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Author Topic: Nepal - Khumbu  (Read 21042 times)
BernardLanguillier
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« on: May 14, 2008, 10:02:44 PM »
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Dear all,

It is still a bit of a work in progress, but please find below a link pointing to some of the many images shot during a 3+ weeks trek in the Kumbhu area of Nepal.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bernardlangui...57604790836498/

The 3 weeks trek took us from the Gokyo valley to the Everest base camp and Kala Pathar through the high pass called Chola at 5350 m. The highest point we walked was Kala Pathar at 5630 m (above 18.000 feet) but we went above 5000 m 5 or 6 days during the trek.

We had hired a guide and porters through a local Nepali company called Trekking Team and were very happy with the quality of the organization.

Overall we found the trek to be easier than the treks we typically do in Japan. Altitude should however not be taken lightly as many of the other groups we met had a few members who had to give up half through with severe altitude sickness symptoms. We were lucky and had not problems at all besides a few passing light headaches a few times on the way down from higher locales.

All these images were captures with a Nikon D3 using a 17-35 f2.8, the new 60 mm f2.8 AF-S macro and the excellent light zoom 70-300 VR. All the gear performed flawlessly including the many 32GB Transcent CF cards I used as only storage media (using the backup mode of the D3). I had a D2x as backup but it fortunately never had to leave its immersion proof stuff sack.

Most of the conversions of the raw files were done with C-1 4.01 with a few done using DxO V5 beta Mac and Raw Developper 1.72.

Many of those are panoramic images assembled with either PTgui Pro 7.8 or Autopano Pro 1.4. They are made up of anywhere between 3 and 70 images with an average around 16 or so.

Enjoy,

Regards,
Bernard
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2008, 11:16:33 PM »
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Beautiful work (as usual).  Thanks for sharing...

Mike.
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juicy
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« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2008, 11:37:26 PM »
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Fantastic.
The images of Ama Dablam with yellow clouds and the sunset on Cholatse and Taboche are very powerfull.

Cheers,
J
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Ray
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« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2008, 12:37:31 AM »
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Bernard,
Interesting shots! Nepal is certainly a great place for photography. I like the fact that porters are so affordable so all one has to carry is one's camera.

When the upgrade to the 5D becomes available I might use that as an excuse to return to Nepal to test the camera.  
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2008, 01:24:27 AM »
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Bernard,
Interesting shots! Nepal is certainly a great place for photography. I like the fact that porters are so affordable so all one has to carry is one's camera.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=195839\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yep... all in all my day pack was about 14-15 kg though, about the same weight as the pack carried by the porter if not heavier.

The included about 7 kg of camera gear (D3 + spare battery + 3 lenses + tripod + pano kit + CF cases + ...), 3 liters of water, spare clothes, fleece, rain gear, some food, first aid kit,...

But yes, overall the trip was far less demanding physically than we had anticipated. This enabled me to really focus on photography instead of thinking about how to go back down alive.  

Cheers,
Bernard
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2008, 01:35:32 AM »
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Fantastic.
The images of Ama Dablam with yellow clouds and the sunset on Cholatse and Taboche are very powerfull.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=195831\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thanks, those were handsome light situations indeed!

Cheers,
Bernard
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2008, 02:08:42 AM »
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Beautiful work (as usual).  Thanks for sharing...

Mike.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=195829\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Many thanks Mike.

Cheers,
Bernard
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francois
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« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2008, 08:43:53 AM »
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What a fantastic collection of photos! I wish I could see them in an exposition.
 
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Francois
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« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2008, 02:43:49 PM »
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Very nice shots - you seem to have had good luck with the weather.

I was wondering a bit about the panorama 'Everest' with the sun visible.  It seems to show a perfectly smooth sky - just like the others.  Do you have any trouble achieving this when the sun is shining on the lens?  The 17-35 is doing a good job apparently, does this suffice to stitch the images like in any other case or do you need to take special care in views including the sun?

Greetings,
Christoph
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Christoph Hormann
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2008, 07:11:58 PM »
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What a fantastic collection of photos! I wish I could see them in an exposition.
 
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=195886\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thank you Francois, very kind of you.

I am working on an exhibition, but it is still months away at best and you'll probably have to fly to Tokyo...

Cheers,
Bernard
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2008, 07:19:49 PM »
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Very nice shots - you seem to have had good luck with the weather.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=195963\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yep, we were amazingly lucky with the weather. The skies in April are normally not that clear.

We had late October weather wthout the hassle of the crowd...

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I was wondering a bit about the panorama 'Everest' with the sun visible.  It seems to show a perfectly smooth sky - just like the others.  Do you have any trouble achieving this when the sun is shining on the lens?  The 17-35 is doing a good job apparently, does this suffice to stitch the images like in any other case or do you need to take special care in views including the sun?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=195963\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well, there are a few things you can do to help with this. Since the shade is took short on that lens, I typically provide additonal shading with my hand for those images where the sun is not directly in the image.

For the images where the sun is in the image, besides not using filters which is the obvious basic advice, I normally proceed by taking 2 images that I overlay in PS. The first image has the sun, in the second image I hide the sun with my hand in order to avoid flare in the non sky parts of the image. This does of course pre-req the use of a tripod.

That's easy to do, the main thing really is to think of doing it at 5600 m when your guide is telling you in a very insisting tone that it is now time to go back down to civilization.

Cheers,
Bernard
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soboyle
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« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2008, 08:06:23 PM »
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Beautiful images, it looks like you had spectacular weather while there. I trekked to Kala Patar back in 1987, starting from Jiri at the end of the road. I count it as one of my premier life experiences.
I wonder if there are many changes in Khumbu due to the recent political and social problems in Nepal.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2008, 08:35:35 PM »
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Beautiful images, it looks like you had spectacular weather while there. I trekked to Kala Patar back in 1987, starting from Jiri at the end of the road. I count it as one of my premier life experiences.
I wonder if there are many changes in Khumbu due to the recent political and social problems in Nepal.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=196013\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thanks.

We were there just a the moment of the recent elections targeting a change of the constitution.

So it is definitely changing from a political standpoint, but Nepali seem to have overall a very laid back approach to politics. We didn't feel any tension although it was clear that people were involved and interested in the results of the elections.

As far as the trek goes, we did clearly prefer the Gokyo valley compared to the Everest one. Less people and more opportunities to discuss.

Nepali veterans we met told us that the amount of trekkers and the size of the groups had increased significantly over the last 10 years. Lodges are also more comfortable.

Trekking that part of Nepal is clearly less of wilderness experience than I am used to in Japan, but the scenery more than compensates for this. And yes, we had a once every 10 years kind of month of April with fantastic weather most of the trek. The last few days were more typical April with a lot of haze and we could feel how lucky we had been up there.

Cheers,
Bernard
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Ray
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« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2008, 10:53:53 PM »
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Nepali veterans we met told us that the amount of trekkers and the size of the groups had increased significantly over the last 10 years. Lodges are also more comfortable.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=196017\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Bernard,
I think you meant to write, 'some lodges are almost comfortable'.  

The number of trekkers in Nepal has increased enormously in recent years, or recent decades. When I first visited Nepal over 40 years ago, I was able to wander around at will. No permits required, no guides, and because I was young and strong, I had no need of porters.

I saw almost no tourists during my trekking, I slept in no hotels or lodges, just the standard Nepalese house in the village I happened to reach at the end of the day. I relied upon the hospitality of the very friendly villagers, some of whom had never met a Caucasion before. I was a curiosity for many and some villagers would run away when I attempted to take a photo of them.

Now they tend to hold out there hand for money when they see a photo is being taken. A bit sad, but understandable considering the dire poverty of many Nepalese peasants.

There is something rather bizarre about a situation where hordes of well-heeled tourists carrying cheap cameras which are (nevertheless) far beyond the means of the average Nepalese villager, snapping away at unusual, exotic and therefore interesting scenes.
 
It's almost like a Ray Bradbury science fiction novel, where visitors from the future, having mastered time travel, go on holiday to earlier centuries to have a look at the quaint way of life of communities from the past.

Last time I was there, in October/November 2006, there was a lot of consternation amongst backpackers about the new law stating that no tourist could go trekking without hiring a guide. This is obviously a significant cost burden on those who are travelling on a budget. It's also an impediment to those whose prime interest is photography.

My own experience is, my guide and porter get extremely bored whilst I wander around looking for interesting angles. I'm not the slightest bit interested in arriving at the planned destination at the end of the day.I just want to explore the scenery and see what I can make of it. However, I feel thwarted in this goal under the current regulations,
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2008, 01:29:46 AM »
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My own experience is, my guide and porter get extremely bored whilst I wander around looking for interesting angles. I'm not the slightest bit interested in arriving at the planned destination at the end of the day.I just want to explore the scenery and see what I can make of it. However, I feel thwarted in this goal under the current regulations,
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=196029\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

The way I see it the guide and porters are the employees of a company of which you are the CEO. The same mgt rules apply than in a real company in terms of coomnication, motivation of the team, etc...

I defined from scratch the schedule of our trek this time and scheduled the trip so as to have mostly reasonnably short walking days. I found that a lot of interesting photography can be done at day time, especially before lunch and the current schedule was overall a success, even if there are always things to improve.

I am very used to having time constraints when taking pictures in the wild, that is always the case when trekking remote areas within a group (and trekking in remote areas has to be done in a group for safety reasons).

I did not find that the presence of the guide was very impacting from that standpoint. As far as the porters is concerned, they don't need to way for the guide and trekkers, they mostly walked ahead of us and couldn't care less whether I was arriving late for lunch.

In the end, efficiency in using the gear and the ability to identify reasonnably quickly interesting scene was this time also an important aspect of shooting, but it always is as far as I am concerned.

Cheers,
Bernard
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imagico
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« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2008, 01:30:49 AM »
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For the images where the sun is in the image, besides not using filters which is the obvious basic advice, I normally proceed by taking 2 images that I overlay in PS. The first image has the sun, in the second image I hide the sun with my hand in order to avoid flare in the non sky parts of the image. This does of course pre-req the use of a tripod.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=196004\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yes, that is usually a good approach when using a tripod.  And having a closer look again it seems like the subtle lens flares visible do not all originate from the same shot.  

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That's easy to do, the main thing really is to think of doing it at 5600 m when your guide is telling you in a very insisting tone that it is now time to go back down to civilization.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=196004\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I guess at 5600m that's better than stumbling back in the dark wishing you have had a guide telling you exactly that a few hours ago...  

Greetings,
Christoph
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Christoph Hormann
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Ray
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« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2008, 02:53:24 AM »
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The way I see it the guide and porters are the employees of a company of which you are the CEO. The same mgt rules apply than in a real company in terms of coomnication, motivation of the team, etc...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=196045\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That's true, but a CEO should consider the concerns of his employees or other members of the group. I think having other members in the group is an even greater impediment to a truly free creative experience in a foreign land where it's almost impossible to plan or schedule for good photographic opportunities.

There were so many occasions, last time I was in Nepal, when I felt I would like to hang around for an extra day or two, or three, or return to a spot at a different time of day, which would have meant backtracking.

Next time, I'll try to arrange things differently. No deadlines to meet. No return flights to catch at a set date. Completely flexible.  
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2008, 03:36:28 AM »
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Next time, I'll try to arrange things differently. No deadlines to meet. No return flights to catch at a set date. Completely flexible. 
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=196053\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Sure, that's indeed the best if can have that kind of freedom, but I personnally cannot anyway...

Cheers,
Bernard
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Sunesha
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« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2008, 06:04:56 AM »
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Even without be able to capture such wonderful photos, such a trip would be more than a good experience.

Hopefully I would able to see this part off world myself.

Thanks for sharing,
Daniel
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2008, 09:04:07 AM »
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Bernard,

Thanks for sharing the as-usual-magnificent images so that old geezers like me can enjoy your treks vicariously.

I do wish I'd had the initiative to do some treking in that part of the world some thirty or forty years ago.

Regards,

Eric
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