top of page
  • Writer's pictureDean Gagliardi

Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery - Nikon F3HP (Kodak Portra 400)

Updated: Sep 26, 2021


Date - October 17, 2020

Camera - Nikon F3HP & Sekonic L-308X-U Light Meter.

Lenses - Nikkor-O Auto 35/2, Nikkor-S.C 55/1.2 & Nikkor-H.C 85/1.8

Film - Kodak Portra 400

Developed @ - "Dotwell" PhotoLab

Scanner - Nikon V-ED

Software - Vuescan / NegativeLabPro / Photoshop / Lightroom

Location - Hong Kong (Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery in Shatin)

Comment - I went up to Shatin Saturday and shot a couple of rolls of Portra 400 at the 10,000 Buddah's Monastery. It takes around 1hr to get there from where we live but well worth the time.

The monastery was built around 70 years ago in 1951 and is located on a hillside in Pai Tau Village. To get tho the Temple itself, you need to climb around 500 steps which are quite steep but are rewarded with hundreds of golden statues of arhats (Buddhist saints) along the way. Each one of these statues is unique looking and in a completely different pose. Even though the name of the monastery says "10,000", apparently there are around 12,800 Buddhas in the 8-hectare complex. Most of them housed in the Temple itself, and very small, but there's certainly a lot of Buddhas around!

More info can be found here on their website but doesn't seem to be in English (even though there's a change language option). Wikipedia's page has a lot of great information on the Monasteries' history.

I actually visited this place the week before with my Minolta Alpha 7 and the same Portra 400 film, and the results were disastrous. The golden colours of the statues were all over the place. I can only put it down to the fancy evaluative meter in the camera getting fooled with all the gold tones (along with my lack of skill). Anyway, peeved off with last week's effort, I went back the next week with my old Nikon F3HP and a handheld meter and metered 90% of the shots myself manually. After taking a light reading, I made a judgement call based on the meter's readings and what I set out to achieve with each shot based on the subject and light. I then set the shutter speed and aperture values manually on the camera. Everything turned out amazingly well. 

Although more time consuming, a handheld light meter reads the intensity of light actually falling on the subject as opposed to the camera's internal meter, which is reading reflected light. A handheld meter is always going to be a lot more accurate and give better results. A good lesson!

This was also the first time I have used the Nikkor-S.C 55/1.2 & Nikkor-H.C 85/1.8 in months as they only just returned from the USA after being cleaned, lubricated and adjusted. A couple of great 50yo+ lenses that are now in perfect mechanical condition.

One of the 10,000 Buddha's.

Click to enlarge.

86 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page