Photography in Nepal and the Himalayas

To help people prepare for Nepal, there is a collection of 10 great photography tips below. Hope to see you in Kathmandu!

10559702_1465754367024904_8752483973742360336_nCapture Colour

Temples, prayer wheels and prayer flags are among the most photographed, and most colourful, subjects in Nepal. Indeed the cities can be full of colour and seeking out that perfect image is best done by wandering the streets and capturing natural moments in time – of life in Nepal. Shop signs and clothing stores can provide some colourful inspiration for fun photography in Nepal as well. For landscapes, look for patches of flowers or other natural sources of colour to include in your image.

Connect with the People

Taking photos of the Sadhus and friendly people of Nepal is a highlight for many travellers and photographers. Smiles are universal ways to engage, as is showing people the photo you just took of them. If you show an interest in their work or ask them questions, they’ll be happy to have their picture taken. In some touristy places around Kathmandu it has become common for people to ask for money for their photos to be taken. Do as you wish, but a photo of someone you shared a laugh with may have a better lasting impression than one you paid for. Don’t forget the same holds true for any porters and guides that may help you along the way. Take an interest in them and you’ll be rewarded with more great photo opportunities.

Embrace Silhouette Photography

In the Himalayas, or any mountain scenes, shadows are exaggerated by the towering mountain peaks. You’re not always going to be in the right place at the right time for taking advantage of the golden hours of sunlight. Valleys and jagged, rugged landscapes will often create high contrasting scenes. Composing images that silhoutee people trekking in the mountains is one way to have fun with the shadows and light challenges in mountainous environments.

Crop before you Click

This is one of those universal tips for photographers, always get as close as you can. Some people may say fill the frame others may tell you to get closer. However you say it, the meaning is simple – get close and capture the detail. If you find yourself taking pictures and thinking ‘I can just crop that later’ then stop. You want to be satisfied with your photos from the start, so imagine that you’re cropping each image before you click the shutter. Sometimes it can be as simple as changing to a vertical photo to get a better composition.

10471418_1465754453691562_8299692627611147095_nDon’t forget the Foreground

How do you make a photo of tall snow-capped mountains stand out? You don’t want your images to look like pointy piles of rocks and snow with no colour. So have fun and plant yourself in the middle of a field or near a tree or building that gives some colour to your image and brings the foreground to life. Play with angles too, by getting close to the ground and having a different perspective than your typical photographs.

Snow Photography

If you’re planning to be in the Himalayas of Nepal and expect some time in the snow, then factor in a few adjustments to photography. If you’re taking any portraits in the bright snow it is useful to use flash photography. Always check your camera as snow photos can be a challenge to camera sensors and often come out too dark. On sunny days many DSLR cameras need their exposure compensation bumped +1 or even +2 to get the best results. Point and shoot cameras often have a snow/ice setting that works well too.

Lenses to Consider if you have a DSLR

The most common question, but hardest to answer. The short answer here is a fast prime in the 17-50/50-85mm range and a versatile zoom, such as 70-200mm. If you can get away with just two lenses these are a safe bet. With that said, it also depends on your shooting style. Do you prefer portrait or landscape photography? What type of photos do you want to take? Many photographers also swear that a wide angle lens is a must in Nepal to get great landscapes and put some of the more intricate city scenes into perspective. If that isn’t enough, with any trip that includes a safari, such as Chitwan, you may want some extra zoom to get close-ups of the wildlife. The issue of gear becomes more critical if you’re in a situation where you need to carry your gear frequently, such as trekking in the Annapurnas. What are you comfortable carrying?

Let the Light Guide You

To capture the best light you need to be ready for the sunrise and sunset hours. During these times you’ll often capture the most dramatic and stunning colours in your photos. The hazy, misty mountains are always a delight in the early morning. But what are you going to do the other 90% of the day? If it is a bright, sunny day then light may be harsh for photography, but it also means it will work great for larger scenes of valleys, meadows, fields. Big blue skies work great for landscapes. If it is a cloudy or overcast day, then the subdued light makes it ideal for those portrait photos of people at work or at play. Other subjects like mountain streams, rivers and waterfalls are suited well to overcast skies.

Capturing Wildlife in Bardiya (or Chitwan) National Park

Wildlife encounters can be fleeting and frustrating to photographers. It can take hours, days or even weeks to get the perfect image so a bit of luck is always involved. The worst thing that can happen? You’re unprepared. To help ensure you get great images of animals such as elephants and tigers, you need to have your settings prepared ahead of time. Like athletes, animals are often on the move so a ‘sports’ scene can work for some. On DSLR cameras make sure you’re not on a single exposure setting and the camera shutter allows for multiple photos at a time. At ‘first contact’ get a few photos using whatever quick settings you’ve decided on. Then, if the animal cooperates you can take a moment to adjust, zoom and get the perfect picture.

Food, Drink & Fun

I know very few people who return from a vacation with SHAREit App many photos of themselves. Similarly, often people talk about the great food they had at a market or restaurant – but they can’t show it. While most photographs are of what you’re seeing, don’t forget to take pictures of what you’re doing. In Nepal, that may be drinking tea in a an aptly-named tea house in the Himalayas, or photographing a meal provided by a local family during a home stay. Remember that the everyday activities like grocery shopping and eating are easy to relate to for people at home. Show them how different these daily activities are in Nepal to help bring the smells and tastes alive as much as the sights.

There you have it, 10 tips to get you thinking about taking better photos in Nepal. A couple of final reminders – don’t forget to pack extra batteries, especially if you’re spending much time in the cold. For charging anything electronic Nepal uses 220V electricity and either two or three (type C/D) electrical plugs.

Source: Red Hunt, photo’s by Karine Arnoldi

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