Faces of … Rajasthan

I was lucky enough to visit Rajasthan in India last year for just under two weeks with my family. We toured the state of Rajastjan flying from Delhi to Jodphur, then visiting Ranakpur, Jaipur, Udaipur, Deogarh and Pushkar, then Fatehpur Sikri and Agra. I took my fuji x-t1 with the 23mm f/1.4, the 56mm f/1.2 and the 50-140 f/2.8 lenses. Along the way we met a great number of friendly people. Speaking English is a bonus in India as most of the population also speaks English and therefore it is pleasant to chat and learn about the local culture and customs. I took a series of portraits with the 56mm (equivalent to 85mm in full frame terms), all of which were taken with permission.

The first set of portraits is of nomads camping outside our hotel in Udaipur. They don’t speak English, having never been to school. The words they know are like “toothpaste”, “comb”, “razor” and so on, items that are complimentary in hotels. Needless to say, I raided all I could from the hotel and gave it to them. I exchanged these gifts for a portrait of the mother who was cooking breakfast. The children who were playing followed me around for a little afterwards and let me take their picture too.

Fuji x-t1 with 56mm f/1.2 @ 1/60s + f/4 + iso 500
Fuji x-t1 with 56mm f/1.2 @ 1/200s + f/4 + iso 400
Nomad boy.
Fuji x-t1 with 56mm f/1.2 @ 1/600s + f/1.2 + iso 200
Street portrait... kids at play.
Fuji x-t1 with 56mm f/1.2 @ 1/800s + f/1.2 + iso 400

This young man is a student dressed in uniform. We met the whole class as we were walking to a park. The light was good in the shaded alleyway and I could have taken photos of every student there, they were all so friendly.

Fuji x-t1 with 56mm f/1.2 @ 1/450s + f/2.8 + iso 400

This photo was taken during a procession in the street. A young crowd was following a van carrying a statue of Ganesh and blaring out music and the people were following, dancing and enjoying themselves. They were covered with coloured powder. Our visit took place a week before Diwali at we saw a few of these processions during our stay. This is not the only photo I have taken in the procession but it is my favourite.

Fuji x-t1 with 56mm f/1.2 @ 1/125s + f/2.8 + iso 200

The next few portraits were taken at the Om Banna shrine near Jodphur. It is a temple dedicated to Om Singh Rathmore, a motorcycliste who was killed by the roadside in 1988. Apparently, the motorbike disappeared from the police station and was found back at the site of the accident several times. This was taken to be a miracle and a shrine to the deity of motorbikes was built. When we visited, it was busy and the people were friendly. The motorbike is still there in a glass cage and people offer incense, flowers and pray.

Fuji x-t1 with 56mm f/1.2 @ 1/680s + f/2 + iso 400
Portrait from Rajasthan (IV)
Fuji x-t1 with 56mm f/1.2 @ 1/1250s + f/2 + iso 400
Fuji x-t1 with 56mm f/1.2 @ 1/1000s + f/2.8 + iso 400
Fuji x-t1 with 56mm f/1.2 @ 1/1000s + f/2 + iso 400
Portrait from Rajasthan (III)
Fuji x-t1 with 56mm f/1.2 @ 1/1700s + f/2 + iso 200

The next photo is a guard at the city palace in Udaipur. As I gather, his earring means he is of the cast of warriors, the Kshatriyas. Although I am not sure of this, he was friendly enough to let me take a portrait!

Fuji x-t1 with 56mm f/1.2 @ 1/160s + f/2.2 + iso 320

This is a sikh, recognisable by the shape of his turban. He is called Lucky and was our driver during our trip. A lot of drivers for tourists are sikhs he told me. He was skillful anyway, negociating the Indian roads in a way I would never have been able to. Driving is chaotic in India!

Fuji x-t1 with 56mm f/1.2 @ 1/600s + f/2 + iso 400

This is a guard at the Taj Mahal. We were there very early in the morning after a huge downpour. The place was quiet, there were few visitors and the light was magnificent.

Fuji x-t1 with 56mm f/1.2 @ 1/1250s + f/2 + iso 400

This young lady is a guard at  Ambe fort in Jaipur. She was sitting in the corner of a huge (and I mean huge) courtyard, looking very bored. I went up to her and we chatted a bit. I found it easy in India to talk to all sorts of people, men and women alike. In some countries religious codes and pressires make it less easy to approach women. I’m not saying there a equal rights and that life for all women is easy but as a tourist, I felt there were no barriers.

Fuji x-t1 with 56mm f/1.2 @ 1/1250s + f/1.2 + iso 200

This is a dromadary rider at Pushkar. He lives by selling rides to tourists on the outskirts of the town. We were there near sunset and had a lovely ride in the dunes and sands.

Fuji x-t1 with 56mm f/1.2 @ 1/60s + f/2.8 + iso 400

Also in Pushkar, this is a worshipper of Vishnu. He is a Sadhu, having renounced earthly possessions to follow an ascetic life. The photo was taken without exchanging a word, just by an exchange of nods.

Fuji x-t1 with 56mm f/1.2 @ 1/5800s + f/2 + iso 400

I am an adept of getting up early when I am travelling and going out the walk the streets. I met this young man, sitting on his motorbike. He was genuinly surprised and I think a bit flattered when I asked if I could take his photo. You can see the morning light on his face, an added bonus to the picture.

Fuji x-t1 with 56mm f/1.2 @ 1/680s + f/1.2 + iso 400

Some thoughts about the lens i used :

  • Although it opens at f/1.2, this aperture is retrospectively too large for close up portraits like these. If there is no background to speak of then f/4 is the way to go. Otherwise, f/2.8 gives enough depth of field and gives a better chance for the eyes to be in focus.
  • Focusing is not very fast on the x-t1. For posed portraits it is plenty fast enough but don’t expect to snap off a portrait with a moving subject. From a further distance focus is less critical and it is possible to take moving subjects.
  • The colours the lens gives are great.
  • Sharpness when the focus is successful is fabulous.
  • I never used face detection, not reliable enough on the x-t1. I used a smallish focus point on the eye.

The x-t2 and x-pro 2 promise greater speed and precision with the focus. I may find out one day!