This is a small part of the view from Hasedera Temple in the Sakurai (Nara-ken) area of Japan. The original edifice dates to 686 ACE, and, while picturesque any time of year, it’s best in the fall and during winter. I’d often cycle here from a job a few hours away. Up from here is a dam and beyond that woods, field and mountain villages. Near the dam was a small open area I’d use for camping. Great place to see the night stars and flickering light in the distant villages.
I came upon this woman while visiting monasteries and markets in Ladakh, in the Indian Himalayas. Ladakh is pretty much a high-altitude desert and it’s one where you can get a sunburn and frostbite together, if you lose track of time and it’s cold enough, when resting partly in the sun and partly in the shade. Winter temperatures can go down to -40F and stay there. One way to keep your energy levels up during those frigid months, aside from staying close to the kitchen fireplace, is by drinking yak or dzo (half yak, half cow) butter tea. For me, that drink was an acquired taste. The woman in this picture, while past middle-age, looked vitally strong and happy as a lark.
Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, is one of Japan premier attractions and one of it’s most-photographed religious shrines. Seven centuries ago, it served as residence for a powerful aristocrat before being converted into a Zen Buddhist temple. While its appearance might normally lead one to conclude the structure is the original one, that is simply not the case. The wooden structure has burned down at least twice, most recently seventy years ago, before being rebuilt. When I visited, there were scores of other photographers—many with large, heavy tripods—moving around and looking for the best locations to set up and capture the interplay of color and light. Considering that other visitors simply wanted to linger or stroll around the scenic grounds, one often needed to wait some time to get a shot like this.