The height of splendour

A forthcoming London exhibition will showcase the work of photographer David White, whose travels in Nepal brought him face-to-face with dazzling sights

His love of the natural world and fascination with the dramatic effects of light led amateur photographer David White to join a trekking group in Nepal, where he captured on camera the country’s immense mountains, star-lit heavens and rare galliformes, as well as its magnificent temples.The images will beon display at an upcoming solo exhibition atthe Osborne Studio Gallery in London’s Belgravia.

In May this year the World Pheasant Association, sponsored by the Ultimate Travel Company – which pioneered the idea of trekking holidays in Nepal – invited David tothe Pipar Reserve in the Everest Conservation area, the only place in Nepal where five of the country’s six rare pheasants are to be found. His journeyto this distant corner of the earth, with the mission of photographing Nepal’s exquisite landscape, flora and fauna, and witnessing first-hand rural life and agriculture in the foothills, saw him trek 200 miles to film the elusive birds and majesty of the Himalayas, andwait throughwakeful nights for the awe-inspiring vision of Everest at dawn.

Kathmandu was the first stop on his itinerary, followed by a flight to Pokhara, where his realvoyage began during mercifullyshort-lived monsoon rains.

Continuing their trek to the Pipar Conservation Area, the group arrived a couple of days laterat Machapuchare (the ‘Sacred Mountain’, also known as the ‘Fish Tail Mountain’) in the Annapurna Massif, to camp out at what David says ‘must be the most spectacular place to camp in the world’, with glorious views of the distinctively shaped peak, which is off-limits to climbers.

Artist David White
Artist David White

Among his unforgettable pictures are those of the resplendent jewel-like plumage of the Himalayan Monal – ‘the bird of nine colours’, Nepal’s national bird–the blush of rhododendrons against snowy summits and Nepal’s spectacular Himalayan backdrop by day and, perhaps most memorably, by night.

Stars are a particular passion for David, who uses a special ‘star trails’ technique to photograph them. He takes a series of about 250 pictures during the night, sleeping while the camera does its work – far easier in the clear skies of Nepal than in the UK, with planes flying overhead.  He then stacks them all together in a programme which condenses them down to one image, producing ‘something rather different’.

‘I wanted to photograph the stars, particularly as we were there with a new moon,’ he says of his Nepal trip. ‘This means no moon, which makes it much better for photographing stars. The Milky Way was captivating, forming a complete arc across the skies.’

A day’s trek then took David and his group to Tengboche Monastery, situated at 3,837 metres. It is the largest monastery in the Khumbu region of Nepal, and the last one you pass before reaching Mount Everest.

Star Trails
Star Trails

The final highlight of the trip was a visit to Buddhist and Hindu temples in Kathmandu and a glimpse of the Kumari Devi,the only Living Goddess worshipped by Hindus and Buddhists alike.

Nepal is a far cry from David’s home in the Marlborough Downs, though both places share a magical quality that is inspirational to artists. A fourth generation Wiltshire farmer, David took up amateur photography some ten years ago, dedicating his work to depicting the essence of the Downs and its wildlife. His mesmerising scenes of starry skiesevoke the night sky paintings of Van Gogh, while his Red Crowned Cranes recall the spare minimalist lines of traditional Japanese prints.


Exhibition Information

Venue: Osborne Studio Gallery, 2 Motcomb St,London SW1X 8JU

Date: September 17 – October 5

 

Machapuchare Milky Way
Machapuchare Milky Way

 

 

Dawn breaking over Everest
Dawn breaking over Everest

 

 

Tengboche Monastery & Everest
Tengboche Monastery & Everest

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