On the eve of Vesak 2008, I decided to do a photo essay on Three Steps One Bow for JPG magazine. The idea came at about 11 pm that night, just as I was to go to sleep. So I got up, did the essay and, by the time I uploaded it, it was nearly 1 am. You can view the photo essay by clicking here.
JPG magazine is an online as well as print magazine with photos and articles contributed by "the JPG Community". I find it quite enjoyable and challenging, as the standards there are quite high. You can view my submissions by clicking here.
I had a severe backache that night (I still have it now, four nights later, although less severe) and I seriously wondered if I should follow the Buddhist meditation teaching to "let go"...
Well, I could not let go.
As you can read from my earlier posts on Vesak pictures, you will read that I had not been too "lucky" with Vesak photography.
In 2003, Singapore (and most of Asia) was hit by Sars (severe, acute respiratory syndrome) and the Three Steps One Bow ritual was cancelled.
In 2004, I went to the Bright Hill Temple somewhat late and caught only the end part of the ritual.
Then last year, Vesak 2007, my camera failed after half a roll of film. It was only when I was preparing my photo essay for JPG Magazine that I realised I did have one nice shot from that half roll, of this fathere and son:
One thing about photographing the event every year is that some people become recognisable. I certainly remember this man, for the way he "bowed" all the way down to the ground. But back in 2006, my picture of him was somewhat too "uptight" -- too closed up and too tightly cropped to the point that it looked abstract:
So pardon me for again going back in time. I actually quite like this Vesak 2006 picture. But this year, I made sure I took a more "normal" image of him.
Apart from the Three Steps One Bow, the one other event that I was keen to photograph was of devotees chanting, with their prayer books, in the Hall of Great Compassion.
My 2005 Vesak images had all, for some reason, turned out far too dark and they were also blur from camera shake. I knew that my new Fuji S5 Pro, which has a maximum sensitivity of ISO 3200, would now do a good job of it.
I was rewarded with this:
Plus , my favourite Vesak 2008 image, the main picture at the top of this page. I had taken a series of six or seven images of the same lady, as she chanted, bowed to the ground, rose, chanted and bowed again...
I could have gone on and taken more, but I felt that I had enough. No need to be too "kiasu" (afraid to lose). In the end, most of what I took of her was okay, but this one picture was just right.
Back to Three Steps One Bow...
The last thing I expected to take at a religious festival like Vesak was a humour photograph. I really like this one, which, to me, holds an important message about not being distracted -- especially by modern technology -- during prayer.
I title this photograph Three Texts, No Bow!
Click the links below for: