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Trekking in Kyrgyzstan mountains

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by Tarmo, Aug 24, 2014.

  1. Tarmo

    Tarmo Mu-43 Rookie

    Mar 9, 2013
    Helsinki, Finland
    This summer I ended up on a rather unusual 2-week trip to Kyrgyzstan, with 10 days of trekking in the mountains close to the southern border of the country. Needless to say, my Olympus OM-D E-M5 came along, and I have to admit that the camera fared better than me. The tour operator's description said that "moderate fitness" is required for the trek, which was a huge understatement. Being unaccustomed, the effects of altitude above 3500m were very noticeable, and the daily walks often took 10+ hours. That meant I did not have time to stop for shooting very often, and not even willingness to carry the E-M5 in my backpack to the highest passes (most of our stuff was carried by horses).

    Of course it was still a great trip, and I'm not too unhappy with the photos either. Gearwise everything worked perfectly and the E-M5 did something unbelievable: low battery warning flashed for the first time after more than 1500 shots! I did not even need to use the second spare battery I had bought for this trip. I guess it's mainly explained by the fact that I did not shoot often, typically fired away dozens of shots in different directions and then put the camera away (also, no chimping to save batteries). The camera and lenses (sealed and filtered, obviously) had no issues with the very dusty environment, occasional rain, and me forgetting them hanging on my bag when tossing it down on whatever surface.

    I have done very little landscape photography, and don't even own a tripod (not that I would carry one up there anyway!) I also tend to make telephoto compositions even with fairly short focal lengths. The style that you see here is probably closer to my usual "travel-documentary" than typical mountain photography. Throughout the trek I used b&w live view in the camera's EVF, since the mountains are mainly a boring mix of gray and brown, with some ugly bright trekking gear colors tossed in. I'm not used to focusing myself on luminance contrast, so I think it helped a lot. However, during the editing I decided on a mix of color and b&w.

    Here are the photos - click through to Flickr for larger sizes and enjoy! They are mainly taken with E-M5 and Olympus 12-40/2.8, and a few with Panasonic 35-100, or my backup compact Fujifilm XQ-1 (you can spot them by looking at highlight transitions, or by clicking through to Flickr).

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    • Like Like x 29
  2. ahinesdesign

    ahinesdesign Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 6, 2011
    NC, USA
    Awesome images - thanks for sharing!
    • Like Like x 1
  3. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Terrific set - sounds like quite an adventure! How far did you walk (total)?
  4. Tarmo

    Tarmo Mu-43 Rookie

    Mar 9, 2013
    Helsinki, Finland
    Wow, I'm really flattered by the thanks and nominations! We walked some 100-120km during 10 days (2 of which were mainly resting), which wouldn't be a huge amount on flat ground. The challenging part was the total climb of about 8km - like walking up to Mt Everest from sea level, and back down, within a week! (ok, maybe that would be a little bit harder ;) 
  5. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Funny, the shot that I really liked was the tents at night, and I love landscapes.
  6. Tarmo

    Tarmo Mu-43 Rookie

    Mar 9, 2013
    Helsinki, Finland
    Well it's not so surprising - my landscapes are not very focused on the landscape itself, and IMO the night shot has very good composition and use of colors. It doesn't fit so well into the set, though - I like the jumping horse most despite of technical shortcomings.
  7. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    How did you find Kyrgyzstan as a destination? What is the country like, what sorts of attractions are there?
  8. darosk

    darosk Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 17, 2013
    Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
    Great stuff - looks like it was an adventure indeed.
  9. Tarmo

    Tarmo Mu-43 Rookie

    Mar 9, 2013
    Helsinki, Finland
    hazwing: my girlfriend found the idea somewhere. It is an easy destination, given that you find decent flights. Visa is not required for tourists, safety is not a huge concern and there are several capable trek operators. Mountains are the main attraction of the country (there are several 7000+ m peaks), and maybe nomad life and some funny horse games if you also go for the cultural stuff. Cities are not really interesting for more than a peek to Soviet architecture, and food is not very attractive, but that was all expected.

    darosk: yes, adventure is pretty much guaranteed in such places - that's why we went.
    • Like Like x 2
  10. bartjeej

    bartjeej Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 9, 2012
    Awesome! Trekking in kyrgyzistan or Tajikistan has been on my bucket list for some time, so I'm jealous of you! Great photos too - the one of the prancing horse on the ridge is awesome! :thumbup:
    • Like Like x 1
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