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Jodhpur Discovery 2014 Trip Report

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Originally posted on March 7, 2014.

Images to be restored soon.

Trip Details

DatesFebruary 11-22, 2014
Guest artistNick Rains
StyleDiscovery Workshop
DestinationIndia

Highlights

People: We were all pleasantly surprised by how much the locals enjoyed having their photos taken, in Delhi as well as in Rajasthan. This attitude helped us relax about the imposition and to enjoy the many and varied opportunities.

Mehrangarh Fort Dominating the skyline above Jodhpur, this old castle provided a wide range of opportunities: as a backdrop; as a vantage point; as an architectural masterpiece; for portraits; for candid shots; and for musicians, who we recorded as well as photographed.

Train stations Delhi was chosen as the start/end point for the workshop to make the trip more convenient for international flights. We then included train journeys to and from Rajasthan. These were enjoyable enough but the stations proved to be a rich playground for travel photography. In Jodhpur we even returned to the station during the middle of the day to get more images.

Food Hotel breakfasts were largely based around western tastes. For the other two meals we feasted on a wide variety of curry dishes and roti (breads). Despite the offerings being more than we thought we could manage, there always seemed to be a little bit more room for the very sweet desserts.

To see our gallery of images from Jodhpur Discovery 2014 follow this link.

The next departure of Jodhpur Discovery will be 30 January, 2015.

Summary

The 2014 Jodhpur Discovery photography workshop with Nick Rains attracted 4 photographers. When one of these changed their mind we decided to run the trip anyway, with 3 photographers - LeahK, TomM & JontyB, Nick and his wife Janelle, Ian Ford as our representative and Harshwardhan Singh Rathore as the tour leader; a small and happy group of 7.

The arrangements went mostly according to plan though the photography took a slightly different direction than expected, largely due to the willingness of the locals when it came to taking pictures. We encountered very few refusals and were often surprised by the willingness of the normally shy elderly ladies (perhaps because Janelle and Leah helped to break the ice) and by the patience of those who did pose. We tried not to impose but we often found encounters developing from a quick shot or two into an enjoyable dialogue and full-on session.

Delhi

We spent more time in Delhi out taking photos than originally planned but since everyone was in agreement about the options that was all fine. The Jama Masjid Mosque and Bangla Sahib Gurdwara proved to be very attractive options, being a cultural experience as well as full of good subject matter. The bazaars proved so good we went back for a second trip, enhanced by our guide who had taken the request for a vantage point on board and arranged for us to climb up above the spice market. The Red Fort is simply amazing and well worth the time spent wandering in the late afternoon light. We fitted in an extra stop at the craft museum on the last day and were delighted by the experience as well as the on-site cafe.

Jodhpur

The old town of Jodhpur really lived up to expectations. The location of our accommodation allowed us to walk out to the market and to the streets of blue houses beyond at will meaning that short sessions for a specific purpose were easily arranged. As such, we returned to the Clock Tower and a nearby roof specifically to practice time-lapse and long exposure shots. We also got great views of the fort from our rooftop restaurant really adding to the pleasure of meals.

Mehrangarh Fort itself is huge and it was well worth the whole afternoon we took to explore it. We were disappointed when we were told that we could not take tripods inside but then agreed on a rock vantage point outside the entrance for shots down onto the blue city as the orange street lights came on at dusk.

We could easily have stayed in Jodhpur for another couple of nights - but it was good to move on and get different shots.

Osian

We decided to recce the temples in Osian town on the way to our desert camp. This proved a wise decision as we then did not return. Barriers in the Hindu temple now provide security for pilgrims during peak festival periods but completely destroy the photographic possibilities. The Jain temple could be worthwhile in better light but, eventually, we dropped the idea in favour of new opportunities.

Harish, our host at Dera Eco camp, laid on great excursions. On the afternoon of our arrival we rode camels to the nearby dunes for a sunset shoot that was so nearly ruined by a passing storm. In the end, the dramtic light added to the photography and all came away with some stunning images. The next morning we took jeeps to explore local communities. The first stop proved so good we took two attempts to drag ourselves away. The other three stops didn't disappoint either, with very strong images of faces and, at the final stop, colourful wedding attire.

Khichan proved to be a well worthwhile departure from our original program too. We stopped first at the lake to photograph the mass of Demoiselle Cranes gathered on their migration before exploring the semi-abandoned houses across town. Very different image styles - all good practice.

Chandelao

Chandelao Garh was originally a fortified home but is now an attractive and comfortable hotel. Our plans were to use it as a base for excursions into the villages nearby and an authentic look at rural life. Our first excursion was on foot. Straight out of the door is the Sunder Rang craft centre which was good for souvenirs and some very colourful images. As we continued around the village we encountered plenty of friendly locals and were invited into homes to get even more great shots.

For the next full day we had the use of a converted army truck. This allowed us to venture further afield and access other villages with craft workshops and an arranged demonstrartion of Bishnoi hospitality. Our afternoon shoot was planned to be at a water hole but we moved around the lake to get the setting sun behind our subjects. We created plenty of attention and that, in turn, created plenty of atmospheric dust.

Our schedule in Chandelao allowed a break in the afternoon and therefore the chance to view a few of each others images.

Pushkar

Our photography in Pushkar centred around the holy lake. This area is strictly controlled and we needed a local fixer to help arrange some of the best shots (of Sadhus). We tried sunset and sunrise shots of the lake but were not inspired by the results.

Slideshow

Guest Artist's Feedback From Nick Rains

“Rajasthan exceeded all my expectations as a photographic destination. By steering clear of the main Golden Triangle tourist route we were able to avoid the expected crush of touts, hawkers and vendors and see the real India. These trips are all about setting up opportunities to create great photos, not about ticking off the obvious ‘sights’. Johdpur and Chandelao delivered in spades and we were able to roam the streets without being swapped by people trying to sell us souvenirs. In fact we were the novelty ourselves - a common scene was us being photographed by the locals with their phones, or asking us to take their portraits, a far cry from some other countries where people with cameras are treated with suspicion.

If you like colour and culture, India cannot be beaten. I expected it to be busy, and it was certainly that. I expected it to be challenging on some levels, and it was that too. But, due in great part to our awesome guide Harshwardan, we were able to deal with all eventualities and come back with some of the best photos I have made in the past few years.”

What Our Photographers Said

We ask photographers to fill in a feedback form at the end of their trip in order to help us improve trips for the future. Here are a few of the comments received:

Leadership

Top Class, Nick knew what was good, Ian knew what to ask and Hashvardhan knew how to implement …

Participant Feedback
TomM

Duration of the workshop / duration in each venue

As I prefer to not be in ‘Tourist’ spots, the venues were top class, at no point did it feel like we were rushed from place to place in a typical sightseeing tour! The only place which was heavily touristy was the Taj but that was expected.

Participant Feedback
TomM

Facts & Figures

Of the 20 possible photography sessions (2 each days for days 2-11) we managed 17 (85%). The other 3 were taken by drives, though we managed to find something to shoot on each of those too.

We made it out of bed for 2 sunrises and were actively taking photos during 7 sunsets.

There were 2 sessions with laptops for critique and suggestions for software usage.

Apart from many, many general shots (street photography, portraits, landscapes) we also specifically practiced time-lapse, long exposure and hi-ISO photography. Most went home with 3000+ images, not counting any time-lapse series.

During the trip we used private buses, cars, tuk-tuks, jeeps, a converted army truck and camels.

We spent 4 nights in a 4 star hotel, 4 in boutique style hotels, 2 in the desert camp and 1 in the first class compartments of a train.

Lessons Learnt & Changes For 2015

Overall we were very satisfied with the photographic opportunities during the workshop and the balance of time in each of the bases. Pushkar was less inspiring than expected and this will be dropped in 2015 with a drive to Ajmer straight from Chandelao. This will shorten the trip by one day.

Tripods were more of an issue than expected with many sites refusing to allow them in at all. Other, such as the Taj Mahal during the extension, required a special permit that took time to obtain. Tripods were useful (essential?) for some photography and so we still recommend photographers bring these.