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Author Topic: Trekking the Annapurna Circuit  (Read 4422 times)
svein
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« on: May 21, 2005, 10:44:24 AM »
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I've done a lot of backpacking, but not much above 4000m. Also most with film based equipment.

What I do know is that you're much more likely to take a picture if the camera is easy to access - i.e. not in a backpack. Specially when you're tired, and you're likely to be tired at high elevations unless you're really fit and handle high altitudes well.

So, a one that would fit in a pocket would be high on my list, it would also help keeping camera and batteries warm.
On the other hand, high contrast areas (think snow/sun - rocks and deep shadows) is handled better by a dSLR.

You don't say what you're going to use the picture for. Sell them? Then a SLR would be high on my list. If not then a smaller one might be ok. Whatever you choose, try to keep it to a minimum. Wont comment on charging and backup as I've no idea what's available where you're going to stay.
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svein
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« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2005, 04:31:13 PM »
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Of the lenses you mention I'd go with only the 24-70. I know 24 isn't really wide enough on a 1.6 crop factor camera, but it's the compromize I'd make. My ideal travel dSLR would be a 350D (Rebel XT) with a 17-85 or even a 17-125/17-200 if tele reach was important.

Travelled in South America with an Eos 5 + 28-105 and that worked fine except for one trip to Patagonia were it just wasn't enough tele.

Also hiked the Apalachian Trail (over 2000 miles) with the Eos 5, but with a 35-350 zoom. Hated carrying it, and found that I'd taken many more pictures with a P&S just because it would have been more accessible. Of course the picture quality is better with a slr, but I'm no pro and a P&S would have been ok for at least 90% of the pictures.

So you have to decide for yourself how important the pictures are to you. The more important, the more gear I'd bring.

I currently own a Nikon 8800 and a Canon 20D. I'm not sure which I'd selected for a trip like yours. I have the 8800 as a bring everywhere and hiking camera, use the 20D when I feel it's worth the extra effort, or when weight isn't an issue.

The problem is that I'm not sure the 8800 (or other P&S) have good enough metering/sensors for extremely contrasty conditions. All P&Ss I've tried seem to blow the highlights too easily. That's not a big problem when you have time to adjust and compensate, but I imagine my patience for exposure experimentation would be extremely limited at 5000 meters.

I'd be much more comfortable with a 60D and shooting raw, or if at all possible getting a 350 with much faster raw handling.

That was a long rambling, and not too helpful. You might try to find someone who has used a P&S at high altitude and see if the pictures are good enough technically for you.
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dleach
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« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2005, 12:52:58 AM »
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hello
I don;t have any suggestions I'm afraid but I did remmeber an essay last year about this type of trip- if you go to ESSAYs and scroll down to the letter "T"  and go to Trekking Photography it tells you quite a bit of what you are looking for. I would however keep in mind that some things have changed as far as storage drives and so forth but the general information might be of some use to you. Enjoy your trip!
camilla
Hi Camilla,

Hey thanks for that.  I'd done a bit of snooping on the site as I thougth there had been an essay on it too, but obviously had a boy look and didn't see it.

It's a good article, covers parts of what I need to know.  Now the only outstanding issue is how to tackle batteries in a digital slr on a trek this long.  

When it's that cold I'm guessing I'll need two batteries a day and charge 'em at night.  Staying in tea houses most (all?) nights so hopefully they'll have electricity.  Gonna find out before I go.

Thanks for your help.

-dave
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dleach
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« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2005, 07:38:27 AM »
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Thanks to all who have responded so far for your valuable recommendations.

Has anyone done this or similar treks shooting digital?  How did you find your experience in terms of shots per battery etc as you ascented to altitude (well, as the temperature dropped more to the point)?

Does anyone know the state of electricity in tea houses nowadays?

PS. I'm thinking about taking something like an Epson P-2000 along for the ride to copy images off, and I assume that the LCD on that (and my camera) will probably go into coma in cold conditions?

Thanks.

-dave
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Julian Love
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« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2005, 12:31:33 PM »
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dleach:

I do a lot of photo back-packing, and went on a 21 day trek in Nepal to Everest base camp last year. I was using a Canon 10D. Main questions you seem to want answered:

Lenses:
I took a 17-40 f/4 and 70-200 f/4. I would advise against just taking your 24-70 - it is extremely heavy and is not wide enough. I found the 17-40 only just wide enough on occasion - the Himalaya are pretty big!

How to carry them:
svein is correct - if you can't access the camera easily then you will take few photos. I carry the camera with one lens attached over my head/shoulder and across my body. The other lens I keep in a lowepro lens pouch attached to the waistband of my pack. This way I can access the camera and change lenses without taking off my pack. A small tripod went in my kit bag (carried by a porter) - you will only need it for the evenings, the light is very strong during the day.

Batteries:
The cheapest and easiest way is to buy after market batteries and charge them up before you go. I bought 7 spare batteries for the everest trek at 15 each, and used all but one of them over the three weeks. I took 2,200 frames with moderate review on the LCD.

Storing pictures:
I had two 1GB CF cards, and a 40GB X-drive portable card reader/hard disk. This can take an external AA battery adapter so when the internal battery ran out I used AAs which were in my kit bag.

Hope that helps you.

You can see some of my everest pics at:
http://www.adventurephotographer.net/nepal/index.htm

Julian
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dleach
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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2005, 01:22:08 AM »
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Hi there,

I'm booking myself onto a 22 day trip to trek the annapurna circuit.  I'm very excited about the trip but I'm a bit worried about what to take in terms of photography gear.  I've never done a trek like this so I'm a bit unsure about a few things.

We will be trekking for up to 8-9 hours a day often at high altitudes (we get to 5416 metres when crossing the Thorung Pass), so I'm trying to figure out what I should be putting in my day pack.

Has anyone done a similar trek?  If so, what did you take, and what did/didn't you use?  I'm talking lenses, bodies, etc.

Also are there any things I need to be aware of when shooting in these conditions?  It will be quite cold because the trek is November.  I'm aware of keeping batteries warm (next to your body) but that's it...

Thanks in advance for any advice!

David.
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dleach
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2005, 02:10:32 PM »
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Quote
I've done a lot of backpacking, but not much above 4000m. Also most with film based equipment.

What I do know is that you're much more likely to take a picture if the camera is easy to access - i.e. not in a backpack. Specially when you're tired, and you're likely to be tired at high elevations unless you're really fit and handle high altitudes well.

So, a one that would fit in a pocket would be high on my list, it would also help keeping camera and batteries warm.
On the other hand, high contrast areas (think snow/sun - rocks and deep shadows) is handled better by a dSLR.

You don't say what you're going to use the picture for. Sell them? Then a SLR would be high on my list. If not then a smaller one might be ok. Whatever you choose, try to keep it to a minimum. Wont comment on charging and backup as I've no idea what's available where you're going to stay.
yeah i'm planning on taking an ultra compact to stick in my pocket, but i've got a d60 and I'd like to take that plus maybe a couple of lenses.  e.g., 16-35, 24-70 and maybe 50mm.  but i'm thinking that's too much already.  but i know i need wide angle for the landscapes, just not sure how to tackle portrait.  maybe just drop the 24-70 and go 16-35 and 50mm??

not planning on selling my pictures; it's just a hobby really..

thanks.

-dave
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camilla
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2005, 11:40:26 PM »
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hello
I don;t have any suggestions I'm afraid but I did remmeber an essay last year about this type of trip- if you go to ESSAYs and scroll down to the letter "T"  and go to Trekking Photography it tells you quite a bit of what you are looking for. I would however keep in mind that some things have changed as far as storage drives and so forth but the general information might be of some use to you. Enjoy your trip!
camilla
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james kerr
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« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2005, 05:48:06 AM »
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Hi
I did this trip in  Nov 1978 to Annapurna base camp, in those days I carried a Nikormat + 28,50, & 135mm lenses. - I also carried my tent and warm weather gear - about 60lbs in all - I was fit and young then !
You will have some fantastic opportunities to photograph not only mountains- Machapuchare (Spelling?) known as the fishtail mountain is the most dramatic but people and dramatic landscapes as well. Regarding equipment if your are digital, take as many memory cards as you can afford - downloading will be difficult ands they are light. Take as many batteries as you can - in my day there was no electricity beyond Pokarra. Alternatively take a mechanical camera,  such as something from the  Nikon FM range and lots of film. Take  24-70 and a 70 -200 zoom lenses and a tripod.  Lastly You will need to be fit as  the air  gets quite thin - and lastly don't forget the diarhoea tablets! - Good luck

James Kerr
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2005, 07:00:34 PM »
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I did the circuit up to Jomsom about four years ago.  And I did the Poon Hill loop a couple of years before.  Power was not a problem - found some at least every other day.  Just learn to ration your shooting in between charging opportunities.  (There will probably be less on the back side.)  

Take both a small Asian pin and a large pin adapter.  And a light weight extension cord.  Some of the outlets are funky and the small pin plugs fall out.  Not a good thing when you're charging.

Lenses.  Both long and short.  

Obviously there are the wide vistas (learn to take panos - don't screw up like I did and keep your polarizer on).

But there are also incredible shots to be had when you won't be able to get close enough to fill the frame with a wide angle.  

You might want to consider a 'monster zoom' camera such as the Panasonic FZ20 or Canon S2 IS.  That would give you ~ 420 reach in 35 mm terms *and* a backup camera that would only weigh a pound or so.  Might be easier than hauling a huge piece of glass.

Spend a couple of nights in a village or two.  Most people just blow on through.  There's a lot to see if you hang around and walk the village during the day.  It's an opportunity to look back in time.

I've got some village shots on pBase if you want a sampler.

As for batteries and temps, I was shooting with NiMH - the worst for cold.  I just rotated a couple sets, warming the 'out' set under my jacket.

It probably isn't a good idea to use your portable hard drive much above 10,000 feet.  If you do be very careful not to jar it while it's writing.  The heads 'float' on a layer of air and as you go up the air gets thinner.  You probably won't spend too much time at higher altitudes.  Just treat your available card space as you would a stock of film.  Be conservative enough to get back down below 10k with a frame or two left.

If you've got any specific questions feel free to send me a PM.

Enjoy!!!
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framah
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« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2005, 08:53:42 AM »
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You need to find the latest issue of National Geographics Adventure Magazine. It has an article about travelling to your proposed destination. You need to be VERY aware of the war going on over there. You will be running into Maoist rebels who will require a "fee" to travel in their area and every one is very afraid of being shot either by the Maoists or their countries own soldiers. If either side decides you are helping the other side, you will be punished in some way.  It is a very sobering story about a very beautiful country that is slowly being destroyed by both sides in this war.  Check with the US embassy  about their seggestions about Nepal.

So, If you do go... be sure to bring enough money to pay off whomever wants to be paid off.
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2005, 11:40:10 AM »
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First, I'm certainly not in support of Maoism - been tried, didn't work.  

But.  The folks rebelling against what has been and still seems to be a repressive government have been 'charging' a fee for entering into the territory they control.  (Boundaries move back and forth somewhat daily.)  All the reports I've read is that 'donations are requested', not quite robbery at gunpoint.  And receipts are given so that the 'request' is made only once per trek.  And the amounts are modest.

Seeing as how you have to pay the other side in order to get past their guard posts, I don't see a lot of difference.  (A pox on both of their houses.)

The shooting seems to be quite localized and away from the trekking areas.  Do some checking as time goes along.  Things change.

There are tons of related posts on www.lonelyplanet.com - go to the Asia - India/Nepal/Bangladesh forum on the Thorn Tree (the forum section).  You will be able to get very current info from people who have just returned and from people who are there.
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theophilus
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« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2005, 08:52:26 PM »
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I did the Annapurna loop in the summer of 2000.  Places I wish I'd gone to:

1) Machapuchre (sp?) base camp.  Prettiest, most amazing mountain in the world.

2) Hike in to the lake that's at 17,000 feet, but you will need a very heavy sleeping bag and tent for one night's stay.

3) Pay the extra $200 bucks so you can hike up to Mustang.  Right after Jomson you can head north toward Tibet.  All Tibetan villages there, which are very nice and clean (as opposed to the Hindu areas).  Good views as well, but probably more Maoists there.

On a clear day you will get amazing shots in Pokhara of the whole Annapurna range.  Best place is the World Peace Stupa, about 1500 feet above the lake.

I agree with the earlier post that power really isn't much of an issue.  Also, some of hikes won't be more than 4-5 hours a day, so you can take off after breakfast and get to a new village by lunch.

Take a camera that you will be comfortable having out all day.  The people are great, and the trek is so long that the scenery and ecosystems are constantly changing.  Don't pass up a shot thinking that you'll see something similar later on.

I think taking 3 1 GB cards and some type of 40 GB drive will be sufficient if you review your pictures.  Get a light tripod, and you'll be happy if you get trekking poles, some of the days you'll lose 4000 vertical feet down hard stone steps.  Hard on the knees no matter what shape you're in.

Lenses: going back now I'd get a 17-85, it will work for almost every shot until you get into high altitude.  Once the vistas open up there will be a few shots that you'll need a good zoom for (>200).  I remember specifically some caves in the side of a steep canyon above Jomson.  But most of the time I'd say you'll want to hike to whatever it is that the 17-85 won't reach, the exception being the peaks.

Enjoy the daal baht, and get a Yak steak in Pokhara.  Let me know if you have more questions about the hike.
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