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A Magical Moment | by DMac 5D Mark II
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A Magical Moment

A monk shrouded in smoke performs a dance during the Buddha's birthday parade on the streets of Jeju City, South Korea on May 7th, 2011.


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I watched this parade a couple of years ago and still remember clearly the colorful displays and interesting dances performed on that night. Unfortunately, most of my images were less than stellar because of issues with my equipment. This time, armed with a camera that performs much better in low light, I set out to get the shot I missed years before.


The parade winds through the city every year on Buddha's birthday, starting at the soccer stadium in the center of town and finishing up about 2 hours later near the sea on the northern side of Jeju City.


The start of the parade was still an hour away but I decided to walk around the staging area to see if anything interesting would appear. As luck would have it, this monk stood up on the back of one of the float trucks and began to perform a dance while smoke began to billow up around him. I rushed over, jumped up on the back of the truck, and positioned myself in front of him. For several magical seconds it was just me and him as he slowly performed in front of me. The atmosphere was incredible --- his piercing stare, the smoke, and the swishing of his robe as he brought his cymbals together. I snapped several photos. Then I stood aside as a group of aggressive photographers came over and elbowed their way in front of me. I watched as they snapped away but the magic of that first moment, just me and him, was gone...


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Taken on May 7, 2011