Nov 072015

so, there was a march today, to prove that India was tolerant.

and, while on the face of it, it was a good idea – who can disagree with the concept of ‘marching for tolerance’, it has gone wrong  in terms of basics – don’t lose your temper, smile, wave, come across as reasonable. This march should have been less about the sense that India is insulted and you have to take up arms against those you think have insulted it; and more about reaffirming the civilisational ethos of tolerance. Somewhere it got muddled.

There are things you don’t do when you are marching for tolerance, you don’t call into question the right of other people to hold views, no matter how offended you feel about it. Nor do you rage at those you oppose. Or call them names. I am not sure of what the takeaway of those who walked for tolerance, as opposed to those who viewed it on their screens – i daresay it would be different. What came across as news feeds, from reporters on the ground, from other media houses – was the same kind of anger that one sees on social media every day. And, that kind of anger is off putting. It may attract those who are already angry or raging, but, it really doesn’t do too much for the rest of the people.

On the other side, it is the same story. The desire to label somone as ‘fascist’, a stormtrooper, bhakt and other things. The screechy pitch of wanting to demonise rather than understand. And, this sense that if you are not in complete agreement you are outside. The feeling that George Bush put rather crudely, but succinctly,  “you’re either with us, or against us”

All there is, is rage in the discourse. That desire to shout someone down, rip out their hand and hit them on the head with it. Sometimes that bothers me the most. where does this rage come from. Has it always been there? And, this rage is not specific to one side. It is almost like everyone is having a monologue in raised voices, with other people having their own monologues.

Tolerance is the absence of anger, a certain understanding & empathy, and the sense that we will live together in relative harmony. It is an active state, and should not be mistaken for apathy. A view that says, that i am benevolent, and you can hold your views because of my benevolence, is not tolerance, it is arrogance.  And, this is a problem with both extremes.

There is polarization and intolerance. And, it isn’t religious or caste. It is between those who controlled the narrative in the past, and those who want to control the narrative now, and going forward.  And, in this battle, the doublespeak is phenomenal, the positions are carved in stone, and the middle-ground is shouted out or down, or just put off by the ugliness and leaves. The tendency to quote out of context and fan flame is great; as is the ability to take offence and flame people. All in all it is ugly, and it is going to get uglier.

Mumbai - fire in the sky2

and why this picture, because in all this screaming and shouting and general purpose ugliness by both sides – i feel kind of adrift in the ocean :(



Nov 042015

And, there are some more shots. I have been practising night shooting. It is fun, especially trying to capture varying degrees of brightness at different points of the skyline.

A lot of photography is framing. It is the same premise as when you frame a shot. How should the shot look? What are the elements you want to capture in the shot, and where do you want the audience to focus. This is kind of difficult when you start out with photography, but, as the years go by – and you shoot and analyse what you have shot, and more importantly, analyse what you have got wrong – it becomes easier. Almost instinctive.

But, an equal part of photography is also technique. How bright do you want the picture? how saturated? should you go with a lower ISO (less sensitive to light) or a higher ISO (more sensitive, but also gives more ‘noisy’ output). What kind of shutter speed should you use for that capture. This does not come instinctively. This has to be understood and practiced, and practiced some more.

It is when the two are combined – framing and technique – that i get a photograph that i put up on flickr or some other site.

How do I improve both framing and technique – i consume photography content. I look at how it was shot. I look at the EXIF data (where available). i read about photography. And, i try and shoot regularly. Most of what i shoot, i discard. But, i practice. Or I try to.

So this is what i practised (and didn’t discard).

Reflections - The Night skyline_

This is from the terrace on our floor. I found the juxtaposition of reflections and reality quite fascinating.

Dusk turns to Night

This is the other part of the view from the terrace.  I found this to be slightly Gotham like. All that is missing is the bat sign between the ITC hotel and the three towers

The streets paved with Gold

And, then there is this picture. I found the stream of gold, cutting a swathe through the city. I can see the city of Gold analogy in this

Traffic -_

Where I decide to turn acrobat for a shot :)

Nov 022015

Raghuram Rajan’s speech to IIT, Delhi.  Go read it

My favorite bit:

So what does an educational institution or a nation need to do to keep the idea factory open? The first essential is to foster competition in the market place for ideas. This means, encouraging challenge to all authority and tradition, even while acknowledging that the only way of dismissing any view is through empirical tests. What this rules out is anyone imposing a particular view or ideology because of their power. Instead, all ideas should be scrutinised critically, no matter whether they originate domestically or abroad, whether they have matured over thousands of years or a few minutes, whether they come from an untutored student or a world-famous professor.

Question. That is the purpose of education. Question everything.  From the point of view of understanding. Without being judgmental. From the perspective of learning.

An education that doesn’t teach you to question is a piece of paper, with not much value.

And, it is not about economics, or engineering. It also applies to work. to the media. to every aspect of life. If our ancestors going back to the cave man and woman didn’t question, we would still be in the cave – #justsaying

Nov 012015

I have been taking my camera into work. I spend so much time there, it is easier to sneak in a 10 minute window to practise than planning a photowalk or other such activities – that are usually swamped by work expanding to take up all time.

And, it is not work’s fault. Other people manage a life. It is mine – i never managed to build those water tight compartments between work and otherthings, and i am too old to change.

I did shoot some in colour. And they are in the flickr site. Some I shot black and white, and some i turned into black and white.

Traffic - bw

This is a seriously funny angle – i think i was half hanging out of the balcony … This is NM joshi marg leading to the office. The energy seems more real in the black and white.

Dusk approaches - mumbai bw

I simply find this scene awesome. It is like someone planted vertical building seeds a few decades ago, and they are all sprouting up to different levels of Tall buildings.  In the evening, when the lights turn on, it looks out of the world. During the day, when it competes with dust and heat bouncing off the roads – it looks like a post nuclear holocaust space.


And, this is much later at night.  I can actually see a bat signal going off ..

The Night skyline bw

None of this is with the new lens. They had been shot some time ago. I have just about find time to sort them out and put them up.


Oct 312015

I finally succumbed :



Tokina 11-16



I have been coveting an ultra wide for long. After sporadic research – i finally zeroed in on the Tokina 11-16.

What do you use an ultrawide for – usually you use it to make a very emphatic statement. It is not for shooting doggie pics (though you can do that too, if you don’t mind getting your lens so close to a slobbering mutt). What it does is make nearer objects seem nearer, and further off objects seem further away.  It usually helps compose and capture scenes that can punch through the clutter.

Word of caution – just because you have an ultrawide doesn’t automatically mean pictures that catch the eye – it simply means you have the tool to practice to get it right. (which is what i am going to do).

There are some great photographs in this flickr group, shot with the 11-16.