Travel To India and Nepal : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I will be traveling throughout Nepal and NE India for the month of October. The 4x5 Phillips and a pile of T-max readyloads will be with me at all times. This is going to be a great adventure. Any advice for me on any problems I might encounter with camera stuff or things I need to see and photograph. I do a lot of landscapes, but I will photograph anything the gets me excited, structures and especially older people (they will sit still longer than kids which is a must for 4x5). I'm concerned about the affect the heat and humidiy will have on my film and equipement. Thanks

-- Paul Mongillo (, July 13, 2000


Just got back from 2 weeks in India. Brought my Ebony 8 X 10, and shot transparencies and B + W. I find I shoot a lot more color when I travel, partly because I'm wanting to document as well as produce a "piece." It was 40+ celsius = 100+ F while I was there, no trouble with the film. The x-rays in Indian Airports appear to be film safe, as I had mine done nearly a dozen times with no problem. Strongly suggest you bring a changing tent, unless all you will do is readyloads, in which case you're ok (presumably you are acquainted with that system, and know of its fairly poor rep for reliability). Obviously, don't check the bag with camera or film as luggage, bring it on board (which I never had a problem doing: be polite but firm). The "CAT scan" type xrays used on checked luggage are meant to be much worse for film. Thievery is an issue in India, but certainly no worse than US/Europe, so paranoia definitely not justified. Just know where your bags are at all times. If you want to do portraits, think about brining along some polaroid. Instant feedback will win you instant friends! You + your camera will attract much attention, esp from the under-8 set!

As for things to see: Dehli, Agra (Taj Mahal), don't even _think_ of missing Varanasi/Benares, home of the sacred Ganges, one of the most amazing and photo-worthy places in the world. Lots of great temples throughout the S of India. Rajistan is great for old castles. Kathmandu has much to see, and obviously great scenery outside of the city in the rest of Nepal.

People have very limited idea about traveling with a LF system (too heavy! too expensive!) Glad to hear you're doing this. It will be a great trip. I would definitely have my camera insured (rider on your house policy), just to spare mysely any unnecesary worrying.

Good luck! email me if you have any specific questions.


-- Nathan Congdon (, July 13, 2000.

Take some color film (neg or pos) with you. Color is part of the charm in this part of the world. I have had film in 100+ weather for weeks at a time with no noticable problems.

-- Ron Shaw (, July 13, 2000.

No advice with regards to equipment, but to tell you to make sure that have had your shots and drink only bottled water.

-- K H Tan (, July 13, 2000.

I haven't been to India yet but on expeditions like that, especially with humid climates, I always bring WETNAPS (even the "changing diaper" ones for babies that come bulk in a bottle). It helps keep your equipment clean and also prevents your sweaty or oily fingers from getting at your film or lenses. Also make sure to get the type that don't have aloe or moisturizers added.

I can rough it, but with large format gear, keeping your hands clean goes a long way.

Hope that helps. Dave.

-- Dave Anton (, July 14, 2000.

Namaste (Hi...) I'm crazy for India, I did it during almost 10 years for the press, go and back, go and back, and was close to settle there. I've published a book on the french settlements in India too. India is a paradise for photographers because they love photography, because they have a culture of photography ( go to Old Delhi and look at street photographers, they use antic field cameras,lenses without shutters,lab inside the camera...and you get the best portrait ever.Not for long because their fix is so so...) Anyway India is a permanent sweet and sour, you hate 10 people and the eleven one is a real gift. Forget time schedule and you will not have headache... About cameras and stuff.In big cities or pilgrims cities be VERY PARANOI, especially in railways stations. Old Delhi,Agra,Benares (varanasi) etc. Otherwise it's absolutely safe and you can enjoy. About the view camera, you'll need to be energic to move the crowd from the screen ! But it works and they are fascinated by cameras.If you ask somebody not to breathe for a minute...he will. But the most important thing is custom, they can really put the shit on you. they see field cameras,they see tripod,they see money. They can make you problem on the way back. You are not a photographer-you are an artist or whatever but not a photographer... Last things, Readyload could be dust trap (it happened to a friend in Jaipur), I would opt for film holders, you can clean them. Enjoy it,...I'm jalous. Guillaume

-- guillaume zuili (, July 14, 2000.

Like the others, I envy you!. One note abouty readyloads based on sad experience. I have had bad batches of readyl film, mostly TMax 100 and an occasional bad readyload holder. Currently, I open and test shoot one readyload from each box of film I buy, and I have at least two readyload holders with me on treks. I had problems with two boxes of readyloads within the last year, in two different holders. Note; I have been using readyloads since they came out and am reasonably certain the film, not the camera, bellows or me was the culprit in most cases. So I would run a random test on the film. Good luck. bob

-- Bob Moulton (, July 14, 2000.

I have travelled many times to India, mainly on business. Although I am an India-phile, some words of caution are worthwhile, especially if you have not been to that part of the world before. Do not underestimate the "hassle factor" from beggars ; with a 4x5 camera on a tripod, you will be much less mobile than you might at times prefer to be. You will also attract a large crowd around you, and you may find it difficult to keep hold of all of your possessions. Heat, dehydration, noise, etc. can all combine into a disorientating experience where you are vulnerable. I would get my LF camera out only in a situation where I felt I could be in control, and I would carry a smaller format camera for other times.

Also, make sure you have all your immunisations up to date, take your malarial prophylactics, bring some insecticide that you can spray in your bedroom in the evening before you go to sleep, and be very careful what you eat and drink. In small villages, do be careful of aggressive dogs.

The large cities are quite ghastly, but the rural environment can be beautiful, in a truly biblical sense. Events can coalesce to provide a superb experience - you just have to be big-minded enough to rise above the hassle factor that you will undoubtedly encounter. Enjoy!

-- fw (, July 15, 2000.

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