Monday, August 15, 2011

my new book is out...

gen v k singh, coas releasing the book
my new book, "iron fist, velvet glove", which has been in the making for the last 2.5 years is finally out. the indian army chief, gen v k singh launched the book at a well attended ceremony at the habitat centre, delhi.

the making of the book was a real journey of exploring the frontier areas of india. the amount of learning and fun i had made everything worthwhile...the cherry on the cake is the book. let me see how the "public" is going to like it.

but, what a relief...feels very good to have got this one out...and now on to the next project, two new books in the making and a few exhibitions...whew a busy time ahead!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

driving through the hebridies

most flights to continental europe out of delhi originates at night and everyone is trying to grab some sleep....for the first time, i flew out early in the breakfast, with nothing else to do (the aircraft's entertainment system was down!!) and seeing our flight path had taken us over afghanistan, i opened the window to peer out into the early morning setting and wow... a mad scramble to get my camera out and i was busy for the next half hour shooting the landscape outside. ladakh has been my most favourite location for a shoot but despite taliban, i will need to get to afghanistan soon.

having deposited son in his univ, drove through the outer hebridies islands. the three hour ferry from the picturesque ullappol in the mainland to stornoway was rough but manageable...the rain dampened my spirits a bit but i was told by my host that it is par for the course around the year...these islands are a dream come true for the landscape photographer. i always thought that arunachal was the land of a million lakes, from the very tiny to the fairly large...but these islands beat arunachal hollow. while i don't have the stats, i can bet that there are more waterbodies than land in these islands. moreover some of the beaches are so so pretty and the water so clean that if it was a tropical island it would have been a beach bum's paradise. more important for me was that the gaelic people are very nice and extra polite and i didn't get screamed at or even get dirty looks when i pulled up completely illegally many times to take a few photographs!!!

My driving maps and tourist guides all mentioned about "end of the road sculptures" as a must see.while my wife liked the sculpture bit, i liked the end of the road bit and we tried our hand at getting to one. as the name suggests it is at the end of a road and a few feet short of the sea. the road that leads to these are off the map and my sat nav had no clue what i was upto. but since they were signposted well, we managed to finally reach one of these. these are sculptures commissioned by the local councils and created by local sculptors to get the tourist to get off the main highway and wander into these tiny villages. while the sculpture itself held no interest to me, the drive and the quaint village we went through made up for the bad drive which i guess was really why the sculpture was created!!!

outer hebridies and cwg

one would wonder what is the connection between the common wealth games and outer hebridies...these islands off the north western coast of scotland are really remote, with few inhabitants spread over a mind blowing set of seascape islands...during our trip there i didn't see even one other indian tourist (and just one indian restaurant in stornoway) which speaks volumes for its remoteness. the gaelic people are very nice but couldn't have known much about india other than the fact that it existed. but the cwg changed all that....

everyday i was there, india and cwg were the main topic of discussion on the telly and the radio. you couldn't have a station on for more than 20 mins before you heard about the "inhuman" condition" of games village, the cobras etc. etc. with a large dollop of sarcasm, derision and condescension. i don't think even santa and banta singh managed to get so many jokes. anyway, the net net is that for good or bad, cwg put india on the map for the people of outer hebridies...a feat achieved by the kcg (kalamadi crony group)...i say poor hard working kalamadi requires at least a bharat ratna for his "inhuman" efforts!!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

did someone say photography is easy?

i love this photograph...not only (a) because it looks like a painting and (b) i love shooting water. It is only because of what i had to go through to get it....we were driving through new zealand on a nice misty morning and came to this narrow bridge which allows only traffic one way at a time. halfway through the bridge and i saw this sight out of my car window. sure enough, i crossed the bridge and pulled up to the side in what was clearly an illegal stop (luckily no one in new zealand seemed to mind these idiosyncrasies of mine and there were plenty of them) and got out. thats when i noticed one minor issue...the footpath over the bridge was on the opposite side and from there i couldn't get a clear view. that just left one choice. the bridge had this narrow six inch ledge outside the railing. i slid along that ledge till i reached the middle of the bridge and it was only my non existent gymnastic ability that got me the photograph and me safely back without a swim in sub zero water fully dressed and with a camera around my neck!!! did i hear someone say photography is easy?

my new site new site is up and that too with a whole bunch of new photographs! my new and updated site has been in the making for slightly over 2 years!!! either i dont like what the designers come up with or they tell me what i want is not possible...that game never ends...on top of it i need to select photos, resize them, upload them and put captions...whew thats real hard work!! especially so when I dont have a clue what species a particular bird is or i forget where i took that great nature shot!! taking these photos was quite simple...including waiting for over an hour to get that one shot i wanted of the leopard with a kill or when the light reaches a particular angle! now that this is done with, let me get back to what i love...taking more and more subjects seem endless!!!

commonwealth games and the poor delhite

yesterday, the delhi and gurgaon police decided to give us a taste of what is in store during the games. a normal 10 minute drive just became 2.5 hrs!!! and the police claim that the exercise was a complete success!!!...ask the poor souls who were caught unaware yesterday on the roads! in our usual style, the police, without informing the public earlier, just decided to block off a few thoughts on alternate routing or trying at non peak times! shiela dikshit cribs about delhites not feeling proud of the games and planning holidays elsewhere during the games. but if yesterday was a sample, god help us..traveling out of i come!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

photography and storytelling...

I am tired of hearing all the time the good old saying..."a good photograph has to tell a story" or the even older "a picture speaks more than a thousand words". my question is why?

in the good old days photography was limited to a few genres. portraiture, photojournalism, family photographs (births, deaths, holidays…), commercial etc. i agree all these need to tell a compelling story to catch the eye of the viewer. henri cartier-bresson’s photographs or raghu rai's famous photograph of a dead half buried baby in the Bhopal gas tragedy both told a story as well as spoke much more than a thousand words.

but today, photography has moved on. it transcends the old perspective of photography as just a medium to catch a moment in time. yes it does capture a moment in time but does it have to tell a story? my contention is that a new genre of photography is emerging into the limelight (it has existed for quite some time now) – photography as creative art form. here the photographer uses the camera like a tool as much like a painter uses his brush and canvas and creates an art form. as with all art forms, a creative photograph is supposed to evoke emotions not tell any stories. a hussain or a da vinci painting doesn’t say any stories nor does it speak more than a thousand words. yet it invokes strong emotions in the viewer. so why does a photograph have to be any different – just because photojournalists ruled the roost for so long? or is it because photography is still not considered an art form?
to me photography is an art form – an expression of my creative mind’s eye as I see my subject – in my case nature. i try and see beyond the obvious to document the unseen so to speak. It is to bring out the beauty of nature in a different perspective – the way my mind’s eye sees it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

luck and the wildlife photographer

of all genres of photography, wildlife photography is one which gets your adrenaline pumping! however, my learning in the past five odd years that i have been doing wildlife, is that a good photograph hinges on two things - patience (and loads of it) and luck. and both these are critical for a single reason... neither the light (which to me is the most important element) nor my subject is in any mood to listen to me. at the right moment, the sun goes behind a cloud and i lose the chance to get that great photograph or that beautiful tigress refuses to come out from under the shade of the tree so that i can capture her beauty in all its glory!!!

patience is obvious, especially in bird photography. you need to wait for the right moment to get that great shot. recently i was in kenya shooting wildlife. in the evening, my guide spotted a leopard on a tree with an antelope kill. i spent the next two and a half hours rooted to the same spot with my camera on the leopard following his every move. unfortunately the light started fading and so i gave up but next morning at 5.00 i was back to the same spot and lo and behold, the leopard and the kill were still exactly where i left them the day before. i spent the next three hours waiting for the early morning light to light up the leopard and my patience paid off.

but how luck plays a role was driven home by another incident in the same trip. i was driving along in this park called tsavo east and i spotted at tawny eagle perched on a low branch. i of course stopped and took a few photographs and then settled down to wait for the eagle to fly so that i could get a better shot. after about half an hour the eagle obliged me by taking off and flying to the branch of another nearby tree. i was thrilled that i got a good shot and was lowering my "bazooka" lens when my eye caught a movement under the tree on which the eagle had just settled down. a closer look and "wow" it was a cheetah sitting and finishing off his kill. i then realized the the eagle was waiting for the remains. the beauty was that the cheetah was less that 15 feet from my vehicle and none of us had noticed the cheetah for over half an hour since all our attention was on the eagle. it was pure luck that the eagle flew to the tree and drew my attention to the cheetah below.

much like fishing guys and their big catch that got away, wildlife photographers also love telling stories about their exploits. but as i listen to them all, it strikes me time and again that all you need is a lot of luck and loads of patience to get great wildlife shots!!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

conservation is for "conservationists"

the popular thought seems to be that conservation is the "job" of the conservationists, much like treating people is for doctors and arguing law is for lawyers!! while the latter two are specialized areas and probably can be done only after much study and training, conservation is everyone's "job". if only the handful of people in epa, wwf etc at an international level and a few others at the domestic level are going to go around conserving nature, it is not going to get us very far, especially when the billions of the rest of us try very hard to thwart whatever these few are trying to achieve.

reiterating that we are fast hurling towards a bleak future is meaningless...all of us at one level or the other is aware of that. the statistics stare at our face everyday. estimates vary but we make extinct everyday something between 35 to 150 species. what is even more worrying and scary is this range - we don't even know exactly how may species are vanishing everyday!!! even at the lower estimate, that is one hell of a extinction plan that we have adopted (we would make Adolf Hitler proud). in fact we can be "proud" of the fact that we as a species have managed to do in the last couple of centuries what nature, comet strikes etc. etc (and that includes the dinosaur extinction as well) couldn't do over many millions of years. how this wonderful ways of ours will affect our children and theirs is anyones guess. from custodians of this nature, keeping it in trust for the future generations, we have moved into the role of tyrants - take what you want, when you want at any cost and damn the rest!!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

national geographic (nat geo) solo exhibition

this is especially for those of you who are going to be in singapore or passing through singapore from 3/april till 24/may 2009.

national geographic (natgeo) is hosting my solo exhibition at their gallery attached to their store there.

post this, in the latter half of this year, this exhibition may also be moving to their gallery in london. we are also discussing the possibility of exhibiting some of my water photographs (water is one of my favorite themes) in their london gallery during the water week from june 22 to 26th (though I still trying to figure out what is "water week"!!!)

as a nature photographer, i am thrilled at this recognition from the ultimate in nature photography. Do drop in if you are in Singapore during this time and buy the pictures for a worthy cause!!

The address is #01-19 VivoCity, 1 Harbour Front Walk. Singapore.

The site is