This online shoebox contains random pictures, notes, whatever. I've been a professional writer-photographer for so many years now. It's a damn good excuse to carry a camera around.

Posted By Lester V Ledesma

I'm not really used to having myself get splashed all over a newspaper front page, but it's nice to get the chance to tell some stories I've never told :


You can read the entire web version in the Manila Bulletin online :)

Posted By Lester V Ledesma
#2 - Cruising the Dal Lake


Just after sunrise, Kashmir's fabled Dal Lake is a place of stillness and beauty. The morning fog hangs heavy in the air, stretching all across the horizon like a milky blanket. The green-topped shoreline, the white-topped distant mountains, and the countless wooden houseboats all seem to glow under golden sunlight. It is this gorgeous backdrop that I find myself being part of.

I sit on a roofless shikara, a thick woolen blanket wrapped around me. My butler Akbar rows quietly at the back while I take in the scenery. The morning smells of mildew on leaves, mixed with the scent of freshly-baked roti bread from a nearby floating bakery. Everything in this lake adds up into such a mind-numbingly beautiful sum. This is one boat ride that I never want to end.

#1 - Lidder Valley, Kashmir

An excerpt from my article in Asian Photography Magazine:

"...A few days later I go on a camping trip to the nearby Lidder Valley, where the white-topped Himalayas form a constant presence on the horizon. On horseback and on foot – and with my camera always on hand – I explore slopes and fields inhabited by smiling Urdu shepherds and wandering Gujjar tribesmen with their livestock in tow. Needless to say, throughout my trip I take all kinds of shots – close-up portraits of farmers smoking their sheesha pipes on wooden shacks, telephoto landscapes of snow and sky, headshots of Urdu women carrying firewood on their heads – each of them carrying treasured bits and memories of this truly magical journey"


"But I still have one more picture to take. On my last evening in Kashmir, I am once again behind my tripod-mounted EOS 5D, framing what must be my hundredth landscape image. In the growing darkness of dusk, I set my aperture to f8, and my shutter speed to a slow 30 seconds like I have done many times before. This one will be different, though, for right after I activate the shutter, I run to the front of the camera, and with a flashlight, draw a smiling face in the air. The resulting image isn't my best, but it does show how I feel about visiting this most legendary of places. Yes, I am happy to have seen paradise"

Not a bad year at all :)

Posted By Lester V Ledesma
Shikara, houseboat and the Dal Lake. These are the symbols of Kashmir:
Kashmir Colors

I'd go back there in a hearbeat.

Posted By Lester V Ledesma
Roaming gypsies called Gujjars are a familiar sight in parts of Jammu and Kashmir. They move from place to place depending on the weather, bringing along with them their livestock and everything else they own. Gj1
They are quite friendly and approachable, and will not hesitate to ask for "baksheesh" - that's British-Indian for "gimme a tip!"




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