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Submitted on
November 24, 2009
Image Size
273 KB


79 (who?)

Camera Data

Shutter Speed
4/1000 second
Focal Length
165 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Jun 14, 2009, 2:29:01 PM
Bhikkhu by Talkingdrum Bhikkhu by Talkingdrum
Another from this year's international Tort Pah Pa at the Cittaviveka Buddhist Monastery.

I don't believe there to be any hierarchy in Theravada Buddhism but this gentleman was dressed differently from the other monks and seemed to be always at the front of the ceremonies. Perhaps he has attained a higher level of enlightenment.
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jumparoundjon Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2009   Photographer
The lighting is terrific. If it was lit using only natural light, which I suspect must have been the case, you either have been incredibly lucky or incredibly patient!
Talkingdrum Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2009
You're right it is only natural light. There is definitely an element of luck involved but it's also about making the most of what you've got. The trick is to really understand what the camera sees. Here I exploited the limited dynamic range of the digital sensor which can produce some dramatic results. This (along with some of the other shots I posted of the monks) is shot outside on a very hot bright afternoon. The monks are praying at a shrine in a clearing surrounded by trees with dappled light falling on them. Because the sun is so strong the highlights are incredibly bright. By exposing for the highlights everything else goes black due to the camera only being able to capture a fraction of the dynamic range the human eye is capable which creates that dramatic look.
jumparoundjon Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2009   Photographer
That's really very interesting, and helps explain why you have such a mastery of light, if I may say so!

I'm not quite sure how you expose for the highlights. Could you possibly explain? Sorry to be a nuisance. Perhaps I do already know, but don't quite understand what you mean exactly...
Talkingdrum Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2009
Normally when you use your camera's auto exposure function it will take an "average" reading of a scene. A digital sensor (or film) doesn't have the capacity to capture the range of tones our eyes can see so in difficult lighting the camera will either "block" in the shadows (go black so there's no detail or "clip" the highlights (go pure white and again no detail). In this particular instance if I had let the camera have it's way you would have seen a man standing in front of some trees in broad daylight but the lit parts you see in the photograph would be completely blown out (clipped to white) and the whole thing would have looked very nasty. To expose for the highlights basically means to under expose the photograph considerably so that the really harsh highlights remain within the cameras dynamic range. The effect of that is that everything that is not lit by the dappled sun just goes to black (blocked shadows) which in this case produces a desirable result. Basically just look at your histogram and make sure that you keep the graph within the limits on the right hand side. You can dial in exposure compensation but it's much easier to have your camera in manual mode and keep reducing the exposure until you see the highlights are with in the cameras limits on the histogram and there you have it...exposing for the highlights.
jumparoundjon Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2009   Photographer
Thank you so much for your extremely detailed and practical advice on exposing for the highlights. However, it does leave me with one question. If you don't dial in exposure compensation to under-expose the image, how do you adjust the exposure? I guess you stop down the aperture, but doesn't that affect the depth of field? Sorry if I'm asking a dumb question.
Talkingdrum Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2009
Sorry, when I said dial in exposure compensation I was referring to the particular way my camera works. If you're shooting in anything other than manual mode you're camera will choose the exposure value. If you're shooting in aperture mode it chooses the shutter speed and if you're shooting in shutter mode it chooses the aperture. It then becomes necessary to dial in "exposure compensation" to over ride the camera's automatic exposure setting. I always shoot in manual mode so I don't need to dial in what my camera refers to as "exposure compensation" because I'm in control, I just increase the shutter speed to under expose.
jumparoundjon Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2009   Photographer
I can dial in exposure compensation with my camera as well, but don't use it very often.

I tend to shoot in aperture priority mode for natural light (usually to get my lens as open as possible to exploit dof) and shutter priority mode when shooting flash (to manage the rather slow 1/180 flash sync speed on my camera).

I have begun to shoot fully manual sometimes, and I'm sure I will do it more in future, as I learn and become more competent and confident. Perversely, I normally manage my flash manually, and very rarely use TTL.

Anyway, it's very helpful to have it explained so clearly how I can expose for the highlights. Much appreciated, as always.
panos-gr Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2009
Very nice shot!
May you achieve quickly full enlightment!
Talkingdrum Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2009
Thanks :meditation:
boot-cheese-3000 Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2009
or maybe he's an attention hog.:laughing:
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