The Blood-Colored Walls of Tomb

This is Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi. It’s a wonderful place full of a rich bouquet of textures and light. There isn’t a bad shot of it to be had in this well-preserved Moghul tomb, and these light levels were made for HDR.

I’ve put another image of this tomb in the upcoming book. I talked a little more about the shot and some additional explanation about how it was made. When I go around and give talks, get feedback, and hear all the comments here on the blog, flickr, and facebook, I get a lot of repeat questions. I think the book will be a good chance to get them all in a nice definitive place where almost everything can be addressed. At least, I hope so!

The Blood-Colored Walls of Tomb (by Stuck in Customs)

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The Bats in the Belfry

India is full of timeless slices of life like this.

I set up for this shot and then sat there for a while.  I had heard some sort of aviary commotion and hoped that creatures would come streaming out at some surprise moment.  I kept my finger over the trigger just in case, and then, like magic, they all came ripping out with quite a commotion.  After this, I packed up my tripod and decided to head towards this little temple to see what was inside.  I’ll be sure to put those up in coming weeks…

The Bats in the Belfry (by Stuck in Customs)

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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

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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

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Alone and Dejected in a Strange Place

I sensed a profound sadness in him. He was totally alone, seemingly waiting there for someone or something. I’ll never forget it.

His name was Marzouq. He was nice and solemn. As we talked I certainly felt an emptiness there with him. I’m not sure what it was, but it was like there was something wholly unrealized in his life. While we talked, he looked at me strangely at times, a look of not knowing what to think of me and accepting me at the same time. It was comforting, and he was nice to talk to. He created the distinct impression that he was thinking about my questions before answering.

We were there, totally alone, in an unexpected rear corner of a Moghul monument. I always like to go around the backside and try to see the things that are not obvious.

After sitting to rest and talking a bit, he motioned behind him with a quick glance and raised eyebrows, and said cheerfully, “Want to see the bats?”

I said, “Are you kidding? Let’s go.”

Marzouq ducked down about ten feet from a smallish door with hard black shadows shooting inside. He began a near crab walk even while approaching the tiny door. I ducked my head too, which felt strange in the open air. Maybe he was afraid of bats streaming out, which I suddenly realized, causing me to duck down a little more than him.

He made little grunting sounds and kept waving his hand to the side for me to follow. After entering the door, a short walk, and a few turns, we ended up in what felt like a chamber. It could have been darker in there, but I don’t know how. He grunted in a way like “watch this” and he flipped on a flashlight, shining it up into the half-domed room. There were hundreds of bats hanging there, totally silent. It was eerie as heck. I set up my camera but it was way too dark even with a slow shutter speed… and I didn’t feel like light-painting with the flashlight because I thought it might look stupid and not really capture the mood anyway. We sat in there for a while handing the flashlight back and forth and making little grunt sounds. It was very strange, but entirely delightful.

Alone and Dejected in a Strange Place (by Stuck in Customs)

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