Friday, October 12, 2012

Varanasi, the Aarti and frustrating night time photography.

Not only are the ghats alive during the day but they are also rocking at night! Clutching camera's and tripods we boated up and arrived alongside the ghat where the nightly aarti rituals are performed. The aim being to watch and capture the wonders of the night time ceremony.

While the ceremony was wonderful, camera wise I had issues! To start with I had a private battle with my tripod. Never having used it before, a gently rocking and swaying boat in the dark was not with hindsight the best launch pad! First to get my camera attached to said tripod, then to get the tripod legs out all at the same height, then to adjust the camera to right height and angle..........sense of humor failure perilously close!!

So why a tripod? When you shoot in the dark, you need as much light as possible so you slow down the speed the shutter opens and shuts, to let more light in. However while the shutter is open and photo is being taken any 'shake' equals a blurred pic. So slower shutter speed, more blur, hence camera on tripod not in shaking hands. However, on rocking boat - everything is a shaking and a shivering! Photography is definitely a totally different technical ball game once the sun has gone down and there is a play between electric/artificial lighting from a variety of sources and no lighting at all.

Then all my pics look very orange -not just warmly lit but bright orange! I do get some help and think there has been a marginal improvement in my produce but I'm still not feeling on the top of the photography mountain.

However the ceremony is still incredibly moving but I imagine is best appreciated without camera stress!!

There was a mix of individual pooja and offerings, flowers and lit candles floated down stream

 And the main ceremony of rituals involving fire and smoke performed by five priests. Once I had retired from dealing with my camera, and not quite jettisoned it into the Ganges, sitting in the dark, the water lapping against the side of the boat, watching the priests in their red and gold robes with the lights and smoke was incredibly beautiful.

We returned by boat and sat on the roof top of the guest house, had a few beers and let the frustrations of the evening wash away. A night or so later we had a night photography workshop and did learn some tricks of the trade. We go to Goa in a few weeks time and if my camera lens gets back from the Cannon service center (with whom I am now having daily unsatisfactory communication -a long sad story) watch out for the sunsets!!

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