Need photography advice for trip to India

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by theonlyoasis, Dec 14, 2008.

  1. theonlyoasis

    theonlyoasis TPF Noob!

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    Hey guys, this is my first post here, and I've have been getting into photography a lot recently. I have a Nikon D40 with the 18-55 lens that it comes with. I also have a polarizing filter and a Neutral Density (ND4) filter. While I know the basics of the filters I'm not really an expert in using them properly yet.

    I'll be on a plane to India in two days, and basically thought... what a great opportunity to take some amazing pictures! India is filled with culture, people on the streets filled with emotion, amazing architecture, and an infinite amount of more things to take pictures of. For those curious, I'll be going to Dehli, Kolkata, North Bengal, Agra (Taj Mahal!), Jaipur, Chitorgarh, Udaipur, and a couple other places. There will be many temples, forts, buildings, lakes/rivers, etc to take pictures of as well as people.
    Its not every day that I get to go halfway across the world, so I don't want to miss this chance to get the most out of my trip, so I come to you guys for advice and help =]

    Basically, here are a few questions I have:
    Many areas may be very dusty (with dirt roads and sand), and that combined with wind can't be good for my camera. Anything I can do to prevent damage/hassle to my camera?
    I'll probably want to take pictures of people in India, such as rickshaw workers and beggars on the street and whatnot. Is there a way to do this without appearing offensive? I know other photographers take pictures of people too... is there anything you usually say beforehand? I'm afraid if I consult them beforehand I won't get very candid shots.
    Is there any specific way I can take advantage of the two filters I listed above, or should I just leave them at home?
    Is there anything extra I should buy/bring with me to India in regards to photography that could be useful?

    Those questions are just what I can think of at the moment... other than that, any advice, questions, insight, and so forth is greatly appreciated. :thumbup:

    Thanks!
     
  2. timidtommy

    timidtommy TPF Noob!

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    Awesome! Have fun. If you have the money, spring for a wide angle lens to help cover temples/forts/palaces, etc. and a decent telephoto lens if thats doable. Remember that the electric outlets in India are different and operate on a different voltage, so take adaptors if you want to use your chargers, etc.
    Most people in India respond to requests to take photos. Just gesture to your camera and smile and nod - you'll usually get a wide grin in response. Be careful with your equipment though - dont leave them lying around while you are snapping away, etc - try to keep them secured to yourself. You should have no problem in getting additional memory / batteries / etc. Just check for authenticity, etc.
    Enjoy!


     
  3. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    The whole place is a cess pit, be sure to include the litter, pollution, satellite dishes etc, beggars and theives abound so you'll get plenty shots of those, sometimes you may find yourself surrounded by a group of these unfortunate types be certain you have no valuables loose anywhere on your person as they will most definitely go missing. Sorry to diminish your views regarding culture etc but I spent a long time in the country and apart from the odd occasion the place is a sh*thole. H
     
  4. theonlyoasis

    theonlyoasis TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the insight, guys. Flash Harry, yeah there definitely are very dirty areas with poor people and pollution, but its a different way of life there, and it doesn't take away from the beautiful temples and architecture in many other parts of India. But you're right, I will be careful =].
    And thanks for mentioning the adapters timidtommy, I forgot about that.
     
  5. Sarin

    Sarin TPF Noob!

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    After spending many years in India i've found it a country full of diversity and culture with some of the friendliest people in the world. The only places i've noticed that you get real annoyances are the tourist areas but beggars and thieves are all over the country. It can be dirty and smelly but no more so than a lot of African countries.

    Etiquette:

    Depending on what part of the country you are in will depend on what type of reactions you get if you just snap someone or something without asking permission. For example the people of the tourist state Goa are more likely to be used to having their picture taken rather then the poor people of delhi. I've found that it's polite to ask if possible but if not, snap away then show them the pictures. Have a ready wad of 10 rupee notes available as the whole country runs on the "you don't get anything for nothing" policy. One of the best pieces of advice given to me was that although a lot of people in India are poor, this doesn't mean that they are stupid!

    Do's and don'ts:

    Do not take photos of anything military - even before the recent bombings you would get in real trouble if caught doing so. This includes having your camera "out" anywhere near this type of location.

    Do ask permission before photographing religious monuments - the temples are beautiful and regularly have "no photography" signs showing but i have found that if you ask permission they will allow you.

    Do ask permission before photographing people - some of Indias residents still believe that by taking a photo of them you are stealing their soul. This is especially true in the more rural areas.

    Do take sensor cleaning equipment - this time of year India is very dusty. If you lose or damage equipment while you're there you'll find most cities have camera specialists from the major manufacturers.

    Do be careful of where you are standing / walking - spending ages looking through your viewfinder will stop you looking where you are going. There are some nasties in the country that you definitely don't want to be standing on and will let you know that they don't like being stood on by giving you a poisonous bite! In forest areas remember that snakes also live in the trees so have a look up now and again, this is especially true of the Krait species of snake. They are a steel blue colour and spend most of their time during the day in the trees. Many a tourist to rural areas have been bitten on the head by this extremely poisonous snake all because they weren't looking where they are going.

    Don't stick your hand in holes - stupid as it sounds i had a friend that dropped a battery in a hole and got a nasty shock when trying to retrieve it!

    Do make the most of the Indian sunsets - they are some of the most beautiful that i have experienced anywhere in the world and happen day after day in the coastal areas of the country.

    Do expect to see at least one "snake clubbing" while you are there - the first time i saw it, it reminded me of a certain episode of the simpsons. In rural India you see this a lot because snake bites to children generally kill, there is no time or money for anti-venon.

    Don't take pictures of snake charmers - a moral issue really but the majority of the snakes have had their fangs ripped out so that in the event that they might bite mr tourist no venom is delivered. By taking pictures you are just keeping this cruel practice alive.

    Don't take short cuts through paddy fields, especially at night - this is king cobra territory and you will definitely lose that fight!

    Have fun! The people are sometimes very poor but they like to laugh and are very accommodating. Get yourself into a predicament and you will have a whole group of people willing to help you out.
     
  6. anubis404

    anubis404 TPF Noob!

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    Well, after what just happened, I would include a flak vest to the list above.

    Photography wise, I can't say much. Since you have a D40, the 50mm and 85mm series are out, and you're probably going to want a good, sharp portrait lens for people shots. I would suggest the Tokina 100mm F2.8. I have heard its a great lens and is on par with the Nikkor macro. You also might want to include a good wide angle for landscapes and other stuff. I suggest the Sigma 10-20. If you have a tight budget, then the 100mm is more important.
     

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