11 Dec 2015

End of the journey

The final part of my Indian journey.Down to the coast in Kerala and onto Cochin-now called Kochi-and then home. First a couple of days exploring the lakes and backwaters of Kerala. I did not know what to expect for this part of the journey. I had expectations that the waterways would be overrun with houseboats and tourists and it would be a sort of Indian Venice. Well there are hundreds of houseboats,maybe thousands,but they do look traditional and not many of them were actually moving on the waterways anyway.
We did not stay on a houseboat but we did make a number of boat journeys on the backwaters and I really was surprised how charming and unspoilt they still are. You see people fishing,travelling and moving cargo by narrow boats as they have done for hundreds of years and many of the boats are still powered by paddle power. Very authentic but for how much longer.
After the lakes and waterways it was down to the city of Kochi. The old part,Fort Kochi,is really interesting. There are a few must see tourist sites and I wandered down the street and I found the the most amazing scene of small wholesale traders buying and selling rice and spices from little warehouses beside a street which was full of trucks being loaded and unloaded by manual labour.Photographic heaven and very few tourists.
One of the main tourist attractions of Fort Kochi are the Chinese fishing nets beside the harbour. These are still in serious operation. Large nets are lowered into the water and then manualy lifted by men pulling on ropes and the fish extracted. The man who looks like a pirate below is of one of the rope pullers. The nets are worked almost continually during daylight hours. The numbers of the Chinese nets are gradually declining as the catches get smaller due to overfishing and pollution but whilst I was there they were all active. The fish are auctioned in a small auction area on the embankment.The area is populated by opportunistic cats. Food inspectors would be horrified.
The old city of Fort Kochi is in an advanced state of gentle decay and yet you can walk down a backsteet and there in the middle of a row of decaying terraced houses you find a brand new, tastefully designed modern dwelling. So Indian.
Fort Kochi has British,Dutch and Portugese colonial influences and it is really charming in an Indian way. Across the harbour is Kochi proper. The ferry ride costs 10 cents and it is well worth taking the trip. Kochi is a major container port and a vibrant modern but unmistakeably Indian city. A metro railway is being built through the centre and the roads and traffic are the usual Indian chaos but it has a very nice atmosphere.
Kochi was great place to end the Indian journey. I loved India. And the whole experience was very neatly capped by the evening journey out to Kochi airport. It took nearly 90 mins through many typical Indian scenes and traffic chaos and at the end was a modern airport.And the plane left exactly on time.

Photographic notes.I have included some technical notes on the photos as a footnote below. 

Photographer's notes.The photos in this Indian series were taken with either my Leica X1 or my Leica X Vario in a ratio of 30/70.I tend to use the X1 in markets, on my early morning walks and where I do not want to carry around the bulk of the X Vario.
I predominantly shoot with both cameras set to A on both aperture and shutter speed with auto ISO.For some shots I use exposure compensation and always make the adjustment by guessing/experience.
I use single point focus and now multiple field metering most of the time.I shoot RAW(DNG) and S Fine jpegs with the jpegs set to the standard setting.
I never use the built in flash unit and I almost never take a photo using the LCD screen as the viewfinder. I have a Voigtlander optical viewfinder on the X1 and the Leica EVF on the X Vario.
I try to ensure that the IQ from both cameras is as close as possible and I try and use the jpeg files where possible.I use the DNG files where I need to adjust shadow and/or highlight detail. The ratio of formats in the Indian photos is about 50/50 jpeg/DNG. I download the images into Lightroom 5 and I have a custom preset for converting the DNG images to a standard "look" which is very close to the jpeg output.
I took 323 photos on the trip and have used 77 in this series.
I don't chimp - review the photos on the LCD- after I have taken them. I just trust that they are OK and usually they are. When I have time - which was rarely on this trip-I download a day's shots onto my iPad and review them. I don't edit them until I get home when I can see them on a full size Mac monitor.
I have six batteries-the cameras both use the same battery type -thank goodness.I have four genuine Leica batteries and two cheapo batteries bought off eBay.The cheapo batteries seem to perform as well as the genuine Leica batteries.
I prefer to carry my cameras in my hand rather than on a strap around my neck. I use the standard length Leica neckstraps rather than some fancy overpriced artisan wrist straps. Both cameras have half cases to protect them. Again no fancy handstitched Italian leather overpriced artisan models but a couple of Chinese specials bought off eBay for $50 a piece. I would prefer to use the cameras without the half cases but they do live hard lives so the cases are a necessity.
I really have no time for all the prissy overpriced Leica related fashion items such as straps and worst of all bags. When I am not using them my cameras are carried in a foam insert -cost $9.50 on eBay- in my standard el cheapo backpack.
I am now very familiar with both cameras and can use them intuitively. I also stick to a consistent technique for the camera and Lightroom settings so that I have a predictable and consistent output.

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