f/8 at ISO 100, 4.30 minute exposure
I arrived in Jaipur late in the evening at 11pm. I made my way from the terminal to the luggage pick-up carousel, hoping like everyone else that was standing two inches apart from each other, that my bag was going to be there. After waiting for 20 minutes and seeing the conveyor belt stop and everyone leaving happy with their bags in tow, I admitted defeat that India had won. Just as I was about to leave to report my missing bag I just happened to see it circulating around on the other conveyor. Guess I was standing with the wrong crowd!
I get outside the airport and pay for a pre-paid taxi. I show the driver my iPod with the three maps I had downloaded to it from Google maps (I know smart, right) and off we go. Little did I know that it would be another two hours before I finally found a place to sleep for the night.
We get to the neighborhood where this hotel is suppose to be and I realize this guy knows nothing about this area. He’s friendly and trying his best but has no clue how to read the map or figure it out. Time after time he would stop and ask someone on the street where something was and time after time we’d end right back where we started. I only paid 430Rs ($9.60 USD) for my 30 minute ride but what I was getting was a two hour city night tour in an area that didn’t offer much. Joys of traveling I know.
I finally tell him I’m done, that if this place is that hard to find, I don’t want to stay there. He keeps trying to find it and I begged him not to anymore. I think it became a challenge for him in a way, so I finally just told him if he could find this other hostel I had wrote down as a backup I’d pay him another 200Rs. He agreed and off we went back towards the center of town. He actually found this place with no problem and after I checked in, I stumbled into the room and crashed.
I slept in so late that by the time I got up it was late afternoon. There was no use in trying to visit any sites now as most of the places would be closing in a few hours. I asked the hostel owner, who is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Indian Army, if he knew any places that would be good for night photography. He gave me a list of three places: Amber Fort, Jai Mahal and a museum called Albert Hall. Asked if he knew any rickshaw drivers and he said yes and called for one to come pick me up.
While waiting for the driver to show I asked two girls from Hong Kong, who were staying at the hostel, if they wanted to join me for a night tour. They both said yes and thought it would be cool to see the sites during the night, as one of the girls was into photography as well. We spent the next three hours driving around the city looking for locations that would make great night shots. Our rickshaw driver charged us 400Rs (split 3-ways) and found this to be good value for what I got back in return on photographs.
I tried a new technique with the camera that night. I wanted to shoot the building in the top photo but couldn’t get the auto focus to work because it was to dark. So I exposed on something in Auto Focus Mode to get it to focus and lock and moved it from AF to Manuel. I spun the camera around after locking the shutter open (I was in Bulb mode) for a 4.5 minute exposure. It came out great and I have to thank Joseph from Bangalore on this little tip he gave me.
- ISO: low as possible, try 100 and work your way up. Remember the higher the ISO the more noise you will have in your photo.
- Aperture: you don’t need to go big but something in the middle should be fine. Try from about f/8 to f/11
- Exposure: just because you can go longer doesn’t mean you should. Remember that light coming from the city will show, so do a test of 30 seconds first and if the photo is to dark, expose longer and work your way up till you find something that works. Anything after five minutes will start to show star trails, so if that’s what you’re wanting go longer but be careful to watch out for excess light (car lights to security lights exc) because it could blow out your photo. There is no set rule on this, it’s trail and error.
- Mode: set your camera in “Bulb” mode to be able to shoot longer then 30 seconds. If you don’t have Bulb mode you’ll be limited to only 30 second exposures, so drop your aperture down and raise your ISO to compensate.
- Equipment: A tripod and remote are a must but if you don’t have one, try this: lay the camera on a rock or step, anything that won’t move. Then without touching anything but the shutter release button click to take the photo but be sure not to shake the camera in anyway. Once you have it timed and want to end the exposure, click it again but remember not to bump the camera. If you do you’re going to get a lot of blur in the shot. Just to prove to you that this work, the photo “Amber Fort Lit Pp with Colors” was made without a tripod. I sat it on the ground and did the above. Can you tell a difference in it?
I actually just came to Jaipur to shoot one photo of the City Palace and then leave shortly after but I’m finding it hard already to not stay longer.
A Side Note:
While at the Amber Fort the second night, I was standing by the road trying to get more night shots when two police men rode up on a bike and informed me I couldn’t shoot “still photographs” (ie; I couldn’t use a tripod) of the fort. I asked why and that I had the night before without any issues, that I wasn’t on the fort complex property and that it was a freaking tourist site and that’s what tourist do, take photos. All that did little and the response was “cease and desist” sir! They stated I needed permission from the government to do so. I did so not happily and took one more shot (Amber Fort Lit Up with Colors) and moved on where I wasn’t going to be imposed on. My rickshaw driver said they were no good, that it was wrong. I asked my hostel owner (the retired Army officer) and he said it wasn’t right either and that they might have been just looking for a bribe. Either way, they never came back but it ruined my second night shooting and left a bad taste in my mouth.
If you plan to do what I did, try to stay in the shadows and not be seen or have money ready to pay a bribe. That or contact the Rajasthan tourism board before hand and clarify that you do need permission (which I doubt) and if so get a written letter with contact info from them. That way if you do get hassled you can throw that in their face and tell them to f-off!
Amber Fort lit up halfway
f/8 at ISO 100, 4.30 minute exposure
Amber Fort lit up with colors
f/8 at ISO 100, 6 minute exposure
(Note: no tripod was used on this photo, as I sat the camera on the ground)
Jai Mahal Palace
f/8 at ISO 100 for a 25 sec exposure
Albert Hall Museum
f/9 at ISO 100 for a 60 sec exposure
Jai Mahal semi-color
f/8 at ISO 100, 1.5 minute exposure
Jai Mahal blacked out
f/8 at ISO 100, 5 minute exposure
Albert Hall, Amber Fort, Jai Mahal, jaipur, Rajasthan