Photography in Nepal

May 30th, 2008

I had many thoughts about taking photos, as well as photo equipment during my Nepal trip, so let me summarize them now…
So I came home with something like 1200 photos, 800 of which I post-processed and posted on my site. To most people they seem really good, and even I have to admit that a few are pretty damn awesome, but that’s bound to happen given the opportunities and the surroundings I was in.
However, about 3 hours into the trip I realized that I won’t take as many photos as I normally would on another trip. In Kathmandu, even in the tourist locations, I was more comfortable just working with one lens, and bothered to stop and do a lens swap only in quiet places. Not that I felt really threatened or worried that I’d get mugged, but I never got completely comfortable playing a role of a tourist wielding all this fancy equipment in front of the locals, and getting in their faces to take photos. But it is hard to be subtle about taking pictures because if you’re white you stick out, and if you have a long white lens, you stick out even more!
So I had to settle for long lens shots from a distance (70-200mm Canon f4L, or shooting from the hip with a wide-angle (my 10-20mm Sigma), in places that weren’t pure tourist attraction shots.
While on the trek, I only took two lenses, the very versatile but sometimes not wide enough, and often not long enough Canon 17-55mm F2.8 IS, and the 70-200 beast. I carried the long lens in my daypack the first few days, but then quickly realized that I rarely felt like stopping to pull it out for several reasons - loads of dust, slowing down the progress of the whole group, and then just pure laziness, being that any kind of breathing or extra movement at higher altitudes were difficult. So about 90% of the shots in the mountains were done with the 17-55, with the long lens being used only in camp, and on some special days that I knew I’d want it with me. I also didn’t make any side-trips or traveled off the path too much to get that slightly different shot, again because of general fatigue, and I quickly settled for taking regular tourist snapshots, but hopefully with somewhat better angles and exposure (which can be tricky at times with the bright snow and ice).
If I had to pick an ideal one lens camera setup, I’d say a Canon 5D paired with the 24-105mm lens would be ideal, as on a full frame camera it would cover most of the range, and with stitching and cropping could pretty much handle most situations I was in.

Entry Filed under: nepal trip, photography

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Michael  |  June 2nd, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Yeah, I think that 24-105 is a pretty ideal lens. Once we save up some money, Elia and I are going to get one for her 30D body. I love my 24-70 2.8 and rarely do I have issues with it not being wide enough. My main issue is that it doesn’t have the focal length that I often want, since I’ve something of a chicken about getting in peoples’ faces as well. So this means carrying the 70-200 2.8 with me and that bastard along with the 24-70, the body, and sometimes my 3.5kg laptop makes for one heavy messenger bag.
    Like you, I’m still searching for that ideal rig, which lately has been the 24-70mm with 50mm 1.2 if I want to get up close and personal. I guess it takes finding ones style. You should watch War Photographer and see how James Nachtwey manages to shoot with just too lens, but then again, he has his style. If you’re like me, you’ll get sickened in the vulture mentality of commercial photographers. Probably something I’ll never be able to do.


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