To Jaipur , Love Snehi

Jaipur had been my home for 6 years before my family shifted to Dehradun and I came to Pune. In those 6 years, I had never picked up a camera.

Yes, sad and such a waste!

This summer, I made sure to visit Jaipur, where I had practically grown up to spend a short time with my friends and re-walk those lanes and this time, take some of it with me 🙂

So here I present you with some of Jaipur that came back with me :-*

I mainly spent my time roaming around in the fort of Amber; the majestic, marvellous and awe-inspiring huuuuge structure that I absolutely love. Others might talk about the architecture marvel, the design, the lavishness of this place, but what I love most about this fort is that it had so many stories inside these impenetrable walls, just waiting to be heard, imagined or completed 🙂

Standing here, I watch the elephants arrive and depart with tourists with the city of Jaipur spreading far behind.  It is a majestic view; what must have it been during the times of the kings and conquerors, I can only imagine. Oh I wish I could time-travel. :)
Standing here, I watch the elephants arrive and depart with tourists; the city of Jaipur spreading far behind.
It is a majestic view; what must have it been during the times of the kings and conquerors, I can only imagine.
Oh I wish I could time-travel. 🙂

The textile block printing of Rajasthan is a well-known, well-loved art-form around the globe. However, what is less known and appreciated is that this industry requires a huge amount of water!

Yeah, I see; I can fully understand why and how it came to operate in one of the most water-scarce states of India. 😮

A sales boy of a nearby textile shop at the foothill of the Amber Fort tries to sell hand printed traditional Jaipuri style bedsheets to foreign tourists.  Tourism is a major industry in Rajasthan and is the livelihood of many.
A sales boy of a nearby textile shop at the foothill of the Amber Fort tries to sell hand printed traditional Jaipuri style bedsheets to foreign tourists.
Tourism is a major industry in Rajasthan and is the livelihood of many.

Ghoonghat pratha, or the tradition of covering the head with a chunari or veil, is an age-old tradition in religions of Islam and Hinduism. It was (and still is, in most parts of northern rural India) mandatory for women to wear ghoonghat as a sign of respect for elder family members and to maintain distance from non-related or elder male members of the society for protection of modesty.

However, in Rajasthan, it serves a more practical purpose of keeping the sand from blowing onto the face 🙂

A  Rajasthani sweeper cleaning the Diwan- Ai - Aam at Amber Fort, Jaipur. Even when no one's watching (she didn't know I was there and it was high afternoon), she makes sure to carry her Anchal (veil). That pink saree symbolic of the 'Pink City' of Jaipur , takes me back to that place, in that magical, hot (extremely) afternoon light.
A Rajasthani sweeper cleaning the Diwan- Ai – Aam at Amber Fort, Jaipur. Even when no one’s watching (she didn’t know I was there and it was high afternoon), she makes sure to carry her Anchal (veil). That pink saree symbolic of the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur , takes me back to that place, in that magical, morning light.

This frame below, it is so rich of stories.

It makes me think of why the pots were still there?

Were they always kept like this? I don’t know what for.

Did someone lower them down to fill water and then could never return to bring them back up, and the archeology department deemed it fit to leave them be? Maybe.

What could have happened here?

The guy looking up at me from the window below might have been thinking the same thing. ( Or maybe he was just wondering why I find these smelly bats so interesting 😛 )

I look down an old well or water-tank in the fort of Amer and I see unused, ancient earthen pots still tied together on that rope waiting for someone to pull them up. I guess the hundreds of bats that line the walls now must be using them as treasure caves :P
I look down an old well or water-tank in the fort of Amer and I see these ancient earthen pots; unused for more than a century; still tied together on that rope waiting for someone to pull them up. I guess the hundreds of bats that line the walls now must be using them as treasure caves 😛
Police men lazing around in the shade, while the morning sun shines on the white marble floors and pillars of the Sheesh-Mahal at Amer Fort.
Police men lazing around in the shade, while the morning sun shines on the white marble floors and pillars of the Sheesh-Mahal at Amer Fort.
Forts, palaces, history and culture are pride of Jaipur City. restoration and maintenance is given top priority and so, i find this guy painting the fort walls and keeping them in shape.
Forts, palaces, history and culture are pride of Jaipur City. Restoration and maintenance is given top priority and so, I find this guy painting the fort walls and keeping them in shape.

That is my closest friend, Kirti in the picture below, admiring the beautiful Maota lake and the garden at the base of the fort. She’s the only one who would come with me to climb a fort so high in the early morning light so that I could photograph it free of tourists. XD 😛

I won’t thank her though, she’s my best friend after all 😛

My friend, Kirti looks out of one of the 'jharokhas' or intricately designed windows of the Royal palace of Amber (Amer) , Jaipur.
My friend, Kirti looks out of one of the ‘jharokhas’ or intricately designed windows of the Royal palace of Amber (Amer) , Jaipur.

One of the most fascinating things in Jaipur (the Old Pink City especially) is, that you will find a temple, a wall, or something or the other of such sort at almost every block.

You can catch people saying quick prayers or just closing their hands together and touching their forehead as a sign of respect whenever they see any symbol of God at any time of the day.

Although, it is prevalent in most of India, yet the crazy holy atmosphere of Jaipur is hard to miss.

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Religion is a major scene in Jaipur. On the left is the shop owner with his kids, worshipping pictures of gods and goddesses on the wall while the customers wait for him to finish.
Chaiwalla serving tea at 'Sahu Restaurant' near badi Chaupad, Jaipur. Even though the picture is presented in black and white; the font and style in which the name of his shop is written is particular to the shops of the Old city of Jaipur.
Chaiwalla serving tea at ‘Sahu Restaurant’ near badi Chaupad, Jaipur.
Even though the picture is presented in black and white; the font and style in which the name of his shop is written is particular to the shops of the Old city of Jaipur.

To Jaipur,

I will be visiting again soon, as I have yet to capture the other subtle joys of living here. Till then, take care, stay clean and continue being what you are : the pride of history, tradition, and culture of India while still growing towards modernisation and development. An ideal city to live in ❤ 🙂

Love, Snehi

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Lavale Village : Documentary

My older work, documenting Lavale village, Pune, maharashtra

Snehi Singh Photography

Lavale is a village on the oukskirts of Pune City in Maharashtra, India.

Lavale Village is known for the cultivation of various crops like onion, rice, jamar, potato, and other vegetables. Guava is the most cultivated fruit. The atmosphere of the village and its surroundings is mostly cooler than that of the city. Mula river passes through this region, and flowing through Wakad and Baner areas as it makes its way to Pune.

It is a beautiful village with good, warm people. Simple people reside here in peace and harmony. Main souce of income is agriculture while some families have small business establishments or jobs in the city of Pune.

The children study in the village school til 8th standard after which they move to a city school.

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Chocolate Rum Balls : Trial Shoot

For many days now, I have been planning to make and shoot chocolate rum balls but because of shortage of time, I wasn’t able to do so. But just to try out compositions and make sure that I don’t goof up the actual shoot, I decided to buy some rum balls and practice with them. Here is my behind the scenes of setup and styling:

I put some chocolate syrup over the rum balls and decorated them with multi color sprinklers that I got from a beautiful site selling bakery products called That Secret Ingredient.

I tried various angles, changed the rum balls in a couple of shots, the setup was basic and simple and so were the props.

Camera angle, just a little above the setup. A more personal touch.
Camera angle, just a little above the setup. A more personal touch.
A little closer, with a different rum ball
A little closer, with a different rum ball

The wooden background and the khadi textile complemented the color palette and gave that chocolaty mood (I guess that’s what I’d call it) to the picture. I plated the rum balls in white Japanese porcelain dessert plates with black and gold design work on the border. The sprinklers were necessary to break the color pattern and make the chocolate ball pop out.

Top Shot - Playing with Graphics
Top Shot – Playing with Graphics

A major challenge was shooting before the chocolate sauce , being heavy and thick in consistency, covers the whole plate; the sprinklers drown in the chocolate sauce; the HIGHLIGHTS catchching everywhere!!!

Be sure to learn how to light a sphere, a chrome ball; better, before you light these. Next time I shoot, I’ll be doing some things differently!

Top Shot - with sprinkler on the chocolate sauce for balance
Top Shot – Sprinkler on the chocolate sauce for balance
Added a few sprinklers to the side to cover up some negative space.
Top Shot – Added a few sprinklers to the side to cover up some negative space.

So how did you like this shoot? If you are a food photographer or a stylist yourself, I would welcome your critique and comments 🙂

What Went Wrong : Cheesecakes and Tragedy

Have you ever had a frame in mind, or felt like shooting something, felt inspired and excited and then mess it up in the end? I find it happens to me a lot. So this time, I want to figure out and write about ‘What Went Wrong’ publicly, so that I remember these things in the future and help other people prevent a messed up shoot plan.


I had decided to shoot rum balls this week. I had it planned, thought of a frame, and every other thing. Except that it didn’t happen as I planned at all. Here are my WWW or What Went Wrong points for you all.

I went out to buy them and well, I don’t know why, but I ended up buying a couple of pieces of Philadelphia Cheesecakes. 😮 😐

I’m not saying that doing shoots on the fly or just setting up a spontaneous shoot is bad, my first two shoots themselves were so. But sometimes it helps to have a plan as well. Anyways, I didn’t feel all the way negative about it and decided to shoot. I was too excited to shoot and did not look at many reference pictures or research more closely.

WWW : No planning and getting tempted by beautiful looking foods before researching about them. RESEARCH is VERY important.

I had given my camera to a friend for a shoot and was left with a 50D at home. Now I had a frame in my mind; a top shot that would play on the graphics and shapes of circular plates, triangle pastry and straight spoons. I set up my utensils and lights and was setting up my tripod when I realised that the camera didn’t have a flippy screen and I couldn’t see the frame! I tethered the camera to my laptop and was working on it, but by that time the frame had left my space and my mind wasn’t on it.

WWW : Not knowing your equipment before the shoot. Look at what you have and set up accordingly.

I set up a new composition, I thought of experimenting with wide angle lenses and was pretty ok with the effect. I brought in the food, set it and was on the job , but my energy and mood had drained off by then because of little problems here and there. I got frustrated and didn’t pay as much attention as I should have. Still, I kept on shooting.

When I viewed the photos properly at last, I found out that the end of the font pie was out of focus, the composition not so strong and the shot was a waste! 😦

WWW : Getting frustrated by small errors and problems. You should be flexible with your approach and try to find out a solution.

The point above is easy to say, but sometimes, especially when you’re really excited about shooting something, you do get a little frustrated if things don’t work out. Well, that is the time you should stop shooting and relax. Go, have water, take a stroll, talk about something else and come back with a fresh mind. It might help. If it does not, then pack up and plan a reshoot for another day.

Even though the shoot went the way down, I’m sharing the final photograph just so you know what was going on in my mind. It even might give someone an idea/inspiration 😛

The wide angle gave me a nice perspective, but the composition and focus were a bummer :|
The wide angle gave me a nice perspective, but the composition and focus were a bummer 😐
A little closer, a little better.
A little closer, a little better.

I hope you guys found this informative and helpful. If you have ever had a big mess-up before/ during or after a shoot, share your experiences with me in the comments below. Someone might benefit from it 🙂

French Croissant : First Try

Plain French Croissants were my second subject which I shot last week (25th June I guess).

Short post peeps, don’t worry. 😛

It was a random visit to the bakery store for a quite sandwich lunch, when I spotted the croissants on the counter. They looked good and proper , so I bought them to shoot.

I came back home and started my setup.

Now I looked at a lot of reference pictures and I saw they are generally had with coffee and jam or plain ones are occasionally sugar coated for garnishing. I had these things ready at home so it didn’t require a lot of time to set up.


Props:

For a backdrop, I chose to use the new khadi textile piece that I had bought earlier in the day for about 50 bucks a meter at a local furnishing store. It complemented the colour tone of the croissants and would give the setup a nice airy look.

Khadi cloth has a nice fine texture to it and is available at cheap rates in India. It is an awesome textile as a backdrop as well as for clothing.
Khadi cloth has a nice fine texture to it and is available at cheap rates in India. It is an awesome textile as a backdrop as well as for clothing.

Now i took some tissues and crushed them into balls and opened them up slightly and put the croissants in it. Apart from it being a serving style in bakery, it would help to separate it from the background and add interesting shape and texture.

Eggs, a baking ingredient, would be lovely to break the shape and stay in the same colour palette.

Coffee and Jam, were obvious side dishes that completed my frame.

To raise the croissants a little higher than the rest of the things, I placed them on steel coasters ( You can probably spot it) . It would help to bring attention to the croissants.


Lighting:

I used two Elinchrome D-lite heads for this shoot with 60×60 Soft-boxes on both of them. I placed the main light at 10 o’clock of the setup (between 9 and 10 somewhere) and the other fill light on the right of the setup, cross lighting the croissants. The light diagram is below.

Lighting setup for the shot.
Lighting setup for the shot.

A white reflector was used to fill some light in the front near the jam.


Composition :

Pretty simple. Croissants have a lot of texture so made it stand out as much as I can with surrounding subtle tones and cross lighting with a slightly blown out edge light.

The coffee mug had a dhoop incense (camphor, generally used in puja) inside it for the steam/smoke.

In the first frame, I placed the jam and the knife untouched. No other garnishing. just a plain look for a simple breakfast.

Croissants, plain
Croissants, plain

Next, I scooped out some jam for an intimate touch and recomposed the image with a tissue under the knife. I also added castor sugar on the croissants to help them pop out a bit more, and give it a crisp look.

Croissants with sugar powder and scooped out jam.
Croissants with sugar powder and scooped out jam.

I hope you found this informative. This is just a start and i hope to bring you better and more creative images further on. If you have any suggestions, do leave a comment 🙂


This week, I’m thinking Rum Balls 😀

Also, I’ll soon post about the Cheesecake shoot I did yesterday. Which was kind of a fail. So I’m going to figure out what went wrong. After all, we learn from mistakes.  🙂


Glimpses : Gangotri

This post, today.

This isn’t a long post.

This isn’t a travelogue.

It’s just about the mountain air, the clean water, the beautiful sunsets, sound of rushing water, chilly winds and interesting people.

This was during my vacation last month, me and my family were at Uttarkashi where my dad is building a small, cute homestay for tourists. We spent two-three days there enjoying the beautiful air and trekking through beautiful forested hills.

And the day when we were to leave for Dehradun, my home place currently; we decided to go the opposite direction to Gangotri.

Now I’m not going to write much. I’m going to show you.

This was our first stop on the way. The Ganga Yamuna Tea Stall. I am not sure what's the bhaiya's name; but what I am sure of is that he makes the most wonderful tea of all times. It takes the exhaustion out of your bones. He has a small area for people to stay a night or two if they get stuck here. He is sweet worded and kind. He also informs us on the news from around the area, road conditions, etc. Always wishing you a happy journey forward, he leaves us with a warm smile. Every time. All year round.
This was our first stop on the way. The Ganga Yamuna Tea Stall. I am not sure what’s the bhaiya’s name; but what I am sure of is that he makes the most wonderful tea of all times. It takes the exhaustion out of your bones. He has a small area for people to stay a night or two if they get stuck here. He is sweet worded and kind. He also informs us on the news from around the area, road conditions, etc. Always wishing you a happy journey forward, he leaves us with a warm smile. Every time. All year round.
The beautiful roadways, at Harshil Valley. The trees form canopies overhead and soft filtered sunlight comes through and increases the beauty quotient of the place effortlessly. The winds are cold and the air sharp to smell. It is a piece of heaven My favourite stretch ever to travel on.
The beautiful roadways, at Harshil Valley. The trees form canopies overhead and soft filtered sunlight comes through and increases the beauty quotient of the place effortlessly. The winds are cold and the air sharp to smell. It is a piece of heaven My favourite stretch ever to travel on.
It looks like I'm in a story book. Maybe Alice in Wonderland. I just popped out from behind the trees and found myself in a vast stretch of white silt and round stones, smoothened by the fast currents of the river roaring at the distance. I see some donkeys/mules grazing along the banks, and I feel happy being there in that memory.
It looks like I’m in a story book. Maybe Alice in Wonderland. I just popped out from behind the trees and found myself in a vast stretch of white silt and round stones, smoothened by the fast currents of the river roaring at the distance. I see some donkeys/mules grazing along the banks, and I feel happy being there in that memory.
_MG_0114-Edit
Suraj Kund, Gangotri, Uttarakhand This is a beautiful spot in the small town of Gangotri that many people leave unnoticed. It is down the road to Kedartaal Trek. The sound of water falling from that height and you watching it at eye level is amazing. The force of the river is monstrous there, so much so that it has cut the rock around. The cut rocks look beautiful and remind you a little of the Grand Canyon cuts. The snow capped peaks in the background just add to the surreal-ness of this place. It is quiet and peaceful there, away from the clutter and noise of the main temple complex. You can see many sadhus and nagas in deep meditation around here.
The streets of the town of Gangotri. People inspired and immersed into religion. This is not just a town by a river. It's Ganga, the holiest river of India, Mother Ganga. And this is her birthplace. Streets are full of merchants selling religious objects, tanks and bottles for filling the Ganga water, beads and necklaces, CDs of devotional songs and what not. Saffron/Yellow/Red are the colours there that won't be missed. They generally are the holy colours which bring us good luck (Hinduism).
The streets of the town of Gangotri. People inspired and immersed into religion. This is not just a town by a river. It’s Ganga, the holiest river of India, Mother Ganga. And this is her birthplace. Streets are full of merchants selling religious objects, tanks and bottles for filling the Ganga water, beads and necklaces, CDs of devotional songs and what not. Saffron/Yellow/Red are the colours there that won’t be missed. They generally are the holy colours which bring us good luck (Hinduism).
Pandit ji in a saffron scarf going toward the temple. These stairs lead down to the Ganga ghat.  The temple of Gangotri, seat of Godess Ganga, is one of the Char Dhams i.e. one of the places you must visit before you die in order to get salvation and Moksha.
Pandit ji in a saffron scarf going toward the temple. These stairs lead down to the Ganga ghat. The temple of Gangotri, seat of Godess Ganga, is one of the Char Dhams i.e. one of the places you must visit before you die in order to get salvation and Moksha.
People from villages of Himalyas bring their village goddess to Gangotri temple on auspicious occasions such as Ganga Dussehra and Ekadashi for the well being and prosperity.  The palki is supposed the carry the spirit of the goddess. It is empty from inside.
People from villages of Himalyas bring their village goddess to Gangotri temple on auspicious occasions such as Ganga Dussehra and Ekadashi for the well being and prosperity.
The palki is supposed the carry the spirit of the goddess. It is empty from inside.
They travel from their villages singing devotional songs and blowing horns and dholaks carrying the goddess with them. Sometimes, the goddess possesses one of them, (usually the same person every time) and enables them to do acts like walking on nails and thorns and other such feats. Probably miracles affirm their beliefs and Bhakti.
They travel from their villages singing devotional songs and blowing horns and dholaks carrying their goddess with them. Sometimes, the goddess possesses one of them, (usually the same person every time) and enables them to do acts like walking on nails and thorns and other such feats. Probably miracles affirm their beliefs and Bhakti.
I saw this gentleman there, on the opposite bank with his small thali of puja items and plain, regular clothes. He was praying to Godess Ganga, and seemed to be quite immersed in the process.  From the looks of it, he might be a resident of the town and comes there daily for his puja rituals.  Devotion is one thing that amazes me. The power of devotion is something so beautiful and at the same time could be so intimidating.
I saw this gentleman there, on the opposite bank with his small thali of puja items and plain, regular clothes. He was praying to Godess Ganga, and seemed to be quite immersed in the process.
From the looks of it, he might be a resident of the town and comes there daily for his puja rituals.
Devotion is one thing that amazes me. The power of devotion is something so beautiful and at the same time could be so intimidating.
People and their beliefs. On the right are a group of peole who are worshipping a trishul, Lord Shiva's weapon of choice. It is said that Ganga flows from Shiva's  matted hair. (You can check the story out sometime, it's quite interesting)   If you look closely at that orange hut in the right photograph, it has Om Namah Shivaya ( We bow to Lord Shiva) painted on it.  Clearly, to please Ganga, you must please Lord Shiva too.
People and their beliefs. On the left are a group of people who are worshipping a trishul, Lord Shiva’s weapon of choice. It is said that Ganga flows from Shiva’s matted hair. (You can check the story out sometime, it’s quite interesting)
If you look closely at that orange hut in the right photograph, it has Om Namah Shivaya ( We bow to Lord Shiva) painted on it.
Clearly, to please Ganga, you must please Lord Shiva too.
Saffron along the banks.  Two pujaris packing up after performing a quick puja for a group of people. It amuses me, really.
Saffron along the banks.
Two pujaris coming to refill their lotas (round bottomed utensils to carry water) and purify themselves with the holy Ganga water after performing a small puja for a group.
My mother is a huge puja-path fan. She spends most of her time worshipping or listening to relegious T.V. programs. No wonder we spent two hours purifying ourselves and our ancestors and also all the water that we had filled from the river.
My mother is a huge puja-path fan. She spends most of her time worshipping or listening to relegious T.V. programs. No wonder we spent two hours purifying ourselves and our ancestors and also all the water that we had filled from the river.
The idol of Maa Ganga at the Gangotri Temple.  With lights that change colour. :P
The idol of Maa Ganga at the Gangotri Temple.
With lights that change colour. 😛

So these were my glimpses of the town of Gangotri this year. I didn’t spend much time there, just a few hours. Enough to cleanse and purify myself for a few years 😛 😀

It is an interesting place, and I would like to look at it more closely. I am sure to visit it again soon, so there’ll be more photographs and stories soon. If there are any stories you have of this place, please do share and inform me about anything new. 🙂

Till then, wait for my next story! 🙂

The Ladakh Experience

One of my school friends made his first travelogue. As a travel fan myself, I am so happy to support and spread this. 🙂

BlessedArch

So as most of you know by now. I had been to Ladakh in the end of may and I was there for about two weeks. The time I spent in Ladakh was one of the best in my life, meeting and befriending an amazing bunch of weirdos (look who’s talking). Overall it is a beautiful location with spectacular landscapes and I love that we got the opportunity to travel by road.

When we went to Ladakh, I kept recording my daily routine from time to time. Any given location, I would just pop out my phone and would start speaking to it. I was a bit shy at first but as I got to know more people, it became a bit easier and lots of fun. I made a ‘hi’ buddy, Ms. Tanvi who would remind me to say hi to my camera from time to time.

There is…

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Starting with Food Photography

My first food shoot
My first food shoot

This is the third year of my undergraduate photography course and I had been asked to pick two specialisations I would like to pursue this final year.

I chose Food Photography and Travel Photography. Why?

I chose travel not only because I like to travel, explore, tell stories, and create memories; but because I think it is an emerging opportunity in India and there is a lot to it with a business perspective too.

Food, I had not tried much of it before, but it had always interested me. The challenges that it poses just makes it even more exciting than usual, boring studio work. ( No offence to studio people, it’s just my preference). The amount of attention to detail it requires is amazing and the end result could be highly satisfactory. And of course, it has a sturdy business market and would offer regular income in the future. So it’s also a safe wall for me.

Now, I am writing this post because like me, a lot of people might be just starting out with food photography and would have no idea how or where to begin. So, I will be posting regularly about my plans to shoot, my shopping hauls and stuff to help you about.


Before you start off, there are some very important things you should do:

  • Make a list of subjects you would like to shoot and keep a library of reference pictures. Though shooting by instinct or sudden inspirations is also cool 🙂
  • Start collecting props and backgrounds and have a list of things you need to buy. A cool guide @ Food Photography Blog and Souvlaki For The Soul (You should follow his blog too, btw)
  • Research and find out about thrift markets and textile stores and best grocery shopping sites around your area. (Pune has Juna Bazaar; I think most Indian cities have one. Crawford’s Market and Chor Bazaar of Bombay is also a great place to freak out! )

One day I suddenly felt like shooting something. Now it had been only 2 days into the semester and I had no props, no proper cutlery, none of those nice textured wooden backgrounds, nothing. So what could I possibly shoot?

Step 1 : Choose you subject

My friends were having half fry and bread for breakfast that day and I decided to take that as a subject. Easy to make after all. And the ingredients are easily available.

Step 2 : Look at reference pictures

Like, obviously. Generally that’s my first approach. Unless you imagined a frame in your mind while daydreaming about food porn and have to have to shoot it. (I do that, sometimes.)

Step 3 :  Look around for available props

So I take a stroll through the house and decide that I have a fork and a pan to go with the egg. Well, that’s something.

And then I spotted this table that i used to put my props on. It was a plasticky thing, with fake wooden print on it. But since it was my best option; I took it.

Step 4: Look at the recipe and grab hold of the ingredients

Ingredients are very important to fill up compositions and help viewers to visualise the recipe. I picked up some coriander, garlic, pepper and bread from a nearby store.

Sunny Side Up
Use ingredients as props to explain a recipe. Tell a story.

Step 5 : Compose your shot

Take your time, look at your subject and decide how you would like to show it. I decided for a top shot since the half fry was flat and there wasn’t much to add dimensions. Also, I like to play with graphic designs and a top shot is a great idea for that. Make changes after one composition is done with, soot multiple frames.

Step 6 : Set up your lights

I prefer to shoot in natural light, though use external light sources when required. It was a dark cloudy day and the light wasn’t so good at all. So I used video LED lights that were just lying around thanks to the video work we do. These LED light sources are great with matte boxes and filters and stuff. They run on batteries, are light and easy to operate and give nice looking soft light. The one I used was Yongnuo YN-300 LED Video Light.

Step 7 : Shoot, Review, Improvise

Before adding the second light source, I tried using a white,silver and gold reflector and it wasn’t enough. I decided I hate gold reflector for food. It makes the food look yellow and stale. I like white/silver but it wasn’t enough. So then I added a second LED light.

Step 8 : Backup you data. Pack up your stuff.

General photography rule to follow. Data is sacred. Data is holy. Don’t lose it. DONT.

And then pack-up time!! 😀


This is how, I did my first food shoot. I hope you find it helpful and please, if you have any suggestions, I would LOVE to hear it from you.

And as always, Thanks for reading. (I am watching Vsauce videos side-by-side, so 😛 )

PS – Vsauce. He’s amazing. If you already don’t know. Check him out if you like to learn about random things XD

The Circus Scene : The Great Royal Circus

Remember those black posters hand-painted with fluorescent-neon colours for advertising these exciting magic and circus shows in town? ( 90’s kids will probably be the last to remember them ). I came to notice one such poster sticking on the walls of lanes and by-lanes of the city of Dehradun, where my family currently resides. It was an advertisement for The Great Royal Circus, which was running its shows at the Parade Ground of Dehradun.

Note: It is a long post, like most of my other posts. So, bear with me if you would 😛 If you can’t remember the kind of poster I’m talking about, check this out: https://www.pinterest.com/anne9199/circus/

It had been a long, long time since I had visited a circus, long enough to not to have any memories of it. Circus was a sort of fantasy world for me that I had watched in old movies and heard about in stories. It wasn’t really an entertainment option for me as I was growing up, thanks to the multiplexes and water parks and gaming zones in metropolitan cities.

Fascination

It provoked my interest, this age-old poster design, inviting me to catch a glimpse of what may not be there soon. I went to the venue next day and took a nice front row seat for 200 bucks. Here is my entry into my digital diary, as I was sitting at the reception, waiting for the show to start :

17-05-2015

15:31

“The sun is the usual merry Doon self. I see a fifty odd crowd of people gathered here, waiting to enter the gates to watch the The Great Royal Circus in its full swing. Hindi songs from 90s are blaring out from huge speakers at the entrance. The entrance is colourful with separate entries for different class of ticket holders, my fortunate self being the Royal Circle ticket holder.

Shot with my Lumia 520, while waiting for the show to start.
Shot with my Nokia Lumia 520, while waiting for the show to start.

There are windows of canvas around the entrance tent walls showcasing their collection of emus, camels and horses.

I enter the performance tent to find a great place full of colours red blue and yellow.

The Great Royal Circus is written in glittering gold powder in the centre where thick heavy red curtain blocks the view of back stage.

Several props, nets, lights etc can be seen around the stage. There’s massive huge aluminium ball hollow from inside kept at a corner.

It isn’t the most organised or cleanest of settings, but I feel as if I’m going to enjoy my experience here.

Loud and big, desert coolers and floor fans are blasting cool air all around. The crowd has started filling in. It seems more than a fifty now. They seem excited as well. Especially the little kids.  😀

Ina mina dika is playing right now. An apt song  😀

I smell fun in the air!

The bell has rung and a tune plays like it does during the entry of the king. I don’t know what it’s called. :/

A live band is performing from a parapet above the stage.”

A guitarist, part of the live band at The Great Royal Circus
A guitarist, part of the live band at The Great Royal Circus

I hope you get the idea of the atmosphere there with this.

The seating arrangement was regular plastic chairs arranged in concentric circles around the stage. The stage was huge along with the camp though. I guess enough to fill 400-500 seats!

The stage before the show.
The stage before the show.

I watched the show, with a small popcorn tub in my hand and by the end of it I was a smiling satisfied consumer of this vintage and precious part of the entertainment industry. It was an amazing show, and I was thrilled by their performances.

Next day, I took my camera and went to the circus venue again, way before the show was to start. I talked to the managers there and got permission to shoot the show. Although I wasn’t allowed to shoot their living camps, so that was a bummer.

Way up they go
Way up they go

Even so, I made myself at home there quickly; thanks to the very good-natured and helpful people there, especially the live band people who I mentioned earlier. I got free run of the stage, so between my shooting sprees, I would talk to some artists the musicians and enjoyed their stories.

One of the clowns there, whose name was Krishna Bhakt ( isn’t that an interesting name 😀 ) was an eager to talk, jolly old fellow. He told me about his home in Bombay, his three children, sons working abroad and the girl studying in Bombay. He showed me their pictures and I was honestly surprised to see that it wasn’t much different from our own lifestyle! He also told me he owns a Canon DSLR and likes to click pictures. Like Dayyymn.! XD

krishna Bhakt, clown at The Great Royal Circus.
Krishna Bhakt, Clown at The Great Royal Circus.

I asked him why he’s in circus then, if could be living a comfortable life in Bombay?

He said, “Circus is my life and my lifestyle. I ran away from home after quitting school and joined the circus. I am a clown since then and I love and enjoy my life here.”

Major Myth Broken : Circus performers (artists) aren’t necessarily poor.

African artist, posing for a shot backstage. Living tents for performers in the background.
African artist, posing for a shot backstage. Living tents for performers in the background.

I shot some acts, I shot backstage and I shot while having conversations with people there, and I really loved it all. The artists, and other people associated with the circus live in tents around the stage. Each group have their own space, women artists have the privacy of tin walls. Each community of performers have their own space, even so, there is harmony between the people.

A Manipuri boy, resting in his tent with his people.
A Manipuri boy, resting in his tent with his people.

I won’t write much about the acts and performances here, except that they were fun, awe-inspiring and entertaining. Rest, you can judge from the photographs. 🙂

Manipuri boys during their last minute practice before the show.
Manipuri boys during their last minute practice before the show.
Manipuri boys during their Trampoline act
Manipuri boys during their Trampoline act
Francis during his trampoline jump
Francis during his trampoline jump

I conversed with one of the managers of the show, Salim Khan, who was a circus performer himself in his younger days, but had to stop because of an injury during practicing a cart-wheel. Here is some of our talk :

Me: So, till when are you planning to run the show here?

Salim Khan : Usually, we run the show for a month, but it can be extended on public response. But sadly, the craze and fever of circus which once ran wild among city folk and rural folk alike; is now gone. This circus probably wouldn’t last much longer. it is expensive to run and maintain, and there’s no interest of audience or support from the government. How are we to survive?

Me: Since this is a travelling show, how does it affect the lifestyle of the people associated with the circus?

Salim Khan : We have a nomadic lifestyle of course. However, it isn’t much different from the normal lifestyle of any other person. We live together, raise families, cook our own food, go shopping and to movies, practice and perform. and we carry it all everywhere we go. Most of us however, have to stay away from their families and visit them during off season.

Me: How much are these artists paid?

Salim Khan: That depends. They are paid per month or per show. Usually we have 8-9 shows in a year and we also have away tours sometimes, though not so much now.

Me: Why do you think this decline has happened? Apart from the rise of various other entertainment alternatives?

Salim Khan: Well, there are a lot of reasons. It is expensive to run a circus, especially a travelling circus. For artists to perform and keep performing for a long time of their lives, they have to start practicing from the age of 3 years; otherwise the flexibility washes off. They become more prone to injuries. And injuries mean an end to their performing career. Since we can’t employ children below 14 years of age, they don’t practice, an hence, the number of performers grows less.”

Mongolian artist preparing for her performance.
Mongolian artist preparing for her performance.

Salim Khan: Animal tricks used to be a huge, major attraction of the circus, but since that is also banned, we can’t do much. The newer generation children aren’t told about the tradition and history of circus. Nor are they taught in schools about it. The Government offers us no support and barely recognises us as an industry, let alone an art form. The local newspapers just write 1-2 articles putting our woes forward. Its ends there. No one takes notice.

Portrait of Francis, Clown at The Great Royal Circus
Portrait of Francis, Clown at The Great Royal Circus
Daredevil Bike Stunts
Daredevil Bike Stunts

I can’t object against the ban on child employment and using animals as entertainment objects. That is definitely wrong. But is it a crime if children are trained in acrobatics and other performance arts alongside school education as extra-curricular activities. I know employment is an issue, but at least they can be in practice and maintain their interests till they are of an age to decide for themselves?

The performances need to be innovative and changes need to be made into the system. With so many young, aspiring acrobats and martial arts performers in our country, why isn’t the government looking towards promotion and restoration of the circus industry which can provide job opportunities to them?

I think circus is a dying art, which needs to be preserved, restored and maintained. For us and our future generations to appreciate and enjoy this art form, a legacy.


If you guys are in Dehradun and have some time to spare, do check the circus out. I hear it’s still running there. 🙂

RedBull F1 SHOWRUN : Hyderabad

The stage was set. The music was loud. The crowd was louder.

Jam -packed people, pushing each other, standing on their toes, watching out for a sound.

THE SOUND.


Oh nothing could have prepared me for the sudden rush of adrenaline and the fierce sound of that thunder.

I was out on the Tank Bund road, Hyderabad on a hot Sunday morning. And it was about to get HOTTER.

THE REDBULL F1 SHOWRUN!!! 😀

There were enormous amounts of people there; climbing on railings, trees and buildings, trying to get their own sweet spot to watch the action unfold. The excitement was immense.

Crowd was overwhelming
The crowd was overwhelming

After 2 hours of pushing people, finding a spot, fighting hunger and heat; I witnessed one of the most brilliant spectacles of this time.

Aras being a delight to the photographers
Aras being a delight to the photographers

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The showrun opened with RedBull Champion Stunt Rider Aras Gibieza flaunting his jaw-dropping stunts, screeches and holds  which drew thunderous applause from the crowd. That man was a wonder! Now, a man riding a motor bike sitting in the opposite direction and pulling burn-outs is kind-of un-seen and TERRIFIC to watch!!! 😀

The revving of the engine as it was being prepared for the show was melting the knees and ears of the crowd as the famous actor Nagarjuna flagged off the F1 car.

The Formula 1 Car on the tracks
The Formula 1 Car on the tracks
Crowd getting crazy after the Formula 1 car.
Crowd getting crazy after the Formula 1 car.

And finally, when thirteen times Grand Prix winner David Coulthard stepped on the gas to enthral the big crowds, the heart beats went up as fast as the redrawn 282 km/hr limit on the roads of the City of Nizams, Hyderabad.

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His laps were so fast, he was almost invisible. Our cameras could barely catch him! He graciously performed donuts for every section of the crowd and the crowd responded with thrilled cheers and roars which almost were competing with the roar of the mean machine. It was an experience to watch the ground shake and our bodies vibrate to the thunder inside that engine.

Donuts performed by David Coulthard at the showrun.
Donuts performed by David Coulthard at the showrun.

The event ended with David Coulthard waving the Indian Flag to the audience and soon we were on our way back. Hot, sweaty and thrilled. And a little bit still dazed by the rush. It was an truly an unforgettable experience.


P.S. 😀

I made a compilation of short clips shot by my friend Akshay at the showrun. Get ready to blow your mind and especially, your EARS! 😀

Click the link, or copy it in your browser to view the video on Youtube. https://youtu.be/qqIeDdy2bA0

Hope you enjoy the video! 🙂


I hope you guys enjoyed my post! 🙂 Fell free to comment 😀

Let me know of your thoughts and experiences at the RedBull Showrun if you were there too 😀