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 Photographic 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 Photographic 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
In less than 10 days I will be back in Bhutan for the Spring festivals perhaps watching a few more demons being vanquished, this time in Punakha Dzong for the Punakha Dromchen. You can read about it right here>>
The Demon of Chumey Valley
This is the final dance of the Prakar Lhakhang Tshechu in Chumey Valley, where the whirling demons are chased back through the door to the sound of chaotic drumming and stamping. Quite a lot of Ara has been consumed at the is point by all the performers, so it really is a mad frenzy, amazing to watch.
Image shot with the Hasselblad H4D-60 and the 100mm f2.2 lens
More images from the Kingdom of Bhutan, This time of the Black Hat Dancers of the Prakar Lhakhang Tshechu (religious festival) in the Chumey Valley in Bumthang, which is in Central Bhutan.
This was during the Black Hat Dance, or Zhana Cham which celebrates the assassination of a Tibetan King in 842AD by a black robed Monk as well as symbolising the subduing of the demons of the Earth by Buddhist Yogis.
The sound of the hand drums the dancers carry symbolises Buddhism itself which has no visible form. This is one of the most sacred dances at the Tshechu and simply witnessing the dance is said to wash away sins.
The Dance is certainly breathtaking to watch with beautiful costumes and the dancers performing spectacular spins and leaps that become more daring as the day progresses and more Ara is consumed (Local rice liquor) by the dancers. Incidentally, almost all the dancers at these Tshechus are local Monks.
All these images were shot with the Hasselblad H4D-60 and the Hasselblad 100mm f2.2 lens. Don’t forget to click on the images to get a bigger view.
I have finalised all the details for my photographic tour of Bhutan for next year and the web page has been fully updated, you can find all the details here>>. Next years tour differs from this years tour, which is leaving next month (october 12th), in that next year we are going in March, which is Spring in Bhutan. This means all the wildflowers will be out, it also means the festival around which I base the dates for the Bhutan Photo tour will be different.
Bumthang Festivals for the Photo tour of 2013
Both this year and last year the tour dates revolved around two fantastic festivals in the Bumthang region of Bhutan, The Jambay Lhakhang tshechu (religious festival) in Jakar and the Prakar Lhakhang tshechu (religious festival) in the Chumey valley. Both of these festivals are as authentic as it gets and worth the travelling into the scenic mountainous region of Bhutan, not that you need any further reasons, the scenery in central Bhutan is spectacular even on a bad day!
Punakha Festival for the Photo tour of 2014
For 2014 by arriving in spring it opens up the possibilities for seeing other festivals. For next years tour I have set the dates to coincide with the Punakha Dromchen tshechu, which takes place in and around the stunningly beautiful Punakha Dzong (temple fortress). This festival commemorates a pivotal victory of the Bhutanese over the Tibetan army in the 17th century that took place in the location where the Dzong now stands. The Punakha Dzong was built to ensure the Tibetans would never be able to sneak up the Punakha valley again, and the festival that happens in spring each year has a dramatic re-enactment of this battle as the main event, and we will be there to photograph it. If you would like to join me at the Punakha Dzong (which is pictured above) for this unique festival go to the Bhutan Photo Tour webpage to read all the details and reserve your place.
Since there are so many Monks in Bhutan I can hardly only put up one image, so here are a few more. Mostly photographed in the Dzongs and temples of Punakha, Trongsa, Thimpu and Bumthang.
Path to Enlightenment
It seems the Monks are used to being photographed, I guess they are an easy target, but if you are on the path to enlightenment being magnanimous with a group of photographers is just one small test along the way. Either way they were all very friendly and obliging, or perhaps gracious is a better description.
Dont forget to click on the images to see the bigger (and better) version. All three of these images were shot on the Canon 5D Mk II with a Canon 24-105mm f4L
On the way to the Temp
Bhutan Photographic Tour 2013.
The dates for the Bhutan photo tour for 2013 are up! I have redone the whole tour for 2013 and reduced the number of participants to a maximum of 10 people to ensure plenty of personal contact time. You can read about the new Bhutan photo tour for October 2013 on this page
If the Wrinkles on a persons face are the roadmap of their life, then this Bhutanese fellow has had a very full life indeed. Bhutan is a country of people for me primarily. The countryside is spectacular, the nature is wild and the architecture beautiful, but the faces of the people were what i kept seeing and photographing first. The people have such beautifully open and diverse faces, so i took lots and lots of portraits, some sneaky ones, like this one, but most with the consent (and a conversation, with lots of hand waving and laughing) with the person involved.
A road map to life
This image shows an old Man watching a festival in a small Monastery of back country Bumthang, a province of Central Bhutan. Maybe for the next Photographic Tour of Bhutan I will concentrate more on landscape?