Gerry Ellis - Wanderings in India

I’m starting this photo blog a several days into my travels in India – and I’m convinced this is one of the GREAT photography destinations left in theworld—colorful, exotic, chaotic, sensory overload—few places can hope to match the intensity of life on this sub-continent. It certainly can be a challenge to ones patience, wits and stamina, but if you are up for the adventure the visual rewards are amazing!

My equipment challenge this trip is balancing photography (both still photos and video) in a lightweight package that doesn’t overwhelm my other obligations while traveling. Video is becoming a bigger and bigger part of our (GLOBIO’s) online children’s encyclopedia (see for examples of how we use both) and since the focus of my photography and travel these days is on behalf of the organization I’m trying to accomplish expanding our video collection and yet have some still photography flexibility.

I’m carrying both a new Canon HD-XA high def video camera (which I love – more on that later) and to balance the load something new and much smaller for stills, the Canon Rebel XTI body and two Canon lenses – the 10-22mm zoom and 28-200mm zoom. The XTI and lenses are small enough to poke in a couple of large pockets and deliver a large enough image to do anything with (10 megapixels image at RAW). After two decades of hauling 25-35 pounds of cameras and lenses around the planet I was looking forward to the freedom and hopefully exciting results.

India is a long flight from the States, no matter how you carve it up and after nearly a day of travel a morning arrival at a very crowded and undermanned Indira Ghandi International airport in Delhi took over two hours to negotiate, as lines packed to make it through immigrations—a hint of the crushing humanity awaiting on the streets.

On the Streets in India
Delhi streets reflect India’s approaching nightmare – becoming the world’s largest population – eclipsing China in the billion plus category. Its also on the street where you get to know one vibrant part of Indian life and there are only two ways to properly immerse yourself in it – by foot or tuk-tuk.

Tuk-tuks come in people powered and motorized versions—and on any densely crowded street both are equally efficient. The point is they get you IN” the traffic of street life.

The motorized versions often make better subjects that shooting platforms.

I prefer the pedal powered version. They are open giving you 360 degrees of shooting options, you can even stand up (cautiously) for a bit of height and they are eco-friendly.

Three hints to shooting in the streets
  • Prepare to shoot wide, as wide as possible (I love this Canon 10-22mm zoom)

  • Make certain you have a 2gig card, at least, the images will come fast and furious, and

  • Don’t look at your images while shooting! For all the great things digital has brought to photography, the one bad is the urge to look at every shot just after you click the shutter – stop it – you're missing shots. Keep your eye in the viewfinder and keep shooting—life isn’t going to wait for you to pat yourself on the back for a nice photo.

  • To test the Rebel XTI I mixed it up a bit between Auto and Aperture Priority – both were very accurate – and while I tend to the AP side for a bit of control I wouldn’t hesitate, especially at a super wide 10mm to just sit on the Auto.