Tales : Photography Dangers

#1 Feb 11th, 2004, 22:36
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#1
Be careful when you take pictures on or around the Ganges. While taking a picture of a sacred cow on the banks I was approached by a man who was furious that I had, inadvertantly, included a stack of wood which was to be used for funeral pyres. Although you can watch the regular open cremations, taking a picture is an invitation for trouble. This chap actually threatened me with a public stoning! Although I knew he was blagging and most probably just after money, I played it safe and offered him a few rupees 'for the family of the deceased'. I went on my way.


Excerpt from travel guides and travel tips on http://www.TravelSlang.com

Has anyone else had similar close shaves in the area?
#2 Feb 11th, 2004, 22:58
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It's never happened to me, but I have noticed that photographing any component of a Hindu funeral rite (including the procession through the streets) can be a problem. Otherwise, you are encouraged (even expected, if there's a camera around your neck) to snap away at everything.

Indeed, India is easily the most photographer-friendly country in the world--in terms of the subject matter it offers, the level of access you are afforded (often to intimate or private moments), and the general enthusiasm Indians maintain for photography.

This is all to say that if you want to go to India and photograph a wedding or a religious rite--something that you might feel odd doing in the US, for example--you'll be warmly welcomed.

Just shoot color. Indians don't like to see themselves in black and white!
Last edited by Merchant; Feb 11th, 2004 at 23:48..
#3 Jul 7th, 2004, 23:44
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I did take some pictures of some lady at some ghat and a man (I presumed her husband of one of the ladies) approached me very angrily and started shouting at me.. I didn't understand him until he mention 300 rupees!

I tell him I have no money and he reduced the price too 150, 100, 10 rupees...

and I ran away....
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#4 Jul 8th, 2004, 00:41
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A technique I found to work well was to use a quiet camera, and an extremely wide angle lens. Don't hold the camera up to your eye, just trip the shutter while it hangs around your neck. You must get close to your subject for this to work, otherwise the images are way too small. The chillum circle shot in my photo gallery was done this way. I shot half a roll of 36 as the chillum went around... These were the best shots... When I held the view finder to my eye people were not as relaxed and mugged for the camera. Don't try this with an SLR, they tend to be too noisy. My favorite combination is an M-series rangefinder Leica and 21mm Super Angulon. A hand held light meter is also a good idea as you don't have to raise the camera to take readings.
I've seen special lens hoods adverised for SLR's that have a front surface mirror mounted at 45 degrees. These allow you to photograph to the side while appearing to aim the camera in a different direction.

W22
#5 Jul 8th, 2004, 02:51
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I didn't see that shot in your gallery, Wanderer. Can you post it here?
#6 Jul 8th, 2004, 08:33
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Sorry Merchant, thought I'd uploaded it. Will put it in my gallery so as not to plug up the message base too much. I used two bodies one for colour and one for B&W. There's a B&W shot there of the circle as well. The colour negs are starting to deteriorate after all these years, but the monochrome ones are still perfect. The first image on page 1 is the B&W and the colour is on the second page. Missed a great shot of the fellow on the right cleaning the chillum afterwards.... He had a piece of rag tied to a string which he pulled back and forth through the chillum while holding it between his big and second toe. Either I was laughing too hard or was distracted.... That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

W22
#7 Jul 9th, 2004, 02:44
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#7

Question Rangefinder cameras

Quote:
Originally posted by Wanderer22
A technique I found to work well was to use a quiet camera, and an extremely wide angle lens.
...
Don't try this with an SLR, they tend to be too noisy. My favorite combination is an M-series rangefinder Leica and 21mm Super Angulon. A hand held light meter is also a good idea as you don't have to raise the camera to take readings.
W22
Wanderer, you seem to know a thing about photography, what is it about rangefinder cameras vs SLR? do they focus better/quicker, or are simply more quiet? is it all about Leica or there are some other and CHEAPER rangefinders on the market? i am looking for a second-hand back-to-basics camera to play with, Leica looks super-cool but it is simply not in my price range...

v-v
#8 Jul 9th, 2004, 03:05
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Rangefinders don't have a mirror, which is what contributes to the noise of an SLR. Most of the noise from a modern SLR, though, comes from the electronically controlled metal shutter blades. An older manual SLR, like a Nikon or Olympus, with a mechanical shutter is pretty quiet, even though it has a mirror.

Other companies make less expensive rangefinders than Leica. Voigtlander makes the Bessa R (and R2), which are in the $400 range. The company makes its own lenses, or you can use Leica ones. Contax makes the G (and G2), which are auto or manual focus. They are quiet and cool looking.

These two you can get new or used.

You can also get an old used Canon or Nikon rangefinder. They weren't in production for very long but are still around. The old Canons are pretty cheap.

Leicas have plenty of snob appeal, at least in certain circles. If you are just looking for small, quiet, and mechanical, the world is flooded with professional SLRs from the 1970s and 80s. Canon, Nikon, and Olympus all made great mechanical SLRS that can be had now for a song.

That's an old Olympus OM-2S in my avatar.
#9 Jul 9th, 2004, 04:12
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#9

Minolta CLE

Rangefinders have another advantage over SLR's in that they are smaller and lighter as well as quieter. You do not focus through the main lens but through a viewfinder so it is possible to set up a shot nicely and shoot a blank if you forgot to remove the lens cap.

Minolta built this rangefinder model in conjuction with Leica in the early 80's -- it uses M series lenses, but Minolta built 3 lenses to Leica specifications for it, a 40mm standard, 90mm portrait, and 28mm wide angle. It has semi-automatic exposure control, and focusing is manual, but built-in. The CLE was a fairly expensive camera when new, and is likely 'collectible' now if you find one. I still have it, but don't use it much any more. The nepal shots in my gallery photos were taken with it.

the other items are for size comparison -- the 90mm on the right, 28mm on the left, the flash is separate.
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#10 Jul 9th, 2004, 11:40
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Wow lots of photographers here, and it looks like a few are still using film.. Started using Canon SLRs early 60's and before that Rollei TLR. The Rollei was too big for travel so used the Canon up to the time it started falling apart. Had a few jam ups, tried a friends M3 model Leica and found it a fit. Bought my Leica stuff ages ago mostly used, but well cared for. Turned out to be a wise investment. Worth more now than when I bought, and I've had a lifetime of use. Some times lady luck smiles . The camera dealer I bought from was a Brit in the army who had served in India during partition. If you got him drunk some interesting tales came out. A big advantage of the rangefinder camera besides size and quietness is very accurate focusing especially with wide angle lenses in available light. SLRs have the focus advantage with long lenses though. What ever camera you use, the image is the important thing not the gear. What ever works for you is right.

Am in the process of exploring digital photography. The instant gratification is a big plus. Have a small 2MP camera to get my feet wet so to speak. Plus I've come to dread working in the darkroom making prints. Unfortunately digital has some draw backs to. I enjoy photographing people and craftsmen at their activities and the lag after pushing the shutter is a pain as is the boot up time. Digital is changing so fast that am still a little hesitant about spending many $ ..... Gotta save those $ for India trip. Will probably just take the little digital on next trip. I also no longer like being a beast of burden. Used to carry an extra body and three lenses. Those pounds added up fast. First time I arrived in India with all this gear a fellow in front of me going through customs had to register all his Nikon serial numbers to ensure the stuff was exported. It looked like a hassle so I kept the extra camera body and lens under my jacket during customs. It sure got hot though. Was sweating buckets.
What I'm attempting to achive while I fence sit, is a system that's a blend of film and digital. Still shoot film.... It's easy to develop... Then scan the negatives. You tend to loose a small amount of tone range and detail if you scan a print. Better to go through one less step. I use two scanners... one is a mid-range Minolta that just does 35mm @ 2880dpi. The second is an 3200dpi Epson flatbed that can do 4x5" negatives. I won't be uploading any of those images any time soon. At maximum resolution the JPG files are around 80 Meg and the TIFs are close to half a Gig.
Nice gear M2? The 28mm is a winner! Almost bought one myself but already had a 35mm. I don't suppose you happen have a Leitz model M2 ???? The gear I still use is a pair of aged M4 bodies, and lenses from 21 to 280. Seldom use the long stuff and mostly stay less than 50mm. Have never had a serious camera breakdown while travelling with the Leitz gear. Only problem was the little red plastic dot on the side of the lens. The 50mm Summicron lost its dot some where in India. There's a tiny Persian tourquoise cabochon replaceing it now. Lost the 21mm finder on the Agra train station platform late at night. Was down on hands and knees feeling for it in the gloom. When the people there saw that I had lost something they helped to look. It was found just in time and I pressed a handfull of rupees into the mans hand while jumping on the train. Manufactured a safety catch from some thin stainless. It won't happen again.

W22
#11 Jul 9th, 2004, 11:48
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Volga, There used to be some fairly good Leica clones made in Russia. Have you seen any of these? Don't know if they are still made. They were a copy of the very early Leica with screw in lenses. They were as the saying goes... "Cheap like borcht".


W22
#12 Jul 9th, 2004, 15:39
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#12

Looking for camera advice

Quote:
Originally posted by Wanderer22
Volga, There used to be some fairly good Leica clones made in Russia. Have you seen any of these? Don't know if they are still made. They were a copy of the very early Leica with screw in lenses. They were as the saying goes... "Cheap like borcht".
W22
Now that i checked what the "rangefinder" really means in terms of focusing, i realised that my old Russian camera of 1980s was a rangefinder: Kiev 4a (see attached pic).

W22, I do not travel to Russia these days, it is more likely that i'll hunt for a camera in a second-hand shop in London.

Before i surrender to the will and wit of second-hand camera salesmen, i'd like to specify here that I am looking for a second hand film camera, in good working condition (ie not totally vintage), with changeable lenses, good for TRAVEL photography: quick, easy to use, light, but which would allow flexibility and a good range of manual control as well as some auto-functions for convenience. A rangefinder or SLR. What is better for travel WHAT DO YOU THINK?

oh, and with the price tag of under $200... incl lense.

This would be in addition to my digital ultra-compact point-and-shoot that is so SMALL that people normally don't even understand that i am taking a picture when i use it the downside is that it is all automatic.

And what about lenses? if i am to travel with just one lense what would it be? W22 mentioned ultra-wide angle... i am into people and street photography mainly, with occasional landscapes, no wild animal safaris, and my digicam has 35-105mm equiv lenses.

and now, as promised, my first serious camera:
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#13 Jul 10th, 2004, 09:23
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Volga, There is no perfect camera in spite of what some may say. One has to decide what their subject is going to be and in what form the final image is going to end up..... Will the images turn into exibition grade prints > 16x20" or will they only be viewed on a computer screen? Are they going to be marketed? What ever you are doing is certainly working for computer screen size images. Your eye and talent are the most important part of the equation. The Kiev looks like it would make a perfect travel camera. Inexpensive.... You don't cry too loudly when it breaks. No batteries required to operate the shutter..... If your light meter dies, a WAG will often get you by.
Have heard that the image quality of an 8MP camera is equal to good 35mm. Don't know how true this is... Only hear say. Am unaware of a semi-auto rangefinder with interchaneable lenses, costing under $200. Found this on the web, but it may never see production and would be pricy. If only someone could invent digital film that would fit older 35mm cameras.

http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1076724359.html

A seventys computer guru by the name of Baba Ram Dos once said "Seeking perfection in photography is fraught with danger... Your back or wallet may fail first" !
Can't remember what he said about low level formatting of hard disks though.... DEBUG ???? To think that I'd actually thought about shooting 4X5" negatives in India! Good thing came to my senses in time. Can you imagine customs wanting to open boxes of sheet film to check for contraband.

W22
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Last edited by Wanderer22; Jul 12th, 2004 at 03:22..
#14 Jul 10th, 2004, 09:30
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Volga, Almost forgot... If I had to choose one lens for travel photography it would probably be a fast 35mm focal length.

W22
#15 Jul 10th, 2004, 10:53
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Wanderer, I have tried the mirror lens and it fools nobody. Waste of space and weight. A low light, high range telephoto is astounding though. I wouldn't carry the weight of a 1000 mm again but in the high light situations of India it was cool. The best thing is a quiet digital with all sound turned off along with the screen. If you have any leds on the front the old trick is a bit of electrician's tape.

A side note is a question about tourists that have a fondness for ogling funerals and taking it as a photo op. Do these people do the same thing at home? I just helped bury a body today and it didn't give me any jollies nor did I want to photograph it. It was stiff and not too beautiful after the ravages of cancer. I just can't figure the motivation unless it is something like the incentive of every now and then an attractive woman's body comes through. As usual I have not spent enough time in India to comprehend the deeper mysteries..

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