India’s amazing flowers

The flowers in Southern India are absolutely amazing. This stunning flower was about the size of my head and reminded me more of coral than something that could exist on land.

Charging elephants

Into the jungle we went. Our jeep bounded over the bumpy dirt road, the driver in search of one of Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary’s wild elephants. We came to a halt a few hundred metres from this female. She didn’t like us at all, and decided to charge. I’ve never driven in reverse so fast in my life.

She chased us far enough to let us know her displeasure at being disturbed, thew some dirt on her head, then faded back into the jungle.

The jungle returned to its foggy quiet as if she had never been there.

Elsewhere, the deer were happily munching on the grass.

Theyyam in Kannur, Kerela

The area of Kerela we were visiting is known for its elaborate form of worship called Theyyam. We got up before sunrise to join the small crowd who had gathered at the temple. 

The performers went through various phases of becoming more and more elaborately decorated. The belief is that the ritual enables them to become the gods, and the audience worshiped them as such.

Signs that amuse (and scare) me: This elevator is absolutely safe*

There are some things in life that should never have an asterisk and small print. One example is courtesy of Schindler that says, “This elevator is absolutely safe for people to use” with a big asterisk a the end. It’s like when an airline sends me an email offering $29 fares, or anything a car company might advertise. Except this is an elevator in my apartment building! It’s safe *wink* *wink*.

Portrait: Arpeeta

On our third portrait session, we reached the point of having a system for getting the basics figured out, and started experimenting. It meant that we could have some fun trying different things with the subject. Adding props such as a mirror reinforced both the need to have a vision for the end result, but also an eye for the details in the pose and composition.

Portrait: Darpan

We tried another round of portraits and this time we were much better at managing the technical details, at least for the basic setups we were trying out. This meant we were much more engaged with our model.

In trying out different poses, I learned that there’s a certain amount of exaggeration or unnaturalness in certain poses, but through the lens, that unnaturalness looks more natural and pleasing to the eye.

Portrait: Lalit

A friend asked if I’d be interested in shooting some portraits with him. I gave an enthusiastic yes, but when we actually got around to shooting, I quickly realized that one needs a plan, and I didn’t have one. I learned that the only way to get a consistent look from a photo, especially in a studio, is to really think through the technical details in advance. When I was focused on figuring out the lighting, I wasn’t focused on helping the model relax and find the right pose.

This shot came about on an impulse. I could visualize what I wanted, but it wasn’t until I climbed up on a chair to get above the subject that the look came together.

Food preparation on Mohammed Ali Road

The crowd grew increasingly dense as Iftar approached. Every form of halal deliciousness was being prepared in massive quantities.

 

Off a side street, the men operating a small factory bottling a creamy looking bright yellow drink invited me in to see what they were preparing. I have no idea what the neon coloured liquid was, but it must be popular given the volumes they were pouring from various vats.

A few streets away, there was an equally lively trade in non-edible products, especially those with some glitter in them.

Shopping

I’m not sure what was in the bag.

Reflections of Minara Masjid

The sun was slowly descending as the vendors started preparing for the nightly breaking of the fast during Ramadan in Mumbai’s Mohammed Ali Road. Minara Masjid appears in the reflection of a balloon being blown up by a date vendor.

Indian wrestling

On the ground floor of a nondescript apartment building in Mumbai is one of the few remaining traditional Indian wrestling training centres. Every morning and evening the men gather to train.

Median touch-ups

Given all the other infrastructure needs, I’m frequently surprised by the idea that a coat of paint will make a big improvement.