PHOTOGRAPHER: Nick Melidonis
In September 2014 I travelled to Ladakh in
Northern India with the hope of capturing the
remote monasteries in the high Himalayan
region. The trip would take me across the five
highest mountain passes in the world.
I crossed the Khardungla Pass from Leh
towards the Nubra Valley which at 18,380 feet is
the highest motorable road in the world. It was
certainly cold at those altitudes but the biggest
annoyance was altitude sickness!
We descended into the Nubra Valley and
rested on the valley floor, where I first noticed
the camel trains in the distance heading
towards the Diskit monastery. I asked my
driver and guide to cross a stream and head
as close as we could towards a peak where
I knew the camels would have to cross,
separating them from the snow tipped
Himalayas in the background.
The sun was starting to set and I could
see that the breaks in the clouds produced
shafts of golden light moving in and out of the
valley floor behind where the camels would
cross. Although I intended to use a tripod for
my tele lens and DSLR, it became obvious I
would need to get close and in a hurry before
the camels and golden shafts of light both
disappeared. It’s amazing what the adrenalin
rush of a great potential photo could do and
I ran as best I could with just the camera
towards the camels with my guide and driver
close behind, altitude sickness and all.
Breathless and feeling as though someone
had ripped my lungs out in the high altitude,
I started shooting quickly and trying to time the
shots so I could get separation of the camels
from each other (they were tied together in a
line). I was also trying to get clear separation
of the silhouettes of the camels with a shaft of
light behind them.
I fired several frames until I thought I captured
my vision of the shot. I had no time to check the
back of my camera to see if I got what I wanted
and it was all over in a few minutes.
In March, the image was named one of the
world’s top ten nature images (landscape and
wildlife) in the World Photographic Cup which
drew entries from 28 countries.
DETAILS: CANON EOS 5D MK III,
100-400MM LENS @ 200MM,
1/500S @ F7.1, ISO 640.
AUSTRALIAN PHOTOGRAPHY JUNE 2016
SEE ALL THE WINNERS OF THE
PORTRAIT PRIZE 2016.