An image of Ki Monastery in Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh.
This photograph, to me, was a lesson on new perspectives in photography. Most photographs of this monastery I have seen are made from Ki Village, a hundred meter below the crag along the same face of the mountain.
I have visited the area half-a-dozen times and am fairly familiar with the region. During these visits, we had found a rather beautiful perspective from the other side of the valley, and enjoyed photographing the monastery along with a high snow-peak behind it. Often when we shot that perpective, clouds hovering above created a drama of light and shade and enhanced the images a great deal. The result was much better than the standard photograph shot from the village.
I was very content with this shot. But then, contentment is a sign of stagnation, especially in the fast-paced world of photography. And it took me an old photograph, seen in a hotel, to shake me out of contentment. It was a poster of the monastery, and the image was perhaps shot before digital photography came into place (the colours in the print made it evident that it was shot using film). This one was made from the same face of the mountains as the Ki Monastery and the village, but from well above the monastery and overlooking the beautiful valley and Spiti River. It was a perspective I had never seen before. And more importantly, it was the most breathtaking image of the monastery I had ever seen, giving an excellent understanding of the environs in which it was located.
I had to try it out. I have never been shy of imitating great work. On the other hand, I do believe that imitation is a great way to learn and get better. But the key is to not stop with imitation, but improvise and move beyond, and introduce new ideas. More important is to assimilate the ideas behind those compositions we imitate and use those ideas in future, rather than see this as copying one image at a time.
Here is this image, imitating that beautiful photograph from an unknown photographer. It’s not an exact replica, but a similar image made in a way I prefer to compose it.
That night, we went out again and photographed the monastery under the stars, adding a few more perspectives of Ki Monastery and the mountain landscapes around it.