Photographing Eagle Hunters in Mongolia

After now not visiting the west of the rustic on my first commute to Mongolia some five years in the past, heading to the Altai areas was once most sensible of my record for the go back this yr.  One of the large causes I sought after to move west was once to photograph the Eagle Hunters – maximum of whom are Kazakh first rate – in that house.  So, once we arrived west with this yr’s Mongolia images excursion, I used to be stoked that this was once our first forestall.  I used to be much more delighted to determine that we’d in truth have the risk to photograph possibly essentially the most well-known eagle hunter in Mongolia.

The Back Story

Honestly, I didn’t know precisely what was once taking place in this commute.  I put numerous the logistics into the arms of my pals and native operators in Mongolia.  They didn’t disappoint.

The valley the place the eagle hunters are these days based totally.

We have been instructed that we’d be visiting the eagle hunters.  However, we didn’t in truth know that we’d be visiting Aisholpan who was once featured in a large (and slightly arguable) documentary – which claimed she was once the primary feminine eagle hunter in Mongolia.

In reality, it was once a beautiful humorous state of affairs. 

Our information instructed us that we have been going to select up the eagle hunter in Ulgii and head to her households’ nomadic camp.  One of the members began asking if our information had heard in regards to the documentary about “The Eagle Huntress”.  And our information was once like,

“Yeah, that’s her.  We’re picking her up.”

Aisholpan and The Eagle Hunters

There was once some other humorous second as we rolled into the realm the place Aisholpan’s circle of relatives stayed.  She were away in class.  And since her oldsters are nomadic in the summer time, we couldn’t to find them.  She didn’t know the place her space was once – because it’s at all times shifting.  But, in the end we discovered them and so they welcomed us in.

Since it was once already somewhat overdue in the night time, we simply headed out to do a snappy megastar images consultation, after which crashed.

Most Kazakh nomads historically sleep at once at the flooring.  So that’s precisely what we did.

A Kazakh style ger in Western Mongolia under the stars

Sunrise Photo Session

I awoke after a beautiful stressed sleep on asymmetric flooring with canine barking all evening to only a extraordinary sky.  I imply, it was once the kind of sky panorama photographers dream of shooting.  The most effective drawback was once that we weren’t precisely someplace that lends smartly to broad perspective imagery, and skies like that in point of fact want a broad perspective to intensify them.

When you employ an extended lens, the sky flattens. It makes the landscapes glance larger, but it surely kills numerous the sky.

So, with this Mongolian panorama you nearly wish to use a telephoto lens just like the Canon 100-400mm to in point of fact make it stand out.  But, that may have made the sky glance such a lot much less spectacular.

I more or less simply rolled with it.

I feel now and again in images you wish to have to think about your picture in sacrifice.  As in, what’s the something you may sacrifice in the picture if you happen to needed to.  And, perhaps extra importantly, what’s the only factor you wouldn’t sacrifice.  For me, it was once the sky.  I wasn’t going to sacrifice that tremendous sky.  So, broad perspective it was once.

the flats of western mongolia at sunrise

Environmental Portrait of An Eagle Hunter’s Mother

Obviously, I used to be blown away through the sky in the morning.  But, the pictures simply couldn’t most likely display how implausible a scene it was once.  So, I used to be little bit disenchanted I couldn’t get a hold of one thing extra dramatic.  But as I walked away I realized Aisholpan’s mom heading out with a bucket to take advantage of their cows.

I grabbed my Sigma 50mm f/1.four lens and headed over to look if she was once OK with me photographing her on her morning chores.  She was once.

The gentle was once so easiest and comfortable that it in point of fact made for a gorgeous symbol.  I’m an enormous fan of the Sigma 50mm f/1.four however I in point of fact don’t get the risk to make use of all of it that steadily.  But the best way the color and distinction got here throughout the glass right here made me by no means wish to take the lens off once more.

A nomad milking her cows

An Eagle Huntress

Aisholplan and her father have been incredible.

They presented to dress up in their wintry weather clothes to pose for some go back and forth portraits for our workforce.  Obviously, my workforce was once trilled.  And they make such stunning fashions. They’re additionally a lot more at ease in entrance of the digital camera than different Mongolians are.  I assume being part of an enormous documentary will do this.

I’m going first of all some pictures of Aisholpan first.  Although, to be fair, I in point of fact didn’t photograph her that a lot as maximum of my workforce’s center of attention was once on her, and I didn’t wish to get in their manner.

A Girl and Her Eagle

In reality, having a look via my pictures of the consult with to photograph the eagle hunters, I in point of fact most effective have one picture of Aisholpan that I like.

It’s an excessively refined, flat profile symbol.  But, there’s such a lot uncooked energy to her glance in this picture that I like.  She appears to be like brave – and she or he is.  Aisholpan in particular person is in truth an excessively humorous, outgoing particular person.  And that facet of her persona comes out on digital camera as a rule. She’s smiley. But, in a portrait of an eagle hunter, you nearly need the harsh facet.

Aisholpan -the eagle huntress with her eagle

The Eagle Hunter

Aisholpan’s father is Nurgaiv.  Until he placed on his wolf-skin jacket and hat, I wouldn’t have taken him for an eagle hunter in public. He appears to be like very “normal”.  But once that conventional wintry weather apparel went on, he was once the eagle hunter.

As I discussed, my workforce was once beautiful curious about Aisholpan – I imply, she is the fame – so I grew to become my consideration to her father. 

I’m satisfied I did, too.  I made 2 portraits of him that may well be my favourites of all-time.

A Man and His Ger

I like an environmental portrait.

I feel there’s in order that a lot more energy to placing the individual in their surroundings.  So, with this famed Mongolian eagle hunter, that’s what I sought after to do right here.

Luckily for me, some in point of fact stunning comfortable gentle got here bouncing over the horizon and throughout the clouds.  It wasn’t harsh sufficient to burn colors out, but it surely was once brilliant sufficient to split Nurgaiv from the background.  It additionally made him squint a little bit bit, which gave him a in point of fact difficult glance.

I shot this symbol at f/1.eight.

The eagle hunter with his ger

Portrait of an Eagle Hunter

With the sunshine as stunning because it was once, I additionally sought after to seize only a easy portrait of Nurgaiv.

One of the issues I’ve been focusing so much in my imagery in recent times is simplicity.  Early in my occupation I at all times attempted to do an excessive amount of with the footage.  I attempted to incorporate too many of us and pieces.  So, I’m making an attempt my absolute best to appear via my compositions after which assume to myself, “what could I remove?”.

On this portrait the solution was once, “basically everything.”

I were given low and shot up; once more at f/1.eight.

Nurgaiv the eagle hunter

With portraits, if you happen to shoot from eye-level you get an excessively customary presence from the topic. If you photograph from above eye-level it offers them a susceptible presence.  If you get low and photograph them from underneath their eye-level it can provide their presence all forms of energy – which is what I attempted to do right here.

On Horseback

One of the toughest issues about making pictures of other people in motion, is growing motion.  So, when Nurgaiv were given up on his horse with the eagle on his arm my first concept was once, “how can I create movement?”.

The solution was once panning the digital camera on a slower shutter velocity.  I dropped the shutter velocity down to at least one/30 seconds and panned as he raced alongside in entrance of the digital camera.  On the 100-400mm that 1/30 shutter velocity was once sluggish sufficient to turn the motion in the grass whilst nonetheless being speedy sufficient to get a pointy symbol of Nurgaiv and the eagle.

An eagle hunter galloping his horse

More from Mongolia?

Yes, there’s so much extra coming from Mongolia.  I’ve a minimum of five extra movies coming from this commute, and I’m going to take a look at to whip in combination a minimum of one location information weblog put up right here as smartly.

I will have to additionally point out that there’s most likely going to be a video and picture excursion to Mongolia in 2020, so ensure to join information.


Source hyperlink A Couple For The Road

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