Sunday, August 2, 2020

My Unlock 1.0 !!

The world is trying come back to normal (by accepting the reality and exercising caution) and here I am, trying to come back to my space where I had shared my thoughts, views and experiences over many years and had gone silent for close to four years! 

Lot has happened in that time. We completed our maiden feature length documentary on the untamed river in the Western Ghats - Aghanashini in 2017 and the subsequent two years had gone in attending various film festivals and screening events at various places. 

During the course of these four years there were few instances when I had thought of coming back to this space to share few thoughts but somehow the drive was not strong enough to make me sit and give words to those thoughts. 

In 2020, when I was thinking to coming back to normalcy, by normalcy I mean continue shooting and expressing through images, the world was struck with an event of the century and everything has come to a literal standstill. 

It has been about five months since I had gone out for shooting. The windows of my home and some vegetation around my apartment have become my canvas and occasionally I try to find some frames in them.

Last year I had spent some time in reading and understanding about vintage lenses. Believe me, it is a fascinating world! More about it on some other day perhaps. In that quest of learning about them, I bought a few very old lenses and started using them in my photography. Their subtle rendering is very different compared to the clinically sharp modern lenses and I was awestruck by their usefulness even in these modern times and by some of their performances on the modern day high resolution cameras. 

I am just waiting desperately for my next shoot in the wild, which as per the current scenario, is nowhere in sight for next several months.

No cheers,

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Chitradurga ~ Part -2 : The Essence

In my previous post I had mentioned about some experiments I did on my visit to Chitradurga fort. The first experiment was explained in that post. Second one is here.

While the first experiment was about feeling and making images of the moments that are frozen in time and space, the second one was about trying to capture the essence of the place through a finite set of images. When I say 'essence' that means the definitive quality that defines the place / structure.

Chitradurga fort is popularly known as "Elu Suttina Kote" in Kannada. This means a fort with seven circular walls. This fort is built in such a way that to completely enter inside one has to come through these massive circular (well, not exactly circular but a kind of maze shaped) entrances. The aim was to hold the enemy in this area as much as possible and prevent them entering inside the fort.

So when you are walking inside you constantly come across these huge walls all along. Once you cross the seventh entrance and walk few steps then the whole area opens up like a huge stadium. You will find tons of photographs on internet about how the whole area looks. I dont have any intentions to share the 'me too' kind of images here.

What I was trying to create was a set of images that could explain or make the viewer feel why the fort was called so.

Since the subject and the focus was minimal (just walls, entrances and nothing else), I tried to portray them in the minimal way wherever possible and some may be little complex. Nothing much to be said. Have a look.

Do you feel the same way I felt?
Why do you really need to?

Do I care about it?
Why do I care about it?


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Chitradurga ~ Part -1 : Through the moments

Chitradurga fort is a treasure trove for anyone who wants to do some serious photography. The amount of opportunity that it provides in terms of making several types of images is simply mind boggling. This place was in my wish list to visit since long. Finally it happened few months back. It was a short visit. We were there for about an hour or two. For the scale of that place two hours is nothing. What you see in those two hours is just like a trailer! To see the movie in its entirety one has to spend at least couple of days. A week is even better!

During that quick visit I tried to make few images. I was not interested in making conventional images of that place. I had seen them in plenty. I was in a mood to do couple of experiments. First -  I was thinking if I can show that place through a set of moments, perhaps a set of fleeting moments, moments frozen into frames in space and time.  Second - in my next post! :)

During many discussions with various eminent and contemporary photographers there was always this question as to - What is it that defines photography in its uniqueness? What is it which is unique to photography but not to other form of visual art? 

It is the ability to arrest a fleeting moment that has no past and future but still exists in space and time. Making a pre-visualised photographs is a different story and that in the distant horizon comes close to the process of painting but still maintaining a thin boundary between the two. But in my view this is not the uniqueness of the medium of photography.. Uniqueness is defined by the  former argument. Latter is just another way of expression.

Here is a small write-up by Nirlep Singh written in CNP forum where he has beautifully explained this process in detail. To this day I keep visiting this article over and over again.

"An absurdity called a photograph"

Off late I have been trying to push myself into this realm. Throwing myself into the situation where I forcefully forget that I have a camera in my hand and try to flow through the experience of the place and in the flow make some images whenever I 'feel' like making one, not deliberately, with no urgency, with no pre-visualisation. I am just being in the moment and let my instinct do the photography. I am enjoying it. I am enjoying the way mind gets opened up with no constraints of any sorts. Earlier I was hesitant to take out my camera in public and point the lens towards strangers around me. It was probably because of the thought that 'What would they think about me? - Will it cause discomfort to them? - Am I breaching their privacy? -  Do they think that I am showing off? - and all other absurd questions'. I was rarely shooting street or urban photographs when there is crowd around and I attribute these questions to the lack of such experience. But off late I am not surrendering myself to that feeling and trying to break away from it. Hence you can see some of my urban and street photography posts in the recent past and that will continue.

Second experiment in the next post!


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Gujri

It has been more than 10 years since I had visited that place and that was the first time. Vaguely I was remembering the gullies and the arrangements of the items that were placed then. Some weeks back suddenly decided to pay my second visit. This time with my camera!


I was making an image of a teenage boy from the window of his shop. His back was facing the window and he was oblivious to my presence. As I clicked few images a person passes by in front of the shop and tells to the boy -

" Abe, peeche mudke pose to de... tera photu aane wala hai!"

Boy:  "Abe! Kaun hai tu? Photu kyon kheech raha hai?"
me:   " Mein koi reporter nahin hun. Showk ke liye photo kheechta hun. Dont worry!"
Boy: " Deekha sare photo"

I showed.

Boy: " Delete kar usey"
me:   "Saare? Kuch to rakhun?"
Boy: "Han. Saare."

and he went off, not even bothering to see if I have deleted all or only few!


"Bhai sahab. Aapka ek photo le sakta hun? Ussi pose mein"
"han han. Le lo"

I made some images.

"Reporter ho?"
"Nahin. Sirf photographer hun. Showk ka. Yaane ki Hobby photographer."
"Achcha achcha. Mera naam hain Hazi Jamsheed aur mein pehelwaan hun"
"Wah! kya bath hai!"
"Han. Pehelwaan jamsheed kehke bhi bulate hain. Aur mein National level ha kushti player raha tha. Mere videos YouTube mein hai. Dekh lena."
"Zaroor. Aap kitne saal se yahan pe hein?"
"Hum to 1958 mein paida hue the aur tab se yahin pe hai!"
"Tab se yahi karte aa rahe hai?"
"Han. Yahan pe ye business to 1940 se bhi pehle se hai! Bahut purana dhanda hai. Aap ka naam kya hai?"
"Ashwini Kumar"
"Achcha Ashwani aap kahin pe ye photo bhej rahe ho?"
"Mera ek blog hai. Wahan pe mein kuch likh ke photos daalta hun. Jo bhi cheez interesting lagey, woh blog karta hun"

"Achcha. Dekho Ashwani bahar ke log aur kuch media ke log iss jagah ko chor bazar wagaira wagaira kehke paper, TV mein daaley the. Lekin hakikat waisey nahin hai. Hum yeh cheezon ko neelami se leke aate hain. Auction karke. Yey insurance companies jo hoti hein aur ye banks aur police ye sabhi jo unke paas purane gaadi ya phir poori useless tareeke se tooti hui gaadi ko auction karte hain. Hum log uss auction mein jaake, bidding ke zariye unhe khareedke, un gaadiyon mein jo bhi usable parts hote hein unhe yahan pe bechte hain. Yahan ka koi bhi maal chori karke nahin aya hai. Mein sirf apne dukaan ki baat nahin kar raha. Iss poori area mein kahin bhi chori kia hua maal bechte nahin hai. Agar koi chori ka maal ata hai to hum turant police ko inform karte hain and jo banda ussey bech raha hai uski dukaan 3 mahine tak bandh kar diya jaata hai aur 5000 fine barvaya jaata hai, yahan ke association ke paas. Humara association bahut strong hai iss mamle mein."

"Achcha! Yeh jaanke khushi hui"
"Han Ashwani. Phir bhi log kabhi kabaar bahar jaake iss area ko badnaam kar dete hein. Hume bahut dard hota hai sunke."
"I can understand"
"Tum chai peeyoge? Oi munna do chai de. Mehmaan hai humaare!"
"Arrey arrey. iski kya jaroorat hai?"
"Arrey yar. Chai hi to pila raha hun. Ek din mere ghar ayitega, shaandaar khana khilaunga"
"hahaha. zaroor kisi din"

I drank tea. Made some more images.

"Achcha pehelwaanji. Mein thoda aage bhi jaata hun. Logon se milta hun. Aapse milke khushi hui."
"Achcha Ashwani. Chalo phir. Mera YouTube mein video dekhna mat bhoolna. Chalo. Phir se milte hain. Mere liye uss Eshwar se dua karna."
"Zaroor. Phir milenge."


I was making some wide angle images by standing along the main road.

Sound from some where. Not sure from where.
"Ooi...Kya photu nikaal raha hai?"
"Kuch nahin bhaai saab. Sirf eisey hi kheech raha tha"

I walked for few steps.
A man was sitting on his bullet, which was not having its rear wheel.
"What are you doing?"
"Just making some images of the place"
"Simply. I am a hobby photographer. I kind of liked the place. Become curious and hence made few images."
"Show them to me."

I showed.

"What would you do with these pictures?"
"I have a blog. I post them there."
"Are people here OK with you taking pictures?"
"That is the problem which I am facing now!"

Someone ushered from the background -
"Bhaai saab. Ye photographers humaari photu leke bahar foreign mein lakhon rupiyon ke liye beechte hein. Aur humein yahan kuch bhi nahin milta."

I smiled.

The man was standing for his rear tyre to arrive. It arrived and I was sure that he was a client at that place. His tone was very dominating and intimidating in the beginning. Later he was better.

"Why do you think these guys dont allow you to take the pictures?"
"I am trying to figure that out. Not very sure."
"Because all these are chori ka maal"
"Hmm!. I heard some other story few minutes back."
"Everyone has a story to tell!"
 I smiled.
"Need to see whom to believe."
"Carry on."


At a shop of shock absorbers. There was a young man selling.

"Bhai sahab. Aapka ek photo ley sakta hun?"
"Photo? Kitna rupay dega?"
"Hahaha. Chaliye ek dosa khilake ek chai pila doonga. Mujhe bhi bhook lag raha hai."
Smiles and says -
"Aajkal chai kaun peeta hai. Beer peete hein beer."
I smiled.

Two men from the shop in front -
"Kiske liye photu le rahe ho bhai saab?"
"Showk ka photographer hun ji. Hobby hai mera."

"Poor Indians kehke to nahin dalo ge na?"

I smiled.


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Bhadra - a memoir

It was early April when Sahana and myself decided to do a trip to Bhadra. Rajesh from had invited me to enjoy a holiday via his their new venture.

My Dandeli trip in the past was on their invitation to the place and we had enjoyed that trip a lot. This time though his invitation had come last year itself, I was postponing the plan due to other engagements. Finally we decided to enroll this invitation and asked the guys at to do the booking at River Tern Resort at Bhadra. The hassle-free and easy booking got us a cottage at the River Tern Resort.

I had heard a lot of stories of River Tern Resort at Bhadra. Everyone who went there were fully happy with the location of the property. Our high expectation from all those accounts were completely fulfilled when we arrived at the place. The location of the property is really amazing, with the backwater from the dam visible right from the balcony of every cottage. The cottages are also maintained neat and very clean, as per the standards of other top JLR properties.

As it was noon when we reached the place we decided to take some rest before we start the evening activity - a boat safari to the river tern island and its surroundings.

This place is famous for one event that happens annually - the breeding colony of huge number of river terns on an island inside the back water. I had seen the documentary of the same by Amoghavarsha where this phenomena was explained with some amazing visuals.

The boat safari started at around 3:45pm. With a moderate crowd in the boat we headed straight towards the river tern island. The wind was heavy and the captain had some tough time in controlling the boat. After the initial turbulence the boat got stabilized and as we approached the island the scale of their breeding colony started becoming visible. Their number was huge and they had completely occupied the island, almost every inch of it.

 It was an amazing site to be able to watch their courtship behavior where the male bird brings a fish to the female and many times female rejects it (only God knows why! :) ). Undisturbed by the rejection the male tries again with some other female until his luck turns towards him! All of these were happening in front of our eyes, though one has to watch carefully among the cacophony of thousands of other birds. It was a wonderful time we spent near the island.

Beyond the river tern island the boat safari takes you along the edges of the forest. Sightings of chittals and wild boars are pretty common and if one is lucky then a tiger may appear out of the woods near the water. We were not that lucky :).

Nevertheless we were lucky in another form. We sighted an Osprey that allowed us to approach very close. Being a sensitive bird, Osprey normally flies off when approached towards it. But for a change this fella was daring! We enjoyed his company until the sun went down behind him.

The safari ended at around 6:30pm and it was almost dark by the time we reached the shore. By the time we reached the room, the sun set was over but the sky was showing all the signs of a dramatic after-glow. We rushed to the bank of the backwater area and the whole scene was turning orange and pink towards the West and bluish dark towards the South. The sky had two prominent tones and I made some images before the orange turned into magenta glow. The drama in the sky was there for about 15 min and we both enjoyed each and every minute of it.

Night was spent watching the documentary 'Sahyadri' on a projected screen at Gol Ghar (the dining area of JLR). After a nice dinner it was time to head back to room. Next day morning was planned for forest safari inside Bhadra Tiger Reserve.

Bhadra region has some of the best protected forests in the state. Almost everyone who have had the jungle safari experience had expressed their joy of seeing a wonderful forest.

Though the wildlife sighting is not as high as that of Kabini and Bandipur, the bird life is more rich compared to other parts. Throughout the safari we saw some interesting birds - White Bellied Woodpecker (largest woodpecker of South India), Malabar Pied Hornbill, Hill Myna, Malabar Parakeet, Turtle Dove, Racket Tailed Drongo Malabar Whistling Thrush, Orange Headed GroundThrush, Chestnut Shouldered Petronia, White Rumped Shama are mainly noted. We did see few groups of Chittals, a lone Sambar deer and few Wild Boars during the safari.

By the time we were back to the resort it was almost time to leave! After a nice breakfast we packed our bags and decided to spend some time for water sports. At JLR Bhadra they do have facilities for water sports such as Kayaking, swimming, water Trampoline etc. During the hot day time it is a welcome relief any day to be in water. We did the same and spent some good time being in water.

After coming back from the water sports area we went out to have a look of the entire resort. The cottages are distributed across two hills, both facing the backwater. It takes around 20-30 minutes to see the entire property by foot. It was a good walk around the area and we did see some active and interesting bird life right inside the property. There were very active Golden Orioles right beside the Gol Ghar and few cottages. They were interested in a fruiting tree that was bearing the fruits just then. Some Jungle Babblers too had joined the party. We spent few minutes there watching these birds feeding on the fruits before we went ahead to explore other parts of the resort.

It was around 12:00 noon when we decided to start back to Bangalore. Overall it was a refreshing trip to a wonderful part of Karnataka that we had never been before. the hospitality was great and so was the place. It was with a firm thought of coming back to this place again in the future, we started our return journey towards the concrete jungle of Bangalore.


I would encourage all to visit - for any bookings and reservations. They have theme based tour plans too.

Here is the link to the JLR Bhadra that I enjoyed: