India never ceases to amaze me.
Yesterday I headed back to the outlying countryside around Udaipur. The locals here are extremely friendly and gracious. When guests arrive they’re treated like kings–even unexpected drop-in guests.
This is in such contrast with many of my experiences in the West. For myself, I’m usually a bit put off if someone drops by unexpectedly for a visit. Maybe that’s because I seem to always be busy with some task and don’t like to have my predetermined schedule so “rudely interrupted.” It’s easy for me to get locked into my own little world of busyness.
Such isn’t the case in rural India.
Still, I always feel a bit strange when dropping in unannounced at one of these family compounds. Typically, my driver strikes up a conversation with one of the senior men and usually this gentlemen puts his hands together to his chest and offers a slight bow of respect. How beautiful and how warm one feels with such initial greetings. My driver explains that I’m interested in seeing Indian life up close and would it be alright if I could look around. Of course, I’m always made to feel extremely welcome. The local people seem quite honored that I would come visit them. In reality, it’s me who feels honored by their gracious hospitality.
I don’t stop at every farmhouse I pass but every time I spot some great little architectural detail like a painted doorway or interesting windows then I like to investigate further and this provides a great opportunity to initiate some friendly interchange. Usually when I ask if I can take a few photos, everyone’s eyes light up in excitement.
In this case the painted wall designs had caught my eye as we drove past. Most of the women in Indian families dress colorfully. When this beautiful young lady walked outside to check out the commotion, I quickly asked permission to take a photo. You can see from her expression how exuberant she was. She was striking. She looks like she just stepped off the pages of a fashion magazine when in reality she was dressed like this while doing some housework inside. Gee, are the men in these families fortunate or what?
Three Speedlites were used for this image. Inside the room on a Manfrotto 5001B light stand placed between the window and the door was a Canon 430EX II fitted with a Sto-Fen diffusing dome and a Pocket Wizard TT5 radio slave. Another lady inside just happened to walk past the doorway when I snapped this frame. Outside, and to the right of the young lady, my driver was holding a 580EX II fitted with a LumiQuest non-slip strap and a LumiQuest Big Bounce modifier held at arm’s length to provide the main light. And once again, I used my Ray Ring Flash fill at camera and set it three stops down from the main light source. Ambient was reduced about a stop so that the strobe lighting could draw more emphasis to the young lady. In the photo below, see how black the room interior would have been had I not placed that third light inside. That extra light added much more depth to a rather two-dimensional shot.
The kids were great and overly friendly. Gushing with smiles, they followed us back to the car and I banged off this quick shot using the ring flash still mounted on the camera’s lens with both ambient and flash set 1:1 since the kids had stuck their faces into the dark shadows inside the car.
Click the photos below for info about some of the gear I used for images in this blog post.