Compass

Photo of the week: the Taj Mahal in a new light

Compass

(Photo: S Jha / Flickr)

There are two famous Indian love stories: the 19th century French opera “Lakmé and the story of “Prince Khurram and the Taj Mahal” (circa 1653). In both stories, the beautiful girl dies and the men are heartbroken. Gérald goes back to his regiment, longing for the lovely Lakmé, and Prince Khurram builds the Taj Mahal in honor of Arjumand.

Today we focus on the Taj Mahal, upon which amateur photographer Swapan Jha focused his camera in December 2012. Considered one of the wonders of the world, the Taj is one of the most photographed structures on earth. A worthy question is, just how does someone capture a fresh image that isn’t a cliché?

Jha captured this Yahoo! Travel Photo of The Week by going out into the soft pink light of dawn. Traveling from one’s room, in the city of Agra, to arrive at the Taj before dawn is no easy feat. Add the legendary polluted air, the city is also famous for – thicker in the cool of a winter morning – and he quite literally went the extra mile to get this magnificent photo.

In the early morning, after a night when the wind is calm, the air becomes thicker. Moisture and tiny particles from smokestacks and automobiles fill the atmosphere. This is the time when the Sun, casting no shadows, can be seen as a huge, dimmed-red ball on the eastern horizon. Its brightness is being filtered, as it were, by billions of particles, which aren’t good for lungs or marble, but are good for softening photos.

Jha did not disclose what photographic gear he used to capture this striking image. The lack of distortion hints that the lens wasn’t ultra-wide, and the “Cinemascope” style format suggests that the image was cropped to the center third of the exposure. With today’s high-resolution sensors it is possible to crop images rather severely without sacrificing image quality. It’s one of many ways a panorama can be achieved with out carrying a lot of complicated equipment and owning some sophisticated photo-editing software.

The Taj Mahal has been photographed from all angles and with every lens made, yet this image stands out because of its dignity, its respect for the prince who built it and the architect who designed it. The cropping and camera angle give it a wonderful cinematic quality; one almost expects film credits to roll upward across it. Thank you for being an early riser, Mr. Jha, and sharing this Yahoo! Travel Photo of The Week.

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