The Lord Vishnu Avatars
Out tour leader, Jim Coughlin of Downtown Yoga in Pleasanton, CA, was getting us ready to visit the Vishwa Shanti Ashram. I was intrigued and anxious to see this place which promised more than one amazing feature. Jim first talked about the granite tablets surrounding the full perimeter of the ashram which were inscribed in the original Sanscrit and also translated into Hindi and English. These tablets were huge and contained three versions of the entire Bhagavad Gita. Yes, that was interesting and what I loved even more was his description of the entrance to the ashram, which he said consisted of a 30 foor high marble chariot drawn by a team of horses. My earlier photo of the vishwa shanti ashram entrance shows you how cool this chariot is. Finally he told us that the focus of the Ashram is the statue of the Lord Vishnu Avatars. I was pumped… this place is going to be fun to visit!
Inside the Vishwa Shanti Ashram
After entering this huge building from under that horse-drawn chariot it suddenly becomes very peaceful. The space is airy, sort of hollow, and it feels quite sacred. The magnificent centerpiece is another larger than life statue depicting the Lord Vishnu avatars. Did you notice that I didn’t mention how many Lord Vishnu avatars or incarnations there are? I’m not really sure how many there are. When I look at the full size version of this photo and count the heads, I come up with 14, not including Lord Vishnu who is in the center of it all. Googling it to find an answer there seems to be a discrepancy too… some reference 10, others, 12, others 24… and I count 14 here. So let’s not be attached to the actual number of those avatars. Maybe somebody will comment below and enlighten me further.
HDR Photo-Then & Now
The photo above was taken while on my yoga retreat to India in January of 2011. While on that trip I did the best I could at the time and proceeded the photograph on my laptop and posted it from our hotel room. Now, a year and a half later, I’m re-visiting this photo because I have learned so much in the interim and can now process photos so much better. I wanted to give it another shot. This is what my first attempt at this HDR photograph of the Vishwa Shanti Ashram looks like. Not at all the same! This photo above renders much more true how this Ashram felt to me and is how I want to remember it, in case I never get back there. It looks really great in a large size like 16×24 or 20×30. Some photos look great when they are printed small, as if they’re little gems to cuddle and protect in your hands. Others, like this one, only look good when they are grandly displayed where the fine details can be righteously relished. Frankly this photograph looks quite forgettable when it’s small and transforms into something really stunning in larger sizes.
Does a Photograph Have Soul?
Here’s another one to ponder. I’ve heard from some photographers that you should NEVER go back and re-process a photo once it’s published on the internet, in a book, or anywhere. Whoopsie…. I just broke that rule and it doesn’t feel too bad to me. I know I made the photo better so why shouldn’t I do that if I can? If the photo police do come get me, will you please bail me out and call by attorney?