Posts Tagged ‘bangalore’

The Tea Cup

September 1st, 2010

This is a shot from my archives, taken on the plane on the way to Bangalore, India for a wedding in October of last year.

I was setting up to make the portrait of an elderly gentleman and realised that I had packed my speedlights in my suitcase, which was *cough* conveniently in the plane’s hold.

So, I had to work with available light. Must say, not much light on a plane. I ended up switching on every reading light I could find and directing it, so far as possible, in the direction of my subject (which is why there are so many spots of light reflecting in the kind old man’s eyes).

I made a number of test shots, with the kind assistance of my frs. This was one of them. I loved how it turned out.

More coming soon!

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Bangalore Portraits – Part IV

January 17th, 2010

This here is the last post featuring portraits I made in Bangalore. You can check out the previous instalments in the series here: Part I, Part II and Part III.

This here is Ganesh. Yep, like the Hindu deity. He is one of the guards at the Bangalore Palace. He was standing to attention outside the entrance for hours, gently smiling to the wedding guests as they flitted by.

This gentleman and his rather large collection of oversized hats came up to our vehicle at one point as we were waiting in traffic.

I came across this friendly dude as he was on his break, just off Commercial Street.

This is Azam. He owns and runs a fruit store called Fresh Fruits on Brigade Street. He is one of the kindest and friendliest people I met in Bangalore.

I’d stopped outside his stall with a few frs, one of whom wanted to try out, and buy, some rare Indian fruit. Azam was happy to walk us through a range of different fruits, telling us where each one came from and what made it special. Then he would cut out slices of each fruit and hand them to us to try. He wasn’t pressing us to buy anything from him. He was just happy to introduce us to the variety of fruits that India has to offer.

At one point as he was talking, a beggar came up to our party and signed to us for some alms. Azam, without interrupting his explanations, and without making any show of it, reached behind him and selected a fruit, making sure it was ripe, and then handed it to the beggar with a slight nod. It was done so naturally and quietly that no-one else in my party noticed.

Be sure to visit this extraordinary man at his fruit shop the next time you’re in Bangalore.

One of the first things I would go on about to most anyone who would listen upon my return from Bangalore was the amount of colour! The wedding itself was incredible on its own, but even everyday wear was so full of rich bright colour. For example, take this gent, his wife and his textiles. He’d set up shop off a tiny side-street off Commercial Street. I used flash in the shot below to make their eyes pop.

I couldn’t not make a portrait of this woman. She was sat by her lonesome in a pile of rubbish on a side-street off Commercial Street.

This coconut seller expertly chopped up a number of coconuts for our thirsty party. When we were done sipping the refreshing milk, he then chopped each coconut in half, carved out a makeshift spoon with one chop of his machete, scooped out the tender pulp out of one half and piled it into the other before handing them back to us (with spoon).

These three boys, who put me in mind of some scene from Slumdog Millionaire, accosted me and a friend outside a building on a street just off Brigade Street. They wanted to shine our shoes. We politely declined. The boys didn’t insist, and made ready to leave. But there was something about the eldest boy that called to me. Something about the kindness in his beautiful eyes. I suggested to them that while I couldn’t pay for their services, I could make their portrait. They agreed and patiently waited a few minutes for me to pull out my camera and set up. Then the eldest brought the younger two closer and held them. I showed them the picture afterwards (I love that about digital cameras) and they thanked me and moved on. The youngest called out to me just moments later, pointing to some bags of potato chips (that’s crisps to you if you’re British) hanging in the display of a tiny store. I think the most heartless would have found it impossible to resist getting a few bags for them. Shortly thereafter, after the boys had moved on, my friend pointed something out to me that I’d missed out on completely: they had sought to shine our shoes, but they themselves were barefoot.

Of all the pictures I made in India – in fact, of all the pictures I made throughout 2009, quite possibly since I first put eye to camera viewfinder – I am proudest of this picture.

More pictures coming soon!

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Bangalore – Slices of Life – Part IV

December 30th, 2009

This is the final instalment in my series of shots of life on the streets of Bangalore as seen through my lens in the short time I visited it. You can check out the preceding instalments here: Part I, Part II and Part III.

This bike was seen on a side street off Commercial Street, propped up against a wall and left to its own devices:

Bangalore Bike

Cubbon Park is a beautiful, sprawling, varied and very peaceful place. Perfect for getting away from the hustle and noise of the big city. Everything seems hushed there and life seems to slow down to a more manageable pace.

Perhaps that’s why some sections of the park are lovers’ lanes. Everywhere you’d look, couples would be lying side by side in the sun, or sitting in the shade of whispering trees, enjoying each others company.

Lovers' Lane

While some relaxed in the park, others seemed to rely on it for their livelihood. Such as this group below which were collecting and bundling logs, possibly for resale:

Bundling

You can see portraits of some of the group here and here.

Below is a dragonfly seen outside the ISCON temple. The little park on the temple grounds were home to many dragonflies, which zipped haphazardly about their business over and through the throngs of faithful and the tourists who went about theirs.

Dragon? Fly!

Below is the view from the doorway to a lawyer’s office. Seen in a building on Brigade Street.

Law Books

This is a shot of the waiting area to the office of a palm reader and fortune teller. Seen in that same building on Brigade Street.

The Waiting Room

On the wall hang three religious icons. Interestingly each references a different religion Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. For some reason, Buddhism seems to have been neglected…

Tolerance

I promised you a story regarding an angry fortune teller. So here it is. I’d followed a friend of mine, who wanted her palm read, up to the fortune teller’s. Before he began his session, I asked him if he’d allow me to take a few pictures. he allowed me to, but asked that I only take the waiting area and not shots of him or the rest of his office. So far so good. He seemed agreeable enough to start with. But his attitude quickly veered. I wish I knew why he took an instant dislike to me. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

So, I took out my camera and flash, and took a test shot and 2 others (the ones you see up top) before he there was a flare of schoolmasterly anger and he sternly demanded that I take no more pictures and it was implied that he’d prefer it if I took my business elsewhere. So I went off for a wander.

The fortune teller’s offices were on the top floor of a building. The single corridor on that floor opened onto a rooftop terrace. I had barely stepped out into the sunlight to see if I could find an interesting subject or angle for a shot, when I hear our friend the fortune teller waxing forcefully about how no-one was allowed out onto the roof by order of the management of the building. He berated me and demanded that I come back inside. His tone was quite unnecessarily gruff – he could have just explained things nicely but I didn’t wish to make a fuss and so acquiesced without comment.

Shortly afterwards, I left the building to go for a walk. On my return, I met the building’s caretaker in the elevator. She was kind enough to grant me unrestricted access to the roof. Armed with such permission, out I went. I managed to take a shot or two at one end of the roof and no sooner had I crossed to the other side than our old friend the fortune teller became practically apoplexic. I tried to explain to him that I’d gotten express permission from the caretaker but he would hear nothing of it. Instead, he continued to rail at me. He even threatened to have me sued by the building’s owner whom he claimed was a lawyer. Seeing as he was still reading my friend’s palm, I decided it was best not to respond and took my business elsewhere, permanently…

Here is a book shop, if one can call it that, set up on a flight of stairs and against an alley wall off one of the main commercial streets in Bangalore. I passed it twice – on two separate days. The first day, I took the first shot, but the book seller objected and I quickly moved on. The second day, I joked a bit with him and eventually, although he declined my invitation for a proper portrait of himself, he allowed me to take a picture of his setup.

I Am Not

I find it interesting that on the wall above the book seller in the shot above appears a graffiti declaring: I am not a criminal. I wonder who wrote it, and why.

Bookman's Alley

It was serendipitous that this police officer wandered down the alley in the shaft of light, just as I took my shot. I feel it brought the picture together and gave it added depth.

In closing, I leave you in this last post of 2009 with this shot of a beautiful little shrine to Ganesh. Ganesh, or Ganesha, is among the most popular gods from among the Hindu Pantheon. It’s easy to see why. He is typically portrayed as good humoured and he stands for wisdom, learning and as remover of obstacles both physical and spiritual.

Ganesh

Seen on the dashboard of one of the cars which took my friends and I around Bangalore.

One last note – I unfortunately didn’t have the time to include all the pertinent information relating to the gear and settings I used to make the shots above. I’ll be aiming to add them subsequently and very soon. Do check again later! Also, do to heavy workload, and a sporadic internet connection, the next post may be a little delayed. I’ll be posting as soon as am able to!

Happy New Year to one and all! Here’s wishing you a new year filled with good humour, occasions for joy, the good company of family and friends, success in your endeavours, peace and comfort in your private lives, faith and wisdom in the face of adversity, and may you overcome all obstacles with gentle ease.

See you in 2010!

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Bangalore – Slices of Life – Part III

December 26th, 2009

Carrying on from Part I and Part II, here is the next instalment of shots stolen here and there on the streets of Bangalore.

So much of life in Bangalore happens on the streets. More so perhaps than in other places. Hopefully, Parts I and II have gone some way as to demonstrate this.

This man seems to have set up a clothes stall on a foldaway bed by a construction site. Seen on a side street off Commercial Street.

BangaloreSofLIII-2

A building seems to have been demolished recently on this plot of land. Much of the rubble has been cleared away, allowing cows and people to adopted it for somewhat similar uses. Well, perhaps not entirely similar uses. The cows just chill and do whatever it is that cows that have no demands on their time do, while the men face the wall for some more … private business. Seen on a side street off Commercial Street.

BangaloreSofLIII-4

One thing about Bangalore is that there appears to always be heavy traffic on the streets. There didn’t appear to be any time of day when it eased up.  It was either bad, or very bad.

Here, a few workers relax and joke as they sit in the back of a truck.

BangaloreSofLIII-14

Interestingly, the vast majority of vehicles on the roads were either tuk-tuks or motor bikes.

Take a look at this long line of motorbikes, stretching to the end of the street as far as the eye can see. It’s not uncommon to see sights like this, or to come across a parking lot overflowing with motorbikes.

BangaloreSofLIII-1

And here, looking like they’re about to race, a line of tuk-tuks and motorbikes.

BangaloreSofLIII-7

I wanted to get more of a sense of the noise and chaos on the streets. So I turned to night shots. I thought the longer exposures required for them would help me get the feel I was going for. Unfortunately, I only really had one opportunity for those – when in a car heading to the wedding reception on the last night of my stay in Bangalore. I was riding shotgun, so that helped.

Here are a few of the resulting shots.

Bangalore By Night-4

A motorbike swerves around a car and streaks on.

Bangalore By Night-3

Bangalore By Night-2

More pictures coming soon!

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The Gurupurb

December 22nd, 2009

I forget where we were headed to one day when we got stuck in traffic which was worse than normal (for Bangalore). Traffic was backed up a good few hundred meters and it didn’t seem like we were going to be headed anywhere in a hurry. The reason for the delay appeared to be some procession at the intersection in the distance. I grabbed my camera, climbed out of the car heedless of the driver’s protests, and made a dash for it.

Turns out there was a several-thousand-person strong Sikh procession in celebration of the anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. The actual date this year was to be the 2nd of November, 2009. But it is not uncommon for celebrations (or Gurupurbs) to be held in the two or three weeks prior to that date.

Standing there, alone, at an intersection and with the chaos of random traffic and stray motorbikes that miss you by mere inches, chanting people, suspicious policemen, whiffs of smoke fumes and the scent of food – it felt like my first real taste of India.

So far, everywhere I went, I had been for all intents and purposes led by the hand. We were spoilt by our hosts: everything had been provided for us – food, shelter, transportation and a pretty full program. Everything we experienced felt like, and for the most part was, part of an intricate, well-organised and well-executed Plan. There was very little room for error in this Plan.

This was not part of the Plan. This was unbridled. It wasn’t muffled behind glass windows, nor seen from the comfort of a hotel terrace, or car seat. I was no longer looking out at India. I was in the middle of the action. And this was pure chaos. It felt like anything could happen. It was a revelation.

As I watched, I chatted away with the family on the motorbike next to me, and tried to get some decent shots of the Gurupurb without getting run over by stray motorbikes or further arousing the suspicions of the 3 policemen who materialised beside me when they saw my camera.

I got treated to a mildly suspicious interrogation by the senior policeman. He seemed to be worried that I might be a journalist of some sort. I assured him I was in Bangalore for a wedding, and when I told him whose wedding it was, he appeared to relax a tad. Amazingly enough, everybody in Bangalore seemed to know this wedding was on. Unfortunately, he was only pacified for a few minutes and soon enough he was again interrogating me. That meant that I wasn’t as free with my movements as I’d otherwise have liked – and had to take the shots I could from where I stood. I felt I should stay put where I was and make small talk with him so as not to get myself carted off to the nearest police station.

I was eventually saved from his questions by two things. The first was that one of my friends joined me to take a look at the procession as well. The second was one of the Sikh revellers. I stopped to ask him some questions about the procession as he seemed to be an authority figure.

He was, like most Bangaloreans, exceedingly friendly, and adopted us immediately, telling us a little about Sikhism, about Guru Nanak and the Gurupurbs in general, about the prayers and the Panj Piare (or Five Beloved Ones). He even went off to collect reading material for us and some of the food that was being distributed.

Below you can see the long line of people making their way down the highway, with vehicles waiting patiently for them to clear. Interestingly, none of those waiting seemed upset, or annoyed at the delay. All waited patiently. Well, except for some people on motorbikes. At one point there seemed to be a small break in the procession, and suddenly tens of bikes were in the fray, zipping left and right in a mad dash for the other side.

The Procession (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/640sec)

Revelers (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/500sec)

This water truck came along at one point in the procession, pipes behind it spraying water on the street. It was followed by tens of barefoot people with makeshift brooms, who proceeded to sweep the street ahead of five sword-bearing figures in bright yellow robes – representing the original Panj Piare.

The Water Truck (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 38mm, f4.2, ISO 200, 1/160sec)

This man was one of those who came immediately after the truck. The poor guy had the unenviable task of trying to sweep while dodging bikers.

Dodging Motorbikes (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 105mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/1250sec)

The men were followed by the women, protected by men cordoning them off with bright yellow ropes.

The Sweeps (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 40mm, f4.2, ISO 200, 1/320sec)

Sweeping (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/100sec)

Oddly enough, I was unable to take a picture of all five sword-bearers. I have no idea why that is. Each picture I took had one of those on the fringes hidden from sight by a passerby. A little frustrating it was.

Framed Pani Piare (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 62mm, f4.8, ISO 200, 1/250sec)

Pani Piare Partial (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 56mm, f4.8, ISO 200, 1/250sec)

Food and blessings were distributed from garlanded trucks:

Food, Blessings and Garlands (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 65mm, f5, ISO 200, 1/400sec)

Even schools were participating:

The School Banner (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, f4.8, ISO 200, 1/160sec)

More pictures coming soon!

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Temples

December 18th, 2009

Architecture is the most enduring of all of mankind’s different forms of cultural expression. Paintings and drawings may fade, paper and papyrus may crumble to dust, day to day items may vanish,  - architecture outlasts them all. Think Petra, or the great pyramids of Egypt or of the Mayan and Incan cultures. Think the Roman ruins in Baalbeck, Lebanon, or the Angkor Wat, or the Great Wall of China, or the Sacre Coeur in Paris, or the countless other reminders of cultural heritage.

It seems to me that some of the most striking examples of cultural expression in architecture often tend(ed) to appear in structures of religious significance. You may say this approach largely no longer applies to our modern, perhaps more secular, times where you could argue that extraordinary expressions in architecture are now almost exclusively the domain of the private sector – high-rise, hotels, office and residential buildings (Burj Dubai, anyone?). But that’s a discussion for another place between more qualified people than I.

I can certainly say that the most striking examples of architecture that I saw in the short time I was  in Bangalore were the Hindu temples I visited, or glimpsed hear and there while on the road. I was less impressed by the only other architectural standouts like the Bangalore Palace or government buildings such as the Vidhana Soudha or the bright red Attara Kacheri (High Court).

All the temples I saw seemed to be of the Dravida (featuring towers with progressively smaller storeys of pavilions) variant prevalent in the South (see here for more info on Hindu temple architecture). These temples are some of the most beautiful structures I have yet seen. The brightness of the colours and the intricacy of the carvings – very striking. I wish I had the time to learn more about them and the culture behind it. I intend to, at some point.

I only managed to visit three temples. I’m using visit in the loosest of ways, of course. I glimpsed quite a few more peppered here and there all over the place. If only there had been time to visit them all.

Temples were hidden in the most unlikely places. You might turn a corner on a tiny side street and suddenly see a beautiful multi-coloured tower rising invitingly in the distance:

An Invitation (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/500sec)

I came across one very small but beautiful temple while exploring side streets behind Commercial Street. I daren’t enter for fear of offence and thus only saw what was visible from the gate. A few pictures appear below:

The Golden Gate (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 100mm, f5.6, ISO 1000, 1/50sec)

Stones (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 112mm, f5.6, ISO 500, 1/60sec)

The Trident (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 60mm, f4.8, ISO 1000, 1/80sec)

The only temple I had the chance to properly visit and explore was the ISKON temple. The temple site is massive, and the temple itself is a sprawling wonder. Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed inside, so the pictures below are a sample from those very few I took from outside (time was the big limitation here).

Two things stay with me from that visit.

The first thing is the privilege of observing people expressing their faith in little big ways. One lady with her young son humbly made an offering at one of the smaller shrines on the granite steps leading up to the main temple. I, along with some friends, stopped at these shrines a while to discreetly watch. And learn. One man I met at each of the shrines. The first time I saw him he was prostrated on the ground before the first. When he had completed his prayers there, he proceeded to complete 108 revolutions around each of the shrines, chanting as he went.

The second thing is the extremely … dare I say, commercial, approach the guys at the ISKON temple took to everything. Entire sections, collectively bigger than the main temple shrines, were dedicated to selling all sorts of stuff, from ISKON approved books to scarves, posters, trinkets and all manner of foodstuffs.

I can understand the need of a non-profit organisation to raise funds, so that bit there isn’t on its own what struck me as odd.

It was that coupled with what one of the guys said at a counter we were led to behind the main shrine after the blessings. He started by requesting donations – telling us about the impressive Food for Life program. But then he showed us sketches and renderings of a new, bigger temple and grounds they were planning to build somewhere in Bangalore.

He lost me at the point where he said they wanted to make it like Disneyland. As in, rollercoaster rides and everything.

He was serious.

I’m confused.

The Sprawling Complex (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200 - HDR)

The Tower (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 82mm, f5.3, ISO 200, 1/1000sec)

This temple here below I glimpsed from a bridge as I was heading to the airport with some of my friends. The car stopped by the side of the road to allow the other vehicle in our convoy (the one with the luggage) to catch up with us. I asked the driver if he could go back so I could take a closer look. He duly obliged, reversing some 200 meters on the highway.

The temple was about 50 meters in, away from the main road, hidden behind lush green trees. It appeared to be completely abandoned. I’m not sure if that really is the case, or if people only use it occasionally.

The Abandoned Temple (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 36mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/160sec)

I don’t know why the entrance features very prominent fangs in the gateway. But that doesn’t strike me as particularly inviting.

The Toothy Entrance (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 38mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/160sec)

The Figures (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/160sec)

To finish, I leave you with this shot, taken from a car whisking us off to a wedding-related event:

The Brightly Coloured Tower (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 @ 34mm, f8, ISO 200 - HDR)

More pictures coming soon!

However , I can’t promise the next post may not be in two days. I’m going to be travelling for a bit and my access to the internet is likely to be erratic. :)

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Bangalore Portraits – Part III

December 16th, 2009

Carrying on from Part I and Part II, here are a few more portraits of the great people I met in Bangalore.

I met this family when I stood watching a Sikh procession in celebration of the birth of Guru Nanak (more on that later). I love the way this picture turned out. The son resembles the mum, and the daughter resembles the dad, and the son and mum were facing the same way, and the father and daughter a different way. And yes, they were all sat on one tiny motorbike. As is pretty much standard, only the father wore a helmet, cause that’s the minimum required by law – the driver of a bike must wear a helmet.

Family on a Bike (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 30mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/320secs)

This man I met outside a fruit stall on Brigade Street. He’s a retired aircraft engineer who worked 35 years building and designing aircraft for an aircraft manufacturer with operations in India (the name escapes me). He stood proudly to attention while I took this shot. I understand from conversation with him that he’s dedicated his post-retirement life to his religion.

Retired Aircraft Engineer (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f6.3, ISO 200, 1/125sec + flash SB900)

One of the ladies I met in Cubbon Park. She and her friends were collecting wood.

Wood Collector (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 35mm, f4, ISO 200, 1/30sec)

This is Mubashir. He’s a Muslim Indian from Kashmir who, along with his brothers, own and run a store called Asian Arts Emporium (located on 8 Cunningham Road). They sell some very fine silk (for saris and dresses), and all sorts of interesting arts and crafts. I visited their store twice with friends and made a goodly number of purchases.

We ended up having long and very interesting conversations with Mubashir. I particularly enjoyed our conversations about Islam. It’s a shame that Islam as it should be: one of peace, faith, humility, dignity in the face of adversity and enduring human kindness; does not seem to appeal to the popular media. That’s why the patience and warmth of people like Mubashir is important.

The conversations we had with Mubashir also brought the sheer breadth and variety of India to the fore – he doesn’t speak Kannada, the prevalent language in Bangalore, an requires a translator when dealing with Bangaloreans. The sheer number of languages and dialects spoken in India is staggering. You can find out more here.

Mubashir (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 56mm, f5, ISO 200, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

This man encouraged the mapseller to stand for her portrait and then happily agreed to stand for his own.

The Mapseller's Cheerleader (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 56mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/50sec + flash SB900)

This woman appeared silently while I stood at the gateway to a temple on a street off Commercial Street taking pictures of the temple grounds within. She allowed me to shoot the temple, even invited me in to do so. However, I didn’t wish to intrude and so remained at the gate to snap a few shots. I then asked her if I could take her portrait. She graciously acquiesced, but remained at distance. I was struck by the peace in her kind eyes.

The Temple Keeper (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO 1000, 1/80sec)

This here is The Park Hotel‘s one and only Raja Gopal. I thought of rendering this picture in black & white. But I liked the colour of his dastaar (Sikh headdress).

Raja! (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 65mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/80sec)

Meet the Liftman. This fine chap took me on a few rides up and down in the elevator of a building off Brigade Street.

Elevator Man (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/100sec + flash SB900)

More pictures coming soon!

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Bangalore Slices of Life Part II

December 12th, 2009

Carrying on from Part I, here are some more shots stolen here and there from the streets of Bangalore.

I came across this scene in a side street off Commercial Street. The woman is sitting in a pile of trash, out of the sun, while the dog lay sunning itself in the middle of the narrow street.

The Lady & the Tramp  (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 56mm, f4.8, ISO 200, 1/400secs)

A fruit stall. Taken while the fruit seller prepared the salad for the drum sellers whose portrait you can see here.

The Mobile Fruit Stall  (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 36mm, f4, ISO 200, 1/800secs)

Some places have a newspaper stand every few meters. Others have telephone boxes. Bangalore has fruit sellers. Some have stalls, others drive carts, and yet others bikes…

Fruit Selling  (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 44mm, f4.2, ISO 200, 1/1250secs)

The finest transportation known to man:

Tuk-Tuk! (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/640secs)

Seen in Cubbon Park.

Reaching for the Sun  (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/640secs)

Seen at a crossing.

MotoCross  (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 70mm, f5, ISO 200, 1/640secs - HDR)

This is High Point Tower. Not exactly very tall, is it?

High Point *cough*  (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/3200secs)

I liked the bright red of the sheet in front of the stall.

Snacking Red  (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/80secs)

This Tuk-Tuk was rolled over on its side by its driver, who lay underneath fixing it while a colleague looks on.

Tuk-Tuk Takes a Dive  (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 90mm, f5.3, ISO 200, 1/1000secs)

The very beginning of Commercial Street. Somebody seems to have forgotten to take their rubble with them once done demolishing whatever it was they were demolishing. Instead, they left the pile of rocks and dirt in the middle of the street… I waited for the bike to flit into the frame before snapping the shot.

Biker & Rubble  (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/400secs)

Seen at a fruit stand on Brigade Street:

Fruity  (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/100secs)

I was struck by the incongruity here. Trash piled up on the sidewalk and overflowing onto the street, while nearby an empty bin proudly displays an emblem of consumerism and globalisation.

Trashed  (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 48mm, f8, ISO 200, 3 exposures - HDR))

Matching Coconuts. For some reason, I don’t think the term “Matching Centre” in India has the same connotations as in the West. Of course, I could be mistaken…

Matchmaker  (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/250secs)

More pictures coming soon!

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A South-Indian Wedding

December 8th, 2009

Entrance to Bangalore Palace (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f5.6, ISO200, 1/800sec)

Quite a few of you have been waiting for the Bangalore Wedding pictures.

So here they are!

As one of my fellow guests said: “Our eyes were full of colour”. I think the pictures speak for themselves so I’ll be keeping comments to a minimum.

I may just give some context - shamelessly lifted from a card we were given at one of the events which explained the festivities, rituals and their significance in brief.

The wedding ceremony starts with the bride being escorted in a procession to the Mantapam (the decorated stage on which the ceremony is to take place). Friends and family take part. The procession is led by bridesmaids carrying brass pots filled with rice and coconut on the left and bridesmen carrying ceremonial umbrellas on the right. I understand that generally, they are dressed in all manner of colours, but this time was different – the bridesmaids were in beautiful green saris, and the men in white silk robes. For the most part, that is. If I’m not mistaken there was one bridemaid alone who hadn’t been issued with her green sari – and wore a beautiful white one instead. The men also had one stand-out: Me. On my arrival, one of the bride’s uncles pulled me aside and handed me a ceremonial umbrella. When I objected, pointing out the red kurtha I wore, he said: “nevermind that, we want you here”. I couldn’t begin to express how touched I was by that gesture – at being asked to participate in, and not simply attend, my friend’s wedding.

Once the bride is settled on the Mantapam, and the groom arrives, he too is escorted along with his friends and family to the Mantapam in a procession led by the same bridesmaids and men. That complete, we were all led onto the Mantapam as well, and sat to the right of the stage to watch the ceremony. The wedding hall was massive, with seating perhaps for thousands in front of the stage, but I felt that it was a cosy ceremony in which there was just us, we few on the Mantapam.

Evidently, I took no pictures of the processions and the initial part of the ceremony as my camera wasn’t with me, and I couldn’t anyway. Ali – am so grateful to him – the fine gent to whom I’d handed the camera for safekeeping – came up to the stage and handed me the camera early on. Thanks to him, I got the chance to take these pictures you see here. And from a different angle to that of the photographers clustered stage front.

I was struck by how similar some of the rituals and concepts evident in this beautiful South Indian wedding are to those in other cultures. For instance – the raining of Akshatha (rice) on the happy couple – common to Christian and Muslim weddings. Also, the three rounds the couple effected around the holy fire during the wedding ceremony proper, which echoes the three rounds around the altar in some Christian (notably Orthodox and Greek Catholic) wedding ceremonies (called the Dance of Isaiah). I understand that this is a ritual that predates Christianity. The various explanations given for the three rounds in each culture and religion may vary, but the symbolism remains the same – the newlyweds taking their firsts steps together as one.

Anyway. Enough talk. Picture time!

Above, the entrance to Bangalore Palace on the morning of the wedding. Below, one of the line of drummers who greeted us at the entrance to the palace.

Drummer Man (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 95mm, f5.6, ISO200, 1/160sec)

Welcome Drummers (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 90mm, f5.6, ISO200, 1/200sec)

This lady’s long hair was bedecked in jasmine. A lovely sight.

Dressed up in Jasmine (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 60mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/30sec)

One of the trumpeteers who preceded the bride.

The Trumpetter Cometh (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f4, ISO1000, 1/160sec)

The lovely bride, looking regal.

The Regal Bride (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/160sec)

The Blessing (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

Here, the bride and groom after holy water was poured on their hands during the Dhare. The Dhare is the prayer ritual which follows the wedding ceremony proper. Prayers are offered to Agni, the Lord of Fire, who dispels darkness and leads the way to the light of wisdom and knowledge.

Holy Water (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 85mm, f5.3, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

Offering to Agni 1 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 100mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

Offering to Agni 2 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

Colour and Smiles (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

Offering to Agni 3 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 60mm, f4.8, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

Offering to Agni 4 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 100mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

Garlanding the Brother of the Bride (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 105mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

This is one of a series of saffron mounds, seen between the groom and bride. These were crushed by the bride during the ceremony.

Saffron Cone (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

The Groom (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/320sec)

An ecstatic bride and groom during the one of the rounds of the saptapadi (the seven rounds around the holy fire).

A Round Around The Fire (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/320sec)

I loved that although the wedding was such a detail-rich series of rituals and symbolism, steeped in the traditions of a millenia-rich culture, there so much room for joy in it:

Heaping up the Offerings (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

I can easily say it was the most beautiful and moving weddings I have yet attended.

In closing, here’s another picture from the Bangalore Palace grounds. Now, this isn’t strictly speaking wedding related – but the cannon was just sitting there outside the Palace gates, looking all cannon-y. Couldn’t resist. Hehe.

The Cannon (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, f5.6, ISO200, 1/500sec)

More pictures coming soon! Including pictures of my favourite wedding-related event – the giving away ceremony!

P.S. Any errors in the descriptions of the ceremony and rituals are mine own alone. Please do feel free to clarify if you like.

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Bangalore Portraits – Part II

December 2nd, 2009

Here are a few more portraits of the interesting people whose paths crossed mine in the short time I spent in Bangalore.

In colour, this time (well, mostly).

I met these men on a side street off Commercial Street. They were deep in conversation. I liked the symmetry of the two men on the benches, and the determined, but kind, air of the man standing by the door. I paused to say hullo, and asked if I could take their picture.

Three Men and a Door (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f4, ISO 200, 1/125sec)

If you notice, the door has a decorative Hindu form of the swastika symbol. This should not be confused with the Nazi variant. It’s use in the Asian subcontinent can represent a range of things depending on the context, the direction it facing and the religion (it’s a sacred symbol in each of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Mithraism). It is commonly associated with evolution, stability (as it faces in each of North, South, East and West), and even the movement of the sun. You can find out more here.

Below are drum sellers, father and son. I met them on a street parallel to Commercial Street. The son spent a good deal of time trying to convince me to buy a drum from him. At an outrageous price, no less. I whittled him down to less than a tenth of his initial asking price (no joke) but, I mean, what use do I have for a drum? I told him so, and offered to take his picture instead. He agreed, and I took a few portraits of him alone, and then of him with his father.

He still insisted that if I wasn’t about to buy a drum off him, then at least I should give him some money so he could feed himself and his dad. He insisted on being given money. But when we spotted a fruit seller, I was happy to offer him and his father a salad.

The Drum Sellers (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 28mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/100sec)

Here is the fruit seller as he cut up a pineapple preparing the salad for the drum sellers:

The Fruit Seller (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 35mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/200sec)

There were quite a few fruit sellers pushing carts along on the streets of Bangalore.

Rolling Along (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/320sec)

When heading back towards Commercial Street on another small side street, I came across a little tailor’s shop. It had no door and was entirely open onto the street. I stopped for a quick hello and the tailors paused for a few moments in their work for a few pictures.

Here are two of the resulting portraits:

The Tailor I (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 78mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

The Tailor II (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 48mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/60sec)

This woman accosted me at the top of Commercial Street as I was waiting for a few friends to join me. She tried to sell me a map of India. I convinced her to let me take a picture of her instead.

She disappeared before I could take a closer shot of her face.

The Map Seller (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/250sec + flash SB900)

This man and his tuk-tuk which was overflowing with blue sacks hauled up alongside our car at a junction:

Tuk-Tuk Man (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 30mm, f3.8, ISO 200, 1/500sec)

I spotted this woman as we passed down a busy street. I loved the colours of the posters, and the odd mix of religious  and other subjects. If you notice, she’s holding a young child in her lap, partially covered in her sari.

The Poster Seller (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 90mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/60sec - slightly cropped)

More pictures coming soon!

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