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Category: Buddhist Temple

Buddhist temples are some of the most beautiful and interesting things you’ll find in Asia. They vary greatly from country to country and culture to culture.

南無妙法蓮華經

南無妙法蓮華經

I’ve always been a fan of Buddhist art.  I would often go on long scooter rides through the countryside and every time I saw a temple I’d stop to explore and photograph it.

(c)2013 - William Milberry

The Temple Gate

The Temple Gate

To the southwest of the town I lived in there was a Buddhist temple that always caught my attention when I passed it.  The side of the road dropped off steeply and about 2 stories down was the temple with a cemetery next to it.  The day I took this photo I stopped by with one of my vintage cameras (I can’t recall which one, it might have been my Super Ricohflex).  While walking around the temple grounds, an old Japanese lady saw me.  I politely asked her if it was OK for me to be there and shoot photos?  Rather than asking me what country I was from as so many from my rural area impulsively did, the old lady smiled at me and started telling me about the history of the temple.

According to her the temple burnt down a long time ago and was rebuilt.  The gate was the only original part that survived.  She suggested that I take a picture of the gate, which turned out to make a nice photo:

The Temple Gate - William Milberry
The Temple Gate – William Milberry
The Peanut Gallery

The Peanut Gallery

At Nanzoin Temple in Fukuoka Prefecture (Japan of course) there are countless little statues of the funniest looking men. These statues have plaques with Japanese names on them. I’m not sure what the significance is – perhaps the names are people who have donated significant sums of money to the temple, perhaps they are temple members who have passed away and this is some kind of auspicious thing … I don’t know. There are hundreds of them and they (at a glance) seem to be pretty unique, I don’t know if there are two of the same or not.

Long time-no infrared!

Long time-no infrared!

I haven’t shot infrared for a while.  I used to really LOVE IR, but then I found myself loosing interest in it.  I think the reason was that I got into film.  Film is so much more fun for me because of so much more hands-on involvement and the fact that I can only develop it once and not re-interpret it over and over until I’m happy with an image.

Despite this, I got the bug to shoot IR today, so I went out on a scooter ride with camera, tripod, and filters in tow.  This is the cemetery and gate of a temple that I pass from time to time shot in 850nm infrared.

While shooting this, an old lady came out of the temple and started talking to me.  At first I thought that she was mad that I was essentially trespassing and taking photos without asking.  But she was nice and told me a little about the history.  Apparently at some point in the past the whole temple burnt down, but the gate in this photo was the only part spared and thus the only original building left.  If this was the U.S.A. the old lady probably would have called the police then screamed at me for trespassing.  Japan tends to be very kind to photographers, in large part because people are responsible and don’t make a mess or trouble for others near as much as in other countries.

Mourning the passing of a great film ._. RIP Fuji Neopan Presto 400 120

Mourning the passing of a great film ._. RIP Fuji Neopan Presto 400 120

I went to Yodobashi Camera in Hakata the other weekend after visiting a beautiful Buddhist temple and shooting some photos with my vintage Ricohflex TLR.  I was deeply saddened when I went to buy some Fujifilm Neopan Presto 400 120-format and was told that it was discontinued!

WTF is Fujifilm thinking!  Presto 400 was an amazing film that was pretty popular among film shooters.  It had nice grain, nice accutance, nice contrast, was flexible (could easily be pushed and pulled), plus the film base and coatings were WONDERFUL making it go onto spools easily and dry flat compared to the sticky and curly nature of Kodak Tri-X (another film that I use.)  I am so sad that I haven’t been shooting more film recently and didn’t know that it was discontinued (so I didn’t have a chance to stock up.)  I only have 2 or 3 rolls laying around  of this ;-(

This photo was on the afore mentioned film.  This photo is very subtle and if you don’t have a well calibrated monitor, you may think it is a bit dark (I assure you it isn’t.)

Little Woman at a Big Temple

Little Woman at a Big Temple

While out on a scooter ride I came across a buddhist temple in the hills outside a town. Everything was just a bit larger than normal. I took a photo of a small, old Japanese woman praying.

The perspective, the slightly larger than normal size of the temple and small (but not midgit) size of the woman made this really strange looking photo where she looks anusually small.

This photo is from the same roll of film as the previous. A roll of TriX 400 that I shot in the sunlight at 1600 and pushed 2 stops for a contrasty, grainy, artistic effect.

This statue is one of many around a Buddhist temple at the waterfall in the previous shot.

One could imagine that this photo was taken on the moon where, due to no atmosphere, there is no bright sky to fill in the shadows making sunlight surfaces bright and clear and shadows as black as night. In actuality, the sun was coming in from one angle, while the fill light from the sky from the opposite angle was blocked by trees.  I didn’t take notes, but I don’t recall using any filters on this shot.

Wat Arun (”Temple of Dawn”), Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Arun (”Temple of Dawn”), Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Arun is one of my favorite temples I have visited in my travels around Asia (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand.)  In my limited knowledge I would say it is heavily Hindu-art influenced.  It is very different from the many other beautiful temples of Bangkok.  It is extremely tall with very steep and scary stairs that you can climb and walk around high levels of it for a stunning view.  The outside is mostly stone and some form of concrete with extremely ornate etchings, carvings, statues, and such.  It sits along the river and makes a lovely scene from a boat.  You pay a nominal feel of 50 baht (hmm, about $1.50) to enter and can walk around freely.  There is quite a nice gift shop too where I bought some traditional Thai color/pattern fabric table cloths for a steal compared to the inflated prices I would pay in Japan for similar items.

I visited this temple twice, once in a rush as a 15 minute stop of a boat tour and once for several hours on an afternoon.

Photo of Bangkok taken from the top of Wat Arun with a telephoto lens.

Crossprocessed view from a stupa on a hillside

Crossprocessed view from a stupa on a hillside

There is a white stupa on a hillside that I have wanted to go and check out for 1.5 years now, but have been too lazy to. The other weekend I finally hopped on my scooter and went. I also took my Nikon F601 film SLR loaded with color film which I intented to cross-process.

I shot the film as normal, but then developed the C41 color film in B&W chemicals myself.

When you develop film in the wrong chemicals you often get very interesting (and artistic) results. In this case developing color negative film in B&W chemicals gives a grainy negative B&W image of degraded yet artistically appealing quality.

The negatives are also so incredibly dark that they probably can’t be printed the traditional way and need to be scanned. My strips of film look almost black, yet I was able to get some lovely vintage looking images off of them by scanning. The color comes from the orange base of the film and the unprocessed dye layers in the color film.

This is the view of the town as seen from the hill where the stupa is.