Shooting Holi is one the most challenging pursuits that a traveler/photographer/travel-photographer can take up, and I am glad that I have my share of experiences to take a leaf from. While it is sure to get you some of the best photographs of your life, the occasion calls for you to be careful for self and your gears. It is a potentially risky festival to shoot, but there is nothing that a bit of caution can not take care of.
I attended the famed ‘laththmaar Holi of Nandgaon and Barsana’, but the rules for shooting are pretty much the same for any event that has ample use of colors and water.
- Silica gel is not enough
Many people will tell you that storing your camera and lens in a dry condition is the key to shooting Holi successfully. This is just a part of the story; silica gel is enough to keep the equipment dry at most of the other times. For Holi, while storing your gears, it is mandatory that you ensure that not only the gears are dry and dust/colourfree, but also the bag is so. If this isn’t the case then your lenses and camera/s have a chance of catching fungus.
Carry silica gel with you, but do not depend on it solely. You can get it at most of the camera-shops, or order it online.
- Just the rain-cover is not enough
Most of the rain-covers are not specific to a model; they are generic and they fit the body loosely. What is needed is that you seal the lens openings tightly with masking tape to ensure that not a drop of water seeps in, while ensuring sufficient free space barrel/rim movement. Your camera should be able to withstand not just the water-spray, but being poured buckets of water on it.
Rain covers are available at most of the camera shops, and can be ordered online too.
- Keep your eyes safe
While worrying about the equipment, we forget to take into account the most important ones; our eyes. Regarding Holi, the repercussion of someone throwing colours into your eyes in the fervor of festivity can result into something which is minor discomfort, and/or permanent damage. The key is to be alert at all times.
One of the photographers I saw at Radharani temple courtyard had covered her eyes with ‘paintball’ gear. Something like this; seemed to work for her very well, but then remember that it might pose difficulty in shooting.
- Rain-proof your camera-bag.
Make sure your bag is waterproof, because it will go from dry to soaking wet, and then back to being dry several times during the course of the day. Ensure that there is no scope for water to seep in from sides and zipper-openings. The ideal thing to do is to put a polycover on the bag, or a rain-cover if you don’t mind purchasing it.
- Decide which lens you want to shoot with, and then stick to it.
Unlike celebrations that happen in the neighborhood, places like Nandgaon and Barsana rarely give you chance to make a switch in lens. Twice, I thought of resting at some places (I had a fever) that looked like no one would venture to, but the minute my butt touched the ground, some children poured a bucketful of water from the rooftop, and I had no option but to smile at them.
I clicked with 18-55mm, the kit lens that comes with canon; here is one of my shots (if this is what came from 18-55mm, imagine what is possible with 50mm and 35mm! That said, please remember your limitations with prime lens.):
- Refrain from wearing chappal/slippers.
Like I have said in my earlier post too, wear something that grips your feet firmly, and does not slip once wet. If you are a photographer with expensive gear on you and you trip and fall, there are chances that you would prefer breaking your bones than the equipment.
- Work out the settings beforehand and stick to it.
Once the camera is packed in the rain-proof gear, you have very little control over the console. Even if you have control, like I did, fiddling with it is not too good an idea.
- Shoot now, review later.
The point being, you might not get time/ space/access to LCD panel to be able to review the shot without risking your camera getting drenched or smeared with dry color. Shoot, shoot and shoot without worrying what the results are. This is an event where you have almost no control over the situation, so do not waste the time peering at the LCD display.
- Do a mock-drill once before the event.
It might not be too great an idea to figure out how things work while there are colors and water all around you. Do a test-run beforehand to ensure a smooth experience of shooting Holi. (Test run = shooting with rain-cover on, shooting out in the day-light when hardly anything is visible on LCD to review, how will take care of bag/s that have your other things etc.)
- Clean the equipment thoroughly once you are back.
Clean the camera, the lens, and the bag carefully once you are back at your place. You can go a professional cleaning to ensure good maintenance, but if you know the camera well, you can clean it yourself as well.
Most importantly, DO NOT go to shoot Holi with a set of images in mind; you are going to be very disappointed. Go with the flow and make the most of it.
Some of the top destinations for Holi in India are:
Nandgaon and Barsana : It is suggested that you stay in Mathura. Read the post here.)
Mathura: (Same as above)
Jaipur, Udaipur, Goa : Zostel is one of the stay options in these cities
Hampi: Zostel & Orange County are two stay option for different kind of travelers
Most of these cities are well-connected and have a near-by metro city/town being serviced by Indigo and Spicejet for domestic and Emirates, Jet Airways, British Airways for international.
In case you intend to do ‘bhang’, do read this.
P.S.: Just in case you are going to be doing ‘bhang’ then read this.
P.P.S.: In case you think I have missed an important point, please feel free to bring it to my notice.
P.P.S.: Holi in Barsana is on 5th March, and Nandgaon on 6th March 2017