August 28, 2012

Starry night

Stars move around Annapurna Himalayan Range at 3am in the morning in Dhampus.

This photo is one my favorite of all time because of what I went through to get the shot! I am a huge fan of Anton Jankovoy. His night photos of himalayas are legendary. I had always wanted to take his type of night photos, and got the change in Dhampus (2.5 hours from Pokhara). Here's what happened:

I put an alarm for 3am without realizing that 3am in Dhampus would be dead cold. I quietely put on my jacket, shoes and was careful not to wake up my wife. When I came outside the lodge, there was a huge WTF moment - it was pitch black and I was not sure if it was a good idea to shoot the mountains in such darkness. Nevertheless, (very quietly) I went to the terrace of the lodge, set up the tripod and pointed the camera (with a wide angle lens) towards the North (where the mountains are supposed to be). I put the camera in "Bulb mode" and used a remote to trigger the shot (Bulb mode keeps the shutter open for as long as you do not press the "shutter open" button again). And the long wait began. My eyes had adjusted to the darkness and I could finally see stuff around the village in the moonlight. But doing nothing for about 5 minutes, I was very sleepy and the cold wasn't helping.

After 10 minutes, I decided to go back to the room and get a nap while the camera captures the night for the next half hour. While walking away, I turned around and saw the tripod with the camera, alone in the cold night. And it felt like I was leaving my body part behind! I stayed around for 5 more minutes but was under the blanket the next minute. It was just too cold. Who knew, I did not get a wink of sleep for the next 30 mintutes! Why? Because I kept thinking - what if my camera wasn't there when I went back?! Yes, it's a sleepy village and no one really cares but that did not help, not one bit.

30 minutes later I went back to the terrace and I've never been happier to see my camera! I released the shutter using the remote (being so careful not to move the tripod) and waited for the photo to get processed. After what seemed like forever, the photo finally popped on the camera screen. And boy was I happy! Happy that I could finally go back and get some good night's sleep for few hours. I'm sure I would've stayed up again if the photo did not come out as it did.

When I showed the photo to my (half asleep) wife, she did not believe that I had taken it in total darkness. Not that she noticed, but I smiled, turned off the lights and went to sleep.


To learn how to take such photos, check out All about night photography and photographing the sky by Anton Jankovoy.

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