February 21, 2013

Monks, Thailand

Photograph by Paramit Supadulchai, My Shot

This Month in Photo of the Day: Your Photos

"All things must pass away. Strive for your own salvation with diligence," said the Buddha, his last words. Here, 1,127 monks are lighting floating lanterns at the temple of Song Pee Nong (literally means two brothers) as part of their pilgrimage. Suphan Buri Province, Thailand.

(This photo and caption were submitted to My Shot.)

What Makes This a Photo of the Day? It’s no surprise that a scene as photogenic as this one is a favorite of photographers—the dark sky contrasted with the orange robes of the monks and the glowing lanterns is warm and pleasing. What makes this frame special for me is that it is shot from below, which emphasizes the outstretched arms of the monks releasing the lanterns into the sky. I also like the small detail of the exploding fireworks in the background, echoing the shape of the lanterns. —Alexa Keefe, Photo of the Day editor


Get tips on using available light »
Get tips on photographing people in their element »
See pictures of Thailand from our community »

14 comments
Tatyana Akindinova
Tatyana Akindinova

Яркий  и символичный ритуал монахов.Красиво оформлено светом и летящими фонарями.Фото-праздник.

Astrid Sung
Astrid Sung

In Taiwan, there is also tradition to release SKY LANTERN on Jan. 15th in lunar year. You can make a wish while lighting the lantern. The higher lantern floating, the more possibility that your wish will come true. Ping Shi township is known as  popular sight seeing place to release the sky lantern.

For more information, please visit the website: http://www.pingshi.com.tw/EN/origininfo.aspx  


Gerry Cunningham
Gerry Cunningham

What an amazing sight to see! & amazing Buddhist concept !

Daniel Maguire
Daniel Maguire

Okay, I know that is not really an orb, it is the bottom of a lantern as it is being released into the night sky to represent something that is of great value to those releasing it.  So what, the idea of a great picture is to have a central focal point. There is not such central point in this photo.  If it is the lighting,  I disagree that it is great, because it just appears there is a lot of staging going on.  True Thai monks would not let you get below them to get photo like this.  Their belief structure would really be to ignore the photographer in which case one of them would be standing right where the camera appears to be positioned and it is my experience that there would be a lot more of them facing in other directions.  I really do not like photos that are supposed to be natural shots that in reality are either completely staged or the photographer has informed the subjects ahead of time that a photo is going to be taken and to act in such and such a way.  Bad timing, bad angle, bad idea.

Daniel Maguire
Daniel Maguire

I am sorry, but I do not see anything worthy of "Photo of the Day" in this photo.  It has no symmetry, the colors are not at all interesting, the subject has no power at all.  Again, I am sorry, but I feel this photo does not do justice to the concept of even good photography, let alone high enough quality to be called "Photo of the Day".  By the way I counted 18 hands, but I do not think the number of hands shown in a picture really justifies that photo as being either good or bad, only that it has a lot of hands in it.  As I see it the photo is not about the hands any way, but rather about the orb (which is not even completely in the picture).

Sorry, my 7 year old grandson has taken more interesting pictures than this.

Paramit Zhang
Paramit Zhang

Thank you so much. It's such a great honour for me!

SamanthaLyn Samuelson
SamanthaLyn Samuelson

The photo is taken from a wonderful angle catching action.  Also, the vibrant colors of the robes and the lighting really highlight  the 17 (I think) visible hands making for such an engaging image!  Nice!! 

Timothy Gorski
Timothy Gorski

this is a big problem all over asia. white these lanterns look magical drifting across the sky, they are actually highly toxic and wind up clogging rivers and polluting villages miles away. what goes up nuts come down. and they often cause fires in unsuspecting homes.

Paramit Zhang
Paramit Zhang

@Daniel Maguire  Also the idea in this photo reflects the very Buddhist concept as described "All things must pass away". The burning lanterns can't be held on forever everyone must learn to let them go at some point of time or they will burn themselves, even the holders altogether. It's the idea I want to communicate, not the perfect rules of composition and lighting.

Paramit Zhang
Paramit Zhang

@Daniel Maguire  It's a part of the ceremony. Nothing was staged. I sat down with them and had a bit of conversation. It took a while for the lantern to burn and ready to fly. Once the lantern was flying out of their hands, nobody cared about me being there anymore as it's natural everyone would look up and enjoy the beauty in the sky. So I took the shot. It's as simple as that and it shows you know nothing about our culture and Thai Buddhism. I'm Thai, by the way. And I want to see the photos of your 7 year old grandson, so perhaps I will learn something from that :)

Marty Mellway
Marty Mellway

@Daniel Maguire  lighting seems alright to me, nothing special. The subject matter is interesting, which is the most important part. Composition isnt bad. Lantern at the top is taking up 1/3, and one of the monks is dead on the bottom left focal point. As far as their belief structure making them ignore you, Ive had many interactions with monks in thailand, sometime they ignore sometimes they talk to you or look right at you.

I think if the photographer was fast enough there is no reason that it wouldn't be possible for him to get down there and take this photo before the monks even knew we was there. maybe its a natural shot, maybe its not, but there is know way for you to know, so you shouldnt assume anything.

J G
J G

@Daniel Maguire 

please do refrain from being such a monstrous killjoy. 

Photographs do not have to be mathematically or technically "correct"in order to have signifiance, beauty and power. This photo has rich colour and an evocative subject. It's a pleasure to look at, and a fine example of cultural photography. 

constructive criticism is good, but I think we should draw the line at demeaning.

Special Offers

  • multiproduct_email_100x75_jancover.jpg

    National Geographic

    Subscribe to National Geographic magazine and save. Print and digital editions available for as little as $12.