A few weeks ago I posted a short little blog asking wether the Fuji X-T2 would perform as a travel camera, for my upcoming trip to Nepal, and here are my thoughts….
I was part of a team of dedicated photographers, from Photojourney, documenting the amazing work of the Gurkha Welfare Trust in Nepal, and more specifically at the epicentre of last years devastating earthquake, Barpak.
The 11th of November was the day for the off!
Packing the kit, the very first thing that was apparent was how much more compact the key elements of my kit were, in comparison to the nikon DSLR that I had taken on previous trips.
The Kit I managed to fit in my Billingham were….
Power Grip and 7 batteries, and recharge lead.
18mm prime, F2.
56mm F1.2 APD. (A lens that I wanted to hire specifically for this trip)
I also managed to pack in my 17 inch mac book pro, and a backup hard drive. Happy days!
So in the same trusty Billingham bag that I always take on my travels, I doubled the amount of lenses that I was able to take, and so rather than taking less kit, I infact took more. (I’m pretty sure it was still lighter, even with the extras!)
For this particular trip, this transpired to be a real godsend! We were visiting such remote and challenging areas, it was great to be able to choose the right tools for the job, we never knew what could be around the corner, portraits, landscapes and candid street photography were all covered.
When arriving in Nepal, our first stop was Gorkha a six hour drive west of Kathmandu, up into the middle hills. The images above were taken whilst there for a couple of days.
One morning we awoke and took a very steep hike above the clouds to witness the gorgeous sunrise! To have a lighter kit was just liberating! And I was able to enjoy much more of the stunning Nepali scenery.
When reaching our final destination of Barpak, after another long and bumpy journey, it was lovely to be greeted with the usual Nepali welcome of huge smiles and Chai.
“Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength, No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.” Dalai Lama
So here our work began!
Meeting welfare pensioners and many Gurkha families, it was very apparent how much difference the Gurkha Welfare Scheme had made in the days and months immediately after the earthquake. Rebuilding houses, community buildings, schools and developing much needed WASH projects.
Their work continues tirelessly and they are STILL in the process of completing the rebuild of many houses of their grateful dependants. It was a pleasure for me to be witnessing the great work that they have achieved in some really tough, and unforgiving environments, but with true Gurkha determination they just get on with the job in hand!
The first thing I noticed when using the Fuji kit, for this particular assignment, was how discreet it was! I was traveling with four other photographers, and the fact that I pretty much went unnoticed with my camera was of great benefit to me, (especially if the battery grip was not attached), less invasive and less intimidating to the subjects.
This allowed me to image the surroundings in a natural and honest way. I used the tilt screen extensively, so as to get closer to my subject and have some form of interaction, this was invaluable, especially with the language barrier, a good smile will often do what you need!
Other features that I found enhanced my experience with this kit, were the responsive focus system, which when documenting an area that is so vibrant and constantly changing was of great use. The 325 focus points were fabulous for subject placement and dynamic composition.
The 56mm lens I absolutely fell in love with, the drop off is just magnificent, and the quality is second to none. In fact I found that for the majority of the time I was drawn to the prime lenses, both the 90mm and the 56mm, especially when exploring around town in the golden hour, the extra couple of stops of light were a treat!
I also loved the discipline that they required of me to pre visualise my image.
I needn’t have been worried about battery life, this really had been a significant worry of mine with regards to using the X-t2 as a travel camera. However, the grip, I would just recharge every evening, and it would be fully charged again after 2 hours! brilliant as we were never sure if there was load shedding in the areas we visited. I don’t even think that I used my spares if I’m honest!
It had been a very inspiring few days in Barpak, the resilience and determination of the town was infectious! I was sad to leave, but felt very fortunate to have visited, and been there to witness very small part of their rebuilding journey.
One last stop before home.. and we were back in Kathmandu, our last day we spent in the hugely atmospheric Ghat, here it was especially important for me to be discreet, it is an extremely special place for the Nepali’s, and photographers should to be sensitive, when taking images here.
I just love Nepal, as a photographer I find it so rich, warm, and uplifting. The nature of the people is strong, proud and some of the kindest I have met in the world.
After a very inspiring and humbling trip, it was sadly time to say goodbye to Nepal, But I am sure I will be back again! I am very much hoping to join the Photojourney team again for next years trip (if they’ll have me again!)
Big love to Johnny, Mike Piers, Rich and Pim for making the trip so memorable and great fun!
I will be blogging more about this trip so do stay in touch for some lovely stories about some of the characters we met on our adventures!