“Adventure is a path. Real adventure — self-determined, self-motivated, often risky — forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.”

– Mark Jenkins

Background story

The project is based on photos taken during Annapurna Circuit trek, highlighting personal yoga practice with a Nepali yoga instructor and guide with the mighty Himalayas Nepal in the background.

I have travelled to Nepal in the spring as it is the second best season for Himalaya treks. Spring in Nepal promises mild weather and clean, rhododendron blossom scented air with excellent mountain views. To my surprise, high temperatures in the valleys were strongly contrasted with ice, snow and thermometer dropping below zero at high altitudes. As a result I have brought home images featuring a wide variety of  amazing Nepalese landscapes.

My guide during the trek through Lower Mustang turned out to be a dedicated yoga instructor as well and I decided on the spot to shoot a portrait photography project. Nepali people are simply exceptional – always radiating with a smile, kind and helpful. After spending a night in a small, tidy room with breathtaking view, I was led early in the morning on the lodge’s rooftop overlooking the valley on one side and small, picturesque village on the other. The location was excellent for a yoga practice session. I was shooting in a very simple setup, working solely with the available light. The quality of light – its direction and intensity were pretty consistent during the shot. I had to work quickly though to try to capture the best images before the sun climbed up the sky producing harsh shadows.

I was able to shoot in three directions, keeping the roof’s edge as a reference. The yoga images have therefore three different backgrounds – each of them unique and diverse.

Creative Concept

After the initial editing, I produced a set of photos depicting a sequence of yoga asanas performed by Karnesh, along with a few close-ups.

Next, browsing through numerous landscape images taken during the trip, I’ve stumbled upon an image of a waterfall. I’ve immediately linked the vertical water cascade with one of the yoga images depicting Adho Mukha Vrksasana – a handstand. That was my starting point for the project. I have paired these two images together and went through all the photos taken in Nepal – in a search for other visual similarities.

Editing Process

I have decided to create this story in black and white – this unifies the look and feel of the material and helps to focus on form and texture by eliminating the distraction of color. Black and white strongly reflects the rugged beauty of the environment.

After clarifying the project’s concept I was able to slowly begin the “matching” process. I was aiming for a diverse but consistent set, playing with both visual and conceptual links.

The portrait of the yogi sitting in a Padmasana (lotus pose)- still, focused and symmetrical is in a strong visual association to the portrait of a dark mountain emerging from the clouds. On the other hand the image depicting majestic eagles soaring in the sky is linked conceptually with an image of the yogi in Bakasana in a crow pose.

When it comes to editing, all I needed was Adobe Lightroom. I decided to keep my editing simple and to perform all adjustments in Lightroom on my RAW files. Since I was very happy with RAW files there was no need to pull the material into Photoshop. Shooting in RAW gives me maximum flexibility during the edit and allows me to work in a non-destructive way.

I began with chromatic aberration removal with Lens Corrections Lightroom tab.

Next I have converted the images to black and white with the Basic tab.

Moving further – I have fine tuned luminosity. Beside that I have increased contrast in the midtones by manipulating with Clarity slider.

As a final touch I have applied a bit of sharpening and added a subtle film grain effect.

The sequence of photos creates a consistent, final set. I hope it conveys energy of the place and leaves you intrigued, willing to find out more about the fascinating country of snow peaks and monasteries.

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