Kite Flying

Manish

Shot with Canon 1100d, f4.5, 1/60, ISO100 @35mm

I did something I hadn’t done for over 5 years.  Fly kites.  Kite flying is a fun activity/tradition in India on and around the Independence day on 15th of August.  It’s also done in many other parts of the world for various reasons and in various different ways.   So this little shoot was to rewind my memories and create portraits of the current generation.

The kid above is my little cousin who flies much better kites than I ever did.  So a portrait session to mark his skills were obvious.  I don’t know if this activity is termed as a sport but many parts of the world do indulge in this activity pretty seriously.

Shot with Canon 1100d, f2.8, 1/30, ISO200 @50mm

Shot with Canon 1100d, f2.8, 1/30, ISO200 @50mm

Kite flying is no piece of cake.  As kids we’d spend hours on the roofs even on a scorching hot day.  It’s fun to watch some seniors fly kites today because of their expertise and dominance when they are in the game.  The idea is to fight other kites and who can stay in flight while bringing down others wins.  It’s a healthy fight mostly in the sky between two kites using a specially made thread.  This thread known as manjha can even cut fingers if you’re not careful. Fun times.

Take care.

The Battle Continues

Shot with Canon 1100D, f4.5, ISO100, 1/200 @36mm

Shot with Canon 1100D, f4.5, ISO100, 1/200 @36mm

I’m getting into the habit of finishing one shoot, leaving with a ‘I-missed-something’ feeling, come back and do it better.  And I’m not saying that’s a bad habit.  I’m kind of enjoying it.   Since I’m not making these photos for a paying client this gives me the opportunity to correct myself if I mess up first time.

Shot with Canon 1100D

Shot with Canon 1100D

The picture in my last post the Battles gave me an idea and I asked my nephew to come over with his cricket helmet.  My  nephew is a cricket player and a fan.  When he was very young, almost the size of a regular cricket bat, I remember going to the local park with him and playing.  He was a quick learner and a natural.  More importantly we’d have a fun time.  Memories.

When I have a photograph in mind I consider it as a draft or a starting point and then take it from there during the shoot letting it develop.   Like I have the raw materials to cook.  Whether or not I make a great dish depends when I start cooking.  I try and keep it as close to the initial idea as possible in terms of the feel but not in terms of the overall look.  For example, I wanted an intense feel to the image but had a different picture in mind.  But the photos I got out of this shoot probably gave me a better picture than I was hoping.  I also tried making the image I had in mind but those just didn’t feel quite as close as I thought they would.  My failure totally.  Mukul, my nephew, was a great subject to work with.   I’d rather have these failures and something to work on next time than nothing at all.  I wish I could come to terms with other failures just as good as I do with making photos some times.

Take care.

The Battles

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Shot with Canon 1100D.

I have been putting off this post for a while because I wanted to include a picture that matches the sentiments of the post.  Finally I was able to hit the publish button this week.

I learned a valuable lesson past week recently.   I learned that I have to accept that I won’t win every little battle of life.   I have to choose my battles based on my priorities and give time and effort only to the ones that really matter.  Thinking too much about  low priority battles is a waste of energy.  Sour Grapes?  May be.   But, not if you know your priorities.

I’ll share an example that triggered this thought.  We have a ping-pong table in the office for employees.  The environment around that table some times becomes so competitive that some games turn into battles instead of fun breaks.  And that’s when the table loses its purpose.   After the loss I’d find myself riding waves of negative emotions and wonder why a loss at a stupid ping-pong game bothered me.  Now I don’t play with people who don’t enjoy the game but make it a life and death battle.  I’m not playing to win a medal at the Olympics.

I’ll share a great advice from an Indian actor Shekhar Suman.  This is a lesson that he shared he learnt from his father and it just stuck with me since.  I don’t remember the exact words but I’m sure you’ll get the message.  His father told him ‘There’ll always be at least one thing that the person next to you can do better than you.  Respect  everyone.’

Take care.

Education

Shot with Canon 1100D, f5.6, 1/250, ISO100

Shot with Canon 1100D, f5.6, 1/250, ISO100

In my last post I mentioned how I thought I missed an opportunity after reaching a point and couldn’t extract more out of my subject.  I thought I’d give it another try.  This time a different stage but same theme.  Education.

One of the biggest educators in India is the government administration system.  The kind of education this institution provides cannot be taught anywhere in the world.  It’ll push you to question yourself.  Sometimes your existence even.  It’s not for the faint-hearted for sure.  I’ve heard of well run government institutions as well but until I experience them or hear someone I know share a good story, that’s the only image I have of it.

For now imagine this scene and you’ll get a glimpse of what I mean.  You travel more than 15 kms just to get a form, bring it back 15 kms for a stamp on it to make it ‘good enough’ to be used to pay a fee that could easily be made available online and then travel another 10 kms to submit the form only to know the bank is closed for this particular form.  And you know it’s just day one of your education.  There will be more to come.

Back to the photo.  I asked my cousin to pose for me once more and this time I took enough time in setting up the scene and extracting as much as I could out of it.  Sticking to the story, Education.  Hence the map, the school bag, kid reading something.  I think I came a little close to a better image this time.  There’s this sense of warm morning light coming from left with those shadows.  At least that was the intention.  Flash about 5-6 feet away pointing towards him with a CTO on flash head to give it the morning glow look.  I made several adjustments and many shots but this one seemed to come close to what I wanted.

Take care.

That Part Time Thing Part III

Shot with Canon 1100D, f5.6, 1/100, 100ISO, off camera flash frame left.

Shot with Canon 1100D, f5.6, 1/100, 100ISO, off camera flash frame left.

This is the last rant about the Part-time thing we try to manage. The things I mentioned in previous posts weren’t out of the ordinary but probably some you already knew and were just needing to hear from someone other than yourself.  For example, we already know we should be exercising but most of us don’t!

At the risk of sounding a wise-ass again I wanted to mention another thing.  And I know you know this one already too.  Don’t forget the family. Even if you have a long list of photo ideas, do take some time out to photograph your family members.  Make photos to show us, the viewers, what’s it like to be them, what do they mean to you, what’s their role in your family?  This will not only help you connect with your family more but also create priceless visual memories.

The photo above is of my cousin.  A very bright student.  I wanted to make this portrait of him that tells he is one.  In came the books, stationery, clock, study table in the background in the frame to make a part of the story. The casual posture and smiling face hopefully portrays his comfort with the books and studies which I hated most of my school life.  This little shoot also taught me another important lesson. I’m terrible at interacting with people. I was finding it difficult to keep him engaged.  And that’s someone I know already.  I failed to go further after reaching a point with this one.

Take care

That Part-time Thing Part II

Idea Generation??

Idea Generation??

Last week we identified wasteful activities and eliminate them from our daily schedule to make time to shoot or spend towards learning our craft. We identified how we can take out time from existing schedules for our crafts and still be available to be a husband, dad, son and a friend.

So, now that you have made some time, what do you do with it?  Do you have some ideas that you can play with? It doesn’t have to be a Nobel-prize-winning-picture-perfect-kick-ass-make-you-famous-overnight one but anything as simple as a topic like ‘Circle’, ‘Colors’, etc will do.  Join a photography forum online and they’ll give you projects that you can participate in and even get critiqued. Participate on those online forums. I don’t want to give recommendations here because you might already have an option in mind.  Just pick any.  There’re tons of good forums out there.  And it’s all free.  Just pick a keyword and shoot around that keyword for a week.  That way you’ll never run out of ideas. Sometimes we find ourselves with a long list and make it an excuse for not working because we don’t know which one to pick.  Get to work.  Create something.  Anything but do it.

I’d also highly recommend a book You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins. Visit youareawriter.com for more. Even though the writer has talked about the art of writing and struggles of writers but if you replace writer with photographer or any craft you’re pursuing you’ll identify the struggles Jeff describes in this book and how to deal with them.

When I’m reading a book I keep a notebook and a pencil on the side.  As I read through light bulb start blinking over my head and I start scribbling on the notebook.  Somehow reading a good book always triggers ideas in my head and I make sure to write them down on the paper so I don’t forget them later.   A new project, new photo idea, new blog post topic, an article.  Anything.

I’d love to hear from you where you get your ideas from and how you make sure you implement it and not just leave it in your head to rot.  Please share with us using the comments section below.

Contd..

That Part-time Thing Part I

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I started this blog as a platform to share my journey as a photographer. Why a weekend photographer?  Because I have a full time job and I mainly shoot during the weekends.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this battle of managing time. I share little things and tips as I learn and hope it’ll help others who are in the same boat as I am.  I call it a part-time thing because I do it only when I have ‘free’ time during the weekends, whatever ‘free-time’ means.

So this is what I did.  I started with making a note of my daily schedule and identify where I can divert my time towards photography or even reading.  This’s not a goal setting time table we used to make during our exams or after bad results that we never followed because they were just unrealistic and were results of impulsive reaction to bad results.  Or may be it was just me.   I just noted down and reviewed what my typical day looks like.  Noting the schedule on a piece of paper  helps.  Be realistic and I’m sure you can make at least half an hour or more every day to devote to practicing your craft.

Start with small steps.  May be something like reading a book or listening to podcasts during commute to office or waiting in a queue or at the doctor’s.  That’s just few of the examples where you can ‘make’ time. Identify the wastes and eliminate them.

If Art had a final destination probably we would have lost Art a long time ago with a handful individuals holding the Completion Certificates.  The beauty of Art is in its ‘No final destination’ or ‘ no final milestone’. There’s no Completion Certificate. And that’s what makes it so beautiful because you can continue to grow knowing there’s still a lot to be learnt and explored that keeps you interested and scratching your heads and what not.

Some challenges will be easy to overcome while some may take a while, practice and discipline.  Distractions like social sites, new accessory deals online, new lens that you think you need, previews and reviews, making plans of starting a small business that’s never going to take off etc are few of the challenges.

I’d love to hear any tips you guys have for me and for others reading this.  It’s not an easy craft but definitely one of the few that anyone can pursue these days.

Contd…