4 Days on the sacred plains of Bagan
Well, I’ve spent roughly 20 hours on the post-prod work and I’ve processed nearly one half of the volume. I really like to take pictures. I think it is a great way to express one’s creativity, especially if like myself, you’re too often stuck with numbers and facts in your daily work.
However, the post-prod editing takes a lot of time. Probably too long in my opinion. Particularly if you have to dig the best shots out from under 2000+ raw files. It is probably the main downside of digital photography. You should be able to sort the wheat from the chaff but at the end, you keep all of them, thinking that one day they’ll develop the algorithm that will correct all the imperfections (blur, noise, etc.). But like Olivier Fölmi said once (a great Swiss Photographer who covered many Asian Countries and especially Myanmar), if you spend more time editing the picture than taking it, it was probably bad in the first place… However, I don’t modify my pics too much. I try not to alter the original moments. However, because of technological issues (my camera is nearly 5 y.o), I had to correct some chromatic aberration/distortion. Things that you usually don’t encounter with fix focals (but somehow it’s hard to shoot with a 35mm from 1200feet above the ground level).
Well I’m getting carried away. Let’s get back on track, Bagan. Bagan is a very special place on many levels. It is first the most sacred area in Myanmar (with more than 3000 Stupa or Pagoda). From an historical point of view, Bagan was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom, the first to unify the regions that would later on constitute the country of Myanmar.
From an organizational point of view, I spent around 4 days there and my highlight was of course the hot-air-ballon flight over the sacred plaines of Bagan. The entire experience was truly amazing. They picked me up at the hotel at 5:00AM with an old Chevy Truck from the 60s. They drove me to the departure field, where I could enjoy a cup of tea and a small breakfast. And after that, when everything is set up and ready to go, I boarded for a 1-h trip over the Pagoda, right on time for the sunrise. At first, it was a bit misty because of the humidity, so you could only see the top of the Pagodas. And then they all emerged, in a quasi mystical way. This experience was literally breathtaking and I would spend the rest of trip torn in half. The first wanting to enjoy every seconds of the trip and the other one wanting to take the best possible snapshots. After the flight, to land smoothly, they treated me to a glass (or two) of Champagne and local sweets.
Besides that, I also enjoyed cruising the country side on a (once again rutted) bike, hoping from one temple to the next one. And, because of the temperature, you have to start either early (sunrise) or later on (sunset). However, due to the relatively small sizes of the temples and the constant increase in the number of tourists, you find yourself often squeezed in one temple, waiting for the sun to come down.
Last but not least, I also went to Mount Popa, the sanctuary of the 37 Great Nats (spirits). A highly sacred place that fosters you to meditate and elevate spiritually. However the area is occupied with hundreds of monkeys (also sacred) that defecate and urinate almost every where. So you better keep an eye on the ground as well (bearing in mind that in all Buddhist/Hindu temples, you have to take off your shoes when you enter).
And as usual, click on the previews to start the “slideshow” respectively to see the picture in full-size.