On Saturday we went sightseeing. First station was the Charminar. A monument and a mosque, the landmark building of Hyderabad conveniently located in the middle of a crossroad.
Our driver offered to play the guide. We gladly accepted. We still stood out of the crowd like pink elephants but I saw some other tourist too. A couple of young Americans. But all the other visitors were Indians. Their admission fee is 5 INR instead of the 100 INR for foreigners. There is no need to protest though 100 INR is 1,20 EUROs or USD 1,66.
After I climbed some narrow stairs I enjoyed the view from above but what really caught my eyes was the beautiful color and shape of the building. I thought that it could be the perfect background for some street shots.
I tried to avoid attention but of course that’s hopeless. I’m white, I’m tall and I’m one of the very view with a camera. It seems today everybody is taking photos with either a smartphone or an iPad. At least in this part of the world.
So even though I was using my usually very discrete street shooting method I got a strong eye contact in the image below. I like the result but I still prefer the second shot. The one with the smiling guy with the baby in his arm. I love the dynamic in this wide angle shots when I’m really close to my subject.
Maybe I should explain my discrete street shooting style: Instead of looking through the viewfinder I leave my camera hang around my neck with my left arm resting on it and my thumb on the shutter release button. It works. Well – most of the time.
I know that some say this is not photography as you can not compose a shot. I think that’s rubbish. Of course you can not exactly frame the shot but with a lot of experience you are able to anticipate what will be in your frame. Of course it works best with wide angle lenses and when you are really close to your subjects. Think of anything in-between 20 to 28mm in full frame terms. So the XF14mm from Fuji is just perfect for those kind of pictures. The 28mm lens on my Ricoh GR is almost too long and it makes no sense to even try to do that with the 35mm lens on my X100. But the most important thing is to be close. Really close. Like in the shot above or like in one of my favorite shots I took in China town in Bangkok: A family on a scooter passed me and the front element of my lens almost touched the arm of the mother. It’s like being part of it. I prefer these kind of images over a composed shot where the subject is too far away from the lens.
In my case it also helps with the viewpoint. Sometimes I feel I’m too tall for a good shot in Asia because I’m not shooting at eye level. For that reason alone I hope that the Fuji X-Pro 2 will have a tilt screen. If not I think I will get the XT-1.
Back to the Charminar. A truly impressive building and worthy landmark. But because of its impressive size it’s not simple to photograph. I failed. I think you need to get into one of the surrounding buildings to get a higher viewpoint and take the shot from some distance. It’s the same with most tall buildings. You can’t take a proper picture if you are too close.
One of the very rare situations in photography where getting closer will not improve the picture.