I just returned from a wonderful trip to Istanbul, Turkey. What a great city that’s full of life from dawn to dawn. Built up in every direction you look, people everywhere and amazingly clean for a city that appears to be busting at its seems. The traffic is like non-other I’ve encountered. Unfortunately I was quite busy at an event that I was presenting at to do much photography. Here are a few photos that I captured at the worst time of the day to take any photos which happened to be my only time to take photos. I’ve enhanced them in Adobe Lightroom to make them semi decent. Hope you enjoy them. Istanbul is amazing and a place well worth visiting.

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If you are ever in Vienna, Austria, and are looking for a place for breakfast I highly recommend Cafe Central. The over 200 year old gorgeous building serves a great breakfast with yummy pastries and the setting is simply sublime. It’s famous for hosting many famous writers and poets over the years who would come here to pen their master piece.

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The Kumbha Mela is, needless to say, a photographers paradise. For those of us who have never been to a Kumbha Mela or never will, it is these men and women that do their best to bring this experience to our doorstep by photographing this exhilarating festival, if it is even possible at all to do so.

It’s not an easy task to say the least. Long hours on your feet, being shoved, pushed and pulled in every which way and every thing taking place in a split of a second.

The main bathing day with the colorful parade is especially challenging. Nobody seems to know what, where and when things will be taking place. One can only hope to be positioned in the right place so I was up early and placed myself in what I thought would be a strategic position. But before long I was sandwiched into a crowd with absolutely no way to move in any direction. I watched in utter dismay the parade of sadhus go by. My lens sadly hidden behind a sea of heads.

After the parade was over everyone that had gathered headed off in a different direction or followed the procession to the Ganges river. The street had never been so empty in the last few days. I waited there thinking that perhaps, if it is my good karma, that theses sadhus would return the same way they went down to the river. And surely enough my patience paid off. About an hour or so of patiently waiting the parade returned and this time I ensured I was perfectly placed.

Many of the sadhus don’t mind being photographed. In fact, some of them will gladly pose for you. But it is always polite to seek permission first before taking a photo of these holy men and women especially if you are coming in close for a portrait shot. During the day I also occasionally pointed the camera in the opposite direction and captured the images above showcasing a few of the photographers present at the Kumbha Mela.

If you would like to be at the Kumbha Mela festival next February in India for an amazing spiritual experience and boundless photographic opportunities do join our spiritual adventure that is planned to take us across North India. Click this link to find out more about our Kumbh Mela spiritual and photography tour.

 

Going through my archive of photos I came across these images that I had taken a couple of years back in Rajasthan, India. Most of these photos were shot on the outskirts of Jodhpur in small villages. I applied a particular style to these images to give them the look that they have below. These styles were applied in Adobe Lightroom 4 initially using “Matt’s 300 Look – Soft” (by Matt Kloskowski) preset then modified to give them the final touch below.

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Ok, I admit I could have come up with a more creative blog post title but at least it gets straight to the point.

At the Kumbha Mela festival that I attended in Haridwar in 2010 I met a monk with really long hair. He invited me to join him and his devotees around a smoldering log that they were sitting around. After being there for a little while he decided to unwrap his turban. Well, it was not really a turban but a big piece of cloth which seemed to be holding a lot of hair on his head.

He slowly unwrapped the cloth and gently extended his matted hair which extended and extended. It was easily over 6 feet long and beautifully matted over many, many years. He was very proud of it and wanted me to photograph this. I couldn’t really tell where he was from but he looked like he was from either Nepal or Tibet. One of many wonderful experiences that I had at the Kumbha Mela festival.

Note our 2013 Kumbha Mela tour and journey across north India is from the 4th of February to the 16th.

 

We continue with our series of photographs highlighting the Ganga Aarti ceremony that takes place at the Kumbha Mela festival in India.

We’ve themed our tour to the Kumbha Mela festival as a spiritual and photography adventure as there’s be countless opportunities for photography during the festival and the days we travel across northern India. Click this link for more information about this Kumbh Mela tour.

The Ganga Aarti ceremony begins and lit oil lamps are waved ceremoniously to devotional singing casting beautiful shades of colors in the Ganges river.

The crowd departs after the ceremony

Thousands leave the banks of the Ganges after the ceremony leaving a ghostly trail in this long exposure image

 

Part of the Kumbha Mela festival is the evening Ganga Aarti celebration down by the banks of the holy Ganges river. Aarti is a Hindu ritual wear an oil lamp or lamps are lit and then waved ceremoniously at a deity. In this case the the holy river is looked open as the deity and the lit lamps are offered at the river.

Hundreds of thousands, if not more, attend this ceremony during the mela. Crowds gather early to find the best seats in the house and huddle along the banks of the Ganges for the ceremony.

Today’s series of photos takes a look at the crowd waiting for the ceremony to begin and tomorrow we’ll share photos from the ganga aarti ceremony itself.

Join our spiritual and photography adventure to the Kumbha Mela festival and across north India next year in February.

Long chains hang from a bridge providing a lifeline for those pilgrims that get swept away in the strong currents