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Photographer's Note

This photograph is of monks chanting their Buddhist mantras in a small temple that forms part of the Gandan Khiid monastery in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar. There was a sign outside the temple saying “No Photographs” so I took this photograph by natural light, holding the camera discretely at waist level. In places where photography is prohibited it is usually for three reasons: (1) cultural reasons; (2) they don’t want flash photography, and most tourists don’t know how to turn off their automatic flashes; or (3) they want to make money by forcing you to buy postcards of the place. I will always observe the ban if I think it is for the first reason, but as Buddhist temples don’t normally prohibit photography, I assumed that here it would have been for the second reason as the monks obviously wouldn’t want their prayers disturbed by flash guns going off all the time. Some TEers might disagree with me and say you should always observe such a ban on photography, but then you see other tourists who can’t, or didn’t, read the sign taking photographs anyway. In this shot I was trying to capture the light streaming in through the window to light up the altar, which is being attended to by an old lady in a gold silk robe, whilst the monks on either side are chanting (pity we can’t post audio files as well to the complete atmosphere!) Focal length was 14 mm.

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Additional Photos by David Astley (banyanman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1237 W: 108 N: 2568] (7789)
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