Things that matter…

365photos 2011, Life in India, photography, randomness, Self

there’s a Marathi (my mother tongue) song which goes ‘rakat desha, kankhar desha, dagdanchya desha’..
hard to translate in English but it’s a love song for the land we live in describing it as bold, strong and rocky in literally full of rocks. It takes a special kind of love to describe something as rocky and yet mean it as a compliment.

This image is from the backwaters of a little mud dam located in a village some 100 kms from Pune. The landscape of India is what keeps me rooted here.. Because every time I spend 45 minutes in traffic for a 10 minute distance, get rudely called off by people on the road, face immense amount of resistance to good ideas just because of cultural attitudes or never get work done in public offices, when life is so busy that work days become 12 hour stretches with no time to spare for things I love.. I have to keep reminding myself that there is beauty here. It needs to be unearthed… Under the callous exterior there is tenderness somewhere. The scruffiness is brought upon by circumstance and not by choice. No matter how I hate the everyday life..I still love being here.. It seems to be a hard comparison to make. But how do you decide if you are happy even when days are spent in misery? Probably because at the end of the day, sleep comes with a satisfaction of being at home…
I don’t know.



365photos 2011, memories, photography

Mysteriously, wonderfully, I bid farewell to what goes, I greet what comes; for what comes cannot be denied, and what goes cannot be detained.

days and nights are currently blending into light streaks..
the colors are barely there..
the shapes are invisible..
in the landscape of life these days are the plateaus
flat.. undulating..
hot days..
cold nights..
slight winds..
cloudy skies..
but not gloomy
nor happy
the color is maroon
it exists
but has no identity..
there’s no sadness..
nor joy
life just is.
for now.

The photo is an oldie taken at Huntington Beach, CA

Landscape photography: starburst effect


I love shooting into the with the lens pointed AT the sun. More often than not.. the sun wins.
So, the starburst effect is exactly as it sounds.. diffracting a light source so that it looks like a star we drew in pre-school. You can create those with the sun, night lights or even stars I guess.

There are a lot of ways to achieve the effect in photos, simplest ones are using special filters or Photoshop.
Being a snob and a purist, I don’t like Photoshop.. plus I get bored with it easily. So, I wanted to try and use the camera and the available lens at hand.
And again I don’t want to make it complicated by adding that the number of streaks in the starburst is equal to number of blades in the lens, since the diffraction occurs at each point where two blades overlap and spreads in both directions from the center of the lens outwards. See.. I knew I’d lose you.

So anyways, a couple of simple tips for the sun:
1. Get the sun at a lower intensity (mornings , late afternoons, sunset) and hide about 2/3rds of the sun. This wont apply if you are trying to achieve the same effect with a light bulb since the available brightness would be way lower.
2. stop down the aperture as much as possible without losing sharpness and required exposure. f18 with a normal lens works great. For a telephoto you may need to go lower and a wide angle will achieve the best results due to the small focal length.


late afternoon

the sun was still too bright but I had a small time window before mr.bright disappeared behind the hill. At f/18.



This was the mid-day sun.. I wasted 20 minutes and about 25 photos.
At f/20. In any case, bad idea.

Photography: shutter speed for still subjects


For seasoned photographers, this may not be a big deal but for a novice like me, finally grasping basic concepts like shutter speed and aperture and what they can do to a photo is almost like an epiphany.

Going into details of exposure or how to set it, is a little beyond scope here. Also there is a wealth of information already available on the internet. Yet I was lost regarding how theory translated into practice.

So this weekend I tried playing with some manual settings, especially the shutter speed. Now I know the shutter speed can help us to do cool things like blur background in motion, blur the subject and freeze subjects. But that’s not it’s first function, is it? So I started with trying to visualize the most simple effect that shutter speed can have. By definition, the shutter speed is the amount of time for which the shutter remains open when we click a photo. So, it decides how long the sensor will ‘see’ the image. What I can understand from this is, if light falls on the sensor for an insufficient amount of time, the image will be dark and vice versa.
I didn’t want to try motion blur or other cool stuff right off the bat because all I get is images which look like I took them under influence balancing on a 6 inch wall.
I wanted a large depth of field since I was shooting landscape and it was sunset, so existing light wasn’t enough and I hate flash anyway. So I chose an aperture of f11 to see how low I could go on the aperture without going black and increased the ISO to 800 to increase light sensitivity. Keeping both these constant I played with the shutter speed.

Now I’m a big fan of Mr.John Shaw and he says “Correct exposure is the exposure you want”. Being a sucker for control you can see why I like the idea.
So my target was to get a nice sunset and I didn’t much care about how the land part looked. I wanted a pretty, fiery, orangey sky but it was a pretty bland yellow that day.
Aaannd ….


…I fell in love with the genius of the camera all over again 🙂

I actually went through about a 150 clicks with different aperture and ISO and shutter speeds before getting the color I wanted. It was exhausting and so worth it.

PS: My previous photography related posts are here and here. I am using this platform to document my learning process and I’d love for you pros out there to give me advice, critique and feedback. Also correct me if I am talking bullshit.