Story By Jenn Gidman
Images By Stephanie Vogel
Gateway to the Himalayas with Stephanie Vogel
Stephanie Vogel uses her Tamron 28-75mm Di III RXD zoom to capture the magical worlds of New Delhi and Rishikesh, India.
Gateway to the Himalayas
Stephanie Vogel briefly visited India 14 years ago, then went back for a five-week trip about three years ago. She instantly fell in love with the country, so when she had the chance to return for another five weeks last year, this time to do yoga training in the Himalayas, she jumped at the chance. “The school was right outside Rishikesh, the yoga capital of the world,” she says. “It was such a magical place that it’s hard to put it into words.”
She did try to put it into pictures, using her Tamron 28-75mm Di III RXD zoom lens. “This lens is very compact and lightweight, which was perfect for trekking in the mountains and wandering around New Delhi and Rishikesh,” she says. “It has a maximum aperture of F/2.8, so it’s fast, which really helped me in low-light situations. And I was blown away by how amazingly sharp it is.”
When she wasn’t immersed in her yoga training, Stephanie explored the city streets, taking in the sights, sounds, smells, and smiles. “From the colorful murals and friendly fruit vendors to the religious icons that are scattered around the landscape, there’s a photo everywhere,” she says. “Even when you’re not looking for a photo, there’s a photo. And for the most part, the people I encountered loved having their picture taken. They’re naturally comfortable just being themselves and sharing their time with you.”
Read on for the story behind some of Stephanie’s images in India with the 28-75mm.
I’m always on the lookout for quirky subjects and scenes. I was staying at a hostel in New Delhi and went on a walk one day with the manager of the hostel to seek out a fruit vendor. As we were walking, I spotted this bicycle. I’m a cyclist and used to ride bikes all over the world, so bicycles always catch my eye. This one was especially alluring in front of that beautiful, multicolored wall. I was also drawn in by how old and weathered the bike looked. The contrast made for a terrific photo.
The northern city of Rishikesh, at the base of the Himalayas, is where the Beatles traveled to in the late ‘60s. It’s known as the birthplace of yoga, and there are still so many hippies around who paint murals on the city’s walls. I was walking past this one of a sleeping yogi and thought it was so pretty. I was on a narrow street, where I couldn’t really capture it straight on. From this angle, the 28-75 helped me achieve the shot in those tight quarters.
I took this photo of a bug outside of my school. I’d never seen a flying insect with clear wings like that. One of the guys at the ashram held up the leaf for me while I took the photo. I got really close and used the 28-75’s maximum F/2.8 aperture, which kept the focus on the insect, while the rest of the lush greenery (and that one marigold) remains nicely blurred out in the background.
In Delhi, langurs, or Hanuman monkeys, are friendlier than the aggressive red-faced monkeys that plague the city. I spotted these two langurs, a mother and her baby, with that other langur in the background up in the tree. I love capturing spontaneous handheld photos like this, and you can see how wonderfully the 28-75 performed here. The monkeys’ eyes are pinpoint sharp.
The Ganges is the holiest river in India. People make pilgrimages here to do the worship ritual of puja, and in the evening it’s particularly stunning, with the sounds of bells and the smells of incense all around you. The sky was very clear on this particular night, and those clouds were amazing. Even though most of my images in India were handheld, I set my camera on a tripod for this one and used a relatively long exposure.
The Swarg Niwas temple is on the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh. People come here to meditate and to pray. The 13-story temple looks prettier on the outside than it does on the inside. I loved the color contrast of the temple with the blue-green waters of the Ganges.
This is a statue of Hanuman the monkey god, located right on the banks of the Ganges. There’s a big ceremony every evening at sundown, where people light candles, chant mantras, play drums, and give flowers to the Ganges. I wanted to keep the focus on the statue and Hanuman “opening his heart,” with all of the visitors to the statue shown only in silhouette.
When I travel, I’m not a tourist—I’m a traveler. And that means just walking around with my camera, not knowing what I’m going to take pictures of and just being open to whatever I experience. I came across this fruit stand vendor one day, and I noticed he had the most beautiful eyes. I asked if I could take his picture and he agreed. By taking the photo in front of his stand, I thought it really showed some of the regional colors and flavors. It’s a little slice of local life.
Someone else actually took this photo of me using my camera with the 28-75. My classmates and I took a field trip to a temple that was high up in the Himalayas. This kind man was there, and when I sat next to him, he grabbed my hand. He’d put a string bracelet on me before that and said a prayer. I still wear it on my wrist today. I’ve never taken it off.