More festivals in (better) film photography: Gai Jatra

The festival of Gai Jatra is a day in which people mourn relatives who have died in the past year. It is similar to Halloween, in that it is a day for the dead and children dress up in costume. Specifically, they dress as cows, or paint on mustaches: “Gai Jatra” means “cow festival,” and it originated in the 17th century as the king’s attempt to console and amuse the queen after their son died. (In Hinduism, the cow is the symbol of motherhood.) The tradition caught on, and every year, children and their families parade through the streets carrying…

Some festivals in film photography

Here are a few shots from two festivals that took place earlier this year: Bata-Savitri and Ropain. During the Bata-Savitri festival, married women fast and pray for the health of their husbands. They also tie colored threads around trees and make offerings to the goddess Savitri Devi. Some of the wives who were sitting around the tree looked very young; the older ones, on the other hand, clearly had had enough of Bata-Savitri over the years. Ropain is the rice planting festival. We missed the main festival day, but still were able to see some farmers at work. I’m starting…

More adventures, etc. with lots of hiking

Day 3 began at 4:45 AM when we woke up, pulled on our heaviest clothing, and began our hike up Poon Hill to catch the sunrise. Poon Hill rises to 10,531 feet above sea level. (Granted, we were starting at about 9,430 feet.) Abby remarked that, in Nepal, this is called a “hill,” while in the U.S. east of the Mississippi, people would call it a “mountain.” Maine’s Mount Katahdin is 5,269 feet high. Vermont’s Mount Snow is 3,586 feet. And Georgia’s Stone Mountain? A piddling 1,686 feet. Come on, people. Anyhow … as we neared the top, I turned…

More adventures in film photography, with pictures of mountains

Back in November, we went hiking in the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), a mountainous area about 100 miles northwest of Kathmandu that borders China. We spent four days hiking through the mountain region, completing about 40 km. We flew into Pokhara and took a van to the entrance of the ACAP, and began our hike. The village at the entrance, Nayapool, is filled with guest houses, tea houses, and restaurants, and there are many more such businesses throughout the park. Because of COVID, however, nearly all of them were empty while we were there. Sadly, the government had launched…

Maha Shivratri

The sadhus recently came to Pashupatinath to prepare for the Maha Shivratri festival. Maha Shivratri celebrates the marriage of Shiva and Parvati, and it is one of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar. According to Wikipedia, “unlike most Hindu festivals which include expression of cultural revelry, the Maha Shivaratri is a solemn event notable for its introspective focus, fasting, meditation on Shiva, self study, social harmony and an all night vigil at Shiva temples.” In the days leading up to the festival, the sadhus and their entourages pose for photographs in exchange for tips. And, this being a…

Navadurga festival, Bhaktapur

There in a festival in Bhaktapur called Madhav Narayan which celebrates one of the avatars of the Hindu god Vishnu. It is famous for the sight of male devotees rolling from the center of town down to the Hanuman River to show their devotion to Vishnu. The festival was nearing its close, so I went to Bhaktapur the day before to be at the riverside early in the morning. It turned out that the city also is in the middle of its Navadurga festival. Navadurga is a mask dance ritual/street carnival. To celebrate Navadurga, dancers representing nine demonic avatars (durgas)…

Fewer Misadventures in Film Photography

I recently started developing my own color film. Color film development is tricky because you have to maintain the chemicals at a specific temperature, otherwise the film gets ruined. And when I sent my film out to a lab here in town, it did get ruined—albeit in sometimes interesting ways—so I’ll do my own development from now on. Here we have the world’s largest Lord Shiva statue, the Kailashnath Mahadev Statue. It stands at 143 feet high. (The next largest, in Karnataka, India, is only 123 feet high.) The day we went, the park was fairly crowded, with lots of…

More Misadventures in Film Photography

A few weeks ago, we went on safari at Chitwan National Park. Chitwan has a good population of rhinoceroses and tigers, among other animals, and we were hopeful of some sightings. Normally, I’d take a digital camera for a trip like this, but my only long lens at the moment is a Nikon 70-210 mm, so I took the FM2, It didn’t work out as planned. Besides the dust marks on the negative scanner, which can be fixed in easily in post, many of the negatives were marked with streaks and bizarre colors. It’s possible that the problem was with…

Misadventures in Film Photography (one of a series)

I love film photography. An analog, all metal camera just feels different in the hands. The loading of the film is like a little dance. The shutter’s click tells you that you’ve captured an image, with no way to erase it, and the film winder tells you that you’re ready to do it again. The downside, of course, is that you don’t know what you’ve captured; and once you’re done, you are at the mercy of the film processor. That’s when you discover whether your lenses are really sharp at the corners; whether you’ve stored your film properly all this…