M3 in the Himalayas in 1979 (further photographs added Thur 17th May)

Discussion in 'Leica' started by grebeman, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    I've been posting a lot of photographs in the fun with film camera thread, but since these were all taken with a Leica M3 and one of three lenses, 35mm f/3.5 Summaron, 50mm f/3.5 Elmar or 90mm f/4 Elmar, I suppose they really belong here.
    I have just obtained a PlusTek 7600iSE scanner and have been reliving a most fantastic holiday. I don't have the camera or lenses anymore, however I do have a good set of Voigtlander screw lenses and have just bought a secondhand, but seemingly unused Bessa R, so it looks like I'll be heading off to do some old fashioned film work soon.

    Our head Sherpa, Chamba. His woolly hat was often used to collect eggs from farms we passed.

    Baharri-lal, devout buddhist and great solo mountain climber

    An elderly herdsman who approached me and asked me to take his photograph

    One of numerous flocks of goats and sheep moving down off the high pastures before winter set in

    A ferryman using the traditional method of crossing a river, an inflated buffalo skin

    Rosie Kerr, 72 years young and seemingly quite relaxed about being ferried across the Beas River

    Rosie Kerr on the verandah of "Urusvali", a house that was the residence of Nicholas Roerich, south of Manali in the Kulu Valley

    Our assistant chef

    A boy at a temple in the hills

    The same boy, I think with his elder brother

    Goatherds, presumably father and son

    One of our Sherpas, demonstrating the art of sheep shearing

    Lets not forget the ponies who made it possible

    Here the ponies again with the two pony Wallahs

    The old apple trading route into the Kulu Valley, husband, wife and unseen between them, daughter, perhaps 8 years old, all carrying bundles of hay

    Sherpas in camp before a days trek

    Most of our group, presumably at Kranti Singh's house in Manali (he was our Indian leader). John Keay, European leader standing in foreground, Kranti seated over his shoulder

    All photographs scanned in from FP4 negatives

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  2. bartjeej

    bartjeej Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 12, 2010
    Nice to see them together here. I must say, for someone who lived his entire life in the outdoors high up in the mountainst and probably not seeing many westerners or photographers, that elderly gentleman that asked to be photographed had a fantastically photogenic way of posing! Or was that your encouragement?
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  3. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Amazing to see these images, and from the year I was born as well! They really show the value of photographs as a historical record. Which country/countries were these shot in?
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  4. Isoterica

    Isoterica Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
    These shots are absolutely amazing!
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  5. thekeddi

    thekeddi Top Veteran

    Aug 15, 2011
    South Australia
    Awesome photos!!!! thanks so much for sharing them with us!
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  6. ajramirez

    ajramirez Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 9, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    Wonderful set of photographs!


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  7. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    Love seeing these. Also because I'm reading Into the Silence about Mallory and Everest.
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  8. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Bart, it wouldn't surprise me if the elderly gentleman had had some experience of the British when we ruled India, he had that sort of manner about him. Since I was using the 90mm lens all I had to encourage him to do was to stay further away from the camera than he wanted to do, as I moved back so he moved towards me. Once I managed to stop him doing that a couple of shots were in the bag.

    Nic, the trek took in the Indian provinces of Himachel Pradesh and Lahoul in October/November 1979. Himachel Pradesh (meaning "In the lap of the snows") lies immediately to the east of Kashmir and the central feature is the Kulu Valley which thrusts north into the Himalayan mountain chain. North of that are the provinces of Lahoul and Ladakh, which borders Tibet. This part of the trek was when we were coming down off a ridge at about 8,000 feet, the Pir Punchal or "Outer Himalaya" into the Kulu Valley. This area is mainly Deodar (Himalayan Cedar) and Rhododendrun forest with open high grassland and deep valleys. Prior to this I had been photographing on colour slide film, as indeed I did later when we crossed over the Rohtang Pass into Lahoul where we encountered mountains rising to 23,000 feet (not that we climbed any!). The trees stop growing just short of the Rohtang Pass because this tends to be the northern limit of the monsoon rains. The Rohtang Pass is blocked for about six months of the year by snow which was due to occur about 3 weeks after we returned across it having visited Lahoul, so from late November through until the following May.

    See if you can obtain a copy of "Where Men and Mountains Meet" by John Keay. He was our English leader and we were following in the footsteps of a man called George Moorcroft, a vet with the East india Company who followed this route in 1820 to reach Bukhara in southern Russia for the purposes of buying horses. He was probably the first Westerner to cross the Himalayan mountain chain at a time when they thought it was just one mountain chain, not chain after chain after chain. We were able to identify many features of the area from the copy of his diary that John had obtained from India House in London. The first chapter of that book deals with George Moorcroft. The other chapters deal with people associated with the mountains in this area, and there are some pretty amazing characters in that book.

    If I manage to scan some of my colour slides, I'm slightly blue/green colour blind and have some problems with colour casts, which are more landscape views, then perhaps I'll be able to post them some time soon.

    Thanks all for your interest.

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  9. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Thanks Barrie. I was guessing from the people in the shots that these were from the western Himalayas rather than out east in Nepal and Bhutan. Cheers for the info, and once again, an amazing set of images!
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  10. pdh

    pdh Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Barrie these are as good documentary and portrait shots as one could hope to find anywhere - or by anybody. Rosie Kerr and the assistant chef are such fine images they ought to be on a gallery wall.Your skill with "people shots" was clear from the SiJ , but now it's obvious this wasn't a newly-acquired ability.
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  11. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    I have to second Paul's sentiments. You have a real knack Barrie and we're all the richer for having viewed your images. Thank you and please keep them coming....especially once you get that Bessa out there and working :wink:
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  12. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    A few from the Agfachrome CT18 slides

    I've been scanning some of my colour slides, however I'm not so happy with these as the black and whites. In the main they aren't as sharp as the black and white film and I struggle somewhat with colour balance and colour cast problems.

    This was an overnight camp, approx 11,500 feet above sea level, below the Rohtang Pass as a blizzard was forming

    The next morning I walked on as my colleagues waited near where we had camped for a bus that was to take us on to Keylong, the capital of Lahoul province. Just below the summit of the Rohtang I was rewarded as this flock of goats began their descent into the Kulu Valley which we had recently left

    Perching the camera on a convenient elevation sign, 12,975 feet ASL at the summit of the Rohtang Pass I was able to capture this self portrait

    Whilst in Keylong, Chamba took Rosie Kerr and myself to the Kardang Gompa (monastry). On the path we were passed by this pony train

    After a meal consisting of half a baked potato, a piece of cake and a cup of Tibetan tea, made with Yaks butter and salt, a few of the monks, and apparently some nuns rushed outside to have their photograph taken. Most of the inhabitants were out working in nearby fields. On my return to the UK I had a Cibachrome print made and I meet up in London with Kranti Singh, the Indian leader of our trek, and he took the print back to India and it should have reached the monastry the following May when the overwinter snows had cleared and the road was open again.

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  13. Bryan D. Costin

    Bryan D. Costin New Member

    Feb 15, 2012
    Maryland, USA
    These are fantastic. You have an excellent eye. And from a gearhead persective, it's nice to see some work done with that classic original trinity of M3 lenses. Thank you for sharing them
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  14. Briar

    Briar Hall of Famer

    Oct 27, 2010
    Thanks for sharing these pictures Barrie, they really are very, very good. It looks like you had an amazing adventure there. Were you out there for long?
  15. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Karen, in all the trek lasted about 3 weeks, although not all of that involved camping and carrying kit on ponies. We stayed in government run guest houses prior to the initial trekking part, then again at Naggar and Manali in the Kulu valley, with one unplanned camp on the Rohtang (we weren't planned to walk up and over it) and then a government guest house again in Keylong.

    Our initial guesthouse was at Jogindernagar which is close to Dharmsala where the Dali Llama lives. He had signed the visitors book in the guest house we stayed in just two days beforehand.

    A most fantastic adventure and one I'm reliving as I scan these photographs.

  16. Redridge

    Redridge New Member

    May 16, 2012
    wow, this thread made me register and just wanted to say that these documentaries are what photography (to me) is all about. Doing this similar trek in the Pokarah region back in 2000 was an eye awakener. I can only imagine how it was like in 1979... these places are changing so fast and soon it will all be gone to a more modern version.

    Thank You so much for sharing... and please post more of your adventure.
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  17. Landshark

    Landshark PhotoDog

    Jul 15, 2010
    wow, very cool looks like an amazing adventure
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  18. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    I'm honoured to think that my efforts from over 30 years ago persuaded you to join the forum. I'll have to go through more of the colour slides and see what I can get from them and perhaps post a few more over the next week or two.

    Thanks for your kind words.

  19. Isoterica

    Isoterica Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
    Superb story in images Barrie! They really are art.

    On the second page I now see more.. you have mad skills.
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  20. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    A few more from the trek (blame Redridge for encouraging me :biggrin:). These show some aspects of agriculture in the region.

    The Outer Himalaya have steep fertile slopes that are terraced with very narrow fields. Here they were ploughing and sowing seed in October. This area does receive monsoon rains in August or September. Here the altitude is between 6,000 and 7,000 feet.



    A few hundred miles further north and at an altitude of about 11,000 feet we are beyond the influence of the monsoon, so in effect a high altitude desert, however the area receives heavy snowfall throughout the winter. Here the growing season is shorter and has finished. The grain has been harvested and is being threshed by Dzo's (cross bred cows and yaks) tied together and walking round a post. (I saw exactly the same technique in the Peruvian Andes, but using horses). The threshed grain is then winnowed to separate the seeds from the chaff using the wind in an age old manner.



    The trees are planted so that the fallen leaves can be gathered to provide fodder for the animals in the winter.

    Leica M3, Agfachrome CT18 scanned using PlusTek 7600

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