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Archive for August 2006

Studio Photography

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PriyaFinally after trying to convince myself to just keep with nature photography, I decided to give studio photography a try. I’ve done it before for a friend, but that was the ‘first time’ and I was not alone – I was photographing in the studio of ‘Abhi Tak’ a cable news channel that runs in 4 districts of Maharashtra. Oh and though it sounds similar to a national news channel’s name, this channel has been running from long before!Thanks to Kuldeep Munde, the owner of Abhi Tak who not only encouraged me during the very beginning of my career in photography, but also has been giving me many opportunities to learn and gain confidence! Among them was the idea to introduce me to studio photography.

I was unsure about it all. I had always photographed nature… would I be able to adjust with faces in front of my lens? Unknown people. What would they think of me, sticking my little camera in their face? More than that, I was worried of being laughed at – for carrying a point-and-shoot into a studio!

It was en embarrassing thought, everyone else would be used to all the hi-fi professional equipment, and there I would be – with a tiny little camera, trying to make portraits.

NiveditaYes, I had a difficult time convincing myself; however I finally somehow managed to do it. On the d-day, I took God’s name and walked into the studio upright and confident. Luckily nobody was there when I triumphantly pulled out my Nikon – Nikon Coolpix 2000!

That was ok, now I was in the studio, with the camera in my hands and nobody else. Just then Kuldeep arrived with the model – his wife. He tried to make it easy on me – I knew the person I was going to photograph and it was nice to know that she is a professional in Katthak, a traditional dance form of India – and was comfortable with cameras.

We first chatted for a while, and then set up the studio while enjoying a few jokes and finally Kuldeep announced that we should start with the shoot. He brought out his camera and instructed me on the first few frames. He directed the whole show but let me choose my frames. The rest of the shoot was all fun and I almost forgot about all the anxiety I had in my mind!

PritamThe photographs came out pretty well; so much that even I could not believe that this small camera could actually handle it all! Since the light was not exactly bright – the lights were out and on the backup system, we could use only one halogen lamp. It was enough for their video equipment, but my camera was dying for bright light. Many photos came out blurred. But there were more good photos than bad, so no worries!

In the end, I was happy to have accepted his offer because there was a lot to learn in those few hours of friendly photo-shoot; many tips and a fair amount of experience too. Encouragement and trust was what I found most useful. Thanks Kuldeep!

Now, it’s been a few months since I did that shoot. I photographed a few friends outdoors and some indoors, but not in what you can call a studio environment. My camera flash to compensate for the lack of light isn’t studio ;-) Moreover I now have a decent camera. A digital SLR, nothing less!

Realizing that I would lose all track of the stuff I learnt previously if I didn’t practice, I sent out an invitation to my cousins to gather up on a weekend. Actually the credit for this idea goes to my mother. We had a rocking time with all the jokes and stories and the great food that mom served us. But more than that – we enjoyed a photo shoot that involved four models, one photographer and a very enthusiastic mom who helped everyone in stuff from make-up to holding the reflectors!

Priya, Nandita, NiveditaMy cousins Priya, Nandita and Nivedita and my brother Pritam were the celebrities for the day. Each of them took turns in posing for the camera while others were busy changing their look/dress. Mom was either helping them or holding the only artificial light source while I photographed.

Yes, we had only one light source – an 18 watt CFL lamp. I’m a sucker for artificial lighting! I just can’t do without sunlight. Ok… maybe I will be able to, but when available, I love the sun!

The setup was interesting – it was past noon and the sun was shining brightly on the floor from the balcony door. I looked around and found a small white table. It was about 3×3 feet and only one foot tall, perfect for a reflector! So I arranged it to reflect the bright light on the ceiling and on the wall behind me. We placed a wooden partition stand and wrapped it up with bed sheets, sarees – to make our makeshift background. A mirror was ripped from the wall and employed to reflect the diffused light to cover up some shadows on the background. The lone CLF lamp was used to light up the faces from the opposite direction of sunlight.

The weather was partially cloudy – and hence the sunlight was very unstable. It was diffused for a while, suddenly it used to become very bright and with the reflector – it would fill the whole room with light. Next moment, everything would be dark again.

NanditaChallenging and fun, that’s how we all love it! Turned on some music on the mobile phone and started the shoot-out! Next four hours went by so fast that nobody noticed! I had to download the photos to the laptop once and then start again – first time since I got the dSLR that I filled more than one whole gigabyte in one shoot!

Immediately after the session was over, we enjoyed a refreshing cup of tea and I started the post-processing. Everyone sat around the computer, joking about each photo as I pulled it up for editing. Some funny expressions and a few candid shots made everyone laugh out loud!

And finally after the white balance for each photo was adjusted, the levels fixed and slight sharpening added with a little glow in the end, we selected the good ones and watched a slideshow – enjoying each and every photo.

I’m more than happy today, because not only did I learn a lot more, but we all made memorable photographs!

Tomorrow, I have to select a few from the 200+ photographs and get the prints and dispatch them to my cousins – and while I’m at it – here are a few for the world to see :-)

Written by hiway

August 21, 2006 at 1:21 am

Posted in diary, photography

Independence!

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Happy Independence Day!Happy Independence Day to all my fellow Indians!

Celebrating 59 years of ruling ourselves! Whoa, look what a mess we made! I’m only kidding… I’m glad to be born an Indian. And I’m proud that we are one strong nation – the utter chaos that seems to be overwhelming the country, is actually its driving force! Like a well adopted organism, India keeps growing and flourishing in the face of all the threats and setbacks.When I sit back and think… I wonder, what exactly is independence? Is it something that a teen thinks of – sheer joy of freedom from rules and rulers? Or is it something more similar to adult independence – responsibility that comes with the freedom to choose your own destiny?

Are we still celebrating the joy of losing the foreign rule? Or are we coming to grips with the situation – that we need to make our own decisions – good and strong decisions. Decisions that improve the nation as a whole. Decisions that are visionary – that take the future into account. Decisions that reflect our culture that we are so proud of!

Introspection as an Indian leads me to a broad opening, the future is beyond the horiozon, what I can see is the present – and what I see sometimes shocks me. Our advantage – the diversity among people, cultures and languages – is also our biggest disadvantage. We fight among ourselves even after learning a lesson from the British Empire. Our own people are turning hostile, joining the terrorists and killing their bretheren. And we have people who reach out to the needy and give everything they have to save other lives – even to the length of sacrificing their own life!

India is a country that lives in the past and the present at the same time. When we have advaced technology in almost every field, we also have people who cannot even afford a pair of bullocks to plough their field! Such a huge gap is not easy to fill up. It is a daunting task – and I would like to believe that our government is doing its job, even though it seems like it is taking forever!

Independence, I feel, is more of responsibility than just fun. And a quick observation of my fellow citizens shows that not all of us feel that way. The recent past has brought the ‘reservations’ conflict into light. Why do people want reservations in almost every institution? When we talk about eradicating the caste system, why does every admission form of education institutes ask for my religion and caste? If we want a more secular and unbiased education, let there be more scholarships that are aimed at the underpreviledged people. By giving them a handicap, it clearly shows that they are incapable of achieving what we can! There are exceptions – and they need no reservations anyway. We are not making a good decision on this issue… among many others!

We talk about our military – that it too is corrupt and so on. But that, think is an exxageration because I have grown up in a military controlled area. It is not usual for a civillian to be living in such a place, but I luckily got a chance to interact with soldiers, engineers and trainers. And I firmly believe that they are among the finest men that India has produced. The discpline is marvellous! (something I never learnt) Their readiness to take up any task, any risk is amazing. And when you talk to them off-duty, you wonder how these tough nails can be such caring humans too!

Exhibition at Tank MuseumToday’s experience at the Tank Museum in Ahmednagar was similar. The security was tightened due to terrorist threats. I had to empty my camea bag thrice, had to go through the metal detector and answer a few questions before i could get in. After the check, that same stern oficer returned my “thanks” with a very polite smile – it reminded me of the childhood days when I lived near the military colony! The soldiers and officers at the displays were very cooperative and answered all our silly questions – and even the slightly more informed queries about the ammunition. The soldiers were kind to the old, helping them climb on to the tanks as they marveled at the technology. And they were very responsible in making sure that nobody got hurt.

I think that at least the military is fairly independent! But as for us, we still need to gain true independence! So… Forward! March!

I believe in you India! We can do it!
—-
PS Yes this is a long winding rant, and though slightly interlinked – it staggers away from the topic – but isn’t it the nature of the thought train? ;-)

Written by hiway

August 15, 2006 at 9:00 pm

Posted in news, rant

Photographs of Bagroja, The Unseen Ahmednagar

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Today I visited the tomb of Ahmed Shah Nizam, the founder of Ahmednagar with my friend and guide Mr. Crison Coutino.

Ok, so here’s a quick decoding of “Ahmednagar” — Ahmed + Nagar (Nagar = City). Alrighty, “Ahmed’s City”, is what the name means!
It took me 2 hours to travel and shoot and 20 minutes to transfer the photographs from the card to my computer – throw in another 15 minutes for conversion to DNG and copying to designated directories. Add another 3 hours tweaking the files in Picasa. (yes, picasa – not photoshop – that’s another story sometime soon)

There we have it! – A whole gigabyte of historical Ahmednagar!

Coming up soon, on a flickr photostream near you :)

P.S. I really should learn to remember that now I have a camera that remembers all settings – unlike the point and shoot that forgets everything the instant you turn it off. I clicked over half of today’s photos on ISO 1600!!! Thanks to this foolish mistake I have a lot of photos that came out grainy. And how I was wondering, “Today’s light seems so low – then how am I able to get good exposure reading even at high shutter speeds!?”. I should had guessed. sigh. Too late, I discovered that when the excitement of finding this beautiful monument had slightly worn off :P

Anyway, a lesson well learnt! My photography learning-through-experience train chugs along as thoughts ride on the maglev super high speed train :D I think I’m really going to need something wider than this 28mm! Architecture seems equally interesting as nature – and what a coincidence – where I have pure nature, architecture does not interfere and vice versa! (The only exceptions are what I love more – ruins)

Hmm… looks like the PS is getting bigger than the original post – so let us wind this thing up.

Written by hiway

August 9, 2006 at 2:53 am

Posted in photography, project, travel

Rains all over…

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It has been raining ceaselessly for the last 24+ hours in Ahmednagar. And since this district is among those affected by draught every year, it is natural that I am recording this.

I have observed a changing trend in the seasons. The summers are harsher than before and the monsoons even more unpredictable. But when it does rain, it pours. And to balance it, the winters are getting severe too.

This district is known for its moderate climate. Apart from the lack of water in rural areas, the temperatures are usually bearable. But lately, we have seen summers heat up almost to the levels of Nagpur – known for its killer heat. The rains are now starting to look worrying as news of heavy rainfall keeps rolling in from all corners.

It will be interesting to see how the winter fares this year.

Global warming is for real and it is affecting all of us right now. Its high time we changed our ways and restore natural balance.

Written by hiway

August 6, 2006 at 3:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Spectator

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Spectator

Originally uploaded by Harshad Sharma (हर्षद शर्मा).

I wish I could just sit there, like the round red rock, and watch the beauty of nature all day!

My wish is being fulfilled partly through my change to Photography as a full time profession. When I’m not photographing some event or idling away at the computer, I’m usually out photographing this beautiful world!

There are few things as satisfying as being one with nature. Just walking around in the hills, seeing the marvels of God’s artistic creations. Enjoying the patches of light and shade formed by the racing clouds overhead…

Listening to the sounds of leaves dancing in the wind. An upset cricket creating its little sonic mayhem. Water, obeying gravity. Though these subtle things cannot make it into a photograph in their true form – I try to capture the spirit of the moment nevertheless.

Watching the sun go down across the horizon… quickly making adjustments to the camera to shoot in the little light left behind and seeing the the world now unseen by the eye… and finding beauty all around.

Sigh! If only I could be assured that all this would stay just as nice as it is… maybe even get better, more beautiful!

Everyone is a spectator in this world. We go on, live our own lives, all consumed by our own little issues and complaints. Somewhat like this rock.

If there is to be a difference between me and the boulder, I need to show signs of life – of awareness to the happenings to the environment around me. And, if I wish to call myself a good human, I cannot ignore the fact that I need to improve this world as much as I possibly can.

This is a rant, an introspection and an appeal… please save our environment! Don’t pollute. Don’t choke mother nature! The existence of our species depends on our own actions! Humans have foresight… use it! Please!!!

Written by hiway

August 1, 2006 at 12:07 am

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