travel blogging

On the Streets of Varanasi

Along the banks of the historical Ganges River lies Varanasi, one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. It is located in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and is considered to be one of the holiest centres for Hinduism. 

Image source: Wiki Media

Image source: Wiki Media

This unique city is made up of stark contrasts — from death and birth, to indulgence and spirituality. Its vigorous spirit has been the source of inspiration for many people who have set foot in the city, not just travellers, but also artists who were influenced by Varanasi.

Bollywood fans might recognise Varanasi’s many stairs and alleys from various films, such as Neeraj Ghaywan's Masaan. The movie traces the lives and eccentricities of its characters that thrive within the ancient city, which is still just as complex and ever changing. Varanasi’s many dualities haven’t just inspired famous movies, as Indian-inspired games also crop up on celebrated gaming communities with European digital portal Slingo being a great example, hosting titles such as Nirvana and Bollywood Story. These games capture starkly different, yet equally captivating facets of life in the city. But no matter how pop culture tries to do it justice, it pales in comparison to the arresting, chaotic beauty of Varanasi in the flesh. That alone makes it worth the visit, but for photographers, this provides a wealth of opportunities to capture the rich local culture. The entire region is full of colour and eccentricity, so you won’t run out of sights to point your lens at.

Image source: Pixabay

Image source: Pixabay

Go down the ghats during sunrise

On your way down to the holy river, you’ll find a series of stairs called ghats. In Varanasi, there are roughly 100 of them around, with each having its own name, history, and purpose. If you head towards the ghats about an hour before sunrise, you’ll be treated to a surreal view of the sun peaking from the waters and slowly bathing the landscape in light. It also happens to be the quietest time in the city, with fewer crowds. But of course, witnessing rituals of life and death are a different experience to be had altogether, so watch out for them but make sure to document them respectfully should you choose to take photos. 

Image source: Pixabay

Image source: Pixabay

Explore the Gali

Another unique attraction in Varanasi is their Gali, an extremely narrow alley usually lined with vendors and people passing by. Though you might have to elbow your way through during busy hours, you’ll enjoy the play of light beams and shadows on your walk.

Image source: Wiki Media

Image source: Wiki Media

Make the most of the background noise

Some photographers prefer clean and clutter-free backdrops for their photos, but that’s a bit of a rarity in the constantly bustling metropolis that is Varanasi. Don’t worry though because whatever goes on in the background can only add more colour and life to your shots. Traveling Family Blog notes that Varanasi is not for the faint-hearted. It can get chaotic, but it’s all part of the city's signature vibrancy. When capturing the dynamic Varanasi environment, fix your aperture settings so everything is kept in focus, despite all the movement. Everywhere, you’ll find street cows, street vendors, children, and so much more that will fill up your frames.

Image source: Pixabay

Image source: Pixabay

Visit during festival season

For an even more rewarding trip, you can visit Varanasi during a festival such as Dev Deepawali, also known as the Festival of Lights. It happens every year during the month of November, with thousands of devotees coming together to immerse themselves in the holy Ganges. Most surreal is when they offer lit-up lamps to the Ganga — an act they call Deepdaan. Every single step of the ghats lights up as the sun goes down, which makes for a truly majestic sight.

Image source: Wiki Feed

Image source: Wiki Feed

This was a guest blog written by Gabriella Esposito, a freelance writer. If you are interested in writing a guest blog or other forms of collaboration please send an email to: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com. More of my travel photography can be found on my website, my Instagram, my Facebook Page and my Flickr account.

Sunsets of Senegal by Geraint Rowland Photography

Last year I spent a couple of months in Senegal where I experienced some beautiful sunsets.  I spent the majority of the time in the capital city of Dakar, but also traveled to Lompoul in the north of the country and Zinguinchor in the southern region.  Along with capturing a lot of travel and street photography style shots I also captured some stunning sunsets especially at Yoff beach close to the Airport in Dakar.  Click through the slide show below to view some sunsets from Senegal:

Senegal, like the rest of West Africa I have visited is fantastic for photography.  With so many people around there is always something interesting and or unusual to capture.  Whilst I was in Dakar they were celebrating the Tabaski Festival.  Tabaski is based on Islamic beliefs and culminates with each family sacrificing a sheep and then eating it.  There are sheep everywhere in Dakar, tied up on the roadsides, being washed in the Ocean or being sold at markets.  Here is a previous blog I wrote on the fascinating beach area of Yoff in Dakar.

In Lompoul in the north there are beautiful remote beaches, interesting fishing towns and a small desert with orange sand dunes where you can camp and take camel rides.  To the south lies Ziguinchor, the second largest city of Senegal lying at the mouth of the Casamance river and largely separated from the rest of the country by The Gambia.

Throughout the country I witnessed some beautiful sunsets.  Sunsets always seem to be amongst my most liked photos.  I think there is something instantly enjoyable about an image of the setting sun, it is something that everyone can relate to.  I especially like sunset images that contain an additional element, be it a person or an animal.  My favourite sunset image I capture in Senegal was of a fisherman feeding his two pet Pelicans at Yoff beach.  I love the composition, the lighting and the added comic nature of these peculiar birds.  Whilst in Senegal was travelling without a tripod so had to rely on taking hand held shots or creating abstract images when I ran out of light.  Here is a blog I wrote with some tips about taking sunset photos.

More of my travel photography from Senegal can be found on my website, my Instagram, and my Flickr account.  If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Belen Market, Iquitos Peru (Photo Essay for the First Issue of Dezine Magazine)

These photos were taken earlier this year in the village of Belen in Iquitos, Peru.  The entire village is flooded for several months each year by the nearby Amazon river.  The only way to get around is by boat so even the children learn to navigate and paddle in small canoes from an early age.  

Two young girls paddle a canoe in the flooded village of Belen in Iquitos, Peru.   

Two young girls paddle a canoe in the flooded village of Belen in Iquitos, Peru.

 

Our local guide manoeuvred us around in a motorboat for a couple of hours exploring the streets which at that time of the year become waterways.  The area is fascinating, and our journey through it gave us a brief insight into life there.

Around every corner were amazing photo opportunities, with the local people using the river to work, travel and play.  Children would sit selling food and produce to passing boats, Men would offer taxi boat services or fish, and the Women would wash the family clothes in the river.  Some 65,000 people live in the Village of Belen on either moored floating houses or houses on stilts.  It is a very poor neighbourhood with many of the people living in impoverished conditions. Yet those we encountered seemed genuinely happy: laughing, smiling, and greeting us as we passed by.  (Click through the images below)

I took all the photos candidly and found that converting them to black and white gave them more emotion.  For more information on Dezine go to: https://issuu.com/dezinemagazine. 

More of my travel photography from Peru can be found on my website, my Facebook, my Twitter and my Flickr account.  If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.