3 Steps of Street Photography

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Let me begin by wishing you all a very happy “World Photography Day”.

On the occasion of photography day, a quick message before I jump into topic. Over a period of time its very very important to know what genre of photography you really want to perceive. 3 years of non stop photography helped me find mine – ‘street photography and long exposure photography’. You just cant let yourself loose by saying “I shoot everything”. Its good to shoot everything but its even more important to know a genre or two that you want to follow which without a doubt would help you in clicking better. You can only zero on to your genre by consistent regular shooting with no excuses. So wishing all of you a very eventful year of photography ahead, hope you find your genre and not be a shoot-everything-photographer for ever. 

In this blog, I want to discuss one of the most common sequence of events in street photography. Street photography can be either candid, where photographer shoots people without their permission. On the other hand, when I see a person who deserves a portrait, I approach him/her and ask his/her permission for the shot, because eye contact with the camera really adds a different depth to the image. When I started street photography, there was this fear to approach people and most often I shot candid. But now years have passed and I have learnt the skill to approach any stranger and ask permission for a portrait. Sometimes its rejected and most often I manage to convince them for a shot. On a recent outing I decided to document the process when I approached a vendor at Dubai fish market. Here’s how it went…

Step 1 : Objection from the subject : 

When you approach a stranger for a photograph, they object – SIMPLE. Even I would do the same if some photographer randomly walks to me pointing his camera. So its understood. There are various reasons for objection, may be he’s just shy or may be anxious to know why he’s being photographed amongst so many around and in this case the query was “Are you from newspaper” 😀 So this objection has to be tackled first before moving to the next step. Usually it just takes a smile and a good loud wish of “Salaam Walekum” to initiate the conversation. 

A clear objection from this person. 

Step 2 : Convincing the subject : 

This is indeed the hardest step. Sometimes I don’t get a chance to get into this step at all because the objection was too strong to ignore :P.That’s the beauty of street, all kinds of people, all kinds of temper, you just got to deal with it 🙂 So when it comes to convincing, I have hell lot of excuses 😛

“I am shooting for a personal project, so this is very important”

“You look great and deserve a portrait”

“You look like a bollywood star”

“I am just a tourist”

“I can make you famous”

“I love your… turban (Mustache, Beard, Hairstyle, costume, blah blah blah) 😀

So make an excuse with a bit of humor, usually it works – works really really well. In this case, I told this guy “You are so photogenic, you should have been really a smart chap when you were young with girls following you all around” and he burst into a loud laughter. So it was time to move to the next step.

Step 3 : Framing the subject :

So once Step 2 works, its easy. Within those little light conversation, there is already a trust built between a photographer and the subject – “Two Perfect Strangers”. They would pose the way you want, they would let you shoot as many times as you want, till you get the right shot, all depending on how well you did in step 2. It just took one shot to get the frame I wanted, Bingo 😉

Fear to approach a subject is always part of street photography (One of the reasons why many people stay away from street photography or mainly concentrate on candid shots on streets), but once you do it over and over again, it just keeps getting easier. I have been compiling a video on how it all works on streets as I shoot by mounting a compact cam on my DSLR. Its still in edit process and once done would reveal it here on the blog, so keep a close eye on this space 🙂

Happy Clicking 🙂

Posted in Photographic Locations, photography, Street Photography, Tips and Tutorials | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Appetite for Film

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Its said, we are in the greatest era of photography. I agree on that – partially. Here’s why…

Thanks to the digital revolution in the field of photography, not only have the gears become highly affordable (there’s something for everyone) but also the innovations in the field of photography has reached crazy heights in the past decade. Despite all the glitters of the modern age of photography, when I thrive for inspiration, I am left with no choice but to look back at the work of legends of the golden days of Film Photography. Whether its the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau for street photography, Ansel Adams for landscapes, Steve McCurry for Travel, Robert CapaJames Nachtwey, David Burnett for photojournalism, the list can just go on and on but all these greatest photographers were from the film era. What makes those days so special is the very simple fact that they had to get it right not using photoshop or lightroom or aperture but through the camera itself. This very fact is missing in the present day of photography. The craze for gears, dependence on editing softwares and popularity on social networks seems to overpower the basic aspects like composition, exposure and creativity. 36 shots on a roll made one think a lot more before pressing the shutter button. Digital age just gave us an option to click 1000’s of pics without giving it a second thought. No complains though, digital holds its pride in making photography more popular by making it more accessible thereby reaching to the masses. Everyone’s a photographer now a days – Including me 😉

But there seems to be a reverse trend of getting back to films. Those old film cameras from yesteryear’s sell dirt cheap online, films aren’t expensive either and neither is developing and printing them a hassle. I am sure these cameras only helps in making a “photographer” get better by forcing the person to think much more than he would do when on a DSLR. ( Or atleast gives the film camera “OWNER” a pride in answering the question “What camera do you use?” with a fancy “I shoot Film” as an answer 😛 ) 

As of now, I am happy referring back to those magnificent masterpices created during the film era and continue clicking with digital. Applying the basic principles of film era like ‘getting it RIGHT on camera’ and never to put your photographs on botox while processing (especially with these nasty editing software options that we got) keeps my journey of photography on track. So I am in no mood to switch to those film cameras for now. 

Since I do a lot of street photography, I always wished to have photographs which gives the feel of films but how do I fulfill my fetish for film photography without even owning one. Answer came in easy with just three words “SILVER EFEX PRO“. Silver Efex Pro is an incredible black and white conversion software from NIK. I am old school when it comes to softwares, I still stick to Adobe Lightroom because its the only editing software I could manage to understand and its limited editing options compared to photoshop makes it even more attractive to me (NO OVERCOOKING – which is AWESOME). 

Silver Efex Pro follows the footsteps of Lightroom in terms of simplicity and user friendliness. What really attracted me the most was the film presets on Silver Efex. Its got a whole range of film presets to mimics film processing. Ilford, Kodak, Fuji and Agfa being the films with ISO range from ISO32 to ISO3200, as per the actual standards. When applied over the photograph being processed, the software almost identically mimics the output of that particular film. Those grains, damn you could almost feel them. The moment I processed my first image on this software, I knew I would have to reprocess all of my older images. That would take ages though, nevertheless I am on it with a deadline to keep myself under check. After almost 600 words of boredom, let me share some of the recent photographs I edited with Silver Efex. 

Film Preset : Ilford Delta 100 Pro. It just changed the whole feel of the image, right away. 

Film Preset : Ilford Delta 400 Pro. ISO400 did add a lot of Noise, but that’s something I was looking for.

Film Preset : Kodak 100 TMAX Pro. 

Film Preset : Fuji Neopan ACROS 100. 

Film Preset : Kodak ISO 32 Panatomic X.

Film Preset : Ilford Delta 400 Pro

Film Preset : Ilford Delta 100 Pro

Film Preset : Ilford PAN F Plus 50 

Film Preset : Agfa APX Pro 100

Usually it doesn’t end with choosing a film preset, I further like to play around on the file in Lr doing those minor tweaks like a bit of dodge and burn, a bit of vignetting and so on, all those minute touche really does add to the final output. 

Silver Efex Pro is a blessing for all the street photographers, who shoot digital and crave for films, but don’t really intend to own one. It works for me, it does fill in my appetite for films 🙂

Posted in photography, Street Photography, Tips and Tutorials | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Play of light – Flash Photography

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Speelights – Flashes – Flashguns – Strobes, different terms but one result = MINDBLOWING. 

Never thought I would be using them and ended up using not one but three for one of the shoot I did recently. Its serious fun, beleive me ;). But before I leap into the topic, let me share on what got me into the field of flash photography – a genre which I thought I would never tap.

It all started when I came across the “One Light DVD” of Zack Arias. Zack for a change reassured throughout the DVD about how simple it was to use these flashes. It gave tremondous boost to my confidence. Then as a blessing came gulfphotoplus, which is without a doubt, one of the best and most well organised photography workshop you could ever wish to attend. Greats like David Burnett, Gregory Heisler, Joe McNally, Zack Arias, David Hobby, David Nightingale and many many more of such whos who of the world of photography graced the occasion. Attending their seminars, chatting with them upclose and personal as if I knew them forever and seeing them in action doing what they do best further added to my confidence in using these flashes. Even before I knew, I had a Nikon SB 910 followed by a 60″ westcott umbrella and other add on’s to make my bag heavier. Was following the mantra of Zack Arias – keep it simple, be a “Minimalist”.

So spent first few days doing some trail, shooting friends and getting some mug shots of them. They looked drunk and wasted, thanks to me and my understanding of the newly bought flash 😀 but was pretty sure it was just a matter of time before I could get a hold on it. Within a week or so things got better, my friends looked healtheir and happier in most of the shots :P. I knew it was time to get going. An example of how it looked after a week of brainstorming is what you see below.

Just one SB910 shot through a collapsed 60″ Umbrella. Cut down the ambient light few stops to get some good fill with the flash. Thanks to Ceetus for being so patient throughout the shoot. 

So now that things were under control and I knew what I was doing, it was time to shoot some real kick ass stuff. V-Man to the rescue. V-man aka Vimal Vijayan is a pro model who works for various agencies in Dubai and thanks to facebook, it makes our world smaller. Got in touch with him and fixed the weekend for a shoot. Was joined by my photog friends Dhruv, Nelvin and Ghazi. It was a marathon of clicks by all of us and just when we thought of wrapping it up, I came up with an idea which ended up looking as seen in the photograph below.

Shot using 3 light set up, 2 x Nikon SB 900 (courtesy : Ghazi) and 1 x Nikon SB 910, captured by Canon 70-200 f 2.8 lens mounted on Canon 7D (courtesy : Dhruv). So it was 3 maestros in work – Me, Nikon and Canon 😛 Yeah, I know what you just thought, get over it, lets look at the set up. 

Like Zack Arias always says “We got to start somewhere”, I started with a single SB 910 in a collapsed 60″ umbrella on the right side of the subject at full power zoomed out at 28mm. Used the Phottix Strato II to trigger SB 910. There was good amount of light wrapping the subject on the right side while mildly filling the left side of his body. Idea was to have a bit more light on his face, so SB900 was placed on his left, zoomed it in at 135mm at 1/8th power to get more directional light on his face. To add to the punch, as the photograph was meant to depict “Aggression”, the 3rd flash which was again a SB900 was placed behind the subject at 1/4th power and zoomed in at 135mm to prevent the excessive spread of light. This flash was angled to lit his hair and also to create rim light across his shoulder. Both SB 900 were put on SU4 mode whereby camera triggered the SB910 via transmitter and these two SB900’s blindly followed the SB910. Simple !

Now that lighting was set, it was time to get the shot. Took around 20 shots to get the right splash of sand, appreciate Vimal for being such a sport. 

Bottom line, Nothing is complicated, they just seem to be until you try them. In any form of photography, all that matters is your attempts to try something new. Don’t be thrown aback by big fat  technical words people throw at you to make photography sound complicated, its all in the mind.

“Get out – Get shooting – Have fun – That’s the only way out” 

Posted in Flash photography, photography, Tips and Tutorials | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Street at 300mm

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Q : “Dude, I am out for street photography, what lens do I use?”

Me : (loud and clear without a second thought) 35mm or a 50mm prime.

Its that easy to make the decision when it comes to streets. Nothing works better on streets than these prime lenses with a fixed focal length, the large aperture lets you shoot super quick and the short and fixed focal length makes you get close to the subject. That’s the key to street photography. Never to forget, street photography is an art which originated more than a century back with a 35mm camera.

But at times its good to break the rules and challenge yourself to do something new. My challenge was to shoot at 300mm on streets using my Nikkor AF-S 70-300mm VR . I heard what you just murmured and I second that, “Not a good idea”.

1. Because walking miles on streets with a heavy lens is real pain.

2. On streets, you need to be invisible, 300mm doesn’t help.

3. At 300mm you need to have an eagle eye because its not about seeing whats close (like in any other street walk) but seeing whats happening far far away.

4. The tried and tested ‘I-am-just-a-tourist’ disguise turns into ‘I-am-a-Russian-spy’

5. I am shooting in Middle east, where people raise their eye brows even when you sneeze 😛

Nevertheless, I began my walk across the streets of Deira – heaven for street photography in UAE. Kept my lens zoomed in and fixed at 300mm. It took not more than 10 steps to find my first frame. 

All that anxiety of shooting at not-so-friendly focal length turned into a blessing. If not for 300mm, I   wouldn’t manage to get this far with any other focal length and frame it the way you see. When I came across this frame, it was just the patterned balcony. I was desperately praying for a human element to appear to get this frame right. I guess god is a photographer himself, he not only got me a human element but also placed it perfectly to balance the frame.  

Using the 300mm wasn’t the only challenge, the second challenge was to click only the keepers. Usually its a marathon of clicks that I do when on streets, come back home, 50% of them end up being deleted . Somewhere down the line, that had to change, and this was the day to adopt that change. Bottom line was, at the end of the day, all that I click during the walk would be worth publishing.

This decision made me walk atleast another mile before I could click my next shot of the day. 

Like Ansel Adams famously said, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it”. It holds true with this photograph. The moment I saw this Giant Ad thing (whatever it is called), I had this idea of having a subject passing through the frame to create an illusion as if the lady in the poster is staring at the person walking by. It often happens that when you wait for something to happen, time seems to freeze. I am here, standing in the busiest hustle bustle streets of Deira, people zig zagging all across me, but not a single person walks across my frame. Two cigarettes turned into ash in desperation but no luck. Just when I though it wasn’t working, the photographer almighty comes to my rescue yet again, and this man (with a character fitting so well with the frame), walks across. It was not just a click of a button this time, it was the greatest relief. 

Confidence was now building after framing the above shots. 300mm seemed to be quite effective. Next frame was just around the corner, literally 🙂

I just clicked 6 photographs on this particular evening (about 2 hours of walk). Now that I got a taste of this experiment and it seemed to work so well, decided to have one more street walk at 300mm during the early hours of the next weekend. This time I was joined by my photography buddies AJ, Brian, Dhruv and the newest member of our group Nelvin. Dhruv decided to walk in my steps and stuck to 200mm on his Canon 70-200mm f2.8 lens.

As I mentioned earlier, 300mm attracts attention and as you see in the photograph above, this man was staring right into my camera, though I was meters away from him but here it worked to my advantage. That stare of his gives the feel to the image. Eyes do tell a million stories.  

Below are few more photographs of the outing. 

Overall it was great fun to shoot at 300mm. I strongly recommend each of you to try this. You will be surprised with the results you get. At times its good to break the rules – Ain’t it !

keep that mirror flipping 🙂

Posted in Perspectives, Photographic Locations, photography, Street Photography, Tips and Tutorials | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Al Rams – Fishing village on the north tip

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What was supposed to be just another weekend outing with friends, a cup of tea at our favorite haunt and loads of catching up, turned into an exciting road trip that I will not forget for a long time to come. There was this buzz of a possible storm approaching UAE and it was high time for us to hunt for a location. Loads of possible locations were discussed but, I had just one place in mind – Al Rams.

Al Rams is a fishing village located in the northern tip of UAE, about 100 plus kms from Dubai. I came across this place by chance a few months back, when I was lost in this unknown terrain. Since then I always wanted to go back and shoot a documentary about how laid back and simple this little coast was compared to the cities we live in. 

I was accompanied by fellow photographers Aj and Brian. We started our journey at 3:00am from Dubai and reached Al Rams by 4:30am. As expected, place was sleepy and silent, fishermen were still enjoying their dreams, which gave us the freedom to scan the area and settle down with our gears. I had to remind myself over and over again about the purpose of this visit, which was to document the area and cover the events which follow, as I easily get distracted with sea-scapes and in no time, I would be trying out long exposures in all different angles. This time it was documentary shots which really mattered. 

Silence was the mantra, absolute silence.

Silence was broken when this truck rolled in, which collects the catch of each fishermen and takes it to the distant market elsewhere to sell it. 

It already had all kinds of fish loaded onto it and few more boxes were added on by the fishermen in whose territory my friends and me were running around, as if we owned it 🙂

While some of them decided to head back to work… 

some continued to enjoy their sleep for few more minutes, though it was heart wrenching to see their living condition.

Most of these men were from Maharastra, India. For a change it was Marathi rather than Malayalam 🙂

No matter how little they earned, they seem to love what they did. There was no one to instruct them to wake up so early on a weekend, get into their daily routine, there was no ‘boss’ hanging around their neck to monitor their each move so early in the morning, but they just seemed to have the urge to be sincere in what they do and be happy with those little pleasures of life. They are like entrepreneurs on their own.

While the fishermen, on whose territory we were hanging around were still out for a catch, they had their gear ready to sort out their catch once they were back.

Decided to have a quick walk around the area, as it was beginning to drizzle and seemed like we would have to wrap up soon. Capturing the place these fishermen called their home was a subject in itself. Their homes were mostly broken, cracked and lacked the basic facilities. 

Every corner had a story to tell. This particular house seemed to be abandoned but that’s how they live, or may be “Thats how they are supposed to exist”

The fishing business here is owned by wealthy locals, so wealthy that they could afford to let range rover rot as seen in the image above. They have their gigantic villas just few meters away from this place with all the comforts anyone could wish for and few steps away you get to see the other extreme way of living. Society is a crazy breed indeed.

Another one of those decomposing cars. They are all over the place.

It was interesting to see an innovative way of keeping water cool, Eco-friendly people around here.

As expected, the storm was just around the corner. Drizzle was getting heavier, light was getting dim. It was time to move on, back to the the city where we belong. The contrast of Al Rams to Dubai is astonishing. No traffic, no horns, no rush hours, no signals, no radars, no hustle bustle – it was an incredibly peaceful place to be at. Great getaway.

I strongly recommend every photographer in UAE to make a journey to this place and get your creative juices flowing. Be here for the sunrise, it’s stunning.

I believe in a journey being successful, when I return not with a memory card full of photographs, but a mind full of memories, this place does exactly that. 

Good luck 🙂

Posted in Photographic Locations, photography | 20 Comments

One small step – One giant leap

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“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. No idea how instantaneous Neil Armstrong was when he said that epic quote but that was the first quote that instantly hit me when I was informed of being the finalist in “Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award – HIPA”. In my case, it has to be rephrased as “One small step for me as a person but one giant leap for my ‘Viral Passion’ called P.H.O.T.O.G.R.A.P.H.Y”

Just so that you know, HIPA awards is the worlds richest photography award (atleast claimed so by HIPA, and no surprises when the award is hosted by Always-larger-than-life-Dubai). Hipa targets an international audience and received more than 6000 photographs from 99 countries across the globe. That’s quiet stunning considering the fact that this is the inaugural awards from HIPA. 

Making a cut amongst those 6000 odd photographs and reaching the finals was one of the most fullfilling expriences in my photographic journey as I still consider myself a newbee in the field of photography. Its just been about 18 months since I started and still use a basic SLR. 

So this blog is to showcase those three photographs which I thought were good enough to compete  and the story behind each of those photographs. So here we go.

Photograph 1 : 

This photograph was shot in Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque. Though I was very excited to shoot in this beautiful one-of-a-kind mosque but was completely drained after an overnight shoot in Dubai. It was almost 48 hours since I had slept, thanks to my insane friends who always join me in shouting out the slogan “Let madness prevail” ;). Just took a couple of pictures of the beautiful architecture of the mosque and decided to rest in the prayer hall for a while. It was then when I came across this man on a wheelchair steering across the prayer hall to offer his prayer. He cornered himself away from the crowd, crawled down his wheelchair, got down on his knees and started to offer his prayer. I consider myself lucky to have been exhausted and completely drained out, or else may be I would never have taken a break and thereby never have come across this beautiful moment. Considering the sensitivity of the moment and respecting his privacy, I just took one single picture from right where I was seated. Like I always say “Human elements in photography are our subjects and not OBJECTS, so treat them with due respect”. It was indeed a heart warming moment to watch this man despite being handicapped and all that pain that follows along with it, was thankful to god for what he is and what he has. How often do we really thank god for what we have. 

Photograph 2 :

Based on the concept of natural framing, this was a shot I could never afford to miss. Many of you who know me in person may consider the events behind this photograph to be ‘modest’ because you seen the heights of my craziness when I get my nikon hanging around my neck. It was just another day of the boaring 70km/hr drive on the never ending beach road of jumeirah. Good habits are so hard to change, when I drive I always peep around to search for frames than bother to look ahead at the road in front of me. If you call that a bad habit, I bet you are not a photographer 😀 So when I came across this frame, I stopped my car right in the middle of the road, pulled my glass down and took a shot. Realized my cam was on automatic mode, yeah I know, that’s a sin 🙂 So had to set it back to manual mode, some brainstorming about the aperture and shutter speed and all of that. It isn’t easy to set these settings when you have a pile up of cars behind you and they seem to be on an orchestra mode with their horns. Got another two quick shots and knew I had what I wanted. All this in less than a minute. This photograph almost seems to convey the message “Now that Burj Khalifa is done, what next Dubai !”

Photograph 3 :

This landscape photograph was shot in the outskirts of Khorfakkan, about 150 kms from Dubai. This place is a regular shooting spot for our group. Beautiful mountains, gorgeous beach and a breathtaking sunrise for all the early birds is a guaranteed offering from this location. We reached this place at 3 am in the morning to get set for the sunrise, shot some beautiful long exposure photographs on the beach and just when we had to return, I decided to frame this picture. When the scene is this perfect, there’s nothing much you need to do to get it right. This picture was just ‘f8 at 1/250th of a second’ away. Bingo. 

So these were the three entries for HIPA award. HIPA hasn’t informed any of the finalists about which among the three of these pictures were shortlisted. Its still a mystery and have been informed by the panel about a journal being printed by HIPA which would feature all the photographs that made it to the finals. Until then I can only keep guessing about which one of these three made the cut. 

Now if you were to choose one among these three, which would that be. Lets get this poll running. Please leave your view in the commenting section about which photograph you like the most.

It would be incomplete to wind this blog without sharing the photograph which won the grand prize of $100000.

Absolute stunner and a deserving one from French Photographer Pierre Gable Auteur. This image not only inspires but also seems to remind me about the path untraveled. HIPA experience as a whole managed to feed my appetite to just get better with time and experience and create such stunners myself…someday 🙂

Happy Clicking 

Posted in Honors & Recognitions, Perspectives, Photographic Locations, photography | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Palace of the Invisibles

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Ever fancied being in a haunted place ! If yes, then this blog would serve your interest. 

So called “Horror Movies” just don’t seem to scare me anymore,may be an overdose of them has made me immune to it.This made me search over the internet for various haunted locations across the UAE. Should be surprising to many who view UAE as an Ultra-Modern Country with riches all over the place, but UAE has a side less known to many. It serves the hunger of Ghost Hunters/Photographers by providing us with some of the most creepiest places you could ever imagine. Already have blogged on “Ghost Village” which is now a place less haunted by ghosts and more by photographers. On any given weekend you would find a set of photographers wandering around the place looking for ghosts/frames. Ghost Village just turned out to be like a Horror movie which fails to scare anymore. So it was high time to look for something new. 

My friend AJ came across an article on national newspaper about a haunted mansion. It was a palace built 22 yrs before at an estimated cost of 136 Million USD and vacated within days of inauguration because of paranormal activities.That’s the legend and we convinced ourselves that it was true. There was no second thoughts about whether to get there or not, it was an instantaneous “YES” from my side and drove 100kms late night with my friend to the palace. But for our surprise, there was a guard at the gate of the palace !!! For a moment we doubted if he was a ghost 😉 but he wasn’t.  It was 3am and we were desperate to get in but all our pleading, for permission to get in just didn’t seem to convince the guard who kept repeating “Andar Jinn hai, andar jinn hai”. Jinn is an Islamic term for spirits and he believed palace has too many evil spirits and isnt safe to enter at night. Shattered but determined to get in, we convinced him to let us in just as the day breaks and he agreed to it.(no points for guessing how he agreed to let us in :))

First Glimpse of the Haunted Palace during break of dawn. Rays of sun just seemed to add to the drama.

Finally we were allowed to enter the palace with a 20 minutes time limit. It was almost a race against time, considering the size of the mansion. We had a grand welcome at the basement with words “Go Go” written in blood red ( paint ofcourse! ) 

Just as we were getting set, a funny yet strange incident occurs. A Blackberry App called ‘Screen Muncher’ which kind of makes creepy munching sounds goes crazy and starts munching on its own. PS : Blackberry was locked and further secured in the pouch. Sudden burst of this sound made us skip a heartbeat for sure but we decided to laugh off the incident and proceed. As we went further in, we had to pass through surprisingly narrow staircase which justified the haunted image of the mansion.

The Majestic hall, almost gives a clear impression on where all that money has gone. 

Play of light, early morning light gives a new dimension to the picture.

Turned out to be one of the best clicks of the day.

That lady was charming but I was okey with her staying in the frame.

More of creepy staircases leads to more of majestic halls and even more rooms.

No wonder ghosts here live life king size, atleast better than most expats in uae.

Wasn’t keen on peeping in…There were many doors which were locked, what lies beneath is a mystery.

Only room which was considerably cold compared to burning hot palace.

Weird structure which supposedly helps in scattering the light to floors below, quiet innovative.

more of morning rays 

Few more of those royal rooms

The Top most Roof with all the 12 Zodiac signs inscribed on it.

At the top…had a great view of the surrounding mountains.

Hunting the Haunted…sounds good but there really wasn’t many incidents to back that claim.

Finally after a tiring sprint across 4 floors, it was time to say goodbye to this beautiful yet cranky place.

May be because we were there just around sunrise, we didn’t really have the kind of adrenaline rush we expected. Nevertheless we were happy with the clicks we came back with. Just before returning we struck a deal with the guard for a over night stay at the palace. Hopefully, it would be a video session then rather than pictures.

As we returned back we just had one question in our mind, “We didn’t see them, but did they see us?” 500 million Dhms worth of mansion being vacated in a weeks time isn’t a joke anyway. Some things are better left unanswered.

Anyways hope you enjoyed reading the blog as much as I enjoyed writing it. 

Posted in Photographic Locations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Street Photography Tips – Part 1

Dubai | June | 2011

Just thought of sharing some tips on street photography “dos and don’ts”. Everything that you read here is from my point of view and from my experience of extensive street photography.

There are millions of tips to share about shooting on streets, but let me round up some of the most important ones for now.

Thumb rule of street photography is “there is no rule”. In simple “Don’t worry what camera you use, just capture the moments.” 

To begin with : For a beginner the biggest confusion lies in “setting up the settings” for each shot and in streets, its about capturing a moment instantaneously ,which can be easily missed while you struggle to set the controls. Once you know your camera in and out (with experience ofcourse!), settings are a matter of few scrolls here and there and takes just about a second or two. So for all the beginners out here, put your camera on auto mode and start shooting. Work on composition and perspectives while camera decides the settings.

This shot was taken during my initial days of street photography and on auto mode…intention was to capture the feel of “Back to Back” perspective of “a tourist” here for leisure vs “the worker” here for existence. if I had fumbled across to set the details on cam, I would have easily missed this sync of them facing each others back.

Ditch your Zoom lens : Zoom lenses are not really appropriate for street photography as they attract a lot of  attention and makes people suspicious. Especially when you are shooting around in places like Middle East, it can sometimes be risky aswell. So better off stick to prime lenses or Wide angles and keep it simple.Also avoid your camera bag, as its better with some reduced weight during long walks.

People on a break playing cards…managed not to grab their attention because of the simple equipment used.

Paint with light : Photography in general is all about lighting and it can be used at its best when on streets, where street serves as your studio and sun as your flash guns. Look for shadows and you may end with some cool looking shots.

A candid street shot with the elongated shadows…it adds a new dimension to the whole picture. Look for shadows especially during the sunsets.

Get Candid : If you are hesitant to approach people, go candid. Keep the settings of your camera at its optimum depending on the lighting conditions (or put it on aperture priority @ f8) and start clicking candidly without them noticing.  You will have story telling pictures this way around as it captures their mood as it is. Here are few of my candid shots to illustrate…

A candid shot on a early morning street walk…subject seems to have lost in thoughts…if he had known i was clicking, the whole feel of the picture would have vanished.

Another of those candid shots where subjects are absolutely lost in conversation.

Candid shot of a fisherman having a smoke break…here the blurred clutters in foreground adds to the feel of candid picture.

A ship builder on work…he didn’t even notice that he was being clicked…which makes the shot very much natural…again blurred clutter adds to feel of candid shot here.

As mentioned in beginning there a million tips that can be given for shooting on streets. These are just the few but very much most important ones. In the next blog you would read about perspectives and various angles of shooting. 

Happy Shooting 

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Street Photography – ” Wrinkles of Hardships”

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Dubai | June | 2011

Here’s my first ever blog, hope you like it.

Someone Wisely Said,

“Most things in life are moments of pleasure and a lifetime of embarrassment…Photography is a moment of embarrassment and a lifetime of pleasure.”

Above said phrase holds absolutely true for street photography as it can be embarrassing at times, especially when you approach to click random people – sometimes with their knowledge and sometimes candid.

Streets have an appeal of their own, whether it is a Modern Cosmo Street with people in all their glory or a laid back street with people struggling for their existence. The latter is the one which attracts me the most as it actually portrays the “Life of Majority” who are nothing less than absolutely ignored. 

Portrait of a Municipality worker during his Break day…its these people who keep our city clean…did we ever thank them !!! 

It gives me immense satisfaction when I approach these people for a photograph as this brings a smile on their face, and these smiles bring in the wrinkles of hardships over their tired faces which in itself conveys the story of theirs. These smiles just seem to say “hey look, I exist “

An ever-smiling waiter of a small restaurant…he served me tea I had ordered and then,on request,  he didn’t shy away from a portrait…

I do make it a point sometimes to make sure I deliver them the prints of their pictures in a day or two and these small moments actually make photography a fulfilling experience for me. 

An Iranian fisherman who agreed for a portrait in exchange for a print of it, very next day I did deliver him a print as he was returning back home on ship in 2 days

You also get to know a lot of interesting stories from these people and learn from them that “No matter how hard life is, you just got to keep going” .

An Irani Sailor on Dubai Creek…says he’s been working and travelling on Dhows since he was 12 years old…and would continue to work on it till his last breath…was amazed with his love for his profession

People we meet on streets may be from various countries and hence there will be a communication gap while having a conversation with them, but sometimes eyes do the talking and all the pain of theirs is conveyed through it. 

Pakistani Carpenter i met on a early morning street walk, he redefined optimism to me…despite having nothing after 23 yrs in Dubai , he still was confident he would make it big here someday…it was a brief chat but he really had that positive energy in him…

and sometimes you end up in some funny moments and comments as shown below, doesn’t mean they have no worries, its just that they cope with it and keep it simple. something we all have to learn.

A Pakistani truck driver in industrial area of Sharjah, asked me to mail the print to him and I did. 

A Carefree Attitude ! …if only everyone was this carefree to pose…

A Pakistani Pathan with only a simple request “take my picture if you are going to load it on youtube”…may be he meant Facebook…

Camera shy Fisherman…took me some convincing to get this shot…

All in all, Street photography is not RANDOM clicking like many interpret, if u got an eye for Streets, you end up getting the most thought provoking and brilliant story telling pictures which you would remember for life.

Hope you enjoyed reading the blog as much as I enjoyed writing it, because always wanted to elaborate the story behind each picture I took but never had an opportunity and I guess now I found a platform for it.

Happy Clicking  


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