Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The colorful and amazing faces of India

As many of you know, I just returned from 3 weeks in the northern part of India. I was there teaching photography on another photo tour with M&M Photo Tours.

Unlike the tours to Africa and Costa Rica where we are constantly photographing wild animals, this trip included a lot of scenic and portrait photography (as well as photographing wild tigers - but that is coming in another blog post).

As I looked back at my photos from this trip, I saw so many incredible faces that I thought they deserved a blog post just for themselves.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 278mm, ISO 640, f/5, 1/400 sec)

All of the photos here are posted in the chronological order that I took them, and this first photo was taken on our first full day in the country. I saw this woman standing on a small street and loved the colors that she wore, and well as the colors in the background.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 227mm, ISO 800, f/5, 1/250 sec)

As with all my portraits, I am focusing on the eyes to make sure they are tack sharp. For most of the photos in this blog post, I was using the Canon 5D Mark IV and a Canon 100-400mm lens.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 176mm, ISO 400, f/5, 1/50 sec)

The Canon 100-400mm lens is not my typical portrait lens (I usually opt for the Canon 70-200mm 2.8), but I traveled with only a Canon 24-105mm lens and this one long zoom. The longer zoom range of the 100-400mm lens let me get in close to these people without intruding on their space.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 400mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/500 sec)

I framed this woman in orange between the child and man wearing blue.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 271mm, ISO 500, f/5, 1/250 sec)

This woman was standing near a fruit stand, so I quickly moved to a location where I could capture this profile shot with the colorful fruit in the background.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 400mm, ISO 160, f/5.6, 1/320 sec)

This older gentleman was cruising by on the back of a tuk tuk (a small motorized vehicle commonly seen all over the roads in India). He looked at me right as I hit the shutter release. Normally I would be bothered by the yellow strap coming down in front of his face, but in this case I think it actually adds to the frame.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 300mm, ISO 160, f/5, 1/160 sec)

Our group was walking through the streets of Delhi when we spotted these rickshaw drivers waiting for paying customers. I moved to a point where I could get all three of these guys in one shot, but purposely focused only on the first man.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 24-105mm lens at 105mm, ISO 640, f/4, 1/40 sec)

This guy had such striking eyes, I just had to take his photo. When I see his eyes I think I see sadness and melancholy, and it just makes me want to know the real story of this man.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 24-105mm lens at 85mm, ISO 640, f/4, 1/500 sec)

I posted a photo of this guy in a previous blog post, but just love the combination of his look and the reflection in the glasses.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 340mm, ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/640 sec)
We were walking through the VERY crowded spice market in Old Delhi when I spotted this young boy drinking water. I quickly raised the Canon 5D Mark IV and took a burst of photos hoping to get the shot right as he poured the water into his mouth.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 106mm, ISO 1000, f/5.6, 1/80 sec)
The streets of Delhi are full of people, loud noises, materials for sale, and color. Lots and lots of color.

This man intrigued me, with his worn skin and colorful hat.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 153mm, ISO 640, f/5, 1/200 sec)
One Sunday afternoon, we took a walk into a small village. As we walked down the dirt roads, we saw parents and children out in front of their homes. This mother was standing in her doorway in perfect light, and we all took turns photographing her (with her permission of course). And just in case you are wondering, that is not a german swastika on the wall. In India, it is very common to see this symbol on homes and businesses. The Nazis took this positive symbol, reversed its direction, and used it in negative ways.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 400mm, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/640 sec)
While on the same walk into town we encountered numerous groups of women in their colorful sarees (spelled "saris" in the US but not in India).

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 400mm, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/500 sec)

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 400mm, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/200 sec)
This little boy was standing out in front of his home, just staring at us. His cute little outfit and big brown eyes captured all of our attention.

As I mentioned, it was a Sunday - A perfect day for some rest. I saw this guys snoozing in his backyard, and was able to raise the 100-400mm lens over his fence to grab this shot.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 400mm, ISO 1600, f/5.6, 1/250 sec)
This little guy was really shy (but still interested in watching us). I grabbed this shot of him watching us cautiously from behind his wall.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 24-105mm lens at 95mm, ISO 400, f/10, 1/200 sec)

On our second day in the city of Agra, we decided to spend the morning across the river from the Taj Mahal. While waiting for the sunrise, we had fun with this endearing young man. He ended up being our impromptu model, with all of us photographing him playing around. I just love his smiling face in front of the iconic building.

This woman was washing clothes in one of the small side streets. I took a couple of photos of her as she worked, and then she turned and gave me this smile. Love it!

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 24-105mm lens at 105mm, ISO 2000, f/4, 1/2000 sec)

There are many forts to visit when you go to India. We were walking through one of them when I saw this woman in a hallway, looking out through an opening. I also saw that there was a great reflection off the smooth stone in the hallway. I quickly moved to include her, with perfect window light on her face, and the reflection.

This woman was posing for a cell phone photo. I was standing to her side, tilted my camera and shot this at an extreme angle, making it different from most of my other portraits.

This gentleman was standing in front of his store in late afternoon light. My wife and I noticed his orange color hair, which seemed to be a common hair color for older men in India. I also liked the way that his hair color matched the late afternoon sun and the color on the walls.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 24-105mm lens at 105mm, ISO 50, f/22, 1/20 sec)

This older gentleman was standing at the edge of this road in the old part of Jaipur, and he was standing incredibly still. At first, I took a couple of photos of him at a fast shutter speed, and then thought that, since he was standing so still, it would be fun to slow the shutter and get motion behind him. I encouraged all of our tour attendees to do the same.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 200mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/200 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1)

These next three photos are of a beautiful young lady named Nitya. During our second week in India, Mike (the owner of M&M Photo Tours) and myself thought that it would be fun to hire a model for all of us to photograph.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 200mm, ISO 160, f/5.6, 1/125 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1)

Nitya started in this traditional Rajasthani dress, with amazing colors and details. This was a great chance for me to teach the tour attendees about composition, lighting and posing.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 200mm, ISO 500, f/5, 1/500 sec)

After photographing Nitya in her Rajasthani dress, she changed into one of her favorite saris. As you can see from the color of the light, we took these photos just before sunset.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 300mm, ISO 160, f/5.6, 1/80 sec)

Our last stop on the trip was to Jaisalmer to photograph the desert festival. Upon our arrival to the city, we walked through a touristy area with vendors selling their goods. This young girl was sitting on a wall and turned towards me just as I took the photo. I was captured by her eyes, and all the thoughts that were being transmitted from them. Can you see it too?

(Photographer's note: At first, I found the fence in the background to be distracting. I went into Adobe Photoshop and carefully removed each chain link(see below), but found that I actually liked the original photo better. What do you think?

The modified version...

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 24-105mm lens at 95mm, ISO 500, f/9, 1/1600 sec)

We were shooting sunset at an ancient burial ground in Jaisalmer, and I searched all over the place for interesting foregrounds for our attendees. We found some nice buildings to photograph and all was good. But I still felt that there could be something better. Just before the sun set behind the horizon I saw this Indian couple watching the sunset. I offered to do a silhouette portrait for them, and asked them to face each other. I later sent them this image, which I really like.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 234mm, ISO 160, f/9, 1/400 sec)

At the desert festival, there were lots of people wearing traditional clothing. This man not only had great colors, but also had this amazing mustache.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 24-105mm lens at 38mm, ISO 500, f/4, 1/200 sec)

We were visiting an old ghost town in the desert, and I was walking through one of the buildings that was still intact. I saw this woman in her colorful sari and asked if she could sit on this ledge for a portrait. So pretty!

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm lens at 124mm, ISO 160, f/8, 1/320 sec)

This last photo was taken on our final evening in the desert before flying back to Delhi and then home. I took numerous group shots during the trip, but this was my favorite. I took the first group shot, then stepped out and had my wife shoot another one with me in it, and I then composited the two for this final result.

I hope you enjoyed these photos from India. I have more to come!

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1 comment:

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