1/160s @ f/4, ISO 3200, FL=200mm, Handheld, Existing Light
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This beautiful, young indigenous girl really is the daughter of a local Shaman. She would like to follow in her great-grandfather’s, grandfather’s and father’s footsteps. There is no prohibition amongst the indigenous against a female Shaman, so she just might attain her dream someday.
I don’t know too much about Shamanism, but there seem to be some similarities with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Both take a great amount of study (typically with very senior practitioners), and both favor a naturalistic approach to healing. The medicines are generally comprised of various herbs and plants, and the knowledge is passed down through the generations.
I think that both Shamanism and TCM stress preventative, or prophylactic, health care over invasive methods. There seems to be a growing realization amongst enlightened practitioners that there is a place for Western Medicine. The Shaman I met, this girl’s father, is quick to send a patient to a western trained doctor when surgery is indicated.
I photographed this girl in her father’s hut, deep within the Cuyabeno Wilderness Reserve, in the northern Amazon river basin straddling Ecuador and Peru. The hut was very dim, but I liked the soft natural light coming in through the window opening. I had to raise my ISO to 3200 to allow a handheld shutter speed of 1/160s (this particular lens is not image stabilized). I shot wide open at f/4 to take full advantage of what light there was, and to also maintain a shallow depth of field (DOF) which provided the blurry background that photographers call bokeh.
Photographer’s note: This image was captured as a CameraRAW file with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II full-frame digital camera, and my Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM zoom telephoto lens. RAW conversion and post-edits were completed in Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 (PSE11).
Stephen F. Dennstedt
Photographer, Writer and World Traveler
Northern Amazon River Basin, Ecuador