A Godly Dance at the Taj

I was barefoot like the rest of them.

The day must have been around 95 degrees and as stuffy as can be, but the cool marble seemed to keep me from being drenched in sweat. After a long walk, I had finally made it to the inner core of the Taj Mahal, around the main tomb structure where pilgrims from all over the country had gravitated. The faithful coiled in long lines and snaked their way around the complex, waiting patiently to reflect at the megamausoleum and communing with the god of their choice. How could a billion people be wrong?

When I travel, I actually always enjoy talking to Indians (or whoever) about their religion. Here is a little thing I do… I’m not sure it’s totally ethical since I say the same thing over and over, but I enjoy seeing people’s reaction as a probe a panoply of personalities. Inevitably, when I’m in a taxi or man-powered trike-mobile, there is some sort of deity that is jiggling about on the dashboard or handlebars. It can be anyone from Shiva to Brahma to Vishnu to Krishna to Ganesha and beyond.

So, I always ask, “Who is the god to whom you pay reverence?”

They respond quickly and directly, usually naming one from of the top ten from the pantheon of possibilities.

I respond back, in all seriousness, “Oh! He is a very powerful god!”

To this, they always turn to me and nod gravely.

My guide there was from no from one of the traditional Hindu sects — he was a Jain. The Jain don’t recognize the divine origins of the Vedas (made popular in the US from Oppenheimer’s re-quote after testing the Bomb), nor do they believe in any one supreme deity. They instead revere Tirthankaras who have raised themselves to divine perfection. So anyway, if you ever try out the little trick above, don’t bother with a Jain because they will just give you a funny look and a wobble of inconsequential solitude.

So if any of you get the chance to go, I recommend it.  The people are all nice as can be and very eager to engage in conversation about just about everything.  Or, of you’ve already been, then you know what I mean!

By the way, this comes from my new Lucis Tutorial.

A Godly Dance at the Taj

A Day of Lucis Art

So now I’ve been using Lucis Pro 6.0 for over a month. I was hesitant to write a review and tutorial before I had processed a multitude of images. I feel like I have gotten the hang of it and figured enough stuff out to make a little tutorial. You can get there by clicking on the Lucis Tutorial here, or you can find it over there in the right column by all the other Tutorials.

In short, even though Lucis Pro is expensive, it will let you do a lot of things that are unique. You can also almost entirely circumnavigate the old HDR flow to create an HDR photo very quickly.

When I started this site, I never thought I would end up writing so many reviews and tutorials and stuff! I don’t think I am particularly good at it, but people seem to get a kick out of it, so I’ll keep it up!

Below is the newest photo I have processed with Lucis Pro and the one below that are some shots from the tutorial.

The Edge of Iceland at Sunset (by Stuck in Customs)

Lucis6Train3

Alone and Dejected in a Strange Place

The Old Silo Against the Elements

Outside of Rudyard, Montana, I found this old grain silo that was still standing tall against the elements. There was a newer silo just down the tracks, but I thought this one had a bit more personality. The newer one was kind of predictable and boring, so where’s the fun in that? I walked around it a few times and looked at the clouds until I feel like I found a pretty good vantage for capturing the silo in its element.

The Old Silo Against the Elements (by Stuck in Customs)

The Warm Curios Inside

I can’t believe it was closed and I couldn’t go inside.  Look at all the little interesting things in there to explore.  I rattled on the transparent glass and some gal I didn’t know shooed me away.  I’ll go back there one day and I’m sure it will open on up…   I mean come on…it’s me!

The Warm Curios Inside (by Stuck in Customs)

1001 Arabian Nights and the Wily Scheherazade

Do you recall this tale?

The Persian king Shahryar got somewhat upset with one of his wives, had her killed, then married a fresh virgin each day. Then he had them beheaded the following day, which was generally bad in form. Then, as the kingdom ran out of women, the vizier’s own daughter, Scheherazade, married the king with a plan… She told him such interesting stories and things night after night (1,001, to be exact), he became endlessly enraptured.

1001 Arabian Nights and the Wily Scheherazade

The Gestalt Coming and Going

I do love train stations in Europe!

I think each one has a personality of its own, and the gestalt is a function of the trains that come to visit. Leipzig wouldn’t be Leipzig if it never made a connection to Dresden. The stations really have no say in the matter and connections just get made on their own. It’s the natural order of things. Whatever it is about Dresden that makes it special becomes part of Leipzig, and vice versa.

This is from my upcoming LucisArt 6.0 tutorial… I’m still a-workin’ on it when my mind has moments of lucid thought.

The Gestalt of Coming and Going (by Stuck in Customs)

Le Fleur de Lys, where I really should have dined

Do you see that gentle shape there in the room with me? It’s made up of hundreds of other tiny little things that are perfect and delicate. Each is alive and real. I’ll let you zoom into the full-sized version and see if you can deduce their Linnaean taxonomy. (you can zoom in by clicking on the image to go to the Flickr page, then click on All Sizes, then Original — it works like this for all my shots…. I always put the highest rez version online for you, should you decide it is time to dive in for the full experience)

The restaurant is called the Fleur de Lys, and it’s in THE Hotel, attached to the Mandalay Bay. You will probably also see that wine cellar on top with a nice little table for two. I think I need to get back to that place one day… I do love French food.

Le Fleur de Lys, where I really should have dined (by Stuck in Customs)

A Chilly Morning in Boston Common

I had an 8 AM meeting in Boston but woke up round 6 to go walk around the Boston Commons and frolic in the snow. There was no frolicking involved. There was a lot of freezing involved, and it reminded me of a bad morning I had in Kiev with a gypsy cab in a blizzard. I wanted to get down to the harbor for some some other sunrise shots, but did not end up with time… but maybe that’s a good thing because it would have been even colder down there!

Morning in Boston (by Stuck in Customs)

Stopping for a snack on the way to Agra

The road between Delhi and Agra is really somthin’ else. If you are not swerving around giant potholes, it could easily be a dead cow, a live cow, or something in between. It’s never good to make fun of the cows with your driver, so that is right out.

I’m adventurous on these things… probably too adventurous. I always like to try new foods, and I’ll eat about anything from street vendors. Usually if it looks thoroughly cooked, it generally won’t get me sick…I’ve developed a tough stomach, although I did end up getting a bit sick in Mumbai… but I think that is because I was dumb and let some mysterious ice melt in my cup.

It was a long drive to Agra, and in little towns, the traffic would slow. I occasionally jumped out of the car to get some little snack (and take photos, of course!). Here is one of an interesting chap that had some food I could not pronounce.

Stopping for a snack on the way to Agra

I was able to hack the D3X into a flux capacitor to time travel to 1958

This is my favorite bakery in the world – Clear River Pecan Company.  I’ve been there about four times… it’s about two hours away from Austin in historic Fredricksburg, Texas.

The brownies here are somewhere between a solid and a liquid… sort of a sweet plasma of brownie!

I do consider myself a connoisseur of chocolate with a specialty within the magistarium of brownies.  So believe me when I say they are a 10/10.  The only other 10/10 I can find in Austin is something called “Miles of Chocolate”, which also barely surfs within the existence of this mortal coil.

I was able to hack the D3X into a flux capacitor to time travel to 1958

Welcome to STUCK IN CUSTOMS Welcome to my travel photography blog!
Enjoy the daily photos, tips, tutorials & more!
Newsletter Sign Up
The Most Beautiful Newsletter Ever!


x