Calcutta Chronicles

To me Calcutta is the place I go to eat, shop and meet up with friends. The camera stays neglected in my bag, which is a shame, considering the fascinating locations just around the corner.

So I dusted my camera out its bag and accompanied a school friend and keen photographer to a photo-shoot in and around the streets of North Calcutta specifically Chitpur and Bagbazar. It was a typical winter morning cold and misty and it was interesting to document the scenes of a city waking up from its slumber.

The lanes and by-lanes reminded me of Varanasi but somewhat cleaner and considerably less chaotic. The peeling paint, political slogans and the ubiquitous tea shops created a picture of an old forgotten world where things have not changed much over the centuries. The stray mongrels and muffler clad people moved in a world of mist and smoke from the clay unons (ovens).

By the time it was eight am, the light was decidedly better and the roads were bustling with rickshaws, vendors and people off to work. Just before leaving Chitpur we decided to check out just one more lane and hit the jackpot. The small workshops down a narrow alleyway were crammed with karais or woks in various stages of production. There were men with huge hammers beating the woks into shape; wielding welding torches and smoothing surfaces and edges and putting the final touches to these gigantic cooking pots.

Bagbazar, the citadel of old Bengali aristocracy, cleaner and with wider roads, had remnants of the old buildings now in ruins, speaking of a greater past. After some hing (asafoetida) kachoris and jilipis (jalebis) in front of Girish Mancha, we decided to call it a day.

Think Beyond

In the past one year there has been a lot of discussions about how safe are women in India. Triggered off by the Nirbhaya incident, the discussions escalated as more of more high-profile cases came under scrutiny. The government changed the laws, there was intense debate by the media and a lot of sharing in Facebook and other social media. But how many of us are actually aware of our rights under the new laws? And wouldn’t it be better if we could defned ourselves and not seek legal recourse after the incident?

Think Beyong along with IBS India, arranged a talk entitled Empowering Women — A Talk By Think Beyond on 13th December 2013. The aim was to educate women in law as well as self-defence. Dr. M M Dahikar – DCP Zone X, Ms. Kamayani Bali Mahabal – noted human rights activist and a lawyer and Mr. Joseph Reddy – GM Admin and Facilities, Hiranandani Group were the speakers and covered various aspects of law and legality. It was well attended and well received.

The students of S M Shetty presented a skit on the topic. The martial art demonstration by Ms Suman Basu where she showed how we can use simple moves fascinated and delighted the women present. Mr. Luke Mendes and Ms Malaika Joshi ended the evening with a demonstration of Krav-maga.

Breaking News

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Definition: Breaking news refers to events that are currently developing, or “breaking.” Breaking news usually refers to events that are unexpected, such as a plane crash or building fire. Breaking news can also refer to news that occurs late in the day, close to a news outlet’s usual deadline.

So there you are sipping a cup of tea and watching yet another political debate on the news channel on TV when a scroll goes across the screen…… SACHIN TENDULKAR TO RETIRE AFTER 200TH TEST MATCH. And your heart stops.

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No I am not here to give a similar earth shattering, life-changing news, but I am very excited about it all the same. Theia Photography is changing and growing – with new ideas, new products, new approach and above all new members. Yes a good friend and fellow photographer will soon be joining the studio and contribute her talents. That’s all I am willing and able to say right now. Watch this space for details and you won’t be disappointed.

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Experiments in Photoshop

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Photoshop has never been my tool of choice for post processing; I went for Lightroom almost as soon as it was launched because of its ease of use. But nothing can beat PS when you are trying some major editing and this was one of my first attempts at using various tools like clone, patch, magic wand in conjunction with each other to create a picture dramatically different from the original.

A long way to go yet a good beginning.

That’s What Friends Are For

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Being a photographer is easy. Just buy a good camera and you are set. But the trouble starts when you want to try and be a good photographer.

I never really worked at being an accountant. A month or so before the exams I used to go through the books and make extensive notes and that was about it. Yes I did spend a lot of time planning what to study. And boom I want to be a photographer. And suddenly I am spending hours in front the computer looking at pictures, practicing Lightroom, reading books, magazines or websites. Learning about gear, composition, light and post processing.

Trust me it’s not easy. If you are not sure about a tax law you can just talk to a consultant or look it up in a book. Easy peasy. Then you pick up a camera and suddenly you have to make a decision in 1/500th of a second. Or faster and no one to consult with.

There I was struggling with certain aspects of photography and OCD that I am I am not content to accept what people say, but must cross check. So I go this photographic forum where I often post my pictures and place my doubts. These are photographers from over the world and highly talented people with years of experience.

Suddenly I find one of them has sent me a Drop-box invite and in that box there are goodies galore. Books, pictures and guides, all to answer my questions and make my life easier. An early Christmas present and all I could say was thank you my friend.

Many of you may have noticed my Facebook post asking for female volunteers willing to model for me for a few hours. And for free. Now I am a newbie at portrait photography and I was completely blown away by the response I got despite the fact that I told everyone that I cannot guarantee decent photographs.

So how can you explain how it feels when within three days you have nine confirmed “bookings” including a male model. There are two former colleagues in this list, a few friends from Bombay and one all the way from the USA. Then there is a very elegant lady I met during my Powai Durga Puja shoot who actually amazed me when she offered to spare some time. I know how busy she is with her social, cultural and political work so I am suitably humbled.

So all I want to say through this post is that I am so happy to have so many friends who help when it matters. So again just simply thank you.

On Photography

It’s a professional photographer’s job to make you look as attractive as possible in the pictures. If your pictures are just the same as the ones taken by your cousin with a DSLR then the photographer is not doing his (or her) work properly. It’s not the magic of photo-shop but just a few simple posing techniques which can make the difference. And the ability to make you comfortable. He may know all the theory but if you are not comfortable the photographs will never look right.

In this picture, the older daughter wanted to stand between her parents but I moved her to the other side. Being taller than her mother, the group looked awkward; once I moved her the group formed a nice diamond shape far more pleasing to the eye.

Posing

I must confess there is a bit of Photoshop here. I replaced the wall!

Sharodotsav 2013

Really excited about the Durga Puja this time – specifically about Spandan Foundations Puja at Powai and my assignment to cover the events over six days. The theme is to empower women and the Foundation is going all out to bring the power of Durga to women of all ages and backgrounds. Plus cultural events galore. Dont forget to check the beautiful image of the Goddess at their Facebook page.

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