LADAKH PHOTOGRAPHY EXPEDITION WITH ABHISHEK SINGH
LEH-LADAKH – PARADISE FOR TRAVELERS
Beautiful mountains, breathtaking sceneries, and otherworldly landscapes, Ladakh is one place where everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. The Chiiz gave a golden opportunity to 15 photographers to experience these heavenly landscapes and learn something new. Equipped with their camera gear, a team of 15 photographers was ready to get an experience that words fail to describe. If you’re unclear about what places to visit when you’re visiting Ladakh, this blog on the photography tour organized by Chiiz with Abhishek Singh will solve all your problems and give you a slight peek into the mesmerizing atmosphere of Leh-Ladakh.
Over the years, Ladakh has gained a reputation as one of the places on every traveler’s bucket list and rightly so. While adventurists, travelers, and solo riders flock to the land of high passes for the thrill, Ladakh has much more to offer to the photographers. The rich blue sky reflecting in the turquoise blue waters of the Pangong Tso amidst the looming snow-clad mountains and the flitting white clouds make for postcard-worthy pictures. The clear skies at night are a perfect opportunity to capture those Milky Way shots that every photographer has to have in their collection. How can you miss out on the monasteries sitting atop mountains, and the distinct culture that Ladakh boasts of?
The ten-day photography tour was organized by Chiiz as a workshop to educate photographers at Chiiz who got the privilege to learn from and work with Abhishek Singh, who guided and mentored the photographers on various niches of photography and also helped them earn some memories that will last them a lifetime. Treat your eyes to some jaw-droppingly beautiful pictures captured by the photographers at Chiiz while you read the blog and plan your trip to Leh-Ladakh.
“Featured Photo – Pangong Lake, Ladakh” – Photo Courtesy- Osheen Jain.
ABOUT THE WORKSHOP
The aim of the tour is for the photographer to return home, demonstrating a discernible progression in the standard of their images, illustrating a deep connection and understanding of the people and landscapes of Ladakh.
About the Mentor
Abhishek Singh, a professional traveler, lifestyle photographer, and film-maker having experience of more than 14 years in the field. He was perfect as a mentor for the photographers. Having knowledge of the place like the back of his hand, Abhishek proved as a valuable asset to the group. He has conducted 321 photography workshops and 37 Photo tours, has visited the Ladakh region 18 times and knows the best photography spots like the back of his hand. Having created photography tutorial video content for Nikon India and other imaging brands, Abhishek is now a Panasonic Lumix Global Brand Ambassador from India.
Date of the Photo tour: 10-19 JUL 2019
10 Jul: Leh City
Our cars picked them up from the airport and checked them into one of the finest hotels in Leh. Lunch was served on arrival, followed by some acclimatization tips and a detailed photography presentation by Abhishek.
11 Jul: Leh City
Early morning departure to Hemis monastery for an on-field photography session during Hemis festival inauguration followed by lunch at a Heritage house.
Evening- Leisure time.
12 Jul: Leh – Khardungla Pass – Nubra Valley (6-7 Hrs- including photo ops)
After breakfast, we headed for Nubra Valley. Crossing one of the highest motorable roads in the world i.e. Khardungla Pass and some majestic views of the trans-Himalayan range, we reach Nubra valley. Nubra is a tri-armed valley located to the north-east of Ladakh valley. Nubra is also known as a high-altitude cold desert.
13 July: Nubra-Turtuk-Diskit-Nubra
After breakfast, we drove to Turtuk Village. The village is very close to the Indo-Pak border and holds immense scope for street & portrait photography. In the evening, we headed for Diskit Monastery, also known as Diskit Gompa. Diskit Gompa is the oldest and largest Buddhist monastery in the valley.
14 July: Nubra-Pangong Tso (5-6 Hrs- including photo ops)
After breakfast, our convoy left for one of the most famous destinations of the Ladakh region, Pangong Tso. The drive to Pangong Tso from Nubra is very scenic and the team took multiple stopovers to share some on-field landscape photography tips. Situated at a height of about 4,350 m, Pangong Tso is 134 km long and extends from India to China. Fortunately, the team was expected to reach Pangong Tso in the evening, and that was the best light to capture the lake in their cameras. We stayed overnight at Pangong Tso and shared techniques to capture the milky way and star trails.
15 July: Pangong – Tso Moriri (6-7 Hours of drive: including photo ops)
We headed for Tsomoriri after early morning breakfast and took a route which was normally not done by many tourists. That was one of the most scenic routes in India and very close to the China border. We took multiple stopovers at various spots to do some landscape as well as wildlife photography and reach Tso Moriri in the evening. The lake is at an altitude of 4,522 m. It is the largest of the high altitude lakes entirely within India and entirely within Ladakh in this Trans-Himalayan biogeographic region. The evening wass the best time to photograph the lake along with Karzok villagers (natives of one of the highest villages in the world).
16 July: Pangong Tso – Leh City (7 Hours of drive: including photo ops)
We headed early in the morning towards Leh via Tsokar valley and watched some rare bird species. We took a quick stopover at the Tanglang La (second highest motorable road). Then, we had dinner at one of the fine dining restaurants in Leh region.
17 July: Leh City-Local
After breakfast we headed for some of the most fascinating places around Leh like Hemis Monastery, Thiksey Monastery, Magnetic Hill, Confluence of the Indus and Zanskar Rivers, and last but not the least, we visit Shanti Stupa to get a bird’s eye view of the entire Leh City.
18 July: Post Processing & Review Session-Leisure Time
After breakfast, the participants submitted 3-4 of their best shots. Abhishek reviewed the images along with shared post-processing techniques to enhance their images. In the evening, we all were free to explore the local Leh market.
19 July: Leh- Airport Transfers
Early morning transfer to Leh airport to board the flight back to their destination. The epic journey ends with mesmerizing memories and some stunning shots to flaunt on social media.
Arrival At The City
The photographers were received at the airport and were taken to The Sera Courtyard, a luxurious boutique hotel, situated in the center of Leh city that invites guests to engage in a magical experience of the ‘Land Of Many Passes’. Day one of the tour commenced with a delicious lunch at the hotel, followed by Abhishek addressing the photographers with some acclimatization tips and a detailed photography presentation.
Panoramic Hemis Monastery and Extravaganza of Hemis Festival
Day two brought the team to locations fit for some soulful retreat. Situated on a mountain top on the west side of Indus at an altitude of 12000 feet, approximately 45 kilometers from Leh, Hemis Monastery is one of the most visited monasteries in Ladakh. First said to have been established in the 11th Century and then re-established in the 17th century (in the year 1670 approximately) by the then king Senge Namgyal, Hemis is enriched with history and legends.
Besides being enriched with history and scenery, Hemis is well-known for the festival, a cultural event that takes place once every twelve years in the summer months of June and July depending on the Tibetan calendar. On the second day of the tour, photographers got the opportunity to witness and be a part of the inauguration of the festival dedicated and celebrated to pay homage to Lord Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche). The photographers got a chance to experience an on-field photography session, photographing the various rituals and performances, post which they treated themselves to delectable lunch at The Heritage Hotel.
After a day of tempting food, awe-worthy pictures, and a mind filled with peace and memories, the photographers had a leisurely evening to themselves.
Exhilarating Khardung La Pass and Surreal Calming Nubra Valley
Day three was packed with adventure as the photographers took a journey to a location which is one of the most visited locations in Ladakh. After a satisfying breakfast, the team headed to the ‘Mother of All Valleys- The Nubra Valley.’ 150 kilometers from Leh, Nubra Valley is characterized by wide-open lands and breath-taking views.
The nature and beauty of the valley is a treat to your eyes and soul and worth all the time it takes to get there. Khardung La Pass, also known as one of the highest motorable roads in the world, is the gateway to the valley. Adventure bikers come from all corners of the world to claim this adventure soaked experience. The photographers had this moment too. Giving the photographers a ticket away from modern times, the Nubra Valley presented its mighty trans-Himalayan range. The photographers had an opportunity of capturing the landscapes and views fit for some other-worldly adventure movie.
The photographers spent their day amidst these serene valley landscapes and spent an evening of leisure gazing at the infinite number of stars that formed numerous constellations twinkling in their eyes.
Incandescent Turtuk and Spellbinding Diskit
The fourth day of the tour dawned with the team taking a trip to one of the most unexplored places in India. Turtuk, the largest producer of apricot will open its arms to you with apricot fields and Balti-speaking people. It’s the first village on the Indo-Pak border, therefore people here speak Balti, one of the oldest languages also spoken in Baltistan, a region in Pakistan. The landscape in Turtuk is lush and soil fertile. The photographers had a golden opportunity of trying their hand at street and portrait photography, as the region has been influenced by three cultures Indian and Tibetan which explains the unique physical features of the people.
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Cradled by the Karakoram Mountains, Turtuk imposes unique geography offering the photographers endless angles and textures to capture. The absence of all modern amenities proffers the village a feel of different age. In addition to an unparalleled physique of the villagers, the landscape also has an enchanting aura to it.
Famous as the commercial capital of Nubra, Diskit, a village situated 120 kilometers from Ladakh was the next halt in the journey of the team. Home to one of the most culturally rich monasteries in Ladakh, Diskit Monastery, or Diskit Gompa is overflowing with murals, inscriptions, and textures. Peaceful and tranquil, Diskit Gompa has the tallest statue of Buddha, a massive 106 feet tall. The cherry on the cake is the beautiful Lachung temple.
The scenic Gompa is an absolute treat to eyes and soul. Decorated with beautiful intricate frescoes and wall paintings, Gompa offered the team a wide range of art forms to capture and take back in their memories. The valley village proudly exhibited its picturesque landscapes, night-sky that looks like a piece of diamond studded fabric and the desert. Photographers indulged in the visual feast and harvested some stunning pictures from these places.
Gem Of The Valley: Pangong Tso
On day five, the team had the fortune to visit probably a valuable gem of the valley. Pangong Tso presented the team with numerous and frequent opportunities to capture the fleeting moments in their cameras forever. Situated at 4350 meters from the sea level, Pangong Tso is 134 kilometers long and magnificently claims the land of India as well as China. Home to many migratory birds, the lake freezes completely in winter. On their way, the team made multiple halts in the journey to take in the grand scenery and share on-field photography trips.
The team reached the lake in the evening, the dazzling lake photographs best in the evening light. Sunset at the lake was spellbinding and the photographers enjoyed the pleasing experience. Nightfall brought forward another beautiful face of the lake, its night-sky, the team discussed and tried the tips and tricks of capturing the milky way and the star trails, an experience that dwarfed them and yet left them with ultimate satisfaction for a lifetime.
A Drive To Divine No Man’s Land – Tsomoriri
Day six was an isolated drive through the landscapes of the Changthang Plateau, a route that isn’t chosen by many. The team stopped here to learn some tricks of wildlife photography before reaching Tsomoriri in the evening. The evening brought with it, the hypnotic views of the Tsomoriri lake. Situated at an altitude of 4522 meters, the lake is entirely in the boundaries of India and Ladakh region. The team captured staggering shots of the lake along with the natives of the Korzok village, one of the highest villages in the world.
New morning New Adventure – Tsokar Valley and Tanglang La
Day seven, the team packed and left early from Tsomoriri. Making a halt in Tsokar Valley to capture a rare bird species and treating their cameras to a healthy dose of photography, they scoured the valley for pictures that are fit to make friends jealous on social media. The next halt of the team was the Tanglang La pass, the second most motorable pass of the valley. Returning for dinner, the team helped themselves to the delicacies of Leh, in a fine restaurant.
Beauty of Leh
The eighth day of the tour was dedicated to appetizing breakfast and exploring the fascinating city, Leh. The team captured the exquisite Thiksey Monastery, the grandeur of the Magnetic Hill, the Convergence of Indus and Zanskar rivers and revisited the Hemis Monastery. Finally, they went to Shanti Stupa, dominating Leh from a high rocky ridge, the Stupa was perfect for capturing a birds-eye view of the entire city, a fortune you need to earn.
Post-Processing, Relaxing, and Learning
After a hot and hearty breakfast, the team submitted 3 to 4 of their best shots for Abhishek to review them. The day was packed with learning post-processing skills and techniques for the team to enhance the photos captured by them throughout the entirety of the journey. After grasping some valuable knowledge on post-processing images, the team relaxed as they were to head out to explore the Leh market for themselves.
A market that dates back to the 15th century, the Leh market was an amazing opportunity to shop for fine woolens and silk, as well as capture the colors of the area. The team got to polish their street photography skills. The market is full of colorful shops and stores and the ultimate stop to get your hands on clothes made out of Pashmina silk.
End Of The Glorious Trip
After their hearts filled with delectable memories, souls drenched in peace and serenity and cameras teeming with pictures that captured the soul of Ladakh, the team was ready to bid adieu to the region on the tenth day, taking with them some of the unequaled and tantalizing memories that will last them for a lifetime the team headed to the airport, ready to be transported back to their destinations and excited to share all about their experiences with their loved ones.
A trip that gave them more than just mesmerizing views and splendid landscapes, a trip that made them more efficient and a trip that taught them how to indulge in photography and connect with the place forever. The multi-cultural villages, sensational views, and cuisine fit for a king, all give you the most surreal experience and your camera some undeniably empyrean visuals to capture.
Each and every photographer from the team got a chance to capture photos that were best for their aesthetic and also try and learn something new. From street photography to wild-life photography, from fabulous landscapes to unique and exalted portraits, Ladakh, a trip that is best enjoyed alone, but makes the experience even more exquisite when you have a mentor to guide you to look for the right places.
If you are passionate about traveling and photography, Ladakh is the destination for you. The breath-taking landscapes, crystal clear waters, and mouth-water cuisine, all these make Ladakh a hot destination for travel lovers and photographers. Because of its heavenly locations and awe-striking beauty, Ladakh has gained a special spot in many peoples’ bucket lists. The fascinating culture, postcard-worthy landscapes, and a soulful retreat to get yourself connected to nature, if that is not a good enough reason for you to take a trip to Ladakh, I don’t know what is. The team returned home with exhaustion that was worth all the experience that was hard to pen in a few words. A tour that encourages everyone to pick a camera and head to Ladakh!
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About the Author:
Maushi Journal is a writer and an amateur photojournalist. She writes poems, poetry & short stories. She loves to work for society, in society & with society. “Love is what’s important to me. I want to spread love in the universe”, she quoted her aim passionately.
Instagram Handle: maushi_journal.