This is the Buddha Dordenma statue that sits above Thimphu, Bhutan. It is not your ordinary Buddha, as it stands nearly 170 feet (51.5 meters) tall, making it one of the largest Buddhas in the world. It is made of bronze, but completely gilded in gold and can be seen from miles away as you enter the capital of Bhutan. Our guide, Ugay, brought us here one afternoon after touring the city. We had already visited several amazing temples the previous three days, so seeing a Buddha statue was nothing new, but the size of this one was impressive.

It was in many respects, the wrong time to take a photo…the sun was high and light was harsh, there was hardly any color in the sky, no clouds, no texture. But still, I wanted to try to capture this amazing statue…and that is when inspiration hit me to shoot for the end result, not what the camera can capture. 

Knowing that I could do some magic in Photoshop, I set up my tripod directly in front of the buddha. Even though the light was harsh, I loved the way it was glowing off the face and side of the Buddha. I also could see that my lens was picking up lens flares, so I took a series of images with the flares and another series with my hand blocking the sun, so that the camera could focus sharply on the statue.

In Photoshop, I blended the images together and added color to the sky using the the gold in the statue as a source. The sun flares added an interesting element and I added some texture using a sun burst pattern in the background. 

I often take photographs imagining what I want the final result to look like. That said, I rarely take the liberty of heavy handed post processing to make the image work. This ended up being much more of an interpretation of what I saw as opposed to a realistic image, but it was fun to create and I like the end result.

Hopefully the Buddha also approves…