The Leica M9 – Travels Throughout India by Ashwin Rao

The Leica M9 – Travels Throughout India

By Ashwin Rao

Hello, everyone, it’s Ashwin Rao, here again to share my recent travel experience with you. I recently returned from a three-week sojourn to India, a land of grandeur, spectacular beauty side-by-side with harsh reality. While there, the Leica M9  served as a constant travel companion,  and I wanted to share my experiences with you in another travel journal here on Steve’s site.

Last year, in one of my first articles for this site, I discussed my experience with the Leica M9 while on travels in Egypt and Venice, Italy. At the time, the M9 was brand new, a relatively untested product, full of untapped promise. Over the past year, in not only my experience but in the experience of many other dedicated photographers such as yourselves, the M9 has proved itself time and time again as a reliable tool for photography in a wide range of circumstances. It is a discrete camera for street photography, where being unobtrusive allows one to nail the shot without provoking the subject been photographed. The M9’s relatively diminutive size also allows easy stow away, making it an ideal travel companion. Finally, while not being weather sealed, I have found the M9’s robust built to inspire confidence in photographing a wide variety of circumstances. I have used it in snow, dust, smog, fog, rain (okay, light drizzle), hot and cold climates, and the camera has not let me down.  While one may take pause to port around a $7000 camera with similarly priced lenses into more challenging shooting circumstances, I can guarantee you that most people would never know this camera for what it is. More often than not, people walk up to me and ask me what type of film camera it is that I am shooting, if they come up to ask anything at all….in this way, I feel that the photographer carrying around the M9 is less of a target than the photographer carrying the ubiquitous SLR that everyone seems to own these days…making it a target for thieves, scoundrels, and the evildoers of the world…

Weight of the world – Leica 50 mm Summilux Asph

Up-close and Personal with Mahal – Leica 24 mm Summilux Asph

Despite its size and discretion, most of you know that the M9 yields uncompromised image quality. In fact, having shot with Leica M series cameras, Canon Full Frame SLRs, Nikon Cameras, the X1, Ricoh’s offerings, and Pentax SLR’s, I find that the M9, with aspherical glass mounted, offers the highest image quality of any system. Particularly, the Leica M9’s sensor really shines when used at ISO’s of 800 or below, which basically means 95% of photographic opportunities. Sure, the M9 doesn’t really do macro or super-telephoto photography, but for 80-90% of what anyone might want to photograph, it does the job handily, in a small package, using unparalleled Leica optics (Zeiss and Voigtlander lenses are great too….just not my flavor).

All that being said, I recently ported my M9 and 4 lenses to India, and had a fantastic time photographing the country. I found the set up that I took to be entirely complete. I didn’t feel myself lacking for another camera, and in fact, I barely used the Leica X1 that I took as a backup camera. Further, when I got home, I was so convinced that I didn’t need the X1 and promptly sold it. The M9 is that good, that versatile, and that reliable.

Patterns in Red – Leica 50 mm Summilux Asph

The Watchful Eye – Leica 50 mm Summilux Asph

Sun into the Sundial at Jantar Mantar –  Leica 24 mm Summilux Asph

After much debate and discussion, I concluded upon the following kit for my travel needs:

Camera and Appointments

1.     Leica M9, black (with black dot replacing the manufacturer’s red dot)

2.     Luigi Leather Half Case, in Rally Brown color with built in grip

3.     Match Technical Thumbs Up CSEP-1 with Beep Shutter release

4.     Electric tape to cover white “M9” logo


Lenses (all with Heliopan or B&W thin cut UV-MRC filters to protect the front element, hoods, and caps)

1.     Leica 24 mm f/1.4 Summilux Asph

2.     Leica 35 mm f/1.4 Summilux Asph Version II

3.     Leica 50 mm f/1.4 Summilux Asph

4.     Leica 90 mm f/4 Macro Elmar  with detachable hood


Bag and Accessories

1.     Billingham Pola (Black) bag

2.     Microfiber cloth x 2 for cleaning lenses and camera

3.     Batteries, total of 4

4.     Battery charger, and approrpiate power adapter

5.     Black, ankle length cotton socks, to act as lens cases for stow away and protection



1.     MacBook Air, 11 inch, for on the fly editing (I have the 11 inch model with 4 GB ram, 128 GB hard drive, and faster processor)

2.     SD card reader, to allow the Macbook Air  to read files from SD card

3.     Adobe Lightroom 3, with Nik Silver Efex and Color Efex Plug-ins loaded

4.     InCase MacBook Air Neoprene sleeve

That’s the entirety of what I brought with me. The entire set up, save a couple of batteries and computer, fits neatly into the diminutive Billingham Pola. The Pola and Air fit neatly into a backpack, along with my phone, music/headphone options, and Amazon Kindle, with plenty of room to spare for other travel accessories.

Speaking briefly of computers, the new 11 inch Macbook Air is tiny, less than 3 pounds, and quite full featured, allowing mobile computing and image editing and uploading while on the road. I highly recommend this to round out your kit, if you are serious about travel photography.

Varanasi Night-time Puja – Leica 35 mm Summilux Asph II

Sunrise Laundry Service – Leica 90 mm Macro-Elmar

You might ask, why did I choose to take the lenses that I took? For one, I have the luxury of having the option to take these lenses in particular. Second, I wanted a uniform “look” from my lenses, and thus decided to bring only modern, aspherical glass for the ride. Should I have chosen to take pre-aspherical glass, my images may have had different “looks” (pre-asph vs. asph), and I decided, for this trip, to have 1 look to my images.: hence, aspherical glass. Many of you can debate the merits or detractions of which lense focal lengths to chose. For me, I wanted to cover the side angle and near telephoto range. I typically favor a 35/50/90 mm kit, and adding the 24 mm summilux allowed me to shoot wide when needed. I find the wide-angle option  to be great for compressing tight spaces into a frame or trying to capture the scope of monuments such as the Taj Mahal.. The 90 mm option, which not the most used for my photography, allows for a bit of reach when I needed it. The rest, and the majority of the shots that I took, were taken with 35 mm and 50 mm lenses. In my mind,  you should take at least a couple of options for focal length when travelling. This allows you to have more flexibility in capturing the moments that you wish to see. Some moments require closer shooting, while others require you to be a bit more pulled away. Here are some focal length pairings that I recommend:

1.     4 lens kit: 24/35/50/90

2.     3 lens kit: 28/50/90; 35/75/135; 35/50/90, or 24/35/75

3.     2 lens kit: 35/75 or 50/90

4.     1 lens kit (not generally recommended by me, unless it’s all you have or want): 35 mm or 50 mm lens

The bottom line is that most of you should take a reasonable collection of tools that you posses, and make use of the space that is available to you. The worst thing you can do is regret leaving a lens at home that you really wish that you had. The flip side is that the more that you bring, the more burdensome lens-switching and carrying becomes….so find  happy balance. Take photographs close to home, as you will  get comfortable with shooting from certain perspective. These perspectives and the principals by which you shoot on the road don’t change all that much…

Prayer by Light – Leica 50 mm Summilux AspH

Bull and Dog – Leica 50 mm Summilux Asph

My itinerary for India developed from the desire of myself and my travel companion to see the real India. We didn’t want to see the country through the windows of a tour bus or organized group travel plan. We wanted to see the people, the places, the moments, the UNESCO world heritage sites, the dusky back alleys, and meaningful religious ceremonies, and do all of this in a variety of settings through India. Along the way, we travelled the country by foot, by private car, by overnight trains, by boat, ferry, and flight. In many of the areas, we were the only “tourists” present. The Lonely Planet was our guide, along with the New York Times Travel section, and in this way, we saw much of the country during our 3 weeks there. I am fortunate to have a travel partner, Andrea, who’s interested in the same things that I like to see, who’s easy to get along with, and who enjoys taking photos as much as I do (and maybe even more than I do…she took more images than me).  Our itinerary for the country was as follows;

Reflections from the Taj – Leica 50 mm Summilux Asph


1.     Arrive in Delhi, India

2.     Enjoy Delhi’s sites over 2 days (including Dances of India, Connault Place, Jantar Mantar, Mughal palaces, The Red Fort, Lotus Temple, Lodhi Gardens,  Gandhi’s tomb, and many more sites)

3.     Train from Delhi to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal

4.     Travel to the Taj, Fatepur Sikri, and other Agra religious sites over 2 days. Make sure to travel to the other side of the river, where there’s a beautiful park overlooking the Taj Mahal

5.     Overnight 13 hour train ride from Agra to Varanasi, home to the Hindu Faith and the crazy, alive Ganges River

6.     2 days spent in Varanasi, the place to see so much of the Hindu faith and a true melting pot of India

7.     Flight from Varanasi to Mumbai, where I was fortunate to visit with family

8.     Mumbai to Kerala, a southern Indian State known for it’s great food, beautiful beaches, Mountainous tea plantations, and beautiful backwaters. We spent an entire 9 days in Kerala taking it all in

9.     Flight back to Delhi, and back home

The Night Boatsmen – Leica 50 mm Summilux Asph

Preparation – Leica 90 mm Macro-Elmar

The trip that I took represents only a small fraction of what can be and should be seen in India. Due to time limitations, we were not able to see so many places, such as Goa, Chennai, Mysore and its beautiful palace, Jaipur, Udaipur, the Himalayas and North most India, or the eastern Indian Seaboard. However, what we saw was remarkable enough to warrant many future trips. India is  truly a worthy destination, where you will see life at its grandest and its poorest.  By no means is it an easy place to travel. Trains and flights are often delayed. Traffic is often congested. The overt poverty can be sickening, overbearing, and saddening. The pollution can be hard on the lungs, mind, and spirit. Despite its challenges, India offers so much grandeur and beauty. It is one of the most colorful countries in the world. The dress code and palette is far wider than what we see here in the US and Europe. This makes for some fun color photography. India’s people are kind, generous, and caring. They will look after you and make you feel welcome. They are not used to western travellers, and we can be a bit of a novelty to them. Indians love to stare at others, so be prepared for that. Like anywhere else, if you meet their looks with courtesy and curiosity, you will be treated to great photographs that you can take back home and enjoy for a long time to come.

The Prayer – Leica 35 mm Summilux Asph II

Devotion and Documentation – Leica 50 mm Summilux Asph

Along the way, I have shared many images with you. There are many more that remain to be discovered. What you see is my version of India, my interpretation of what the country presented to me. The Leica M9 served as both an inspiration and a reliable took for capturing these moments, and I suspect that it will serve you equally well on your own travels!

By the way, if you wish to see more images from my travels to India, they can be found on my blog, and via my Flickr site, so please visit there if you wish:




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  1. Hi,
    Bumping this discussion.

    I am going to India at the end of the year and I need to get a lens for my M9p. I am really on the fence between a 35mm summicron or summilux and I can’t make up my mind. I like the crisp result of the summicron but the possibilities to take pictures in lower light seems very tempting. Question is if I will ever need the 1,4…

    I am planning to get a 75mm for portraits later but I think the 35 will live on my M9 95% of the time.

    Any comments or ideas are welcome helping me tipping to one side or the other.


  2. Great shots! India is UNIQUE! I just move from Nikon to Leica M9 + 50mm f/2 summicron, still learn how to get the best results.

  3. Hi Ashwin,

    Really enjoyed looking through your photos and it’s nice to see you’re using Nik Software (just got it, but I already love it).

    Quick Question about “The Watchful Eye,” I love ‘the look’ of it because it looks like film. I tried using Silver Efex to get it, but couldn’t get my photos close to the way that one looks like yours and I’ve tried all of them. Is there a particular setting/film type/ or effect sweetspot you’re using?

    Thanks in advance!


  4. Great pictures and great words. Thanks! I’ve been lucky to have travelled to over 100 countries now and your advice is excellent. I’ve witnessed two people lose their SLRs and gain broken limbs for waving their oversized jap crap about in poor countries. God knows how many more fall victim to the failure to discover rangefinders!!! Black tape over the logo/model is good advice too. It’s only time before they catch on that these cameras are worth more than a house!

  5. Ashwin:

    Love weight of the world and watchful eye. Very well done. And really enjoy your perspectives on lens kits as I stand in M8 land and ponder M9 land.

    • Hi Lorenzo, I use a San Disk Ultra 16 GB card ,but I have heard that the Extreme cards are a bit faster….I haven’t had a single problem and own 6 San Disk Ultras, so I am happy with those!

  6. Another wonderful article with amazing photos as usual. You have been an inspiration to us all and it was fun to follow you on this journey to India. I have so enjoyed your photos but even more your spirit you have for life. It is that (spirit) that keeps me as an “Ash follower” if I may say that. Looking forward to the next adventure. Cheers, Pete

    • Pete, thanks, my friend. It’s for guys like you that I share my photos. It’s great to be part of a community and share with wonderful people such as yourself. Hopefully we can meet up the next time I am down in AZ with the ‘Hawks…

  7. Hi Ashwin,
    Highly inspirational article and great photos again. I came to similar conclusions on lens combos and travel with a similar 4-lens kit. To those who think of 35 and 50 as being too close, try looking at the difference in Field of View (64 vs 45) which is considerable. I would add 28/50 as an alternative 2-lens kit to your list.

    Do you use a viewfinder with the 24mm or do you take your chances? 🙂

    All the best, Per.

    • Hey Per, thanks, my friend….you are right, I should have included a 28/50 combo as a 2-lens kit option. as for the 24, I use the D-lux 4 viewfinder…to compose….

  8. Absolutely fantastic!
    Ashwin, where can i see more shots of you?
    I have to learn with the masters! =D
    The first image, the man and the wall, did you compose, or just saw the scene and captured?
    Its amazing…

    • Hi Hugo, glad you found me on flickr. As for the first image, I think it was a combination of luck (Being in the right place, being unobtrusive to the subject) and how I see the image in front of me as I walk around. I knew, as I took the shot, that it could be a winner, and I didn’t realize the crack in the wall until I got home…more luck…often it’s a combination of luck and composition.

      Thank you so much for your kind words…

  9. Hi Ashwin, cannot find your contact mail, so I have to use this way to ask you some more stuff:
    1 is this the Air11 you have?MB Air 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM 128GB Flash Storage?
    2is working well with LR3 and PhoS5?
    3 any regreats or problem during your work over India?
    4 is any upgrade over this model?

    • You are correct, 11 inch air, 1.6 GHz Core2Duo, 4GB of RAM, 128 GB SSD hard drive….

      It works well with LR3 and CS5

      No regrets at all, other than smaller screen size, making it a bit more challenge.

      The only way to get this Macbook Air more souped up is to send it to a 3rd part for modification, such as Other World Computing, and they can install more RAM and a bigger hard drive, but I think the set up listed above does just fine…

  10. Thanks, Ashwin, for the beautiful, evocative photos. Many have the haunting, simplistic qualitities I crave in my own photography.

    • Tom, thank you very much! It’s a challenge to strive for that simplicity in the forms of busy street life…but I appreciate you finding this in my photos!

  11. Hi Ashwin, I would like to know wich macbookair do you have the 11inch with 1.4 ghZ or the 11inch with the 1.6 gh. I m asking becouse here in Chile they are just selling the 1.4 and I dont know if is all right as field machine for DNG file using in lightroom3 and PS5 and a ftp program in order to send theme.

    • Hi Lorezno,
      I did get the 1.6 ghz processor and 4 gb or RAM for your macbook air. I would not get the lower powered version at all…you can order the more powered version directly from apple as well, and I got mine from an Apple store.


  12. Hi Ashwin, well done; youve captured the essence of most of what you saw,from the Taj to the Jantar Mantar in Delhi.I would have liked more shots from Kerala,but you can post them another time.Another aspect of India you must examine are the beautiful wildlife parks.
    I’m posting some shots of the Golden Temple,Amritsar and Kanha National park,shot in March and February 2011.

  13. Beautiful Pics Ashwin. Love the color; those with high saturation but also very much “the prayer”. Reflections of the Taj is a definite favorite, so is the last shot. And also quite partial to a few others like the boatsmen!

    I have to go shoot more now!


  14. hey ashwin. first time commenting here in stevehuffphoto. i know you;’re a regular contributor here but this is the first article i read. but rest assured, i will going through the archive and read all your travel stories. they’re cool.

    i have been reading a lot of india travel blogs lately and this has inspired me and my best travel buddy to visit india this coming september. your shots are inspring and that gave me an idea how to compose my photos and which angels when shooting india. im using dlux 4 btw. india i think its like new york. there are so many things going on at the same time, lots of people walking here and there, traffic is crazy and that makes it interersting and at the same time very difficult to shoot. 🙂
    i blog at and i do have a travel photoblog too. i will be emailing you soon should i need any advice and what not from my much anticipated trip. cheers from kl, malaysia

    • Wlecome, Zeek! I have been a contributer here for the past year plus, and it’s a great place to enjoy that sense of community…The D-Lux 4 is a great camera, and I will wander over to your blog soon to check it out. India is like New York, but even more intense, more organic…it’s a great place where you are confronted with everything at once, where all senses can be overwhelmed….enjoy your trip and welcome to Steve’s site. Thanks for your comment!

  15. Hi Ashwin,
    I enjoyed reading your article!
    An M9-Seattleite myself, I will be traveling to Northeastern India in less than four weeks and have a question regarding your gear:
    You mention that your M9 features a black dot, replacing the original red one. Having just upgraded from the M8.2, I would wish to have its black dot on my M9 now, for the camera to be a little more “low key”…
    Did you have Leica replace the logo or did you do it yourself? If it’s the latter, do you have tips on how to accomplish the swap? And where did you buy the black dot? On ebay they are selling for an incredible $80 and DAG (the only other place I found them; lists the item as “out of stock” for the past few weeks or so…

    • Markus, great to hear from another Leica Seattleite! I purchased by black dot from Don Goldberg, and think it does make the camera more low-key. Once I purchased it, I replaced it myself using a technique that can be found in the Leica User Forum archives, which involves using hand/thumb heat to warm the adhesive, and then shimming the red dot until it twists about 90 degrees, and then pops off….$80 for a black dot on ebay?!!?!? That’s a rip off. Don sells them for $22 or so, I believe…

      • Thanks for the reply, Ashwin!
        Don just contacted me this morning, saying that he had one black Leica logo in stock which I bought immediately.
        I’ll check the Leica User Forum for the technique you mention and hope I won’t ruin my pristine camera.
        Other than that, I am looking forward to seeing you at Steve’s Meetup here in the Northwest this summer!

  16. Another great article Ashwin! A photographer can never go wrong with a visit to India, one of the greatest places on earth to have a camera at your side. You really packed in a lot to see in three weeks, nice work!

    • Haha, you are right, Beau. There is so much to see there, and I was exhausted by the end of the trip, but it was worth it…a great place to travel for sure!

  17. Really liked your pictures and clear way to expose theme
    for me the best one is denfly the “preparation” you took with the 90mm a shot I took last daywith m9

  18. Great colors captured Ashwin and many thanks on the given insides of this trip and on the equipment used. Being a traveling photographer, I often ask myself how other people manage their workflow on the road. I’m experimenting with the iPad 2 and Photogene right now. This seems so far to be a really good combination with the Leica M9 for me. Of course this means doing the final more time consuming RAW photo editing at home and working with the JPGs for publishing on the internet when traveling. Did you ever consider the iPad for your workflow, instead of the MacBook Air?

    Matthias, Zurich (Switzerland)

    • Matthias, glad to help. Best of luck with the iPad2. I found that they iPad 1, while wonderful, wasn’t sufficient for my mobile computer needs, while the Macbook Air is wonderfully designed for this purpose. I would love to hear more about your own work flow, as the iPad would be a compact and convenient choice for such excursions as these.

      I did consider the iPad, for sure, but elected for the Macbook Air, so that I could do some on the fly editing in Photoshop and LR3/Nik software. I was very pleased with my choice, and the 11 in Air is nearly as compact as the iPad…

      • Ashwin, I’ll be glad to give you some details about my approach with the iPad 2, especially since you inspired me a lot with your photoblog – I just started my own on “” . . . first set of uploads in the coming days.

        Some of my thoughts on using the iPad 2:
        + extremly lightweight and slim form factor
        + great screen, even for outdoor use
        + I can review my photos from the same day and show them in a more convenient way as on a notebook (really love this)
        + 9 hours of battery life and a lot of storage (64GB)
        + very fast startup, fast loading of images and fast processing speed
        + this device is built to connect to the internet, blogs, email, maps, skype calls (I prefer 3G because of versatility and it’s much easier to get an iPad Simcard compared to iPhone dataplan abroad)
        + great and almost unlimited choice of apps (some professional ones) for less $
        + intuitive working on the iPad is a pleasure compared to non-tablet computers
        + no need to bother about where to store what under which filenames
        – no OS X (only iOS) with Aperture, Lightroom, Nik etc.
        – no hardware screen calibration

        I shoot RAW+JPG COLOR with the M9. When on location I use a small white balance card to manually set the whitepoint on the M9 – so I never have to correct afterwards in PP.
        After some hours of shooting, I import the RAW+JPGs with the camera connection kit into the iPads photo folder – Backup done!
        Then I do BASIC image processing in PHOTOGENE: crop/straighten, levels (selden), dust removal, BW conversion, vignette – this all works very intuitive and fast!
        Next is export in the desired size and upload to the internet with or without text with BLOGPRESS (another great app) .
        When returning from my trip, I import directly into Aperture to do the “real” PP work for web and print.

        Final remarks:
        For basic PP the iPad 2 is more than sufficient and I normally don’t have the time or passion to do real PP when on the road(!)
        For me, the COMBINATION of M9, two or three lenses and iPad 2 can’t be beaten when traveling.
        The iPad 2s LED screen and fast processor are enough for accurate viewing and give more than sufficient power.
        The main question one has to ask is: “Do I really need professional PP and file management on the road?” – For perfection (prints) I’ll still want that desktop machine with calibrated EIZO screen and a notebook doesn’t come close to this either for me.

        P.S. dpreview recently published an article on the subject called “Tool or Toy? The Apple iPad 2 for Photographers”

        See you on your blog and hopefully again on Steve’s site here with many more great photo travel reports, BEST


        Picture: Midnight Dance in Avignon, South of France
        Leica M9 and Summarit 50
        Copyright Matthias Frei 2010
        [img] foto-4.jpg[/img]

      • I agree with Ashwin, here. Ever since the latest generation of Airs, I’ve lost quite a bit of interest in the iPad. Being able to carry around such a powerful computer, considering its size, is great for photographers, and I run LR3 and PS on my Air with ease.

        • Thanks for the input DF. – It is now quite some time, when I realized, that most Leica files actually don’t need any post processing at all! I stopped using Nik Software & Photoshop and only do some basic cropping or simple BW conversion – for that, the iPad 2 is more than sufficient. Lighten-up, as Max Marinucci used to say.

    • David, enjoy Calcutta. It’s a place I would loved to have seen, but didn’t have the chance…

  19. Ashwin

    Once again a fantastic set of images, not to mention an excelent article to go with it. When you travel, what is your preferred kit size? Or does the size vary depending on the trip?


    • Thanks, PaulB! I prefer that everything that I take photographically fits in my Pola bag, menaing the M9 with luigi case, batteries, and 3-4 lenses….THe kit only varies slightly based on location…

  20. Ashwin,

    Those are some gorgeous shots of Varanasi, the city where my alma mater (IT-BHU) is located…very nostalgic!

    • Prabal, I went to BHU while I was there and to the central temple. A remarkable and gigantic campus, full of great things to see. What a wonderful place to get your education!

  21. Ashwin,

    Awesome. I appreciated the photos and the writeup. Enjoyed reading it all and studying the photos, even on my iPhone! The photos were excellent both technically and interest wise. Until that is when I scrolled down and came across the photo of this busty female. For a split second I thought it was an odd photo to be a part of your article. Of course it turned out to be advertising. LOL! Well done my friend. Looking forward to your K-5 travel write up!


    • Armando, great to here from you here! Busty female…hahah…that’s awesome. Nope, not me….The K5 and I are getting along quite well so far, but M9 files satisfy me more….however, the K5 is no slouch, and pleases me far more than the Canon set up that I had before….

      • LOL! It was some dating website that advertises in Steve’s site. I think the ads rotate, as I didn’t see it this time around. Although I’m surfing on the iPad instead of on the iPhone.

        As for the K5, I like my M9’s files better too. But the K5 is indeed no slouch. I don’t like its chunkiness though. And it’s one ugly looking camera. Looks weird with a pancake mounted on it. Yeah, I’m nitpicking and being shallow! I shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover right? LOL!

        • Funny, I kinda like how the K5 looks with pancakes…vintage…I am a big fan of the camera, so far, and getting to be a bigger fan by the day…

  22. Wow, Ashwin, thanks for sharing these. Your shots are great…I think the first shot above the title is one of the most interesting and engaging perspectives I’ve seen on the Taj Mahal. And your story about your experiences traveling through this beautiful country make me want more than ever to spend a couple weeks, or more, traveling there. Very nicely done!
    Now my only dilemma is what takes top priority: India, or Cuba before Fidel passes?

    • THanks Dave. That’s a tough choice. I’d love to see Cuba before it’s different, but India is definitely a worthwhile excursion. Further away, though…

  23. Hi Ashwin, I love the photos. My fave is the dog lying in the street with the Bull precariously above it. I love all of the photos though. What do you think of the Amazon Kindle? Do you use iPad at all? Just curious. Nice kit of lenses there too. I like the idea whole package (kit) fitting in one bag.

    • Hi Elaine!

      Thanks….I have the version 1 Kindle, as I am an early adopter type. I really loved it for travel, and did use it extensively on my India trip…allows me to take the books that I want with me….I do use the iPad as well, but more as a bedside home computer/tablet, for movie watching and the like…

      You are right that it’s great to get everything into one bag! THe Pola can handle the load….

  24. Great shots, Ashwin. Surprised that you didn’t bring the Nocti, although the 50mm Summilux ASPH FLE is, of course, no slouch.

    • Hi Rich, I was tempted to bring the Noct, but such a big lens can be challenging for travel. The lux is more economical in terms of weight, space, and of course, cost…I plan to bring the Noct along to some far flung region soon, though!

  25. Great photos and writing. If you were not a MD, your profession should be reportage and travel photography:)

    • Thanks, my friend. THe good thing is that I love been a doc as much as being a photog, plus it pays the bills for all of this camera nuttiness ;). It means a lot, however, that people feel that I could do this…

  26. Great work Ashwin, and thanks for all the advice about travel kits. However, the M9 CAN do great macro work as well. I use mine with a 65 Elmar Viso. Not as convenient as a “native” SLR, but the results are as good as any, and if you have already spent the money for an M9, why not make full use of it? I use the M9, Viso III, and Leitz tabletop tripod. It’s not a convenient kit for travel, but for still life macro it works very well.
    I’ll try to attach a crop of the diaphragm stop on a 1959 Super Canomatic lens I was working on:
    [img] Adjust.JPG[/img]

    • Hi Tom,
      Nice demonstration. I have considered trying out a visioflex, but have found that Macro is one of the areas where having an SLR is helpful. However, I can’t speak from experience, and you r shot proves that you can do lovely close up work with this set up. Someday soon, I will give this a try…

      I am equally curious about the lens that you are working on!

  27. I still fail to understand how a filter protects the lens? If you drop the lens it won’t help? If something bashes into it – it will create glass on glass scratching…. and you get all that flare and hard to clean smearing that goes with them too. :-s

    • Thanks, mate! I see that you are bringing great joy to so many people in South America. What you have done is so terrific, so inspiring, it’s great to have you bring Steve along to capture this magic…

  28. Ashwin – Great job all around!! Gosh I can’t stop looking at the sundial. The angles and framing make it very exquisite!! Its colors (red, white, magic hour lighting) and use of space has a Federico Fellini feel to it as well as Escher. When a photographer can delve into surreal aspects like said shot does due to your unique approach to framing a scene, you have then accomplished so much. Best!

    • sas, thank you so much. Being tossed into a sentence with Fillini or Escher is about as big a compliment that I could ever hope for. It’s basically what I was going for, that slightly sureal look to certain images in this bizzarre and cool place… Thanks again for your very kind words. I’ll have to find more like this to share…

  29. Such beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing! Were people shy? Did they mind you taking pictures?

    • Every once in a while, people were shy, but no more than elsewhere. My style is also not to be super close, so that’s another reason for the slightly detatched photos (from the primary subjects)

  30. Great stories and images. I saw a few on DPReview and your photography is first class. Little side question; where can you get a black dot for the M9. can you order this from Leica? D!RK

    • Hui D!RK, I purchased my black dot from Don Goldberg of DAGCamera frame. He doesn’t always have them in stock, but jump on it if he does….

  31. Hi Ashwin, I always look forward to your posts here and at your site….this one is another enjoyable read and fantastic photographs. I’m currently spending a couple of years in Hong Kong and gotta make a trip over to India before returning to the Big Apple. Thanks for posting!

  32. Ashwin – I have always enjoyed reading your article. Fantastic images!

    Next stop – Hong Kong is waiting for you 🙂

    • Norman, thanks again for the offer. I may well take you up on that soon. Hong Kong has been calling to me for some time ;)!

      Hope all’s well!

  33. oh I’m inspired… great photos! Soon I’ll be off to Asia myself. Probably with just an X1 and dlux5. But you;ve shown me why I’m still lusting after an M9 for future trips… thnx.

    • Aadb,
      Thanks! Glad to be of inspiration. The M9, X1, and D-Lux 5 are all worthwhile for travel. THe M9 is my favorite, for the images that are returned to me. I found the X1 to be too slow for regular use even for street photography, and after a year of use, I sold it. I am going to consider the X100, but not yet sure if it’s for me…

  34. Ashwin – seen a few of these over at dpreview but I am once again amazed by what you’ve created here. Thank you for sharing your story. I love the lenses you brought. Well, I ‘only’ have the 35 and 50 Luxes and I am now looking into a real wide option.. 24.. 21.. maybe even 18 on the M9? For now, I keep working with the 2-lens combo.. taking pictures is all that matters, at the end, isn’t it.

    • Markus, thansk very much. I think that a 35/50 combo is lovely for someone who only wishes to see the normal frame of view. I think 80% of my photos get taken with one of these focal lengths, but having something wide and something longer in the telphoto range have alloweds me to extend my scope…You are right though, that what’s most important is taking the pics rather than fiddling with too many lenses.


  35. Ashwin, such lovely pictures and great to see India through your eyes.
    It’s amazing I didn’t bump into you as I was at most of the same places and same time.
    Maybe next year.
    (you’ve got to head to the foothills next year, such great people and photo ops there)


    • Thanks so much, Bruce. I know that you have plenty of treasures from your trip. We’ll have to find a way to meet up and do some photography together. I need to see the foothills on my next trip!

  36. THanks, Mohan, Mark, and Robert. It was great trip, and I am happy to share in the experience here, as Steve has graciously let me do.


  37. Hi Ashwin,
    I enjoyed your photos. Great color and compositions. My favorite was ‘The Prayer’.

    The ‘Nike’ logo on the snake charmer is flipped. Did you flip the photo or was the logo flipped on the hood?


    • Mohan

      Thanks for pointing the logo out. If not for that I would not have enlarged the image, and ultimately noticed there are two snakes.


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