting this Buddhist state can resist, myself included.

However, by spending so much time with them, I saw quite a few unexpected sides to their life. My personal favorites were their heated debates, during which monks battle with logic in an attempt to confound their opponent into intellectual submission. Each debate is accompanied by frantic gestures, shouting and loud hand clapping, things that I previously had not associated with disciples of the Buddha.

Capturing the monks during the animated debates needed a fast shutter speed to freeze the action. The shot of the balloons needed a wide-angle lens to get as many in the frame as possible and I also shot it from low down to add to the drama.

Knowing the right speed, aperture or indeed lens for any shot can only come from constant practice so that it all becomes second nature – just like the monks learning the skills they will need.

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Monks with mulit-colored balloons during celebrations at Shey Monastery for the 800th birthday of the Buddhist Drukpa lineage. The royal family invited the first Buddhists monks to come to Ladakh in the early 1600s, and the first monastery was founded in 1624. Photo by Timothy Allen

Timothy Allen

Timothy Allen

Canon EOS 5D

Aperture
ƒ/9
Exposure
1/800
ISO
320
Focal
17 mm

Monks with mulit-colored balloons during celebrations at Shey Monastery for the 800th birthday of the Buddhist Drukpa lineage. The royal family invited the first Buddhists monks to come to Ladakh in the early 1600s, and the first monastery was founded in 1624.

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