Photography Workshop - Kashmir Great lakes Trek

Photography Workshop - Kashmir Great lakes Trek

Category Photography Tips

By Sandhya UC


Vivek, a resident of Bengaluru is a Mechanical Engineer graduate and a software engineer by profession currently working in one of the Indian IT giants. He is simultaneously pursuing his passion towards Photography. The tool in his armory is the basic Nikon DSLR D3000 with a few add-ons to it. Areas of interest are street photography, landscapes and stage shows but I like to shoot anything and everything because he believes beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Gears used: Nikon D3000 , Lenses :18-55 mm,55-200mm and a Sigma 8-16 mm. Accessories : Tripod ,extra battery, memory cards,Lens CleaningKit and Polariser.

Every time i traveled different places to click, but this was the first time where my passion gave me an entry into India’s one of the most beautiful treks. It was for the first time where i could share what i have learnt from the past few years with my fellow trekkers. It was an experience by itself. The  base camp had been shifted to a lower location due to bad weather as it was raining continuously froma a few days,  which wasn’t a good news for any photography enthusiast.

But I kept hoping that the weather would clear and it would all be”font-family: georgia, palatino; line-height: 150%;”>It was the second day when we had leave for the next camp site and it continued raining with clouds hovering over us. From my past trekking experience, I had made some arrangements  to protect my camera gear  from rain. By the time we were about to reach the day one camp site, the weather started to clear and there was a sigh of relief. And from the second day to the end of the trek weather gods were on our side with clear blue skies adding to the landscape.We used to have the workshop every evening with a group of 12 -14 amazing people in the evening after the snacks at a suitable location near the campsite.

This photography workshop, being my first one amidst such beautiful locations went really well, probably more than I expected. All thanks to India hikes, the enthusiastic participants and most importantly the weather which did not play a spoilsport. At the end of each day, quality time was spent on discussing various things about photography ranging from ISO, Shutter speed, Exposure, Rule of Thirds to Star trails,Long exposure, Portraits and Silhouettes. The ‘Theme per day’ program, in which every day a new theme was chosen and all participants would start clicking. This was also part of the discussion on the end of each day.

A few pictures have been posted below:

Most of the photos were shot using Sigma 8-16 mm and 55-200mm lenses.

1.House in the Hills :This was on the first day of the trek. It had just stopped raining and we were walking through the clouds. The beautiful gypsy house with the trees in the backdrop covered in the fog.

2.The Expressions: Portrait was the theme given on one of the day.The below photo was taken on the way to the Nundkool lake base camp (i.e the second last day of the trek) where these three of them were busy playing. They just turned around and Click!!. I was able to capture their natural expressions ,a different expression from each of them.Most importantly while doing street photography,capturing the natural expressions are really important.If the subject that you want to capture notices you,he/she might  get conscious and you will not get the completely natural un-posed pictures.To capture such natural shots, street life or unusual situations you will need to have quick reflexes and the right camera settings.

Candid /street photography will require you to take a lot of pictures. The more you take the better chance you have of capturing something interesting. Another technique can which I heard works well is getting in close to a subject and hold the camera down at your waist and click.

3.No Man’s Land :This was shot just before the Gadsar pass ascent.Tried to give this landscape a Black and white which gives a feeling of being in No Man’s Land.Here I would like to say something about the Landscapes in Black and White. Most of them might think that nature cannot look as breathtaking or awesome as it does in color. But nature can look even better in black and white.

4.Feeling on being at the top of the world :Landscapes always give a good feel.But here I tried to add a human element in the frame.This was shot at the top of the Gadsar pass where a fellow trekker Abhinav was enjoying the view of the landscape from the highest pass of the trek .I preferred a central composition here.

5. Gadsar Pass :Landscape was the theme given for day three as we were about to climb the trek’s highest pass (the Gadsar pass)  and  I must say the landscape can’t be expressed in words.This  photograph  was taken  while climbing the Gadsar pass with Krishnasar lake and beautiful sky and mountains adding to the photograph.

Some info about shooting landscapes.

Filters play a very important role here. Neutral Density filters are designed to hold back exposure in bright skies while allowing more exposure to the foreground.Another method of shooting landscapes  where both Polarizer and an ND filter do not give the desired effect would be to expose one image properly for the sky and another image properly for the foreground and then stitch the two together later in Photoshop.If the landscape and sky are evenly lit and you want to enhance the clouds in your photo it is time to use a polarizing filter. Even just a few scattered clouds will be enhanced in a blue sky when you use a polarizer.

6.Into the Dreamland :Here is an example of another composition with some space provided in the direction which the horse is moving.So this was on the day 4 of the trek , we were heading towards the Satsar lake.I always wanted to capture this kind of shot from a long time.Unexpectedly,this horse I think was lost from its herd was running around in search of them.It just passed by and I had to quickly capture this shot  of it running.Finally,a got a shot which was in my list from a long time.The weather was overcast so I needed to bump up my ISO to get the details of the horse.

7. The path : Another shot of the same horse grazing in the open meadows. Here the leading lines (i.e the path) amidst the green meadows adds to the composition.

9. Minimalism : Here I have tried to achieve Minimalism which was one of the themes  during the workshop where the horse appears minimalistic amidst the majestic  mountains.

10. Satsar Lake :The 4th day of the trek where clouds came from nowhere and it started raining and it was bright and sunny  far away.It had just stopped raining.One of the Satsar lakes in the foreground.Here I tried to recover  the details in the foreground.

11.Talking to the clouds : This was clicked enroute to Zadge pass where the sky had just started to clear.

12. The Shepherd:The last day was one of the best day where I got some of the best shots of the trek with the campsite just besides the lake and Harmukh peak at the background.

On the last day of our  trek when we were just about to leave from our camp site.We  witnessed a group of shepherds with a herd of around 500  busy in taking  their herd across the stream.The only way was to cross a narrow wooden log.Here I tried to capture the Shepherd’s point of view who is watching their herd crossing the stream with a central composition.

13.Reflections of nature :By the time we reached the Nundkool campsite on the second last day,it was cloudy.So I thought to wait till the next morning to get a reflection of the Harmukh peak in the Nundkol lake and I managed to get one.

 14.Mahesh and Milind’s Pictures :Here are some of the workshop pictures clicked by our fellow trekkers/photogs Mahesh Muthu and Milind. 

Sandhya UC

Co-Founder & COO

About the author

Sandhya is a founding partner at Indiahikes. Over the past ten years, she has explored and put on the map few of the greatest Himalayan treks in India, including Kashmir Great Lakes and Kedarkantha. She is a TedX Speaker and has been awarded the Women of Worth Award by Outlook Business in 2017.

She believes in sustainable living just as she believes in sustainable trekking.

Read a feature on Sandhya in Outlook Business

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Read Sandhya's TedX Talk
How I Climbed The Mountain Of Entrepreneurship