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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Commonly asked questions

Every profession has them I'm sure. Doctors get asked for back pain advice and recommendations for flu treatments. Lawyers get asked for legal advice and record producers get asked what Britney Spears is really like. Travel photographers...well my most commonly asked question is. "What's your favourite country?" (Hello to the Innisfail Camera Club - I hope you enjoyed the talk last night!)

I always find this a really difficult question to answer. I mean how do you compare the raucous festivals of Japan with the quiet sanctity of a Thai buddhist temple. The cacophony that is India with the majesty of the Serengeti plains. If the truth be told my favourite place, and I guess it's the same for anybody with a serious case of wanderlust, is always the next place I'm headed to.

But if I had to narrow it down I can think of two that come to mind. This is the first one.

It took me three weeks for my wife and I to walk here. We stayed in a little guesthouse in that tiny little village you can see in the bottom LH corner of the picture. It's called Gokyo and it's high up in the Himalayas in Nepal, near the border with Tibet. Just outside the left hand edge of the frame (and not in the picture) looms Mt Everest. There are a series of five aquamarine lakes that are just too beautiful for words.

This photograph was taken from the top of a little 'hill' called Gokyo Ri. It's only 400m or so above the village but it's over 5300 metres above sea level. There's so little oxygen up there that every three or four steps you have to stop and get your breath back. A lot of people in a hurry rush up to the top, see the view and race back down again. My wife and I walked up at a leisurely pace after everybody else had come down. We had nearly two hours up there without a soul in sight. There was just the sound of the wind blowing down the valley, we were surrounded by 8000 metre mountains in every direction and a series of Tibetan prayer flags blowing in the breeze. There are times in your life when you just have to pinch yourself to make sure it's all real - this was one of those times.

This image was taken with a short telephoto lens - about 80mm. I have a polarizer on there to bring out the colours and have used a small aperture to have as much in focus as possible.

As for my other favourite place? You'll have to wait for next time. :)

By the way I've changed the settings so you can make comments without having to log in to Google. Just hit the Anonymous button on the Comment Posting page and it will save you the log in hassles.


angus said...

G'day Paul,
I agree, the Goyko Lakes region is very special and rates as one of the best places I have been. It is very easy to take good pics there and the colour changes in the surrounding mountains in the afternoon from Goyko Ri are stunning (if you can handle the cold, we were there in December!). The views of Everest from here are special too. Just walking there via Base Camp and Kala Patar was hard but incredibly rewarding.

Paul Dymond said...

Yeah there are places that leave you breathless and this was definitely one of them. It's hard work getting there but visually it is just so amazing. It must have been pretty cold in December. We were there in October and it was pretty chilly then! No snow on the ground though.

I had a big camera bag strapped to the front of me that I kept on banging with my knees when I went up hill!

angus said...

The camera I took was simply a compact Canon S2 Si. It had its limitations but it was light and .... well .... compact! I carried it in a camera case at my chest so even with a heavy backpack on it was always easy to access. Consequently I too a lot of photos. It amazingly worked fine at very low temperatures. I had to sleep with the batteries to prevent the cold from draining them!!
There are limitations for printing but I can make great computer slide shows with the pics by adding effects and music. That suits me fine.

Paul Dymond said...

It's amazing the quality you can get out of little P&S digitals and for people who don't want to carry a lot of gear they're great. Like you said, as long as you know their limitations, you can shoot to your heart's content and really get some fantastic photos.

One of the pluses of this whole digital revolution (don't start me on the negatives!) is that it makes photography such an attractive hobby for so many people. It's great to see.