2010-08 India: MacLeod Ganj

By this stage in the journey we were delirious from travel. Adam and I had both endured two weeks of “Delhi belly” with Adam  almost going under with actual delerium in Agra. It was high time to gain some fresh air. We travelled from Amristar with our fellow Ryan who in contrast to our six weeks weeks was on a two year travelling quest adventuring round the world…. I suppose he should be back now (2010–> 2012).

After some negotiations down by the train station we organised a taxi from a town at little north of Amritsar and began the next leg by car. Climbing out of the plains up and up we hit into quite a spectacular storm. Storms are always more impressive in the mountains -perhaps because you are inside them (?!). It was probably just on the edge of was possible to drive through.

We eventually made it to town late into the night. Together with our motley crew (we negotiated to team with a few other tourists at the foot of the mountains to lower our overall costs) we stumbled into a hotel perched on the edge of the hillside. Experientially the drop in temperature coming from the heat of the summer in North India to these lowrise mountains was remarkable. That night we slept under heavy blankets that night with humid dampness heavy in the air.

The next morning we explored the tiny town of MacLeod Ganj, home of the Tibetan government in exile. There was not a huge amounts to do if I’m absolutely honest – a scattered collection of trinket shops, restaurants and yoga centres abound none of which I was particularly interested in… But it was such a fantastic experience to see mountains again. There is something about the majestic height of these structures which draws the eye both for photographs and, in an almost philosophical sense,  causes one’s aspirations to achieve great things suddenly to ripen. In helpful fashion In the afternoon the sun broke and I was able to steal a few heavenly shots across the valley.

One thing I’d like to emphase about these photos is the postprocessing required to really bring out their actual beauty. By this stage having travelled through almost 7000 km of India my sensor has built up a robust layer of dust. I can’t begin to think of what difference in quality this would have made to my former and also later shots. These days program such as Lightroom are able to handle the task in such a powerful fashion. The pre-and post-image manipulation demonstrates the amount of work required to salvage some of the shots from the scrap pile!

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Although digital technology means you can instantly see your photos very difficult to get a sense of these kinds of problems whilst taking a photo. Certainly bears no influence on once composition (although when dust settles on the mirror that’s a different business). The impairment can be so gross in certain cases the photos do become unusable.

I’m thankful for my gear these days which is many levels above the gear I ported around India however even on all these layers of filth and still able to see that my original intentions for the image did not lie. MacLeod Ganj was certainly a heavenly place and a welcome respite from the humming plaIes of North India with their crowding onslaught and hot heavy nights. We escaped that very night, so our next journey via overnight bus to Manali to begin our next adventure and Adams last before heading home.

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