I always go off on my Bhutan photo tours with the best intentions to write Blog entries as I travel with new images daily. Occasionally it works out as planned and I put up the odd entry as I travel… Not this time, not even one entry. I think this was a result of pretty hopeless internet, and a tour group who were so enthusiastic to do and see everything that I was run ragged every day. By the time we were finished for the evening it was all I could do to drag myself to bed!
I also embarrassed to say that I have barely looked at my images from that trip, again as a result of too little time, or at least the desire to sleep during whatever time I had.
This image is of two of my Bhutanese guides, Tshering (on the right) and Kezang, having a laugh with some local kids at the festival in Ura Valley, it’s a candid shot facing away from the action of the dancers at the festival. Shot on a Nikon D810 and the 24-70mm f2.8 lens
I’m in a hotel in Bangkok on my way to Bhutan for this months 15 day photo tour to Bhutan. Got to get up at 3am tomorrow morning for the flight to Paro which should take about 4.5 hours, including the stop at Guwahati airport in India. Last time we got stuck on the runway in India for about 6 hours waiting for the fog to lift from the Paro Valley so the pilot could see the runway and not actually crash into the mountains.
It’s certainly an exciting descent, going through 3 valleys with the edges of the cliffs brushing the wingtips… Not the sort of thing you would want to do if the valleys are filled with dense fog! Anyway, the 6 hours on the runway turned out to be very interesting as we were in the plane with about half the government of Bhutan (in economy class), who seemed to be a lovely humble bunch who were more than happy to chat to the wide eyed curious foreigners about the working of their little Himalayan country.
I can’t say I’m actually hoping it will happen again, 6 hours in sweltering Assam province of India in a metal tube in the baking sun with no A/C was not something I am keen to repeat, but still, sometimes the most amazing things can come out of trying circumstances.
What does all this have to do with the image I am posting? Nothing really, other than it was shot in Bhutan and I am on my way there now…
The image is actually of a young novice Monk studying his lessons in the tenuous warmth of the early morning sun at the Gangtey Goemba, a tiny Monastery in Central Bhutan in the Phobjikha Valley
I was going to put up a post this morning saying Bhutan Photo tour for November has only 3 places left (from a total of 10)… But that was before I got to work. After arriving at work my Bhutan Photo Tour for November 2015 is completely full!
Bhutan Photo Tour 2016 Dates soon
I will be headed to Bhutan in a couple of weeks and one of my objectives while I am there will be to research locations and festivals for the 2016 tours, so keep an eye on the blog. If you would like to be on the early notification list you can send me an email at: email@example.com
My Photo tour to Bhutan just seems to get more popular each year, I had six places taken before I even started promoting it, and the last 4 before I could print the flyer! If you are interested in going to Bhutan with me at some stage and you would like to get the early notification please just send me an email and I will put you on the early warning list. firstname.lastname@example.org
I will be running another Photo Tour to Bhutan in 2016, and if I have time I may even run a second tour in October/November 2015.
My Photo Tour of Bhutan for 2015 has filled up really fast, as of today I only have one place remaining… So if you have been sitting on the fence, sit no longer. The Tour is strictly limited to 10 people, so once I reach that number that’s it for this year
You can read all the details of the tour and download the booking form right here>
Dates are up and I am open for bookings for my Photo Tour of Bhutan for 2015. Each year I like to modify the nature of the tour from things I learn the previous years, so it just keeps getting better and better. Everything from which hotels are nicer or have better food, to complete changes to times of year or itineraries. This year I have made changes to everything!
Bhutan Photographic Tour 2015
The tour for 2015 is from April 27th to May 12th which is later in Spring than last years tour. I have also shifted from 2 buses with 2 Bhutanese guides to 5 4WD cars and 4 guides (and me as number 5), which means we will all be a lot more comfortable with plenty of space for camera gear, lots of leg room and you can ask as many questions from the guides as you like!
Perhaps the biggest change for this next tour will be the internal flight from Paro to Bumthang in Central Bhutan, where we meet our cars, drivers and guides. This way rather than drive out from Paro to Bumthang, then drive all the way back (there is only one road), we fly out and drive back much more slowly, with less hours spent driving per day. This means more time meeting the locals, seeing the sights and making photographs.
Still only 10 people.
Something that hasn’t changed from last years tour to Bhutan is that it’s still strictly limited to a maximum of 10 people. Small groups are nicer to travel with and much more personal.
If you would like to read more about next years Photographic tour to Bhutan, all the details can be found on my Bhutan Photo Tour web page, including the early bird special price that will save you $500 if you book and pay your deposit by November 30 of this year. You can download the booking form directly off the page, or if you have more questions, you can use the contact form at the bottom of the page or give me a call.
Some more stormy moody skies from last years Bhutan Photography Tour, this time over the Chumey valley in Bumthang, Central Bhutan. This is one of my favourite valleys in Bhutan, it is wild and open and the main road, which is the only road is a small winding one that is only 1 lane wide that meanders across the valley and then up through the passes.
I think this image is really defined by the sky and all the moody texture with sunbeams breaking through the clouds. Imagine it with Blue cloudless skies… It really wouldn’t be a “keeper” at all like that would it?
This was shot using the Hasselblad H4D-60 and the Hasselblad HC 100mm f2.2 lens. I shot it with the panoramic crop in mind and simply cut off the top and bottom… Having 60 megapixels to play with is very handy!
The “small” building on the ridge with the sunlight falling on it is actually one of the King’s Palaces. This image looks fabulous blown up big and actually featured in an international exhibition on Bhutan in Copenhagen earlier this month, as did the one from the previous post.
My next Photo Tour to Bhutan will be leaving in April 2015, dates and costings are being finalised right now and details will be up soon
This is an image I shot last year while on my Photography tour of Bhutan, I’ve been meaning to put it up for ages as I rather like it. Really, the light makes the shot, though I guess that’s a common thing with photography.
For this image it had been raining and windy on and off all day, and this was a small break in the weather. The clouds were moving rather fast, so the sunbeams were shifting and changing all over the place. I took about 10 exposures on the Hasselblad H4D-60 and a 50mm lens (about the equivalent to a 32mm in full frame 35mm speak), but I liked this one the best, with the sunbeams illuminating the green field in front of the house, a little on the hill behind it and the forest on the hillside opposite.
I think Bhutan is almost unique in this modern world, in that the culture and beliefs are strong and firmly rooted in their present day society, The Bhutanese have mobile phones and computers, they wear Nike shoes, many of them study overseas, almost everyone speaks English, yet they daily wear traditional dress, eat their traditional foods, participate and believe in their culture and festivals. It is an amazing country with a beautiful juxtaposition of the old and the new existing side by side and rarely conflicting.
This image is of a young woman who works for the local government of Punakha, she has a few minutes before her work day begins. She works in a 17th Century Dzong, she wears traditional Bhutanese dress and she is sending a text message on her iPhone 5…
Shot with the Fuji XPro-1 and the 35mm f1.4 lens
When I take a tour group to one of these stunning cultural festivals in Bhutan I try to remain as unobtrusive as possible, bearing in mind that this is their festival, and I am a guest. I tend to stand quietly in one place for quite some time, on the corner of a building or off to the side of some steps, watching and when the opportunity presents making an image, like this one.
Dancers having a Tea Break at the Prakar Lhakhang Tshechu in Chumey
Not Getting in the Way
The Bhutanese are lovely friendly people and a regular occurrence when they see me standing at the back is to invite me forward (to stand in front of them) so I can see better… Now I am 180cm tall and most Bhutanese are somewhat smaller than that, so if I stand in front of them they won’t be able to see a thing. Naturally I decline, but often that simple interaction is enough to start a conversation where I often discover that the person I am talking to studied in Australia (Engineering, science or similar), or has a brother, or sister, or Son or Grand Daughter studying there.
Image shot with the Hasselblad H4D-60 and the 100mm f2.2 lens… without getting in the way or being a nuisance.