Photoessay: Life in Kathmandu, part 3

The final part of my ‘life in Kathmandu’ series. Shot in mid-2011 with a Nikon D700, 24/1.4 and 85/1.4 G. I think this set really epitomizes my ‘cinematic’ style of reportage. Enjoy! MT

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  1. Hi Ming,

    These shots really helped breathe life into many stories of Nepal I have heard over the years, a fantastic selection!

    I recently booked my ticket to Kathmandu and will be spending 2 months trekking through the Annapurna and Sagarmatha regions. I have an e-m1 in my B&H cart (lightness and weather sealing won out) but I’m torn over my choice of lens/lenses. Simplicity, as well as the desire to change lenses as little as possible, dictate that the 12-40 would probably give me exactly what I’m looking for. On the other hand, looking at the beautiful depth and bokeh of your 85mm shots, I keep thinking to myself, “Just splash out and go with the Panaleica 42.5 and the Oly 12.” So, my question to you is 2 part, 1) Knowing what you know based on your previous visit, if you were planning another trip to Nepal, what gear would you take with to complement your E-m1? 2) Without doubt, the Nocticron is a sublime lens, but do you feel that it adds enough to justify it’s inclusion over the, possibly more versatile, 12-40 and the cheaper 45 1.8 (Also bearing in mind that it is not billed as weather sealed).

    Any thoughts or recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks again!

    • I’d actually go with the 12-40 and 75mm. It’s pretty dark at night, so I might also add a 25/1.4. Hope you’re using my B&H link! 🙂

      • Thanks for the feedback, this combination was actually something I had considered – sans 25. I think the 75 would add a lot of range for landscapes as well as creamy bokeh for portraits.

        I’m not usually a big landscape shooter and I am looking to travel with nothing more than a 20l backpack, but one other thing I’m considering is taking a tripod for night and landscape shots. I had a look at the Gitzo you raved about and, as solid and light as it is, I’m still up in the air as to whether the weight to usage ratio will see me smiling half way through the trip or cursing the extra hassle. Obviously this ratio will hinge mainly on how committed I am to unclipped my tripod and getting out the filter bag every time a shot presents itself (which will probably be often), but do you personally think the added bulk nullifies one of the main reasons for choosing a m4/3 system in the first place.

        I don’t know if there is a question here because I know, almost certainly, that you wouldn’t choose to lug a tripod along with you, but what are your thoughts regarding the weight debate?


        • Hi Mat, pardon me for butting in (I subscribe to the Comments section of Ming’s blog, so I see many of the comments go by), but have you taken a look at the RRS Pocket Pod? I have one, and it’s pretty good if you don’t have much space. Some random notes:

          – the BH-25 head that’s paired with it has only one control, so it flops over completely, losing every setting when you loosen the knob.
          – besides tabletops and other normal places for tabletop tripods like this, you can brace it against a wall or something else solid to get more height.
          – if you don’t want to add a A-S quick-release plate, which will add more weight, they do sell a version of the BH-25 (the PF model) that has a standard 1/4-20 screw that you can screw onto your camera.

          Enjoy your trip and your new E-M1. The 12-40 hardly ever comes off mine, and then only for the 75. The PanaLeica 25/1.4 quietly gathers dust …

          • Hi Andre! Thank you for your input, much appreciated! I really love the internet sometimes. That looks great, it looks a little pricey for its size but at least I know the quality will be top notch. It looks solid! I am still weighing up my options, but that form factor certainly appeals!

            Thanks again! Your photographs are beautiful!

        • I do use a tripod when I’m chasing ultimate image quality. But it’s the best tradeoff between size/ weight I can find – the Gitzo 1542T and an Arca-Swiss P0 head. There are reviews/ links on my recommended gear page.

  2. Very beautifully rendered. I really like your effects and colour tone, very inviting.

  3. Ming!
    Your pictures are beautiful,so full of life.
    Very professional, too. I wish that one day you may have photo class here in Miami!

  4. Hi Ming, it were exactly your KTM photos that caught my attention on flickr last year and luckily got me to your blog eventually.
    I am impressed how you manage to show your subjects in such a natural manner. (without lacking technical execution)

    Also – since I do now know the proper term for that look 😉 – may I suggest to talk more about that ‘cinematic’ style of yours in an upcoming article…?

  5. Excellent. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  6. Definitely no ‘near miss’ situation with this set and more of a natural feel to the shots. One thing I notice with a lot of these shots is the movement in the foreground with the main subject behind in focus. I like it – any reason why you get drawn to these type of shots?

    • Nope, I used the D700 – that thing almost reads your mind when it comes to focusing.

      No idea, I think it’s the subtle influence of cinema that caused me to try layering – I find it kind of gives the impression you are penetrating into the depths of the scene and ignoring the distractions…

  7. That’s a really great set!

  8. Tinker's Realm says:

    I am so attracted to your incredible work!

  9. parameteres says:

    Amazing photos and great set! very drawn to nr. 2

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