Friday, 21 March 2014

Dambulla: 361 steps to Nirvana

Dambulla, in central Sri Lanka, is famous for its cave art, notably several caves occupying what was an overhang half way up a local mountain. In fact it's about 361 steps to get to the level terraces holding the Buddhist relics. 
In the hot sun, it's tough going and seemed a lot harder than when I did the climb 31 years ago. Funny that. The entrance fee includes permission to shoot pictures and video with a tripod - it was a hassle to carry the gear there but, in the now bricked off caves, you need a tripod otherwise you'll be shooting as ISO 3200 for average results. All of these snaps are HDR (3 exposures processed together using Photomatix Pro) which gives a far more even exposure than a single available light shot. A couple of the caverns are like small aircraft hangers so flash is also a waste of time.  Once the HDRs had been processed I then pushed them though an app called JixiPix Grungetastic to give the photos more of a Buddhist poster feel - the sort of garish religious posters you see in markets in India and the rest of South Asia. Although many of the paintings and artworks are already rather grungy - from mildew, rain and human damage over the centuries, the Grungetastic look added something to the visual impact of the place.

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