Hampi has been by far one of the most beautiful places I have seen in India so far, a unique combination of geological beauty with orange rocks everywhere and the ruins of the capital of the ancient empire of Vijayanagara, built in the 1500s. Everywhere you can see the remains of the Empire, from the market place to the elephant stables, the fort, shrines and especially temples. There is a very tall temple towering over the Hapi Bazar, the main town but the most magnificent of the temples is Vittala, a little walk of 20 min from the center along the cliffs and the boulders.
Vittala is a temple that includes many shrines and religious elements and the most famous one, being a famous landmark of Hampi is the Stone Chariot. Even the Lonely Planet top choice for India was Hampi with the image of the Chariot, and that means something. So as usual, I always try getting a better shot (or as good as) than the book and this one proved quite hard.
As mentioned in the blog, I was in Hampi during the festival, meaning even more people than usual would be there, even more tourists and as such even more people standing in my pictures. The thing is, the temple closes at 17:00, when the light is getting good and before that, the chariot is assaulted by crowds of Indian tourists posing for excruciatingly long times in front of it. How many pictures of yourself in front of a stone can you get and what exactly are you doing with those pictures??? If someone knows the answer, I’d be glad to know.
Another difficulty came from all the Indians wanting picture of US with them. At first it’s funny, after two it gets old but it’s just plainly a pain when you can’t walk two meters without being asked! And I am also considering wearing a little badge on my saying “Hello my name is Frederic, I come from Canada”, that would save me so much time!
After seeing all those people I just thought, well screw it, I won’t get that shot, let them have their picture of the chariot and I’ll get something else. I did indeed get a very nice shot of shepherds with their herds of goats, walking in the temples with the pretty light and the boulders in the background so I was satisfied.
Approaching 17:00, people were starting to leave and it became a possibility to have a rather less crowded shot but then I got an idea. I was lucky enough to have brought Brian the Tripod with me and I thought of doing a long exposure to get the impression that it would be empty. You see, a long exposure means getting light on the sensor for let’s say 30 seconds so something not moving for 30 seconds will be completely opaque on the image but someone passing in front would not stay long enough to appear in the image. It would have been quick and perfect if the people were only taking one quick image but as they were staying for longer than 30 seconds, I had to take a lot of tries but at then end, I finally got it!
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Important things to remember if you do not want to read the whole story even though you should
- Always carry a tripod with you when there’s a possibility of shooting sunset, it’s better to have it and not need it rather than needing it and not having it
- Get a nametag when traveling in India, it saves time
- Get in the tourist landmarks at the best (or less bad) possible time for the light
- Be patient
- Long exposure can blur people and even remove them completely, experiment with it!
- Low ISO and small aperture for long exposure, even better if you have a neutral density filter to darken the light
- Include little bit of background when shooting one specific landmark but do keep the main emphasis on the subject