Posts Tagged ‘Portraits’

The Kids

June 23rd, 2010

I have a newfound respect for photographers who specialise in portraits of children.

A while back I set up to make portraits of my little cousins (10, 7 and 4), who are shining stars each. We turned the photography project into a game and made an afternoon of it. But my, was it challenging. They seemed to always manage to sit still for just long enough for me to compose a shot, but would then move at the precise moment I’d press the shutter. Gah.

That wouldn’t have been so bad except I was also experimenting with light. I had them backlit by a harsh flash (set on any of floor, a table, or sofa) while another flash (mostly hand-held to camera left) provided a softer light to illuminate their features and bring out a catch-light in their eyes.

Here are some of the results.

More pictures coming soon!


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Experiments in Light

January 29th, 2010

I was at a house party a while back when one of my friends walked into the path of an overhead spotlight. The play of light sparked an idea. I whipped out the camera and gear, and ended up roping most everybody into a somewhat mad photo shoot. Here are two of the results.

The first image was taken with the available light from a small overhead spotlight.

More pictures 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 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 Portraits – Part I

November 12th, 2009

People are so interesting.

I know, I’ve said this before. Remains true.

When in Bangalore, I tried to as much as possible share a moment or two with the people whose paths crossed mine.

Some were hawkers, who tried to sell their wares. I aimed to establish some kind of rapport. I’d smile, chat with them a bit, point to my camera and tell them that while I couldn’t purchase what they were selling, I’d be happy to take their picture. None refused.

Others our eyes met while walking in the street, or while in the car awaiting the traffic ahead of us to move. A smile and a nod go a long way.

Here are some of the portraits I took of these diverse and very interesting people whose paths crossed mine in my few short days in the amazing city that is Bangalore.

And this batch is all in black and white!

I met this man while walking in Cubbon Park. He stood by quietly by as my friends and I chatted and took pictures with a group of women who were busy collecting fallen tree branches and collecting them into bundles before porting them off. He had such expressive eyes. Had to take his portrait.

Cubbon Park Hubby (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 120mm, f5.6 , ISO 200, 1/60sec)

This guy pulled up alongside the car I was in. He struck me as a little odd as he was wearing a wool sweater and woolen headgear under his helmet. Note that the weather we experienced in Bangalore is some of the finest anywhere. A cool 25-28 degrees centigrade. No call for sweaters of any kind…

Motorcycle Man (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 78mm, f5.6 , ISO 200, 1/60sec)

These two good-natured gents also pulled up alongside the car I was in. The rules in Bangalore are interesting. Most everyone’s on a moped. Sometimes piled up four or five-strong to a moped that didn’t look like it would even carry one. The good thing is that all moped drivers are obligated to wear a helmet, or face a heavy fine. Passengers tho? I guess different rules apply there. Not a one I saw wore a helmet…

Biker Dudes (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 38mm, f4.2 , ISO 200, 1/60sec)

This man I glimpsed on the corner of a road as the car I was in sped down it. Our eyes met as I was hanging out of the window trying to take a shot of something, and we both laughed. (incidentally, I failed to get the shot of that other thing.) I caught this one as the car turned the corner.

The Happy Man (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 60mm, f7.1 , ISO 200, 1/400sec - cropped)

I’d been told to avoid talking with policemen in Bangalore, as they’d mostly consider anyone with a big camera as suspicious (true enough in most cases, as it turned out). I broke the rule when I saw this policeman walking down the road by Cubbon Park. His partner refused to have anything to do with us, but he lingered for a quick chat, and a portrait. I’m so happy this picture turned out well in black and white, as the colour variant had the colours all washed out from overexposure.

It proved a fair challenge getting the exposures right in India when taking shots of people as they’re often quite dark of skin! Who’d have thought that would be a problem? A fair few shots came out with everything properly exposed, except for peoples’ faces and features, which came out so dark as to have lost all definition. Getting their faces properly exposed made everything else get blown out. Odd. But I learnt to adapt to it.

Sad Eyed Policeman (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, f4.8 , ISO 200, 1/500sec)

This is one of the few times when I didn’t wait for permission from someone before taking their picture. The moment would have passed and the expression on his face would have changed. I wonder what he was thinking about so forcefully.

Man at Lunch (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6 , ISO 1000, 1/60sec)

This is Abbas. He’s an Iranian student, studying dentistry in a university in Bangalore. I met him while wandering around a side street off Brigade Street with a friend. We wanted to know why while there are plenty of dogs and cows all over the place in Bangalore, we’d seen no cats. The most common explanation we’d received were the dogs did away with the cats… Abbas had no idea, but we ended up having a pleasant chat in the shade of a tree.

Abbas the Dental Student (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 62mm, f8 , ISO 200, 1/100sec + flash SB900)

This was the cabbie who took us around on the day we went to visit the ISCON temple and Cubbon Park. We nicknamed him 15-Minute Man, for whenever we’d ask him how long it would take us to get to a particular destination from where we were, he’d invariably reply with a big smile: “15 minutes!” He was great fun, regaling us with the occasional joking comment in broken English or explanations on the sights around us as he drove, weaving through traffic and beeping his horn every few seconds.

15 Minute Man (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 68mm, f5.0 , ISO 200, 1/1250sec)

More pictures coming soon!


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September 9th, 2009

Stripe sniffs a leaf

A few days ago, I decided to capture a few shots of my cats,Gizmo and Stripe (can you guess which is which?), as I haven’t really shot them since they first veni, vidi, vici-ed my home as kittens.

Gizmo sunbathes

The shots were taken over the course of one morning with ambient lighting, fill lighting was courtesy of one flash.

Stripe is Curious

Gizmo lazes

Later that same day, I visited a friend of mine and their beautiful persian, Bazooka, was kind enough to pose for a portrait.

Meet Princess Bazooka


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