Tag Archives: Photo retreats in India

Behind the photo: Jaipur, India

I am a big fan of Steve McCurry’s work and there is one photo in particular that I love. It was taken in Jodhpur (the blue city) and shows the city photographed form a high vantage point during the “blue hour”. After first seeing it I always wanted to produce something like this, print and hang on my wall. I still have not been in Jodhpur, but I was lucky enough to have visited Jaipur (the pink city). When I was planing my trip in India, I had this idea to make a similar photo and started to research if it was possible in Jaipur. Using Google maps, I found that I can “climb” to Nahargarh Fort in the outskirts of the city and try from there.

Canon 5D Mark III and Sigma 85mm F1.4 lens

It took some time to find somebody to take me at the fort at the right time (just after sunset during the “blue hour”) and during the trip I found out why. The road is bad and the taxi driver had to go quite slowly, it was very dark and since the road was not wide enough at places for two cars, we had to be extra careful. The trip took more time than expected and I missed the perfect light, but I was there and I wanted my photo, so decided to proceed πŸ™‚

I entered the fort and walked towards the highest point on the wall. When I climbed I found out that I wasn’t the only one wanting to enjoy the view πŸ™‚ There were a few young couples having fun and drinking sodas. It was already quite dark and definitely not perfect, but I went for the shot anyway. I didn’t have a tripod, so I tried to fix the camera on the wall somehow, in order to use slower shutter speed without blurring the shot. The teenagers around me spoke Hindi, which I don’t understand, but I can bet their ware laughing on my expense observing me setting up my gear πŸ™‚ It didn’t work out, I couldn’t get the composition I wanted, so I decided to use a different approach. I cranked up my Iso and did a few handheld shots. The photos turned out quite noisy as you can see, but still usable.

Here is one more photo from the same spot on the wall.

Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 35mm F1.4L lens

The resulting photo is nowhere near as good as Steve McCurry’s image, but I still love it.

Moral of the story: Always be prepared to improvise. There is no right or wrong way to achieve a specific result.

Behind the photo: Agra, India

In 2014 I was hired to photograph a wedding in Mumbai, India and since it was my first time there I decided to stay a bit longer and travel. I have always been fascinated by the photos of Steve McCurry, who has an amazing collection of photos from northern India, so I decided to head there. One of the places I visited was the city of Agra and of course The Taj Mahal.

Every time I travel I try to think of a small photography project to do. It keeps me focused and I generally go back home with better, more interesting images. During my trip in India my photo project was: The Dogs of India. So, naturally I wanted a nice photo for my project from Agra as well. And what better place to do that than the majestic Taj Mahal πŸ™‚ I had very little expectations that I will manage to get the photo I wanted, but anyway I spent a few hours there looking for it. Taj Mahal is a magical building and honestly the photos don’t do it justice.

There were a few dogs walking around the area but nothing caught my attention at first. I was almost on my way out when I noticed a dog happily sleeping just at the right place πŸ™‚

I needed a few moments to decide my composition and the above photo was ready πŸ™‚ You can check my full project here: Dogs of India

Moral of the story: Challenging yourself to get a particular photo or working towards a particular goal is a great way to train yourself to find interesting images everywhere. When searching for a photo be open minded and don’t give up fast! Personal projects are a fantastic way to practice!

Behind the photo: Varanasi, India

Varanasi blew me away the minute I stepped out of the train. I honestly think it is probably the most amazing place on earth. It is hard to describe the crazy cycle of life and death that is on every corner in the city. It is believed to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited places on Earth and it probably is. On top of that it is every photographer’s dream – strolling the steps (ghats) around the Ganges river will transport you back in time and will leave a lifetime lasting impression in you. If I can quote Lonely Planet’s travel guide – Varanasi is the India of your imagination.

Photo: Fujifilm X100S

I spent a few days there and got back home with a mountain of photos. But not just a small mountain – imagine something close to the size of Mont Blanc πŸ™‚ The photo above is one of my favourites from the trip. It was early morning and I was strolling along the river for a hundredth time in searching for interesting photos, when I saw these man wash their clothes in the river. I wanted to get a photo with a nice angle, something interesting to tell the story and started walking around them. I tried a few photos, but wasn’t satisfied by the result and decided to sit down and observe a bit. After a few minutes I realised it will be really cool to try and frame them using the clothes line they were using. I climbed a bit higher, waited for a few more minutes and suddenly one of the men made my wish come true πŸ™‚

Moral of the story: Slow down, observe and always try to get an even better shot!

Behind the photo: Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India

Visiting the remote city of Jaisalmer was one of the best experiences during my trip to India. It is not part of the usual tourist routes (the small city is locates in the Tar desert about 30km from the border of Pakistan) and the easiest way I found to get there was a 14 hour train ride from New Delhi. Traveling with a train in India is an adventure that you can’t explain with words, you have to experience it for yourself πŸ™‚ Anyway I arrived on the train station in Jaisalmer and managed to find the guy who was supposed to take me to my hotel. During the check in I found out that the biggest attraction in the city (and the reason most people come) is the camel safari in the Tar desert. I couldn’t say no πŸ™‚

During a camel safari in the Tar desert close to the city of Jaisalmer, Rajahstan, India. Photo: iPhone 4s

During a camel safari in the Tar desert close to the city of Jaisalmer, Rajahstan, India. Photo: iPhone 4s

Our group started the same day 3 hours before the sunset. After an hour in a couple of 4x4s, we arrived at the point where we were supposed to start the actual camel safari. For some reason I was the first one to have been assigned a camel and as I found out a bit later – the most unluckiest one. My camel had a bit of a “temper”, just enough so that I can honestly say that this ride was the first and the last one I will ever take on a camel’s back!

In order to save the memory from the journey I wanted to take a photo and since getting out my big camera while riding proved impossible, I took one photo with my iPhone 4s. It is an old phone and the camera is not particularly good, but I love this image.

The moral of the story: The best camera is the one you always have with you!

Gallery: India

Here is a small selection of photos from my recent trip to India. All photos are taken with Canon 5D Mark III (lenses: Canon 35mm F1.4L, Canon 24mm F1.4L and Sigma 85mm F1.4) and Fujifilm X100S.

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