Buddha Statue, Mihintale, Sri Lanka

A huge Buddha statue, perched high on a hilltop, against a dark sky in Mihintale, Sri Lanka.

Situated on a rocky outcrop, just 11 km north east of Anuradhapura, Mihintale is of enormous spiritual significance to the Sinhalese as the place where Buddhism originated in Sri Lanka.

The route to the top follows a 1,500 year-old paved road to a terrace, half way up the 311-meter hill. From there a climb up many, many steps awaits. Finally the visitor is rewarded with wonderful views and inspiring monuments.

Traditional and Contemporary Methods of Image Making

This image was made with a Hasselblad 500C camera and Hasselblad 80mm f2.8 Plannar lens with Kodak Ektacolor Gold 160 film. I used a polarising filter to dramatically darken the blue sky. The result was quite intense with the near White Buddha statue standing out against a deep blue sky. I've previously sold the original color print, which I'd hand printed in the darkroom to 16"x16" (40x40cm) in size, through exhibitions.

This time around I've opted for a black and white rendition. I employed Adobe Photoshop to convert the original color image into black-and-white. I wanted to increase the graphic nature of the image and enhance the luminance of the statue.

The outcome is similar to what would have been achieved with black-and-white film and a deep red filter. The red filter passes (i.e., lightens) its own color and blocks (i.e., darkens) the other primary (blue and green) colors. As a result the already deep blue sky is rendered almost black.

Why do You Travel?

Travel can be seen as an attempt to escape from the difficulties associated with one's own life. From my experience this is not always the case. Nothing induces concentration or inspires memory like an alien landscape or a foreign culture.

Romantics believe that it is possible to lose yourself in an exotic place. My experience, possibly brought on by the stresses of an alien environment or the repetitive physical effort associated with a climb, is somewhat different.

I feel an intense nostalgia, a hearkening back to an earlier stage in life. But this does not happen at the exclusion of the exotic present. What makes the whole experience vivid, and sometimes thrilling, is the juxtaposition of the present and the past: a particularly happy childhood memory re-visited from a mountaintop, or in those moments of intense quiet between the madness of a local train or bus ride.

To really live is to be engrossed in the moment. Do we travel to learn and, thereafter, contribute or to shop duty free?

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru