Pretty much every day I stop from whatever I am doing for a few moments and be thankful for how lucky I am; living as we do in SW China, in the shadow of some big mountains and on the doorstep of the Himalaya and Tibet.
Back in 2010 Juanli and I travelled to Nepal for the first time and enjoyed a fabulous month trekking among the fantastic landscapes of the Annapurna Region. Rhododendron forests blooming under mellow moonlight. But all this did was make us want more – and back in China my eyes were always falling on the map with one word on the cover – Everest.
Not accustomed to hanging about with our decision making, we soon made plans to return to Nepal in October – post monsoon, to trek towards Everest Base camp from the south – not a particularly long walk, but one that takes you well over 5000m and into the shadow of the worlds highest mountains.
I had been inspired by some of the best mountain images I have ever seen, created by Mike Anderson – who has travelled to Nepal on a number of occasions, and I was very keen to experience this area for myself. We had our fair share of amazing weather, and quite a few days when rain and mist clouded our minds, but the experience of climbing through this area is special.
As one gets higher the tea houses that provide the most convenient accommodation are filled in the evenings by an odd mix of people; those on their way up, filled with mixed emotions of anticipation and trepidation “how did you feel, what about the altitude?” And those on their way down, either buoyant with the thrill of success, or sat quietly reflecting on bitter defeat – either through lack of fitness or altitude sickness.
We achieved our goal for the trip, getting to 5200m and a small lake above the village of Labouche; that was my Everest Base Camp, not feeling I wanted to go to the real EBC, but instead for Juanli and I to sit watching a stunning high altitude sunrise looking south towards Ama Dablam and a range of superb peaks.
We had no real agenda for our descent, stopping where we wanted and going with the flow – but keen to get some more night images for the book idea that had planted a seed in my brain – Seeing the Unseen – How to Photograph Landscapes at Night.
We were sat outside our room one wet afternoon when I saw a couple with cameras talking and looking often in our direction – eventually the man came over and we started talking. This was our meeting with Oscar Dominguez (Deep Wild Photo) and his fiancée Mireia, and we travelled with them for the next 4 or 5 days. They made excellent company, and Oscar and I could pass the less exciting hours talking photolosophy! a new word I just made up – Photography Philosophy
Todays image was taken from Phorse looking across the valley towards what I believe to be Kangtega (6685m/21932ft). The way it caught the late evening light each day was simply devine, and I doubt I’d ever seen such a beautiful peak, nor since. I wrote an article the other day called Filling the Frame – where I discuss the merits of focussing your images on the subjects with the most impact. In the mountains, this can be a very effective strategy.
The image was taken with a Nikon D3x 70-300 lens at 195mm – 1/100s @ f7.1 ISO 100.
Processing was actually a challenge, and it took careful manipulation of the exposure sliders to tease out the maximum detail from the ice encrusted slopes without over-doing it.
I can highly recommend trekking in Nepal to anyone who enjoys a good walk in superb landscapes – rarely would the trekking be considered “too much” and the rewards far outweigh the occasional suffering.