Peace Pagoda Turns 25

One of the more unusual structures in London, the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park celebrated 25 years of existence earlier this month and I was there to take part in and photograph the celebrations. Over the years I’ve met monks and nuns from the nearby temple at many peace protests both in London and Aldermaston and marching between the two places.

Photographically it was an opportunity to compare the results with my fisheye and a rectilinear wideangle:

© 2010, Peter Marshall
10.5mm Nikon fisheye on D300 (16mm fisheye equivalent)

© 2010, Peter Marshall
16mm with Nikon 16-35 on D700

And I think you can see that the fisheye that produced the upper image wins hands down in this case.

In the past I’ve often partially corrected my fisheye images using the Fisheye Hemi plugin but in this case this loses the framing by the trees in the corner, and the whole kind of circularity that organises the whole row of figures (monks and nuns from another temple) around the central altar and above that the oval gilded figure of the Buddha. The plugin does produce a better picture than the rectilinear wide angle below but in this case the uncorrected image is stronger.

But the fisheye image at the top above is actually partly corrected. It is one of the rather rare lenses that Lightroom 3 has a lens profile file for.  The default correction at the 100% mark is to lose the fisheye perspective completely and correct a relatively small part of the image to rectilinear. It would mean there was little point in using the fisheye, as its very wide angle of view is lost, along with its distinctive rendering. But a relatively small amount of correction moderates the obviously fisheye effect and helps this image.

I think too, that cutting it down a little somehow better fits the image I had in my mind’s eye as I took the picture, despite what actually shows in the viewfinder. The two are often different.

Astute viewers will also note that my images are now watermarked, and also that the jpeg is higher quality than many that I’ve posted. More about both of these shortly.

© 2010, Peter Marshall

But perhaps my favourite image is this one, taken with a “standard” lens, or rather a zoom which just happened to be set at a 35mm equivalent focal length of 52mm.  It was just luck that I arrived ten minutes before the time I’d been given for the start of the event, as the monks were forming up near their temple for the procession to the pagoda and was able to photograph a procession which I hadn’t been told was going to take place. I’m rather glad I didn’t miss it – and if possible it’s always a good idea to get to events early.

More pictures from the event – where there was a freezing wind along the Thames and it felt more like January than June – at Peace Pagoda Celebrates 25 Years.

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