Himalayan Peaks in Monsoons

During the rainy season, when the skies are always grey and when the clouds float around in the valley, there are times when the cloud cover opens up for a while and provides a glimpse of the snow covered Himalayan peaks. For a photographer, these are windows of opportunity. I enjoy capturing the peaks whenever such a scene emerges.

(Trishul peak in the early morning, when after a full night of rains, I woke up to a clear sky. )

My friends always ask me. Why is it that I click so many of these peaks? Sometimes the photographs have to impact at all. Well the reason is simple, they are mesmerizing and massive. Such a wonder automatically influences me to photograph them. Everyone who comes to stay with me also longs to see these peaks on a clear day and photograph them.

Yes, they may have been photographed thousands of times, from all available angles, in different lights and seasons; But for photographers, the fun is creating yet another image using their own skills. “This photograph was made by me when I had gone there….” This is the statement that all of us, the photographers, want to say. It’s the fun in using our own camera, focusing, composing the most impactful subject then available, and then coming out with a technically sound photograph. The fun is in doing it ourselves.

(Nanda Devi in Clouds – Nikon Df with Zeiss 135mm, f/8 and 1/160 sec, heavily cropped and post-processed in Affinity Photo)

This photograph was captured on an evening, when some friends had come over. The rains had taken a short break in the evening and we were enjoying a cup of tea. The sun was getting ready to go to sleep. Just then, some last few rays lit up the Nanda Devi peak. I had my camera with a 135mm lens mounted on it. Changing the lens to a higher focal length was out of question. The light was changing very fast. So, I clicked the image with what I had and then cropped it heavily.

These are the times when I long for a high resolution camera of present times, with no anti-aliasing filter.

… and maybe some day manufacturers will come up with a lens with these specifications – a super zoom lens (like 25mm to 800mm) with f/2 aperture, with sharpness and micro-contrast of a high-end prime, and the weight and price of a light-weight kit lens. I know it is asking for a lot. Somehow this seems more difficult than even determining the location and velocity of an object at the same time. Right Mr. Werner Heisenberg?

That’s me going on parallel tracks while dreaming of a high end camera and an impossible lens. Coming back to the theme.

I captured a photograph that I am able to use here and I was also able to relax with my friends, sipping that tea and enjoying the wonderful sunset on that day.

(Sometimes the clouds don’t open up enough to give a view of the snow-peaks but then there are other days when they do)

Sunrise and Sunsets are also a wonderful time to photograph these peaks.

Usually if a night is clear, the peaks are clearly visible the next morning during early hours. Once the sun comes out and starts to heat up the valley, the clouds start to form and rise, and within minutes, these peaks once again get hidden. There’s just a small window of time during rainy season mornings when these can be nicely photographed.

Sunsets are even more dramatic, due to the way the light falls. Even during rainy season, sometimes those golden and red peaks can be seen. Alpenglow is also fun to photograph. No number of alpenglow photographs are ever enough. I simply adore the warm colors these snow-peaks take up.

Yellow Peaks

(This one is not exactly from monsoons, but I had clicked this one after it had rained the whole afternoon in late autumn and then suddenly the skies had cleared up.)

Every photograph does not have to be very dramatic or impactful. For me, photography is more about enjoying myself. Anything that appeals to me is what works for me. I am not clicking these photographs for a client or for any photography competition. It’s food for my soul. So, anything that catches my fancy is fine.

This is the same mantra that I always tell my fellow photographers too. Click photographs to please yourself. Don’t long for ahhs and wows of others. There’s no use longing for any kind of social validation. Just take your camera out and click what excites you. It’s your camera, your view of things, and your photograph! Click for yourself.

If you happen to be with me when I am busy photographing these peaks, you too get into the act. Capture these wonderful snow-peaks, and get yourself into the ‘zone’.

(Nanda Devi peak from behind the clouds. Photographed using Sigma 150-500 mm lens during the last monsoons, while in lockdown! 1/1000 sec, f/8, -1 EV compensation, 100 ISO, evaluative metering)

While I write this article, I can smell some delicious cakes being made in the kitchen. What good is rainy season without these snacks? Indians love their pakories, Russians long for pereshkis, Americans love their fried chicken, and me…. I love everything. The smell is overpowering my senses so I am ending this write-up now and hurrying to the kitchen to see what’s cooking. Smells like an apple pie, an ideal snack for a day like this! I’ll take my camera along just in case I spot the peaks again when I go out for a stroll after snacking.

Further Reading:

Yet Another Alpenglow!
On trail of snow-capped peaks
Panoramas, Snow & Coffee

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