A Photographic Journey
India is an exotic and wondrous place. It is out of reach for many people. With the increasing accessibility of travel to all of the wonders of the world, this is changing. Exploring the world has never been easier, and capturing travel images is one of the activities you can do to help bring the memories home.
Nothing captures the essence of an uplifting and exotic trip such as touring the Golden Triangle. The cities of Agra, Jaipur and Delhi lead one into a passionate and fascinating world of Mughals and Maharajas. There is no greater evidence of this then the decadence of the Amber Fort, the supreme architecture of the Qutab Minar. And of course the majesty that is the Taj Mahal.
Like the finest piece of Toblerone chocolate, the triangle of these three cities is sublime and jam packed with flavor. As you pass through each city, one tries to outdo the other with respect to their architecture, craftsmanship and exquisite photographic opportunities. The influences of the Mughal Empire run deep as you walk the streets and gardens. The vibrancy of the breathing city envelope you as your tuk tuk hurdles its way around throngs of proud people, cows and markets, en route to your next destination.
One of the best times of the year to visit is March, after the chill of winter has left and well before the monsoon season of summer descends. Anytime between October and mid-April is ideal. And capturing the beautiful chaos that is city life in India on camera makes for some stunning street photography.
Visiting Agra is an exercise in going back in time. Ramshackle buildings lumped together lining gritty streets, laundry hanging out to dry outside residential windows. A variety of roadside shops and stands all make for great shots. This is a city where animals are respected and roam free in the streets; and deliveries are still made by bicycle. Overloaded scooters and buffalo-drawn carts are the norm.
And don’t forget the tuk tuks. This is the way most tourists get around and you will never want for one to get you where you want to go. Shooting with your camera on the fly is the name of the game here, as you will never know when to capture that golden shot until the moment before it arrives. Whether its children spilling out of the back of a truck, eager to get home, or a tuk tuk driver haggling with his next client. The photographic possibilities here are endless and make up for exiting travel images.
Chasing Light and Shadow
As you stroll Agra’s Taj Mahal Gardens before sunset, you can capture the last rays of sunlight as they stream down through the trees, bathing everything below the canopy in a golden light. Choose a portion of the Taj Mahal that inspires you. Moreover, visit it at different times of the day to play with the light and shadow as the sun moves its way across the sky.
Natural light can be used in so many ways. Take advantage of sunrise and sunset every single day, as golden hour never seems to disappoint, no matter what your subject matter. Your eye will become trained very quickly to recognize the dazzling puppet show of shadows as light hits an object just so.
Take advantage of backlit mosques at sunset, with people milling about the square outdoors. Perhaps you’ll capture that magic moment when a flock of birds lift off against the fading light.
Reflections on Water
Everyone has seen photos of the Taj Mahal as reflected on the water pool in front of it. But give yourself a challenge if you choose to accept it: try to find a unique angle of another reflective water shot of this iconic landmark. In fact, any body of water you come across that is fairly calm is prime fodder for an incredible reflective shot.
Color and Contrast
The city of Jaipur is known as the “pink city” for its clusters of pink buildings. If you can find just the right angle with which to shoot one of these clusters against the clear blue sky, the contrast of colors makes for some magical travel images. The Golden Triangle is indeed one of contrasts, everywhere you turn, and not just for the sake of photography. At the Red Fort in Agra, it’s a delight to capture the crisp, ornate designs of a wooden door in the foreground, while a blurry image of ancient concrete lies beyond.
Jaipur is also a major hub for textiles, and the bazaars are awash with vibrant cloths, jewelry and Rajasthani crafts. A close-up shot of bright herbs and spices in a market will lend texture to your shots. Be sure to take at least some time to put your camera down so you can bargain with a vendor for that incredible silk sari for yourself or as a gift!
If you let it, your eye will quickly pick up on these contrasts, both visually and literally. On one block you will be strolling by palatial estates, only to turn the corner and find yourself among shacks where residents are struggling to get by. An appreciation for the dichotomy of rich and poor will train you to get great shots without invading the privacy of others.
A Wonderland for Travel Images
Old Delhi is one of the oldest existing cities in the world, dating back 5,000 years. First impressions are that everything is crowded, dirty and chaotic. But use a photographer’s eye to push past the madness and truly recognize the beauty of the people here, the colors, the way of living.
When touring the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, let your collection of photographs and travel images tell a story. No matter what technique you use (or if you care to use none at all) every photo you take will capture something that moved you to bring the camera to your eye. The second you click the shutter will no doubt attempt to convey the feeling you had at that moment, and will continue to inspire all who see it.