Late last year my better half and I were in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan on a small group tour of this fascinating region of Central Asia. Nine people in total, plus a guide and a driver in each country. Great people, a great trip, and rich in history and sights. Our first major tourist stop was at Registan Square in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. A dull wet day, but still impressive both inside and out.
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Photo fun developed
Early on it became evident that four of us in the group were keen photographers, some might say over-keen or maybe even a bit obsessive. But I’d have to disagree with such descriptors. How could anyone be over-keen or obsessive about image making? Others in the group had greater and lesser interests in photography so they tolerated us, although one of our guides did make it a rule that the first ten minutes at any location were to be listen-to-the-guide times, and only then could the “photographers wander off”.
So, there were four of us who began to have a side adventure. Specifically, as well as the tourist images, we should also try to make images that were a bit “different”, and then bring such an image from the previous day to breakfast on an iPad or tablet. It was to be a simple breakfast exhibition, not a competition. And it turned out to be good fun.
The triumvirate, minus the fourth member of the Gang
Nigel always took his time carefully composing, Robyn often shot her images from slightly different perspectives. And Peter was always moving off trying to find something different.
On the first morning of our exhibitions, Nigel blew us away with a very clever reflection shot from the Summer Palace in Bukhara. How did he do it? Tricky technique, thinking involved, quite admired at breakfast. The following comprise this particular image and two others of his good ‘uns from different days, all produced with his Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII with an Olympus 12-100mm f/4 lens.
With her Olympus OMD E-M5 and 14-150mm f/4-5.6 OM lens, Robyn took full advantage of the capacity of its SD card. She loved the excitement of the places and sights and took lots of shots. Among them, she got some that struck a chord. Here are four from her collection:
Different generations, Istravshan bazaar, Tajikistan Fringe tassels, Khujand, Tajikistan Scrim curtains in the morning light, at Arbob Palace, Khujand Tajikistan The 10th-century tower Kaylan minaret in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Robyn went out and caught her image handheld at night, while the rest of us were at dinner
Peter was the quiet achiever. While the rest of us were scurrying around clicking away, he would move away on a carefully considered tangent to find an image that would be different from anything that the rest of us would see. He delighted in thoughtful, careful photography. So, here are three of his images caught by his Sony a6500 with Sony Zeiss 16-70mm f/4 lens.
At the site of the palace of Alexander the Great, outside Termez, Uzbekistan. Peter looked along the now dry river that supplied water to Alexander’s army of over 200,000 soldiers, down into the plain below, and Afghanistan in the distance Villagers, off the beaten track in ancient Margib village, Tajikistan Diffused light at the Summer Palace in Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Me – the fourth in the Gang of Four.
I had to try to keep up with the triumvirate. I had the lightweight compact Leica D Lux 9 attached to my wrist most of the time, aiming to catch those moments that are quickly seen, then gone in a flash. It’s a very personal choice but I liked my shot of the donkey cart taken through the very dirty window of our wet minibus as we travelled one rainy day. Here ‘tis, along with two other opportunity shots caught by the little Leica.
Above: The landlord’s daughter, at our homestay in Margib village in the remote mountains of Tajikistan. She was outside on the balcony having fun trying to communicate in Tajik with English-speaking Robyn. At one point she turned and looked at me through the window as I was inside changing camera batteries. The camera didn’t even have time to focus completely. One image, caught in an informal instant.
Bottom Line – When travelling, the camera really doesn’t matter
The only commonality in our individually chosen travel gear was that we all had a preference for a compact camera with a relatively short zoom lens. Others might have chosen prime lenses or larger sensors rather than the APS-C and m4/3 cameras that we used. Brand doesn’t matter. In fact, I’d propose that the gear really doesn’t matter at all.
Compact, smartphone or monster DSLR isn’t important, they are all capable of providing memorable and interesting images. The challenge for us lay in looking each day for something different to catch on the sensor. Then subject matter, light, perspective and composition became the major determinants of the game.
Overall the exercise provided great fun in the ‘Stans, in a secondary mode during our visit to a wonderful area. Certainly not planned by any of us at the start, but the breakfast exhibition quickly became an enjoyable way to start each day. Well, it was for photography nuts at least.