Extreme Ladakh- a visual journey of high altitude terrain
~ by Dhritiman Mukherjee
PUBLISH DATE: May 4, 2021
After the success of the “Capturing Wildlife in the icy locales of Ladakh” series, Sony Alpha community brings forth the third chapter of the Dhritiman Mukherjee’s Ladakh expedition. This article talks about the breathtaking landscape of Ladakh, the natural habitat which houses wild animals, the challenges Dhritiman faced and how Sony gear stood with him like a true friend while he continued on his visual journey of the pristine Himalayan landscape.
In his bag, Dhritiman carried the Sony Alpha 7R IV camera, Sony Alpha 7R III, Alpha 9 along with Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G ultra-wide-angle zoom lens, Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS lens and an underwater camera housing.
Exploring the ‘Land of High passes’ in peak winter season
The erstwhile Buddhist kingdom is popular for its gorgeous landscape and wild animals. A picturesque location, to say the least, people often travel to Ladakh during summer. Always on the lookout for a new adventure, our avid travel and wildlife photographer Dhritiman decided to document Ladakh in the peak winter season. In the previous article, he shared extensively about his experience of capturing wild animals in the icy locales of Ladakh.
Dhritiman says that he pondered over what truly defines Ladakh. And came to realise that the gorgeous flora and fauna are nothing without their natural habitat. So he captured the scenic landscapes with our gear. Dhritiman says, “It is always very important for me to document the habitat of any area especially in a place like Ladakh where the entire environment becomes extreme and challenging to all the life forms who live there during the winter season.”
Armed with the best photography tools, Dhritiman shares that he had no inkling about the unimaginable challenges which lay ahead in his expedition.
The great obstacles of the Greater Himalayan range
Recalling the challenges he faced, Dhritiman shares that, “the road to Ladakh was easy breezy but once I reached there and took out my gear, I was shocked to realise that all my mobile phones and laptop had stopped working. This happened because the daily average temperature during the winter season hovered around minus 25 degree Celsius and dipped further at night. Another challenge I encountered was the snow all around me. At first, this appears like a great opportunity for photographers. But when you press the button, you realise that it is tough to capture the white. Another challenge was the light problem. It was a dynamic issue because sun played hide and seek and thus it became difficult to shoot.”
He further says that another challenge he faced was the altitude. Every day, he walked miles and miles looking for a perfect scene.
A tale of Sony gear and Dhritiman:
Appreciating our gear, Dhritiman says that using the Sony gear felt like walking with a friend. He says, “For my shots, I used the E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS lens. The best thing about it is that it is small in size yet offers a versatile range. This lens features an optical design optimised for short flange focal distances that makes it small and manageable on its own while also contributing to notable reductions in overall system size, weight and portability.”
Talking about how he clicked this picture, Dhritiman says, “I clicked it while I was inside the plane. I took out the E 18-135 mm OSS lens. This lens delivered high quality image and offered high resolution shots.”
He further says that “a new optical design that includes one aspherical element contributes to consistently high resolution from the image centre right out to the edges, while two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements effectively suppress chromatic aberration.”
Describing the above picture, Dhritiman points that the 18-135 mm OSS lens provided him with a beautiful bokeh. He says, “If you look at this picture, you will see that the 18-135 mm OSS lens made it easy to shoot close-ups with background bokeh.”
Scenic beauty at its best
Talking about the Changthang sanctuary, Dhritiman says that the habitat of the sanctuary was dotted with a blue sky, barren land, a flowing river and daylight.
Recalling the time he took this shot, Dhritiman says, “To capture the soul of this place, I woke up in the dawn, walked down to the monastery in the early morning and started clicking pictures. All thanks to my Sony gear. It was so robust. It is so lightweight and compact. My Sony Alpha 7R IV camera stood against the inclement weather and allowed me to take scenic shots of the Ladakh landscape.”
Elaborating about his vision, Dhritiman says that he believes that a good photograph’s role is to trigger questions. Behind every picture he takes is a story of why he went there and what he was doing there. Motivated by this thought, he pressed the click button.
Dhritiman says that before clicking a picture, he focuses on two things- the light and the composition. He shares that “in this picture, if you look, at first you will see a bridge-like structure. However, on a second or maybe third look, you will see layers of ice entwined with plants growing over the river. Nature is full of magic and through this picture, I wanted to convey this message.”
Talking about his favourite shot, Dhritiman says it is the one he took at the frozen Tsokar lake. He said, “I took this shot when the sun was setting. I made use of the white saturation and played with the colours. Here too, the nature weaved a cave out of ice and the water in the river is transparent to such an extent that you can see coloured rocks and plants growing beneath.”
Appreciating our gear, Dhritiman says, “In such sub-zero degree temperature, it is difficult for animals to survive, forget human beings. But Sony’s camera and lenses braved against all odds and performed exceedingly well. Their performance surprised me and boosted my confidence.”
We are happy to know that our gear proved fruitful to Dhritiman and he captured Ladakh the way he had envisioned. In his upcoming series, get to know some fun behind the scene incidents which made his journey memorable.
To view "Capturing Wildlife in the icy locales of Ladakh" article , click here.