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Yoda’s Pagodas

Main Street Bandipur at night
Good spot for a shootout

Night photography has taught me there are many words that rhyme with pagoda.

There are a surprisingly large number of words that rhyme with pagoda. I spend a lot of time on night photography, which (at least for me), involves a lot of exposures of 30 seconds or more, only to realize that the focus is way off, the aperture I’ve selected looks silly, a lens flare has decided to add an awful gimmick, or a stray dog has decided to investigate my camera (I think the most significant argument for UV filters is the compulsion of semi-domesticated animals and semi-domesticated children to sniff, lick, and touch the front of a lens element, though one can hardly blame them).

kids on a temple at night
Pre-teen hoodlums up to their usual sundown antics

So I find myself spending long minutes on my back on stone plinths and dirty streets, surely looking to locals like a drunken tourist, trying to balance my camera on rocks or camera bag and poorly performing mathematics to juggle shutter speed, aperture, and film speed (the fluid variable that I believe to be one of the stronger arguments for switching to digital).

temple and stars
Constellations get distracted by other stars out here

One of the best aspects for me about photography is that it forces me to consider why a scene is appealing, often opening up the availability of deeper details. Shooting people aesthetically poorly but accurate in content is easy. As I say, not necessarily getting good photographs of people, but the colors and creases, the complete foreignness of everybody, regardless of ethnicity, makes photos of people interesting for me to look back on. But that’s a whole other topic and soon to come I suspect. Back to night photos.

As I looked at this Durga-dedicated, Bindebasini temple (and yes, I did just go back to my Lonely Planet for that information) with a slight influence of Royal Stag whisky within me, I took photo after boring photo (and you’re welcome to say this one is too). Part of what gave it character I thought is its context at the end of a long, smooth pedestrian boulevard, and I shot what would’ve been rolls of images of it as a shy, corner hideout at the end of a modestly bustling Main Street in a town that shuts down shortly after dusk.

(My own lodging had a sign in English requesting that guests be home by 8:30, after which point the doors would be closed and wooden barriers placed across their insides as if under fear of a siege by orcs. This photo was taken at 8:08pm, and the stars can already be seen quickly arriving to the party.)

But I also thought the temple was just a cool little hermitic holy hideout cornerstone beacon in a small-town square. And this is what I ended up with that for the moment I like best.

commie treeDuring exposures I tried to think of words that rhyme with pagoda and how they might be related to this place. Sure, there’s soda, iota, and quota (and of course BOTA for all you IREXers), but much grander legends I think could be concocted from associations with Yoda, Rhoda, and of course, Abe Vigoda. Most people don’t know that Barney Miller was originally set in a Buddhist monastery. The liberal media love to keep that kind of thing out of the press. For obvious reasons.

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