Depth of Field at The Taj Mahal

India, Peter DeMarco, Taj Majal, architecture, asia, birds, photography, shadow, sunlight, sunrise, travel, travelphotography

I wanted to get to the Taj early to avoid the crowds. As soon as got in I sprinted to this one spot where I knew I could catch both the Taj and the sunrise in my frame. Even though it was a distance from the entrance, there was already a small group of photographers there. One of them was talking. That voice sounds like Matt Brandon’s, I thought. He’s the guy behind The Digital Trekker and host of one of my favorite photography podcasts.

I walked over and introduced myself. It was him! What are the chances that we went there on the same day at the same time to the same spot? It turns out he was leading a tour. As we were talking these folks walked by. I took a few quick shots but wasn’t sure they’d work. This one turned out to be one of my favorites though.

Depth of Field

I highly recommend Matt’s podcast Depth of Field. If you are considering making a career out of photography, or just want to turn it into a small side business, it’s a must. As his site says, he interviews “respected photographers from many different fields and uncovers what it took for them to be successful. Listen to his guests share both secrets and stories of their journey.” Check out his interviews with Timothy Allen, Damien Lovegrove, and David Bergman┬áto start with. You can also download it in the iTunes store.

How I Made The Photo

I rarely add objects to my photos. But for this image I pasted in the pigeons from a previous shot I took at the same spot. It was really simple to do in Photoshop. The birds were there, just not at the moment these folks walked by.

This shot was a little tricky in terms of exposure because the light outside was very bright, but from where I was shooting it was much darker. To compensate I decided to expose for the bright outdoor light and then recover the darker inside area in post. To do that I set my exposure bias at -1.3. The darker exposure help to create a nice silhouette too.

One of the things I like most about the Sony A7II is the EVF (Electronic View Finder). In terms of exposure, it really helps to see your final product before you even take a shot. What you see on the camera screen is exactly what you get.


  • Camera: Sony A7 II
  • Lens: Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS
  • Aperture: ƒ/7.1
  • Taken: February 17, 2016
  • Exposure bias: -1.3EV
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/200s
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Author: Pete DeMarco

Pete DeMarco is an award-winning travel photographer. His passion for helping people transform their photography shows through in the expert advice he shares. His work has been featured in National Geographic Traveler, CNN, and as a staff writer for Digital Photography School.

6 thoughts on “Depth of Field at The Taj Mahal”

  1. Hi Pete,

    I saw this picture and followed the links to get to your site, in the hope to learn a little more about it. I was contemplating the image before reading your blog entry and my head went: this picture pleases me better without the birds, it felt weird. So funny to discover that you’ve added them in post. Curious, most curious.

  2. The location of your picture is a gem. I am curious have you dabbled in HDR and I am just wondering how differently this picture would come out using this process minus the people of course.

    1. Yes Jake, I’ve used HDR in the past. I don’t use any HDR programs these days. The dynamic range on my Sony A7II is awesome. If I do have a need for it, which is usually if I’m shooting directly into the sun, then I will use digital blending. I find it gives much more control and far better results than using HDR software like Photomatix. If however you want a good HDR program for free, try HDR Efex Pro. And if you want to learn about digital blending, search Youtube for Jimmy Mcintyre and watch one of his tutorials. As for this shot, it was a single RAW exposure. For whatever reason I didn’t take bracketed exposures, but if I did, there would have certainly been more detail in the dark areas and around the sun.

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