A different view of the Taj

Photographed by Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

Photographed by Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

 

This week’s ‘Behind the Picture’ is a global icon. The Taj Mahal is probably one of the best loved and most photographed pieces of land in India. There are almost well worn paths to the best angles to photograph this stunning piece of architecture. Hawkers wait for tourists and offer to show you the best spots for the light in a sort of manual version of having a Taj Mahal mode in your camera.

I though wanted a new angle, one I’d never seen before. There are shots of the Taj from the front, from across the river, with trains in the foreground, from the side. In fact, it’s pretty much been photographed from every angle you can think of and several you wouldn’t dream of. Most of the Taj Mahal pictures are, of course, tourist snaps. And I did think it was fun to photograph people photographing the building. But that was more for my own amusement.

Ordinarily I would have researched the subject intensely before I got there, but on this particularly trip I had no idea whether I would see the place. I was on assignment photographing Dancing Bear rehabilitation and it I was in Agra only by chance.

So I took the opportunity and pitched up at the sort of time sparrows are thinking about getting out of bed and waited in a massive queue. When I got into the complex the sun was just coming up and the misty moody light was lovely. The Taj Mahal was almost lost in the background. In a way the light was sensual and seductive which sounds like pouncey photographer speak, but it’s the only way I can describe it.

So I walked around like a tourist selectively taking the usual types of shots and taking the advice of a few of the hawkers and then on my way out I looked back along the ponds and saw my picture.

No one else would be mad enough to lie down on the pavement in India and then to rest their camera so close to water you’d think some kind of alarm would go off. But that’s what I did. To help me see what the camera was seeing I used a ZigView digital display which screws into the viewfinder and allows me to see the picture without having the camera pressed to my eye. It’s perfect for ground shots or over my head shots. It’s a brilliant gadget.

I positioned myself slightly off centre to show the pillars sticking out of the water and then took a couple of frames. They required minimal post processing and the final image was so different to the usual, that I loved it.

You can see it larger on my website in the locations section. Also, if you would like to learn how to take better pictures you could join one of my monthly weekend photo courses. Again see my website for details.

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