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Oygen Chholing is tucked away in a remote valley in the centre of the kingdom of Bhutan. There are no shops or street lights, just a series of isolated farms and tiny hamlets. The small village of Oygen Chholing with its delapidated palace and temple has maybe a dozen houses. It is simply marvellous and we all feel really privileged to be here, experiencing a taste of what it must be like to live off the land.

We are raising prayer flags and are invited to write on them before they are stuck into the ground around a bright white chorten (stupa or monument). But a prayer flag is something to be taken seriously and a visiting high lama agrees to bless the occasion with a formal ceremony.

Part of the ceremony involves smoke which wafts in and around the lama as he chants and rings his bells. I listen to his deep intonation as his silhouette appears and disappears behind swirls of smoke. It is simply surreal and the D800E I have borrowed from Nikon is doing overtime. I shoot around 50 frames.

When reviewing my files, not all are sharp. The smoke fools the autofocus system and I find some of the frames with the best composition and smoke patterns are unsharp where it matters. Other images with less smoke are tack sharp as the autofocus system does its job. With 20:20 hindsight, I should have flicked to manual focus, but things were happening very quickly. There might have been 50 frames, but the smoke was only 'happening' for a minute or two.

However, there was a solution.

I grabbed a second frame where there was less smoke and the lama was tack sharp. As both were taken from the same position and the lama didn't move too much, it was relatively simple to drop the 'sharp' lama over the blurred one. I then added a little contrast to the scene and lightened up the lama's face, just a touch, and the result is what you see at the top of the page!

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