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A different point of view

December 5, 2011

The usual frame...

The Taj Mahl is without doubt one of the most photographed landmarks in the world. Every year millions of visitors travel to Agra, in the north part o India, with their cameras on their straps and, first thing once past the main gates, they point and shoot!

Nothing wrong with it, of course, but succeeding in finding a moment when the Taj Mahal is not sieged by tourists is practically impossible – the gates open around 7 am, but even if you get there at that time in the morning, the chances to bring home a picture of the monument with no people in it are few.

Let me give you an advice, nothing technical but that I still like to believe a lot related to photography.

All the hints and advices from photographers who already had the chance to shoot the same location – possibly with a good result – have the power to improve my own photography skills… It’s a priceless help having somebody to tell you what’s the best time to be on location to capture a certain mood – an advice that is beats any indication on shutter/aperture blah blah blah,

Many times, when you are abroad shooting, your schedule doesn’t allow an extra day for scouting, an activity that should be mandatory if your expectations are higher than just some holiday memories. But even in the pros world it could happen to only have the time to get to the location and shoot, so I believe that having some advices to rely on could help!

Here’s my little advice dedicated to all those who want to bring home an unusual picture of the Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal from the Jamuna River at dawn

Agra is only a few hours of train from New Delhi, I suggest you to get there at least one day before, so you can be on location early in the morning, – the light at that time of the day is simply fantastic but the magic lasts no more than 20 minutes.
When you get in the city, make a deal with one of the thousand tuk tuk drivers to take you to the Taj Mahal the next morning – the ride will cost you a few hundred rupees.
Ask them to take you to Metabh Bagh and not to the main gates.
The place is right behind the Taj Mahal and you get there crossing the Jamuna River on the NH93 bridge and following a country road that ends right on the river banks. Very near where you want to be there is a military compound, so move cautiously when you are there.
Be there a little earlier – few minutes after dawn. Make sure you HAVE YOUR TRIPOD WITH YOU. Place your tripod and sit back to enjoy one of then world finest views.

No people in your frame, unless you want them. The river and its reflections. The tranquility to move in closer or change the angle.

Shutter/aperture?! … Do you really want to know them!?
Ok. I set the camera in manual mode and metered in central average mode.
The light of dawn suggested a warm tome and I boosted it a little using an orange Lee filter – sorry I don’t remember which one.
Long shutter speed (1/13″) and close aperture (f16) – the equivalent of ISO 125

I framed carefully – getting there a little earlier gave me the chance to shoot a couple of test shots and then decide what I liked the best.
I was done in less than 15 minutes – that light didn’t last longer – and at 7.30 I was already back in Agra for a my breakfast with lassi and muesli.


From → Photography

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