Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What's what at the Wat?

I have a special place in my heart for Buddhism. I don't profess to understand all its tenets, or adhere to them all but I try to live my life along the lines of its teachings as much as possible. I find Buddhist temples to be calm. relaxing places and very different from country to country - obviously a reflection of the national character more than the religion itself.

In Japan the temples are often very calm, serene places lacking in ostentation. There is hardly any sound at all as people whisper and move about in hushed, reverant tones. In Tibetan Buddhist temples I tend to find people walking around chatting with each other as they spin their Mani Wheels and catch up on the latest town gossip. Almost as if the temple takes the place of the local coffee shop as a meet up place. Whilst some of the temples contain very ornate statues and decorations I often find that it's not particularly over the top.

And then there's Thailand! Wow, there's more gold here than Smaug the dragon could have hoped for! Everything is bright and lairy, opulent and ostentatious. Well at least it is here at Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok. My kids were gobsmacked at all the 'jewels' and 'gold' plastered everywhere the eye looked.

For a photographer it's a dream come true as the bright golden chedis contrast with the (often) grey sky. When the sun comes out and gives you a dash of blue it's perfect. Technically speaking the one thing you have to be careful about is blowing out the highlights - especially in the red channel. Keep an eye on your histogram and make sure you are recording all the information and let the shadows fall away if you need to because it's important to keep the detail in all the bright areas of the frame.