Daily Inspiration #317 by Ibraar Hussain

Dear Steve, thanks for the brilliant site and the news, reviews, rumours and other photography related material which I have been enjoying for quite some time.

I’ve just about plucked up enough courage to email you a selection of my pictures.

My name’s Ibraar Hussain, and I’m a Londoner, and also a hobbyist photographer. I photograph any old crap really, but do enjoy snapping away when travelling. I also have a bit of a passion for old quality cameras and just enjoy taking photographs with various cameras for my own pleasure.

I was in The Hindu Kush mountains, in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan last November and December (2011) and snapped a fair few images of the Kalash tribe who I stayed with.

An amazing people, there are only about 4000 of these people left, and they live in the Rumbour, Bumboret and Birir valleys in the Hindu Kush. They follow an old Celtic like Pagan faith and custom, which predates Hinduism, and they’re actually the descendants of the first Indo-Aryans tribes who migrated North, South, East and West towards Europe all those millennia past.

The valleys are located close to Chitral Town, and it is such a wonderful place – glacial valleys, high mountains, with the 25,289 ft mighty Castle of fairies and Lord of darkness (local names) Tirich Mir overlooking the heights and valleys.

The Hindu Kush is seldom visited by Western photographers, and much of it is virgin territory, and offers immense opportunity for those wishing to capture its wonders.

I was there in 2009 (2007 I visited the Swat Valley) as well, and managed to also fly to Gilgit, Hunza, Nagar and the Karakoram mountains (along with the Punjab) I’ve included various photographs on my (rudimentary) site www.trismegistus.co.uk

The place is crying out for tourism, most Westerners tend to go to the Hunza valley and Gilgit and thus the Hindu Kush and Chitral region is neglected. Man, I tell you, the place is a photographers paradise. My good friend Imran Schah  (www.flickr.com/imranthetrekker) is a Mountain Guide, fixer and amateur photographer and also a man to get in touch with via Flickr for any information about the region.

Anyway, in 2007 and 2009 and 2011 I had my trusty Contax G2 with me, plus 21mm Biogon, 45mm Planar and 90mm Sonnar. The Biogon and Planar are my favourite two lenses, and I hardly ever use the 90. This year I shot with the 45mm Planar attached, and decided to concentrate on this one lens. it’s a fantastic camera, it’s almost perfect (the smallish VF should’ve been the same size as the Contax T2 one) robust, beautifully built, lightening fast handling and AF, and shock proof (amount of times i’ve bumped it and dropped it!) and I love the photo’s it manages to capture.

In 2011, I also took my Fuji GA645, and that too is a lovely camera, fast, responsive, relatively compact and easy to use, with a very sharp contrasty lens and flawless meter. I also had my Olympus XZ-1 which is simply superb, I enjoyed using it so much as it too is very fast, with excellent picture quality and lovely colour.

I shot Velvia 50 in the GA645, and Kodak e100vs in the Contax, (all others are to be found on my site)


I include three shots from my visit here, all portraits of Kalash neighbours, and taken with the Contax G2, 45mm Planar T* and Kodak Ektachrome e100vs.

kind regards



  1. Wow great shots! Man, I miss my old G1…was a great camera for all it’s quirks. Don’t miss scanning film though…..but man you have to love the look.

  2. Ibraar, I well remember your lovely photos from the old Contax G Pages website. I sure wish I had not sold my g2 and lenses now, seeing your gorgeous photographs. The contax G lenses are among the finest lenses built for any camera, ever (always made me wonder why Leica glass was so expensive when the contax glass was its optical equal and a fraction the cost). I hope you share more photos now and then here…is there another place to keep up with your art?



    • Hi Jay, I miss that site, and a shame it was taken down as it’d been there since what, the late 90ies?
      You know, I started trying so hard to flex my creative muscles and to create some good photography over the years with my G2 as all I wanted was a place in the old Contax G “Hall of fame”, I managed it eventually, but that was when most had turned digital. The older stuff on the G pages was pure class and a few levels above anything I could ever achieve.
      If Steve allows it I’ll send in some more photo’s, my collection of a sort of ‘Ode’ to the Contax G series.

      • ..And it’s worth picking up a G1 and 45 Planar as they seem to be going for under £200!!! less than a half decent digital compact, I mean that lens itself is glorious – from what I’ve seen, it’ll give any Leica lens a run for it’s money

        • I am *very* tempted to buy a Contax outfit, if only for those glorious lenses. In your experience, Ibraar, isn’t the G2 superior over the G1? And my compliments for your magnificent shots.

          • I’ve handled both. The G2 is larger and in my opinion has slightly better ergonomics and allegedly has sharper more faster accurate AF, but not much practical difference. The G1 with 45 planar or 35 planar is superb. I used to shoot at f2 for portraits, but f2.8 with the 45 gives a 3D look which trumps my MF GA645 Fujinon and my Rolleiflex 6008 80mm planar. it really is CLASS! You get top Leicaesque quality with more contrast for the price of a Kodak compact digi.

  3. Dear Ibraar, happy to see those pictures. I’ve been enjoying your work on the contaxg-pages already…and they’re so sensitive but subtle in subject, composition and of course colours!

  4. Lovely shots – wish I’ve been with you enjoying this place I long to visit one day!

    • Hi Tord, thanks so much man.
      The place IS well worth visitng, especially if you enjoy trekking, mountains, glaciers and observing wildlife. A self organised tour is pretty good value, and if you have a good knowing Mountain Guide, you’ll have an excellent time. check out http://www.flickr.com/imranthetrekker – the guy is also to be found on Lonely Planet Thorn Tree (where I met him)

  5. strange, my comments haven’t been put up, they require ‘moderation’, I wonder whether this one will appear as it’s shorter?

    • ALL 1st time posters are moderated. That could have been why it was not instant 🙂 There are over 5,000 spam posts attempted EVERY DAY here so I have to do that. Thanks!

      • Thanks Steve! I understand, but 5000 spam posts?? Jeez!! haven’t people got anything better to do?

  6. I mostly use film, almost always E6 as I find colour neg too difficult to scan and process, these scans are more or less out of camera straight scans, a bit of usm and resized. I also use bw neg which I dev using either rodinal or ID11. Digital is easier, but film is also as good I reckon and I like the fact that I’m beholden to the films characteristics, which I tend to choose according to what I would like to photograph. I think e100vs, though a bit grainy and not as sharp as Fuji is great for exotic looking travel shots. Developing is also a breeze as I use fuji mail service which is great value and quick.

  7. thanks guys, it helped that I had some exotic subjects who were friendly and very happy to be photographed. They tend to dislike people pointing lenses in their faces, I befriended them and was received as family. The G2 is a great camera with stellar lenses, for all those wishing to try one, the G1 is dirt cheap on ebay. I scan using epson scan and sometimes vuescan with a 6 year old epson 4990 which is pretty ok, though I wish I had the funds for a better dedicated film scanner or access to a drumscanner. Thanks again.

  8. Lovely photographs -aaaahhhh the Contax G2 – a truly wonderful camera – why why why did I sell mine to buy a dslr? Massive mistake!

    • Phil, perhaps only by experiencing change can we appreciate what we’ve lost? Even in digital, the latest isn’t necessarily the best, and whilst I can fully appreciate my Sony Nex5N, some of my best images, in my opinion, are with my Sony R1, now getting on for 6 years old and “only” 10 megapixels.

  9. Beautiful portraits, real quality work. Stunning colours and razor sharp. Nice to see film still getting used for actual practical productive photography instead of just for the retro/instagram sake of it

  10. Ibraar…great stuff. I miss Pakistan (my parents lived there in mid 90’s)….I travelled up up the Karakorum to Hunza and it is definitely special. Not enough tourists make the trip and can definitely recommend it. I also got to go to Peshawar and through the Khyber Pass. Thanks for jogging my memories because that’s what photos are all about.

    • Robert, thanks ever so much for your comments. The mountains of Northern Pakistan are ‘awesome’ , they really are literally awe inspiring. You’re very fortunate to have visited the Hunza Valley and the other regions you mentioned – did you take many photographs there? And any chance of sharing them if so?
      I find the Hunza Valley is the place to go (or Gilgit/Nagar/Nanga Parbat) if you’re a western tourist and don’t want much headache (as these days the NWFP Chitral region, though safe and safe to travel to according to the Foreign Office, is a bit of a headache, it’s sensitive as too close to Afghanistan, but the Kalash Valleys, Upper Chitral, Tirich Mir base camp, and around Mastuj are places to visit and trek I reckon.
      Hunza and the Karakoram are also a great deal more impressive than the Hindu Kush, I think, though personally I find the more gentle Hindu Kush heights more beautiful.

  11. Ibraar, you certainly have an eye for a photo and colour. Wonderful images on your site. I note you use colour neg and slide. What scanner do you use, as I find the image quality excellent?

    • Hi Terry, thanks man, it’s an Epson 4990 with Epson Scan s/w plus Vuescan. I don’t use much colour Neg, mainly E6 (I find colour neg too difficult to post process after scanning – my colour tweaking is all over the place) hence Slides are easier.

  12. I was about to be slightly underwhelmed by the series when i saw the first picture and then was really pleased to see the second and third, The third I particularily like from the limited colours of his clothing to the shallow depth of field. It seems a little blown around the mouth area, but that could be the monitor i’m currently viewing it on. Really enjoyed it. Thanks.

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