Haven't been to Agra all these years and never got a chance to see or photograph the Taj Mahal in it's glory. All for better, I guess, 'cause this time I had the best camera that I could have ever had, 5D Mark III, and a whole lot of time by myself to shoot the beauty throughout the day.
Winter is probably not the best time of the year from the photography perspective, it's foggy and hazy, at least till the sun comes out. So there is rare chance that you would get the white marble against the blue sky. But then, there is no season or perfect time for photography every season has some magical moments, different time of the day has something to offer. This was one such moment, landing right when the gates open in the morning, mostly to avoid the tourist crowd though, There was a stream of fog coming from the river side and the morning sun from the other side.
The moment lasted only for a while till the sun started shining though. I had my 16-35 mm F2.8L go really close and yet get the wide perspective to capture the whole thing.
There is an awesome sight right when you enter the gate. You start seeing the glimpses from different corners till you reach the main premise and they work as quite similar to build up of a grand war scene in a movie.
Scale; From all the images that you have seen online before you don't really get a sense of true scale of the monument and that's what get you awe struck for your initial time there. Things all around start fading like a nice bokeh and you only notice the shining huge and crafted structure.
My experience with most of heritage places in India is, you have to be really lucky to get that picture perfect postcard shot. In every likelihood either some part of the it will always be under maintenance or something not working as they are supposed to, on any given day. Like this particular day one of the four pillars was under construction and the famous lotus pond where you can see the reflection of the structure was dry :(.
The riverside view, from Mehtab Bagh, of the Taj is breathtaking as well. However, you need to include that in a separate plan as its completely outside the Taj campus and a good 30-45 mins drive away. The garden closes by evening as well.
Monument of love? Historical significance apart, there is hardly any heritage place in India that's not supporting it's own natural habitat. Not sure about the foreign tourists but we don't even find it unnatural or consider it unclean. Cows, monkeys, squirrel and pigeons are the most common ones. So while tourists are asked to cover their shoes on the main premise, monkeys go and do whatever their most natural instinct suggest them to do. They are usually harmless. And if you are generally intrigued by their lifestyle like me, there is chance that you might find more emotional expression in their behaviour than us.
Not entirely, I guess.
The Frame: There is this sense, that as a photographer I always get. There are just so many of us, capturing exactly the same frame. Every day. And if that frame is supposed to sum up all of our experience with that place, in that moment, that means all of us have almost the same experience and that all will have exactly the same story to tell.
May be I am telling a story that's been told a million times exactly the same way.
And may be the only different part of this story for me this time is...