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Home India Agra Painting with Light – Part 1
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Painting with Light – Part 1

Published on October 25, 2006, by in Agra, India, Taj Mahal.

Understand up front that I’m not going to fudge on my resolution to avoid adjectives to describe the Taj Mahal. But the photos in the mini-album embedded in this post deserve explaining. At times I may need a “word that describes a quality of a thing” to clarify what’s in those pix. Sometimes I’ll need to modify something in the experience, other than the building itself.

The genius and artistry of the Taj Mahal is not limited to placement, form and scale. The masterful exploitation of light, within and without the tomb, raises the site to a level not seen, before or since, anywhere in the world.

The reason people start lining up for entrance tickets at pre-dawn darkness is to be in place when the spectacular morning light show begins. Note that this set of photos was taken before the sun was above the horizon. The speed of the camera lens – and some careful holding of breath to avoid camera movement – makes it seem brighter than it was. At this time of day, the Taj appears to be a flat, pale, undifferentiated white.

About 15 minutes later, as I was about to enter the main building, an attractive woman, one of the group of 16 American mid-westerners, directed my attention back in the direction from which I’d come and asked in wonder, “How do you photograph *that*?”

Sun rising behind southwest minaret

click photo to enlarge

She was awed, quite rightfully, by the disk of the sun, just above the still dark horizon, burning through the smog of the city outside, framed by the turret at the eastern side of the plaza. I quipped, “You don’t.”

Then I immediately raised my camera and fired off the shot you see here. The dawn light show was beginning.

Click here to read more about that.

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