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Photography at High Altitude: The Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal

This guest post was submitted by one of our Indian readers – Mridula Dwivedi – who describes her recent trek to the Everest Base Camp.

A Peak through the Clouds, Pheriche, Nepal.JPG

I trekked up to Everest Base Camp on the Nepal side in May 2012. I work as an academician in India but photography and travel are very dear to me. It has never been a problem for me to get out and try to get some good pictures. I usually take my pictures after some thought using either shutter priority or the manual mode.
All this became my undoing on this high altitude trek. I was doing this trip as a trek and not as a photography tour. So I had to walk from point A to B every day apart from the two rest days I had.

I realized that the sun rises from the Everest side so all the interesting peaks like Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse and Ama Dablam get smothered into harsh light very soon in the morning. And in the evening the clouds would rule. So all the big peaks catch light and glow at sunset and not sunrise. Keep this in mind when you plan your trip.

If that was not enough, I would get so tried walking that even when I saw stunning scenery around my mind would not react. The trek starts at the height of (2860 meters, 9383 feet) and if you do the Kala Patthar bit too as I did it ends at (5545 meters, 18,192 feet). My sleep and appetite were seriously messed up above 5000 meters. It was the first time on a trip I was not interested in photography and I found that upsetting.

Everest Base Camp, Nepal.JPG

Another bit that was contributing to the turmoil was the sound advice you get, use your camera in the manual mode, and get out of the automatic mode. On this trek I was not even sure if I would be able to haul myself up to the next tea house or not. My heart beat would beat in my mouth at elevations higher than 4000 meters and I was not reacting to the magnificent scenes in front of me what to say about using manual modes.

You know what saved the trip and made me take pictures, some reasonable pictures? I just put the camera in Flash Off mode and starting clicking. There are times when we need to pay less heed to accepted photography wisdom and this was one such time for me.

I still was been able to get 12 of my Nepal images selected on Getty and they have also featured on Yahoo! India Lifestyle.

So the next time you find yourself on high altitude or any other unfamiliar circumstances, be flexible and see what works for you! It could be the Flash Off mode!

Mridula Dwivedi is an academician from India and blogs at Travel Tales from India. She is passionate about trekking, travel and photography.

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