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Author Topic: Trip to India - any advice?  (Read 3700 times)

Ladislav

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Trip to India - any advice?
« on: January 19, 2018, 11:43:19 AM »
I was invited to visit Indian wedding in the second half of February. The wedding is directly in Agra. I'm considering going to India for 2 days wedding and up to another week of sight seeing / photography.

I'm not so much concerned about what to take with me in terms of gear selection. I'm more concerned about what I can and what I cannot do in India in terms of photography. Eg. where can I take pictures, is there anything I must not take pictures of, am I allowed to take backpack with tripod with me anywhere I go or will I be required to leave it somewhere? Also any advice how to stay safe while traveling mostly alone with expensive kit is welcome.

Another part of the question is what locations / viewpoints would your recommend to visit during the trip? I'm considering Golden triangle: Agra, New Delhi, Jaipur but I'm open for suggestions. Agra and New Delhi are mandatory because that is where the wedding and airport are :)
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Trip to India - any advice?
« on: January 19, 2018, 11:43:19 AM »

Ladislav

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Re: Trip to India - any advice?
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2018, 10:29:21 AM »
Flights booked - 9 days in India + 2 days for flights. Apart from spending two days in Agra with wedding parts mostly happening in late evening, I will have seven days to explore other areas.

I was thinking about (it includes transport):

  • 2 days in Jaipur
  • 2 days in Varanasi or Ranthambore National Park
  • 3 days in New Delhi

I need to figure out what is more doable. Varanasi with two additional flights or a tiger safari in Ranthambore which may be too short and too late to book.

Any better suggestions?
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privatebydesign

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Re: Trip to India - any advice?
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2018, 11:26:58 AM »
Forget the park, the two days in Varanasi will be sublime from a photographers viewpoint.

In New Delhi make sure you get a guide and go to the spice market at dawn. In Jaipur there are several must do's, but the Amber Fort is very picturesque in the golden hours and I could easily spend an entire day there, don't get sucked into the 'my cousin has a cloth factory' sales scam, it wastes too much time. In the high traffic tourist areas the 'picturesque locals' are generally posing for money so if you don't want that kind of shot be aware of etiquette.

I wouldn't take a tripod (I travel with a very small 18" high model now) as its use in any of the tourist locations is generally banned. In Agra make sure you go across the river to take the picture from the North shore, tripods are banned even there and the rules are enforced enthusiastically.

If it were my time I'd cut a day in New Delhi and add a day in Varanasi, when I first went there I was with a reluctant companion and we allowed two days for seeing the 'must see' bits, we stayed a week and left reluctantly!
Too often we lose sight of the fact that photography is about capturing light, if we have the ability to take control of that light then we grow exponentially as photographers. More often than not the image is not about lens speed, sensor size, DR, MP's or AF, it is about the light.

privatebydesign

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Re: Trip to India - any advice?
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2018, 11:30:32 AM »
P.S. In Varanasi get a riverboat man to row you along the river before dawn, make sure you get your own boat!
Too often we lose sight of the fact that photography is about capturing light, if we have the ability to take control of that light then we grow exponentially as photographers. More often than not the image is not about lens speed, sensor size, DR, MP's or AF, it is about the light.

J.R.

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Re: Trip to India - any advice?
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2018, 02:39:06 AM »
As Scott mentioned, make sure you have a reliable guide when you go out. He will take you to the correct locations and will be better from a safety point of view.

Agra and Jaipur will give you mostly architectural shots. For Agra, I'd suggest you visit Fatehpur Sikri https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatehpur_Sikri besides the Taj Mahal.

For Taj Mahal, go at daybreak on a weekday - at the weekend, it will start getting crowded by 8:00 am. Just to note, the security will object to a camera bag being taken inside and you'll have to explain it to the guards. They will allow it after checking every nook and cranny of the bag again.

Old Delhi area has a number of interesting locations both for street photography as well as architecture but to give you a heads up, Delhi is extremely crowded and getting from point A to point B is a painful and time consuming task. If you have never been to India before you'll be shocked at how the traffic moves here. So plan in advance where you wish to go and book your hotel nearby or else you may end up spending more time than you need on the road stuck in traffic.

India is usually safe enough despite what you may hear in the news. It is best to have a travel companion but in case you are traveling alone, I'd recommend hiring a dedicated cab for the entire period of the stay in India - the charges will range between $60-$70 per day (including fuel) and will allow you to leave some stuff (other than your gear) say your tripod, miscellaneous items, etc. in the car when you are out shooting / sightseeing.

If you are going to visit any religious places (temples, mosques, etc.) it is best to avoid wearing shorts. Watch out for spicy food and insist on bottled water without exception.

Tripods may or may not be allowed. I would recommend getting a gorillapod which doesn't meet too many objections. 

I live in the New Delhi area ... do feel free to ask any questions that you may have.
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Ladislav

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Re: Trip to India - any advice?
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2018, 05:12:50 PM »
Forget the park, the two days in Varanasi will be sublime from a photographers viewpoint.

In New Delhi make sure you get a guide and go to the spice market at dawn. In Jaipur there are several must do's, but the Amber Fort is very picturesque in the golden hours and I could easily spend an entire day there, don't get sucked into the 'my cousin has a cloth factory' sales scam, it wastes too much time. In the high traffic tourist areas the 'picturesque locals' are generally posing for money so if you don't want that kind of shot be aware of etiquette.

I wouldn't take a tripod (I travel with a very small 18" high model now) as its use in any of the tourist locations is generally banned. In Agra make sure you go across the river to take the picture from the North shore, tripods are banned even there and the rules are enforced enthusiastically.

If it were my time I'd cut a day in New Delhi and add a day in Varanasi, when I first went there I was with a reluctant companion and we allowed two days for seeing the 'must see' bits, we stayed a week and left reluctantly!

Thank you for the advice! Do you think that the itinerary is too packed? Should I skip Varanasi and instead have more time in Agra and Jaipur?

I wasn't considering Varanasi at all when I started planning the trip but more I read about the place, more I want to visit. I would even swap it for Jaipur but there are no flights from Agra to Varanasi and I don't want to spend too much time traveling so taking the train or going back to Delhi isn't appealing. Unfortunately, I couldn't  stay longer, it would feel more comfortable to have at least 2 more days.

Thanks for the tip with the tripod. That opens question about lenses. I like to use Shift lenses for architecture and often combine it with extreme ND filter to blur people. That isn't possible without tripod - luckily I have gorilla pod suggested by J.R.

I was considering 16-35, 24-70, 50 STM and 24 TS and 70-200 for wedding.
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Ladislav

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Re: Trip to India - any advice?
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2018, 05:21:32 PM »
As Scott mentioned, make sure you have a reliable guide when you go out. He will take you to the correct locations and will be better from a safety point of view.

Agra and Jaipur will give you mostly architectural shots. For Agra, I'd suggest you visit Fatehpur Sikri https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatehpur_Sikri besides the Taj Mahal.

For Taj Mahal, go at daybreak on a weekday - at the weekend, it will start getting crowded by 8:00 am. Just to note, the security will object to a camera bag being taken inside and you'll have to explain it to the guards. They will allow it after checking every nook and cranny of the bag again.

Old Delhi area has a number of interesting locations both for street photography as well as architecture but to give you a heads up, Delhi is extremely crowded and getting from point A to point B is a painful and time consuming task. If you have never been to India before you'll be shocked at how the traffic moves here. So plan in advance where you wish to go and book your hotel nearby or else you may end up spending more time than you need on the road stuck in traffic.

India is usually safe enough despite what you may hear in the news. It is best to have a travel companion but in case you are traveling alone, I'd recommend hiring a dedicated cab for the entire period of the stay in India - the charges will range between $60-$70 per day (including fuel) and will allow you to leave some stuff (other than your gear) say your tripod, miscellaneous items, etc. in the car when you are out shooting / sightseeing.

If you are going to visit any religious places (temples, mosques, etc.) it is best to avoid wearing shorts. Watch out for spicy food and insist on bottled water without exception.

Tripods may or may not be allowed. I would recommend getting a gorillapod which doesn't meet too many objections. 

I live in the New Delhi area ... do feel free to ask any questions that you may have.

Thank you for the advice. I read about Fatehpur_Sikr and I was considering it as well. I had it in the plan before I started considering Varanasi. If I don't go to Varanasi, I will probably go there.

I've never been to India. I already read something about traffic. I will make sure not to plan to much per day and not to travel too much.

If Gorillapod is fine, I will definitely take it.
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Re: Trip to India - any advice?
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2018, 05:21:32 PM »

privatebydesign

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Re: Trip to India - any advice?
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2018, 06:44:08 PM »
Forget the park, the two days in Varanasi will be sublime from a photographers viewpoint.

In New Delhi make sure you get a guide and go to the spice market at dawn. In Jaipur there are several must do's, but the Amber Fort is very picturesque in the golden hours and I could easily spend an entire day there, don't get sucked into the 'my cousin has a cloth factory' sales scam, it wastes too much time. In the high traffic tourist areas the 'picturesque locals' are generally posing for money so if you don't want that kind of shot be aware of etiquette.

I wouldn't take a tripod (I travel with a very small 18" high model now) as its use in any of the tourist locations is generally banned. In Agra make sure you go across the river to take the picture from the North shore, tripods are banned even there and the rules are enforced enthusiastically.

If it were my time I'd cut a day in New Delhi and add a day in Varanasi, when I first went there I was with a reluctant companion and we allowed two days for seeing the 'must see' bits, we stayed a week and left reluctantly!

Thank you for the advice! Do you think that the itinerary is too packed? Should I skip Varanasi and instead have more time in Agra and Jaipur?

I wasn't considering Varanasi at all when I started planning the trip but more I read about the place, more I want to visit. I would even swap it for Jaipur but there are no flights from Agra to Varanasi and I don't want to spend too much time traveling so taking the train or going back to Delhi isn't appealing. Unfortunately, I couldn't  stay longer, it would feel more comfortable to have at least 2 more days.

Thanks for the tip with the tripod. That opens question about lenses. I like to use Shift lenses for architecture and often combine it with extreme ND filter to blur people. That isn't possible without tripod - luckily I have gorilla pod suggested by J.R.

I was considering 16-35, 24-70, 50 STM and 24 TS and 70-200 for wedding.

No I'd do the three in 7 days but if I could only do one I'd go to Varanasi, but I like photos of people, as J.R. correctly points out, in the broader picture "Agra and Jaipur will give you mostly architectural shots." by contrast Varanasi will give you mostly people pictures.

I'd take at least one train too, when I travel in India it is almost always by train, it is the jewel in the crown of immersing yourself in India! Station food and the hustle and bustle is unbelievably photogenic, the colors and smells are out of this world and a photographers dream.

But, if your focus is tripod and architectural style images then I'd recommend skipping Varanasi, the interesting streets are very narrow and packed with people and the most interesting architecture is best viewed from boats which don't lend themselves to long exposures. Both Agra and Jaipur would keep you busy with the tilt shift for all your 7 days.

Have fun!
Too often we lose sight of the fact that photography is about capturing light, if we have the ability to take control of that light then we grow exponentially as photographers. More often than not the image is not about lens speed, sensor size, DR, MP's or AF, it is about the light.

Ladislav

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Re: Trip to India - any advice?
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2018, 06:12:25 AM »
I just found that only few days after I'm supposed to return, there will be Festival of colors in India. If I manage to change my return flight (which I doubt), what would be the best place to enjoy the festival considering cities in Golden triangle or anything near by?
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Valvebounce

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Re: Trip to India - any advice?
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2018, 06:54:13 AM »
Hi Ladislav.
If the festival of colours involves a colour run don’t do it, see this article https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2013/05/how-to-ruin-your-gear-in-5-minutes-without-water/
from Roger at Lens Rentals, it doesn’t look like something I would want to deal with!  😳
I’m guessing that it will more likely be coloured lighting and fabrics?

Cheers, Graham.

I just found that only few days after I'm supposed to return, there will be Festival of colors in India. If I manage to change my return flight (which I doubt), what would be the best place to enjoy the festival considering cities in Golden triangle or anything near by?
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Re: Trip to India - any advice?
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2018, 07:28:52 AM »
Hello,

We loved New Delhi and Agra. We hired a private guide and car for our entire trip. We loved Ranthambore National Park. It was great to see the tigers in the wild, but every tour company's jeeps seemed to converge on the few tigers that were in the open. That was really the only negative!! It is a little scary when you see a tiger that is only about thirty feet away and you are sitting in an open jeep!!! The most awesome part was when we were sitting at a watering hole and a tiger walked out of the jungle and into the water to play around.

Our trip to India was mainly for the drive from Manali to Leh and then from Leh to Srinagar. The drive through the Himalayas was awesome! I would do it again. I had my window down for most of the trip to take pictures!!
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Ladislav

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Re: Trip to India - any advice?
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2018, 12:55:01 PM »
Hi Graham,

thanks for sharing. I'm fully aware of this. I read some tips from a travel photography book recommending to use a water housing. I would go for something like this: https://aquapac.net/store/shop/sale/waterproof-dslr-camera-case-458/ and use my 6D

Or I could just go and take pictures with phone ...

Ladislav

Hi Ladislav.
If the festival of colours involves a colour run don’t do it, see this article https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2013/05/how-to-ruin-your-gear-in-5-minutes-without-water/
from Roger at Lens Rentals, it doesn’t look like something I would want to deal with!  😳
I’m guessing that it will more likely be coloured lighting and fabrics?

Cheers, Graham.

I just found that only few days after I'm supposed to return, there will be Festival of colors in India. If I manage to change my return flight (which I doubt), what would be the best place to enjoy the festival considering cities in Golden triangle or anything near by?
« Last Edit: January 25, 2018, 12:58:31 PM by Ladislav »
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Ladislav

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Re: Trip to India - any advice?
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2018, 08:13:42 AM »
    I returned from India on Monday. It was an awesome trip with endless opportunities for photography.

    At the end I wasn't able to extend my trip and I excluded Varanasi just to not make it too stretched. My final itinerary was:
    • Day 1: Arriving to Delhi, taxi to Agra, Wedding reception
    • Day 2: Taj Mahal, Turmeric Ceremony for Wedding, Agra fort, Wedding
    • Day 3: (renting car and driver) Fatehpur Sikri, Mathura
    • Day 4: (renting car and driver) Mathura, Deeg Fort and Palace, Chand Baori (step well), arriving to Jaipur
    • Day 5: Jaipur -> Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, City Palace, Isarlat Sargasooli, Jal Mahal, Galta Ji temples, The Sun temple, Albert Hall at night
    • Day 6: Jaipur -> Amber Fort, Panna Meena ka Kund (step well), Jaigarh Fort, Nahargarh Fort
    • Day 7: Taxi to Delhi, Hauz Khaz village in the evening and night stroll around India Gate
    • Day 8: Delhi -> Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Jantar Mantar, Jama Masjid, Old Delhi bazaars and spice market, night stroll around Vijay Chowk
    • Day 9: Delhi -> Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Humayun's Tomb
    • Day 10: India Gate, Agrasen ki Baoli (step well), flight back

    There were few misses because of my poor planning - Lotus temple and Akshardham in Delhi were closed when I wanted to visit. The biggest disappointment was Red Fort in Delhi.

    I could definitely spend one more day in all locations I visited (Agra, Jaipur, Delhi and probably even Mathura). There was plenty more to see.

    While I like taking pictures of architecture, cityscapes and landscapes, most of pictures I took back are just snapshots of what was happening in the street or on the road. I also took quite lot of pictures of animals. I regretted that I didn't have longer lens for eagles flying around minarets in Delhi.

    Btw. I didn't use tripod at all. I was using just bean bag for night photography.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2018, 08:18:35 AM by Ladislav »
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Re: Trip to India - any advice?
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2018, 08:13:42 AM »

privatebydesign

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Re: Trip to India - any advice?
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2018, 11:35:48 AM »
    I returned from India on Monday. It was an awesome trip with endless opportunities for photography.

    At the end I wasn't able to extend my trip and I excluded Varanasi just to not make it too stretched. My final itinerary was:
    • Day 1: Arriving to Delhi, taxi to Agra, Wedding reception
    • Day 2: Taj Mahal, Turmeric Ceremony for Wedding, Agra fort, Wedding
    • Day 3: (renting car and driver) Fatehpur Sikri, Mathura
    • Day 4: (renting car and driver) Mathura, Deeg Fort and Palace, Chand Baori (step well), arriving to Jaipur
    • Day 5: Jaipur -> Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, City Palace, Isarlat Sargasooli, Jal Mahal, Galta Ji temples, The Sun temple, Albert Hall at night
    • Day 6: Jaipur -> Amber Fort, Panna Meena ka Kund (step well), Jaigarh Fort, Nahargarh Fort
    • Day 7: Taxi to Delhi, Hauz Khaz village in the evening and night stroll around India Gate
    • Day 8: Delhi -> Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Jantar Mantar, Jama Masjid, Old Delhi bazaars and spice market, night stroll around Vijay Chowk
    • Day 9: Delhi -> Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Humayun's Tomb
    • Day 10: India Gate, Agrasen ki Baoli (step well), flight back

    There were few misses because of my poor planning - Lotus temple and Akshardham in Delhi were closed when I wanted to visit. The biggest disappointment was Red Fort in Delhi.

    I could definitely spend one more day in all locations I visited (Agra, Jaipur, Delhi and probably even Mathura). There was plenty more to see.

    While I like taking pictures of architecture, cityscapes and landscapes, most of pictures I took back are just snapshots of what was happening in the street or on the road. I also took quite lot of pictures of animals. I regretted that I didn't have longer lens for eagles flying around minarets in Delhi.

    Btw. I didn't use tripod at all. I was using just bean bag for night photography.

Glad you had a good time.
Too often we lose sight of the fact that photography is about capturing light, if we have the ability to take control of that light then we grow exponentially as photographers. More often than not the image is not about lens speed, sensor size, DR, MP's or AF, it is about the light.

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Re: Trip to India - any advice?
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2018, 11:35:48 AM »