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Photographer's Note

One day during my stay in the Ladakh region of eastern Kashmir in 1985 I took a local bus from the city of Leh to a village called Shey, where I had planned to visit a famous gompa, a kind of small monastery. Unfortunately I found it locked and there was nobody around to let me in.

But the day wasn't spoiled. Only a couple of kilometres away was a much larger monastery in the village of Thiksey (also spelled Thiksay, Thikse). To avoid the main road I found a path leading through a valley of small farms where people were busy taking care of the fresh harvest, winnowing the grain to make the husks blow away. To encourage themselves to keep on doing the tedious work they were singing rather monotonous songs, like I imagine the blues was born by slaves on the American cotton plantations. I was overwhelmed by the almost medieval looking villages and the atmosphere created by the songs.

I took "several" photos, at least 10! Yes, this was the sad era of analogue cameras using expensive films delivered in bulky packages. I was at the start of a long journey and I could not afford to waste film. Today I could have taken a hundred photos in that valley, which was actually just next to the famous Indus river. It almost breaks my heart to think of the photo opportunities I missed.

It also almost breaks my heart that the light was very strange on a mainly cloudy day. Most pictures I took didn't turn out well and have proved very difficult to scan properly. I have tried and tried again, and made all kinds of adjustments in the computer but had to accept that I couldn't do them justice. So today's WS photo, and another one I plan to show later, will be in B&W because the colours were not good enough.

Today's main photo looks reasonably all right because it was taken in a different direction from most of the others, and the light was better. It shows a farmyard looking like all the others. Two women busy at winnowing, a cow eating the leftovers and two children playing in the foreground. The buildings show that this is culturally really a part of Tibet, there just happens to be a border separating Ladakh from Tibet. This is also similar to what could be found in Bhutan, although Bhutanese buildings are usually more richly decorated.

I cropped quite a lot of unnecessary and not very beautiful sky, then took away a bit at the bottom too for the balance.

Here is a larger version.

In the WS is a B&W photo showing the view towards Thiksey monastery. Both photos were scanned from Kodachrome slides.

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Additional Photos by Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 9637 W: 511 N: 18713] (82868)
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