Ladakh has been one of my favoured destinations since the time I had laid eyes on some photographs featuring the place. One can define Ladakh in various ways. But, whatever it maybe, it is surely a dreamland for all those consumed with wanderlust. And being a photographer, it was quite patent for me to get lured towards its mysterious beauty. It is one of those places which can amaze you each and every time you visit. Now coming to more general information about this place, Ladakh is called the “land of high passes” (la means passes and dakh stands for many). It is also the highest plateau of the state of Kashmir with elevation above 3000 metres. Almost a vast area of Ladakh was devastated by the cloudburst which occurred in the month of August 2010. Remnants of the catastrophe can still be seen in many areas of Ladakh. But, it has been said that Ladakh has become even more beautiful after the devastation. And I should say that I, like many others got that opportunity to catch a glimpse of the rejuvenated Ladakh.
This is the Leh market. The lowest altitude Leh was the capital of Ladakh, but now a district in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is at an altitude of 3524 metres (11, 562 ft). Most of the vegetables, groceries, eatables in the higher altitude areas in Ladakh come from the Leh market. I always make it a point to take photos which talks a lot about the culture of the place. Initially, I was quite hesitant about shooting when they are asleep. But, on the other hand it is always easier to take pictures in that way as you don’t need to communicate much. If you roam around the market you can find so many characters as I have tried to show some of them in this shot. In my short visit to Ladakh, I couldn’t capture much of the place but I tried to take in as much as possible. On the second day of our trip, we spent most of the time in Leh and it’s surroundings.
This photograph was taken in a monastery in Leh. I don’t exactly remember which one it was. In every monastery around there they have these hand painted designs on the ground. And, I have always liked the graphical element in photographs. It always makes a pretty picture. Even here, I tried to play around with the circle on the ground along with the circle on the outer part of the shop and the straight line design. Also, it always helps to include life in your photograph for making it look prettier.
The most beautiful part of Ladakh is the three lakes i.e. Pangong Tso, Tso Kar and Tso Moriri. Of all these I got to see only the Pangong Tso which is a 5 hour long journey from Leh along an incredibly rocky road. So, for the first timers, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. But, the view afterwards is mind blowing and very much worth the tiresome journey. The sky around Pangong Tso is clear blue with white clouds scattered here and there. I didn’t use any kind of filter to get the contrast but had just adjusted the exposure ( EV) taking it down to -1.0. The clouds there had different characters. And if you look closely in this picture, the cloud above was in sync with the shape of the mountain below. These little details play an important part in composition of any photograph. I always try to look for frames wherein the elements can match with each other. It is true that Ladakh is such a place where you can get the best of photographs without much effort. I am a photographer and have been into it for just 4 years which is not much. But, it remains my effort to create something different every time I take a shot. Sometimes it fails and sometimes it succeeds. I love taking pictures as it brings a smile on my face when it turns out to be good. So, why not play around a bit and bring out the fun in our photographs ?
This is the last photo I am sharing with this article. It was taken in Nubra Valley, the cold mountain desert. Yes, you have got it right. It’s a desert in the barren, rocky mountain region of Ladakh. I had done a good research on all the places of Ladakh before setting out on my journey. And, obviously I was quite surprised to learn about a desert in the coldest of mountains. I have visited desert region before but, Nubra Valley was a total different experience for me. Even it’s a 5 hour long journey from Leh. The mountains in Nubra are even more rugged and little darker than the ones in Pangong Tso. But, if you are observant, you can find so many textures in those mountains. Here too, in this photo I allowed the textures of the mountains to be dominant with the inclusion of the tree in it. The sad part of this trip was that I had gone with a group. As a result, I couldn’t explore much. I couldn’t play much with the light and shadow element which is an integral part of any photo. My stay in Ladakh was for a very short span. It was just for 6 days which obviously did not suffice my thirst. It is such a vast area that even if you give a month and you think that’s enough, it is not. You would find something even more mysterious lurking in some corner the very next day. And it does not need telling that I will visit this place again and again and again whenever the opportunity arrives.
Mouli Paul is a practising photographer based in Kolkata, India. Since the last 4 years she has been into this field but her liking for Photography goes back a long way. She has done a 15 month course for gathering knowledge along with attending workshops and participating in exhibitions. She has also freelanced for a local periodical for 3 months and worked as an intern for a daily in Kolkata. Her preferred area of interest in Photography is travel but, she would like to venture into new areas if given a chance.