As most people now know, over the Christmas and New Year period of 2009 I was commissioned by Ramblers Worldwide Holidays to document in photographs their tour: The Mountains and Valleys of Nepal. A trip of a lifetime to the “Roof of the World” with all those snow-clad mountains, foothills and scenic valleys.
It certainly sounds fantastic but in reality those snow-clad mountains kept teasing me for almost a full two weeks! I was certainly shown little hints of their existence on several days but as the sun rose higher in the sky, so did the mists from the dew-soaked earth which obscured their grandeur from view. Each time we gained height to some spectacular view point on one our walks we looked out onto further foothills topped with cumulus cloud and mist. To say this was frustrating is something of an understatement. Peering into those clouds and mists each day making out the vague outline of Machhapuchre (Fish Tail) or Annapurna 1 which was again soon obscured from view by more swirling cloud was indeed extremely frustrating.
The day of the 31st December began very misty and after a brief bus ride to the start point of our walk, we set off as further mists swirled in bringing with them dark and ominous clouds! However, the day faired not too badly. It was warm and good walking weather. The dark clouds came to very little and to some extent gave a little extra detail and contrast to the sky. Sunset happened but was not very impressive because of the heavy cloud cover. I had Dinner with the remainder of the group and then headed off to my room for some sleep and rest.
I had been allocated a room at the furthermost end of the complex and on the top floor. This was fine with me as it commanded a nice view of the pristine hotel gardens below with all its landscaped beauty and colour. During the night I was awakened with the sound of heavy rainfall pattering on the roof of my room. Somehow I managed to fall back into the Arms of Morpheus and woke up naturally at my usual time of 5:30am.
I switch on the lights, jumped out of bed and headed in the direction of the hospitality tray. I poured the coffee granules into the cup and switched on the kettle and then visited the bathroom. On my return the kettle still hadn’t boiled and as I waited I began to wonder what the weather was like and remembering the earlier rainfall I headed to the windows and pulled up the blinds.
To my utter amazement the view which greeted me was totally jaw-dropping! Those hidden mountains, the “Roof of the World” was in full view and the light from the early morning sun was just catching and lighting up their peaks with a warm orange hue. I wasted little time and quickly grabbed the camera bag, flipped the catches, withdrew the camera, picked up the tripod, slid open the door to the balcony and set the small tripod and camera on top of the convenient table which was standing there.
The view was stunning and getting better as the moments passed. I quickly composed the scene, plugged in the shutter release cable so as not to risk camera shake, focussed and pressed the release button. An eight second exposure in the early morning half light which seemed to take forever.
What happened next seemed to take forever too, but in reality happened very quickly. As I waited with bated breath and goose bumps on my body, I suddenly realised that I was still as naked as I had been when I got out of bed! Not only that but other sounds were beginning to permeate into my blinded and over-enthusiastic state of mind.
I was hearing voices; specifically Japanese voices and very close at hand. With reluctance, I slowly averted my gaze away from the grandeur of the mountain range and the still blank screen of the camera and looked over the balcony and into the hotel gardens. There were about thirty Japanese photographers below me, with an assortment of cameras and lenses, looking at the same scene which I had been viewing plus several of them looking up at me with faces full of smiles as they realised that I had eventually become aware of their presence.
Oh the embarrassment of the moment! I quickly dived back through the sliding doors into the bedroom and grabbed my trousers, hoisted them up then back to the balcony to continue photographing the mountains. Possibly a little red faced but this time at least I was covering most of my dignity with clothing! It certainly puts a whole new meaning to the phrase “Working in Raw”.
Knowing how the Japanese enjoy photographing anything which moves I am quite sure that a mad Englishman, exposing not only images from his balcony but also his person, gave them something extra to show their friends on their return home.
As a footnote: If anyone should see a picture of an extremely handsome but naked photographer, posing on a balcony next to a Canon camera posted on the internet could they please contact me…I would like a copy! Or worse still if someone should see a video clip on YouTube! I shudder at the thought!
The confessions of an over-enthusiastic photographer, lost in the moment of his craft!