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Landscape Photography Tour – Lahaul and Spiti, July 2017

July 14 @ 7:00 am - July 23 @ 5:00 pm

One of the still unexplored and insanely beautiful stretch of the Indian Himalayas, Spiti is a valley of stark landscapes and high snowy peaks stretching to the sky. Gurgling rivers and crystal clear lakes dot the highlands of Lahaul, while an ancient civilization has survived for nearly a thousand years and has preserved its culture against the onslaught of modernity in Spiti. The Spiti Valley lies in the Western Himalaya at 3680 meters, in Himachal Pradesh in North India near the Tibetan border. Closed to the outside world for over 30 years, this ‘forbidden’ valley opened to foreigners only in 1992.

With its snowcapped barren brown mountains, turquoise rivers, monasteries and blue skies, Spiti is every photographer’s dream. This ten-day photography workshop will not only expand your knowledge of photography and add some enviable pictures to your portfolio, but it will also be an incredible opportunity to interact (and learn from) fellow aspiring photographers and locals. This specialized Spiti Valley Photography Workshop tour has been designed in a way that participants have plenty of opportunities to absorb the landscape, people and culture of this valley through an immersive experience of the photographic narrative form.

Scheduled dates – 14th to 23rd July 2017

DAY 1: CHANDIGARH – MANALI (6378 feet)

You meet your friendly local driver in Chandigarh. The drive will take us from the urban terrains to Manali – where we get our first taste of the Himalayas. The array of offerings Manali has to make, and the variety of crowds that flock to this hill town is quite astounding. From young couples getting away for their honeymoon, to sports enthusiasts lured by the prospect of adventure, to hippies in search of utopia, Manali attracts them all. Situated at a height of 6378 feet, Manali is also the main jumping-off point for anyone headed towards Ladakh, Spiti or Lahaul. You will want to go to Manali for its scenic beauty; for the promise of an enriching cultural and historic experience; to admire the majestic, towering mountains and to make the most of the numerous adventure sports on offer. The drive is a comfortable one and takes us through some delightful landscape. Shimla is an important part of the journey as it gives the body ample time to adapt to the altitude and get ready for the journey ahead. Overnight at a hotel in Manali.

DAY 2: MANALI – KAZA (11,980 feet)

The 200 kilometer (125 mile) road from Manali to Kaza in Spiti is filled with spectacular ever changing scenery. From the dense forested hills of Manali, to the rocky barren planes and peaks around Chattru, and the sweeping snow covered mountains, this road is a landscape rollercoaster that is bound to enthral. On the way, you cross two high passes including the famous Rohtang Pass (13,054 feet) and Kunzum La (14,927 feet). After about 8-10 hours, we reach Kaza. Overnight at a hotel in Kaza / Rangrik.

DAY 3: ACCLIMATIZATION AND ORIENTATION (11,980 feet)

One of the most essential days in any high altitude terrain, is the day to acclimatize. Today, on the second day of the Spiti Valley Photography workshop tour, we will remain in Kaza. It will also be an orientation day where participants and the photography menton will be introduced to each other and to possible story ideas, methods and challenges with which to proceed during the course of the workshop. The mentor can also talk about different ways of seeing the world around us with a slideshow presentation of some inspiring works from photographers he admires around the world to set the tone of the workshop that inspires all the participants to engage with the immediate environment around them to bring out the best in their abilities as image makers. Overnight at a hotel in Kaza / Rangrik.

DAY 4: KAZA – TABO – PIN VALLEY – MUDH VILLAGE (12,450 feet)

Today, we drive to Tabo – home to the famous Tabo Monastry which is more than 1010 years old and is an abode to many precious Thangka paintings, including the famous Pillar of a thousand Buddhas. The entry to the monastery complex, covering in total 6300 square meters, is made of earthen walls with a dark interior shading the many marvelous and colourful frescoes inside. The ancient paintings depict the life cycle of The Buddha and legends from the Jataka Tales and were made in the Tibetan style by artists from Kashmir. Called the Ajanta of the Himalayas, the Tabo monastery is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Tabo is also an internationally known mediation destination and is often visited by high dignitaries such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama. After we explore Tabo’s monastery, we drive to Pin Valley. Imagine a national park with an abundance of animals and birds, with some rare plant varieties, a river that gushes when it isn’t frozen and trekking opportunities for the adventure-seekers. The Pin Valley promises all this and more. Declared a national park in 1987, Pin Valley has altitudes ranging from 11,000 to 20,000 feet and is home to at least 12 endangered snow leopards. In addition, other animals indigenous to the region and park are the Siberian ibex, bharal, weasel, red fox and marten. Birds such as the pika, griffon, golden eagle, bearded vulture, chukor and raven paint the skies a pretty picture. Overnight at a guest house in Mudh.

DAY 5: MUDH – DHANKAR – DHANKAR LAKE TREK – LHALUNG (12,774 feet)

Today, we drive to Tabo – home to the famous Tabo Monastry which is more than 1010 years old and is an abode to many precious Thangka paintings, including the famous Pillar of a thousand Buddhas. The entry to the monastery complex, covering in total 6300 square meters, is made of earthen walls with a dark interior shading the many marvelous and colourful frescoes inside. The ancient paintings depict the life cycle of The Buddha and legends from the Jataka Tales and were made in the Tibetan style by artists from Kashmir. Called the Ajanta of the Himalayas, the Tabo monastery is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Tabo is also an internationally known mediation destination and is often visited by high dignitaries such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama. After we explore Tabo’s monastery, we drive to Dhankar Dhankar is the ancient capital of Spiti and the seat of the Spitian Kings. It is home to the royalty’s ruined castle and as well as a splendid 16th century Monastery. Situated mid way between Kaza and Tabo, it’s slightly off the route on top of a steep sided mountain ridge jutting out over the valley. From Dhankar, a short trek away, is the beautiful turquoise Dhankar Lake which is a must-visit if you have the time and energy. This hike takes about an hour. Later, we drive to Lhalung – another beautiful high altitude Spiti Valley village. The word Lhalung means ‘land of God’ and the village of Lhalung is located at the foot of the Tangmar Mountains which supposedly transforms in colour depending on the mood of the deities. Red denotes anger while yellow signifies happiness. Apart from being home to hospitable local families, the village of Lhalung is also home to one of the oldest gompas in Spiti Valley. The Lhalung Monastery – also known as Sarkhang and Golden Temple – is situated at a height of 3658 metres. We spend the night at a local homestay, to experience the Spitian way of life. Overnight at a homestay in Lhalung.

DAY 6: LHALUNG – TASHIGANG – GETTE – KI MONASTERY – KIBBER (13,800 feet)

Today, we visit the world famous Ki Monastery. The car will first stop at the base of the monastery hill for the ultimate photo opportunity of this remarkable structure. With over 1000 years’ worth stories to tell, the Ki Monastery situated at a height of 13,668 feet was founded by a disciple of the famous Atisha, in the 11th century CE. Belonging to the Yellow Hat or Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, this monastery is famous as a prominent centre of learning as well as refuge for Tibetans. Being remotely located atop a hill overlooking endless plains, the Ki Monastery is an obvious choice for those seeking peace and calm. Then we will move farther down the valley to the picturesque village of Kibber. Located at a height of 4205 metres and 18 km from Kaza, this formerly highest permanently inhabited village of this region, is also a popular base camp to embark on adventure and treks to adjoining mountains of high altitude. The expanses of beautiful landscapes and immeasurable beauty of the snow-tipped mountains makes the place a haven for nature-lovers and photographers alike. From Kibber you can trek to Chicham Village, located across a sharp and precipitous canyon traversable only by a suspended wire cable basket system known as a jula. We spend the night at an authentic local homestay with a local family, listening to stories of life at 14,000 feet. Overnight at a homestay in Kibber.

DAY 7: KIBBER – KOMIK – HIKKIM – LANGZA (14,435 feet)

More than half way through this Spiti Photography workshop tour, today we will visit some of the highest villages in Asia – Komik and Langza. Spend time in Hikkim, known for the highest post office in the world and also the highest polling booth in the world. If possible, spend a few hours with the postman in this village (who is also the headmaster of the school there) and capture what it means to be the postman in the highest post office of the world. In Komik, see how the locals cultivate their famous peas or stock up their granaries to prepare for the harsh winters when they remains cut off from the rest of the world. The last stop of the day would be at Langza, famous for the Buddha statue overlooking the village. Langza is also home to one of the largest fossil parks in the world. While participants may be tempted to take some back as souvenirs, we discourage it and urge everyone to take back memories (and photographs, of course!). Langza is also known for it’s pottery. Years ago, when the valley was untouched by modernization, all the earthenware was supplied from here. Even today, some of the villagers have retained this art. Overnight at a homestay in Langza.

DAY 8: LANGZA – LOSAR – CHANDRATAL LAKE (14,000 feet)

Almost all the iconic Spiti pictures are clicked at the Chandratal Lake. Today, on the third last day of the Spiti Valley Photography workshop tour, head there before noon today for some amazing reflections of the mountains in the crystal clear waters. Walk around the lake and by nightfall, settle down in the comfortable camps that have been set up. Set up your tripods this night as you witness stars like never before. Believe it or not, but you could even see the milky way! Overnight at camps near Chandratal Lake.

DAY 9: CHANDRATAL LAKE – MANALI (6726 feet)

We wake up to a delicious breakfast. If time permits, we can visit the lake one more time before we bid goodbye to Spiti Valley. On the second last day of this Spiti Photography Workshop tour, we retrace our path and head back to where we started, Manali. As the bumpy roads become smoother and the topography changes from barren mountains to lush green pastures, prepare for withdrawal symptoms to set in. Back into cellphone reception areas, share your experiences with friends and families and get nostalgic about this enriching workshop in Spiti. Overnight at a hotel in Manali.

DAY 10: MANALI – CHANDIGARH (309 km / 8 hours)

It’s been a great journey. And it’s not the end. On the contrary, it’s the beginning. It’s the beginning of a promise to return to the fascinating Spiti Valley where you made friends for life with its people, the colours of the landscape, the smell of fresh air, the gaze of the millions of stars and your always-smiling friends at Spiti Holiday Adventure. Tour ends in Chandigarh.

Stay

Day 1 – Overnight at a hotel in Manali
Day 2 – Overnight at a hotel in Kaza / Rangrik
Day 3 – Overnight at a hotel in Kaza / Rangrik
Day 4 – Overnight at a guest house in Mudh
Day 5 – Overnight at a homestay in Lhalung
Day 6 – Overnight at a homestay in Kibber
Day 7 – Overnight at a homestay in Langza.
Day 8 – Overnight at camps near Chandratal Lake.
Day 9 – Overnight at a hotel in Manali.
Day 10 – Tour ends in Chandigarh.

Things to carry
Wide angle lens
Macro lens
External flash
Carry fully charged batteries for your camera / flash.
Carry battery charger. Carry extra pack of camera batteries
Carry backup memory cards / HDD storage drives, Laptop
Remote shutter release with or without cable (preferably with a lock)
Adequate rain protection for you and your gear is MUST
It is advisable to carry basic first aid along with you.
A sturdy tripod is a MUST.
Enough warm clothing
Equipment available on rental – please mail us at rentals@dcpexpeditions.com.

Learnings

On field learning from the experts is said to be one of the best methods of improving your skillsets. The Landscape Photography maestro will hand hold you at every possible step for a better understanding of perspectives, camera controls and how to make use of the best opportunities to get better images. The training will focus on the following

Different modes of shooting (Av / A, Tv / S, M and P)
Exposure control in field under difficult light conditions
Mastering metering techniques (Spot, partial, center weighted, evaluative)
Mastering auto focus, focusing points, AF locking and focus tracking for moving subjects
How to get sharp images of moving subjects
Framing and composition in the field
Image processing workshop

To maximize and complete your photographic learning, join our evening session of informal discussions on digital image processing. Our Expert will work on few of his own images or a few of yours (which you have clicked during the day) and demonstrate various techniques of image processing to give a final shape to your artwork. The following will be discussed

RAW files processing
Histogram and exposure control
Colour correction methods
Cropping and image resizing
Sharpening, cloning, dodging and burning
Noise reduction
Composition

Mentor

Amit Rane is one of the most skilled Wildlife photographers in the DCP family. He has travelled extensively across Indian geography for more than 18 years and has in depth knowledge of difficult terrains spread across the Indian subcontinent. He has brilliant photography skills in all genre of Wildlife photography starting from bird photography to mammals, from landscapes to macro photography, from reptiles to amphibians. He is a trained Herpetologist and loves reptiles. He is a regular travel photographer and writer. He also has a deep interest in product and fashion photography. He has a fantastic teaching acumen. He is a trainer, biodiversity expert, wildlife photography advisor and holds the chair of Director, Outbound Expeditions, Team DCP.

Rs 65,000 per head inclusive of all taxes
Cost includes

Tour package ex Chandigarh
9 nights accommodation – as mentioned in itinerary
All meals as mentioned in itinerary
All applicable hotel & road taxes
Cost doesn’t include

Any meals other than those specified in ‘Cost Includes’
Expenses of personal nature such as tips, telephone calls, laundry, liquor etc
Any other item not specified in ‘cost includes’
Cancellation policy

All cancellations before 30 days of the event date – 100% credit
All cancellations between 20 – 30 days of the event date – 50% credit
All cancellations within 20 days of the event date – No credit possible

Details

Start:
July 14 @ 7:00 am
End:
July 23 @ 5:00 pm

Organizer

DCP Expeditions