I had grand plans of regularly updating this blog while traveling in India. Unfortunately a very busy travel schedule followed by a family medical emergency on our return home forced my to postpone those plans. So now, two and a half months later I’ll tell the story of our India travels through photos taken along the way. We had a great trip with travels through Rajasthan and Maharashtra. As a photographer I typically gravitate toward landscape photography in remote locations devoid of people. You could say that is my comfort zone. I found travel photography in India to be a very different experience. Instead of sweeping landscapes and night scenes with a starry sky I was drawn to photographing people, street scenes, and details of temples and landmarks. In a land strewn with ancient temples with ornately carved stonework and vibrantly dressed people the details and colorfully attired people are hard to ignore.
Fruit vendors at the entrance to Kanheri Caves. Mumbai, Maharashtra.
All of these photos were taken with the Fuji X-E1 and either the Fujifilm 18-55 f/2.8-4 lens or the spectacular Fuji 35 f/1.4 lens. In general, I was very pleased with the X-E1 as a travel camera. It wasn’t a burden to carry and the image quality was spectacular. My only real complaints were the autofocus performance in low-light, some struggles with manual focus, and a very annoying problem of the exposure compensation dial rotating every time I took the camera out of the bag. I will write a bit more about these issues with the photos below.
Buddhist figures inside the Kanheri caves. This site is a huge complex of caves in the middle of Mumbai.
An ancient classroom.
The Fuji X-E1 really shined in the Kanheri caves. In some sense it could be both a curse and a blessing. These caves are a essentially larges rooms carved into the rock in the mountainside. There was always some degree of light with daylight filtering in through the doorways, but for the most part the caves were quite dark inside. The high ISO performance of the Fuji X-E1 was a lifesaver here. I didn't have a tripod and was forced to shoot handheld. There were many times where I needed to set ISO to 6400 in order to get a reasonable shutter speed. The camera handles these high ISOs very well and considering I was able to get usable files from such a high ISO. Unfortunately the camera can really struggle to lock focus in low light. In these low light settings the camera failed to find focus most of the time when set to single focus mode. When I set the camera to continuous focus mode the situation was much better and the camera would lock focus most of the time. It is frustrating that a camera which performs so well in low light in terms of ISO performance has such miserable autofocus performance in low-light. I am also mystified by why focus lock behaves so differently when the camera is set in single vs continuous mode.
Udaipur is a splendid city. It has this amazing charm with narrow winding streets and colorfully painted building.
Some graffiti along the riverway in Udaipur
Devotion: A man prays at a small temple in Udaipur
My wife on the streets of Udaipur
While there are a few things that frustrate me about the X-E1, the good far outweighs that bad. The above photo was taken with the Fuji 35mm f/1.4 lens at f/1.4 This is a stunning lens. Its sharp wide open and gives a beautiful background blur. The 18-55 zoom lens is also a nice lens with great optical quality, but I found myself gravitating toward the 35mm f/1.4
Women admiring the view from Chittorgarh Fort.
Waiting for one last passenger. A very full autorickshaw at Chittorgarh fort.
I usually record images in raw format on any camera I use. When I first bought the X-E1 there were some problems with raw support for the X-E1 files that have been written about in detail elsewhere. Because of the weak raw support I have been recording images in jpeg+raw format. This has actually worked to my benefit since the X-E1 produces amazing jpeg files! The color rendering in these files is superb and I have found I haven't had to make many adjustments to them. The found I prefer the Astia film simulation mode. Raw support for the Fuji X-Trans sensor has now improved, however I think I will continue shooting raw+jpeg.
Small touches of color in a carved panel at Ranakpur temple.
Musicians at Mehrangarh Fort
An man in Jaipur, Rajasthan
Fortress walls, Jaipur, Rajasthan
This panorama was assembled in camera using the panorama sweep function. It actually does a pretty nice job assembling panoramas, but in general I think I would still prefer to capture single images and assemble them later in photoshop. The in camera panoramas result in a smaller file size then what you can get when get by manually assembling them and you lose the ability to correct stitching errors.
A macaque enjoying some marigolds.
A rice field near the town of Nashik, Maharasthra.
One of my favorite side trips in India was to the town of Nashik. We spent some time exploring rural roads and villages along the way and found some remarkable scenery.
Balancing act: A village woman carries water
The local Truck wash
Village women carrying firewood
We had a wonderful trip to India. I am looking forward to future trips there and further exploring some of it's amazing landscape, culture and history.