Misty waterscapes over Assam’s Brahmaputra

29 Mar 2019

Photography in Assam, India, is so rich with people opportunities that sometimes, stopping to take in the splendour of the Indian landscape can seem a bit of a distraction. This is almost what happened when I wrote, back in October last year, about the remarkable experience of fishing with the tribes on the river island of Majuli. Almost, but not quite: the photos in that post could hardly fail to capture the fabulous dawn waterscapes in which these Indian fishermen exercise their wonderfully privileged fishing rights.

Even so, it’s time to properly do justice to the splendour of the Brahmaputra at dawn. So we rose well before sunup, made a down-payment on breakfast with hot tea and a snatched biscuit, and loped off down to a couple of prime vantage points we know on the banks of the river. Farms on one side, Brahmaputra creeks on the other — and only a modest, avoidable powerline-and-pylon threat to blot our landscapes. If the dawn light is going to be good, it’s going to be amazing there; and we know the catfish love the twists and shallows of those spots, so we can guarantee the foreground interest fishermen will be there too.

In the photo-set above, all the photos were taken over a single hour. And what an hour! — as every landscape shooter knows, God reserves his most delicate, most exquisite hues for the hour most of us consider to be ungodly. Fleeting, shifting, wafting tints of the palest blues, the gentlest pinks, the flimsiest of purples, all a few minutes and a tenth of a stop apart, until the bolder shades of orange start to assert themselves and turn the waterscapes into gold. No filters required: we’re shooting with smoke and mirrors instead, relying on the sun’s low altitude, the thick river mist and the reflective calm of the Brahmaputra to do all the magic. Of course, having your favourite NDs or polarisers can extend your shooting by a bit, but here in Assam the hot Indian morning sun burns off the mist quickly, even in winter, leaving bright clear skies: sky detail can be rare.

More pics like this in our growing Majuli waterscapes photo gallery. And if you’d like to try your hand at some during one of our India photography tours, just say the word. We promise you’ll get breakfast afterwards.

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