Drive in Kumaon

Recently I got an opportunity to enjoy driving in the Kumaon region of the lower Himalayas. The trip was mostly for some work at my cottage, but as always I took my camera along. I had enough luggage space in my car so I carried three lenses and even a tripod hoping to click some good photographs. After a few hours of drive, I reached the base of the hills. The Himalayas rose majestically in front of me. Few more minutes and I would be driving there. So did this trip give me any photography opportunities?

Hill Road in Kumaon

As I have always said, there are photographs to be found everywhere. I had high hopes on this trip too. The total drive from the base of the hills to the town where we had work, was going to take about two hours. It was late in the morning and the weather was fine. There was nice cool breeze.  With the open windows, I could smell the freshness of the hills. I remember reading a wonderful book many years back titled ‘Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance’. The car was fine but a bike would have made me a part of the scene.

The road turned and spiraled around. It reminded me of the famous Snake River that Ansel Adams had captured in one of his photographs. Every hundred meters, the road itself appeared different. At some points there were dense coniferous trees on both sides and a little further ahead the valley was visible on one side. The deodars soared high. I thanked God for the beauty he has showered mankind with.

Road in Kumaon

(Nikon Df with Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 G lens at f/10, 1/200 sec at ISO 100)

Some more meters ahead, the road was carved out in rocks. The face of the rocks that had been cut to make the road had also become a part of the scenery over the last few decades. It was very difficult for me not to stop after every turn and click photographs. My family members were also enjoying the trip and putting up with my eccentricities very well. Being late spring season, I could see wild flowers starting to show their faces every now and then. Rhododendron (Rhodo) or Buransh which also happens to be the State Tree, was starting to bloom. The fiery red flowers caught my eye, every-time they came in my field of vision. The color theory and our evolution history was playing its part. Deep red color against the green background never fails to attract attention. Later I also came to know that the juice made from these flowers also has many health benefits. I was a bit early for their blooms but still I could capture some photographs to include in this article.

Buransh

(Nikon Df with Nikkor 105mm micro f/2.8 AI-s lens set at f/8 and 1/160 sec. ISO – 100)

I drove on. More and more turns kept appearing as minutes passed by. The only sound apart from the wind and the hum of my car engine, was that of silence. Once in a while a bird would sing its song. A blue colored bird, name of which I do not know, flew along with my car for some meters trying to inquire. Once its curiosity was satisfied it flew away. Some distance away there was a clan of long tailed old world monkeys called langurs. They sat there silently on the road side as we passed them silently. They seemed as intrigued to look at us as we were to look at them. Their calm conveyed the feeling that I was driving by in their home ground. On a philosophical note, how sad is it that we humans have taken away so much of their habitat.

I had almost reached my destination. The drive had been very interesting. I captured some good photographs but not as many as I would have loved to. I had lunch at a nearby ashram, finished off my work at the farm and cottages. In the evening, I drove back. It was getting late and the sun was getting ready to say bye.

I was happy with my morning drive and the time spent there. On the other hand, I also had a fleeting thought of sorrow, on what would happen if hoards of tourists started visiting these parts with their plastic bottles and potato chips packets. I did pass some small villages which had started showing signs of impending deterioration. There were few old traditional houses and a couple of cement buildings too. The nature had its go and interestingly these cement houses were starting to show cracks. There was one in shambles too which made a good subject for one of my photographs against the setting sun.

Broken house and sunset

(Ruins of a house and sunset. Nikon Df camera with a 25mm lens, f/8, 1/25 sec shutterspeed with a graduated ND filter. More about sunsets – Capturing Sunsets)

I reached back after an hour. I was looking forward to the upcoming trips to the farm and the cottages over the next few days. I was able to capture some more beautiful photographs over these days. One parting thought – always carry your camera along. (Family Trips and Photography)

Himalayas

(Photograph clicked on the next day morning, on way to the farm. Nikon Df with Nikkor 50mm lens at f/11, 1/125 sec shutter speed at 100 ISO)

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