Nepal post 4 An Australians perspective A day out at a Buddhist monastery

Yesterday was a monumental day. I finished the shoot for my project. Initially I was meant to interview the head monk but alas things conspired against that happening, so I got to interview a child monk and photograph the absolutely wonderful child monks.

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Whilst there I had the privilege to witness one of the volunteers Virginia. At one 19 with no actual professional teaching experience she had complete command of her class. She teaches with humour creativity and a real love for the children and the material she presents .

I really believe that the challenge of Nepal brings out the best in people when I saw her teaching I was very impressed. It was like I was seeing someone much older.

Then to finish the shoot we went to film in the Junior school project, where all the little ones start there educational journey in pepsi cola just near the airport. The spirit of the children really shines they are so photogenic and love being in front of the camera .

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Yesterday I went to a buddhist medicine bowl shop here in Bhaktapur . It was quite an amazing experience. They basically wack this bowl around your body which sends out a reasonence that is meant to open everything up get blood flow moving and the like. Whilst I dont know if it was actually doing anything , the sensation and the sound was very relaxing. I bought one of the bowls which is stunning. Mostly made out of copper with beautiful inlays. The bowl is completely made by hand . Its a thing of beauty. Its other use is to put on a table and wack it with the supplied mallot then meditate to its deep rich harmonic sound.

So the shoot is over and I am now officially on holiday. After a really dreadful year, where my health failed me on multiple occasions , my confidence was shot. I feel this project has been a exercise in healing. How so you might ask? The challenge of this project and overcoming its multiple issues along the way has given me a huge confidence boost to take home to Australia. I don’t feel broken anymore. I now truly feel that is behind me . I can go home edit the film and take some real momentum into my life.

The first week here was very stressful I had a nasty stomach bug but I worked my way through it and just treated it as another challenge. Tomorrow, Saturday I am off to Pokhara the lake side city. I am being driven one way and flying the other. There I am going up in a hot ait balloon hopefully doing some meditation just chilling after a frantic last 2 weeks .

From what I hear the drive to Pohkara is unbelievable beautiful , if not a tad hairy. The road is very narrow . I am lucky I have a local to take me. I can stop take pictures and really customise it to my liking..   more to come

Nepal post 3 An Australian’s perspective

Now in my second week doing my volunteering/internship my body is struggling quite a bit with the taxing heat. I just cant eat very much or the dreaded travelers belly attacks occur. I think of this experience like a physically demanding marathon. I am powering through managing everything but will be glad to move onto Pokhara on the weekend.

The trip itself so far has been quite organic. It has now been shortened somewhat because of the issues I have had. But I have still gained a lot from it. Yesterday I went upto the monkey temple to film and photograph the volunteers on a sight seeing trip.

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The monkey temple is a stunning Buddhist monument perched way above the city of Kathmandu. In the heat climbing the stairs was a bit of fun, note the sarcasm , but when you get up there the views were amazing.

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monkey temple views
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monkey temple

Photographing the volunteers was also fun and very dramatic in such an amazing location here are some examples.

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Yesterday the traffic as usual was manic it just took forever to get to the temple. On the way back we would stop for 10 minutes at a time not moving anywhere. Then this happened.

 

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Yes she was waving at me evidently calling out if I had any chocolate . She was in her school uniform and extremely cheeky to boot.

The last few days here in Kathmandu will be interesting. I am interviewing a Monk and have permission to film at the Monastery . I am also talking to the director of the NGO and just have some bits of pieces to film before I go to Pokhara .

I am being driven to Pokhara which should be interesting then flying back to Kathmandu at the end of next week. Although Pokhara isn’t more than a few hundred km’s away its takes 6-8hrs because of needing to wind around the mountains. That’s why I decided to fly one way and drive the other..  more to come….

Nepal Post 2 An Australian’s reflection

YES I made it, well I made it to the end of the first week of the internship.

Why is it that hard might you say? Well, I have a new appreciation for what an immigrant goes through landing in another country, not being able to speak the language know the systems or communicate.

It is tough being an outsider here or anywhere where you can’t speak the language. Sometimes it feels they are making joes about me behind my back. But hey it’s probably my neurosis. Anyway the good stuff.

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The experience whilst hard is incredibly exciting challenging and ever-changing. If you ever want to do something like this leave your expectations at home and be ready for anything. not only am I shooting stories for VSN but I am training local staff. One day in a woman’s centre who teaches English to adults who have never had the chance.

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woman’s education centre

To being invited for dinner by one of my interviewees who is a homestay host. Eating and enjoying the company of her and VSN’s volunteers.

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Every day is so diverse I went out for a walk around Bhaktapur this morning and found myself in a precession of Hindus chanting an unbelievable eye-opening experience.

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Hindu ceremony

Next week I meet the director of VSN for whom I found out is the brother of the founder and the uncle of the current coordinator. I shot a piece today with the coordinator who spoke with such passion about the future of the Nepalese people and the role VSN can play. I will also be interviewing a fully robed monk in a monastery here in Kathmandu.

After a tough first few days I really feel like I am hitting my stride getting used to everything from the pace of life to the food and knowing the limitations of my equipment. My camera has overheated a few times. When it overheats I have to stop and cool it down. The heat drains the batteries which isn’t good.  On Sunday I am being taken up on a cable car to a mountain top shrine right up the cliff face of the Kathmandu Valley. It should be quite something. Till next time by for now….

My next Fuji Lens for my Xpro1 55-200mm

With the announcement of the first zoom lens for the Xpro1 coming tomorrow. This is the lens I have been waiting for. Fuji have managed to keep the side down and keep it light reports say.

Fuji 55-200 zoom lens

At 699 is very reasonably priced and also has image stabilisation . If this lens turns out to be as good as the other in the range it should also be very sharp. I intent to use it for portraits and as a travel zoom. A preorder will go in as soon as they open. Join my 35mm 1.4 – 18-55mm f2.8 and 60mm macro.

Pimping out your Fuji X Pro 1

All dressed up to the night

You have you new Fuji X pro 1 well before you start shooting there are a few things I advise purchasing all pictured in the above picture. Dont worry none of what I am suggesting is very expensive but it is very practical.

Firstly the lens hood that comes with the camera while nice and built from metal has a major drawback. That drawback is that it only fits the god awful rubber lens cap. This lenscap falls off all the time and generally leaves the lens vulnerable to damage. So again as pictures above, I found a fantastic alternative. Whilst browsing through ebay I stumbled upon a leica copy lens hood. These run about $12 for the hood and cap. The cap fastens very tightly onto the hood but is very easy to get off by hand when needed.

Secondly the shutter button has a bare thread for a shutter release . Under the finger the sensation is not optimal . So you can buy a button to screw into the thread. I find sensation of having the smooth button much more pleasing when shooting. These run about $8 on ebay.

Thirdly the strap that comes with the camera is cheap nasty rubbish. So I replaced mine with a very minimalist leather strap. Its is very light and comfortable around ones neck . This on ebay runs between $30-60 depending on quality.

Very importantly a screen protector for your new expensive camera is paramount. The LCD on the X pro 1 is very vulnerable to scratches. This is a very worthwhile investment. They shouldn’t cost you any more than about $15 but if you dropped your camera and didn’t have one on you could be up for a big repair bill.

An absolute must is a spare battery. I bought one of ebay for $15 and it runs fine. The battery life of the X Pro 1 will cause you headaches if you dont carry a spare.

As you might be able to see by the picture , I also added the Fuji Grip for the X Pro 1 . With my big man hands I found it ergonomically not satisfactory for holding. Once I applied the grip it improved the ergonomics a lot. The camera now feels like its moulded to your hand. But at $135 it doesn’t come cheap.

X Pro 1 grip

So you have your camera now what will you carry it around in?
The internet is abounding with advice to buy expensive bags for your camera. What I wanted was a retro bag that wasn’t to big and could carry the X pro 1 plus a lens or two spare battery etc.
What I stumbled upon was, if you search for vintage camera bags on ebay you get a choice of fun small retro looking bags. No they are not real leather but they look good and carry everything I need without adding weight or much girth. They tend to run $25-50 that is a big saving over many bags which can run over $150 and not even accomplish what my bag has.

Further Fuji X Pro 1 Observations

Yesterday I took the X Pro 1 out and did some shooting at the queen victoria market.

The light was lousey it was busy and a lot of fun. The thing that is so great about the camera is I can have it around my neck always at the ready. Because it is so small no one takes any notice of it.

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The camera’s high ISO performance is nothing short of amazing. No longer do I have to be concerned about dull light or non existent light. Set the camera at say 3200 ISO and you can shoot in situations unimagnable before,

Also of interest I was shooting with the 18mm f2 lens which has some interesting quirks. Its best sharpness in my non scientific test was around f5.6 and above . As noted elsewhere it can be a bit soft in the corners wide open. I definitely believe also the auto focus is at its weakest with this lens. The strongest auto focusing is to be had with the 35 1.4 which is very snappy.

Lastly I just wanted to mention that my camera body and lenses are all working with the latest firmware.

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