Frozen In A Pause

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Between Shades and Shadows

To create a set of compositions in the grains of black of white realms is a rare and unique habit. In the world today photography has moved from its first inhibitions of influential international design movements. If Bauhaus gave us clean sculptural lines of buildings, Henri Cartier Bresson and Irving Penn and many others defined a period in which the look itself would become a signifier of urban modernity and of modern life.

Here in India the relics of S.Paul and Raghubir Singh give us contrasting studies to contemplate upon. Photography means different things to different people. For the commercial photographer Ravi Dhingra it is a kind of oasis when he takes off from assignments and goes in search of quiet corners and explores the shades and shadows of nooks and crannies to create a suite of works that are at once limpid notes on a dulcet tranquil tapestry of time.

Perhaps at the end of the day, it all depends on one’s personality. If you prefer to have more of a goal, structure, and pattern– then working in a project-based mindset may be advantageous to you. However if you consider yourself more of a free spirit and don’t like to work feeling restrained- the natural way of just reacting to what you see may be better for you.

These images are not about the portraits or moods of people but they are about manifestations of people, it’s the things/spaces that are created by people that become subjects of Ravi’s vision.

So when Ravi steps out or into interior spaces he does not just focus all his attention and energy to people. Rather, he looks for elements that might juxtapose each other and make statements about society. This can be manifested through objects of things you find on the ground, urban landscapes, and other messages he might find.

For someone who shoots most of his commercial assignments in colour when asked about his penchant for black and white Ravi states: ” We are surrounded by colours, everything around us is colourful which at times makes our visual experience a bit monotonous. The absence of colours in an image helps in breaking the monotony, the boredom. Colour photographs are too obvious, whereas monochrome ones provide a different perspective with each colour depicting a different shade of grey.”

 

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Light and Shadow

The act of seeing is at the heart of his language of images. The window is as much a sentinel as the chair that is merely throwing its shadow against a wall. The dancers moving in synchronized rhythm as vital as the pigeons that sit or fly off the wall of the ruins of a fort. The puddles and dark silhouettes of human form as brisk as the silhouette of the wrought iron chair that stands in front of the shutter. Light becomes the fulcrum around which he captures his compositions.In his quest for light and shadow Ravi looks for a visual experience.

Each image tells a story, that starts with a single scene: its like a brief, imagined film clip unspooling through projector light and developing into a story on the screen of his brain. That unfolding scene often begins with an object or image Ravi is drawn to and had captured within and without. I am reminded of the great architect Louis Kahn who presented a treatise on light.  It was the central element in Kahn´s philosophy because he regarded it as a “giver of all presences”: “All material in nature, the mountains and the streams and the air and we, are made of Light which has been spent, and this crumpled mass called material casts a shadow, and the shadow belongs to Light.” For Kahn light is the maker of material, and material’s purpose is to cast a shadow.

As identified by Leonardo da Vinci, we often encounter three types of shadows: Attached shadow, shading and cast shadow. The attached shadow falls on the body itself – like a cantilever roof causing a shadow on the façade. The second type belongs to bright and dark contrasts, which are inherent to the form and depend only on the source of light, e.g. a ball shaped pavilion, which even under a cast sky shows a darker zone in the lower part. The third, cast shadow, could be the result of a high house generating shadow on the street due to the projection of the building outline. These images personify the passion that Dhingra has when he shoots his compositions in the right inclinations of sunlight.

Ravi presents his own rumination on light.
” Some chase light but I prefer to chase shadows. Shadows create volume, add another dimension, and this interplay of light and shadows can make an ordinary object look extraordinary in the photographs. It is all about using the available light for lighting the subject to create shadows.”

 

 

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Time of day

Indeed when you look at these images its as if the photographer is out to explore the secrets of shadows during different times of day. Only when you study light in the context of gradations of light and dark do you learn that the dark shadow is a natural part of light, interestingly Ravi never attempts a pure dark space for a formal effect. For him, a glimpse of light elucidates the level of darkness. A good composition in the tones of light and dark should be read like a harmony of spaces in light.

Ravi elucidates: More than the time of day, the desired effect in a photograph is more relevant , a high contrast image will need bright afternoon sunlight whereas early morning or late evening Sun will help in getting long and soft shadows. I also work a lot with light coming through windows, doors and other openings which give a different glow according to the time of the day.”

Between the debates and descriptions of light and dark zones we know that even a space intended to be dark should have just enough light from some mysterious opening to tell us how dark it really is. Each space must be defined by its structure and the character of its natural light. As a result, the light as a source is often hidden behind secondary walls, thus concentrating attention on the effect of the light and not on its origin.

The “mysteriousness” of shadow in photography is also closely linked to evoking silence and awe. For in a composition while darkness evokes the uncertainty of not being able to see, it also inspires deep mystery. Then it is in the hands of the photographer to capture compositions that evoke silence, secret or drama with light and shadow – to create a “treasury of shadows.”

When asked about his thoughts on the power of composition and its impact Ravi provides his insight. ” Composition is the art of photography and very subjective and there are certain laid out rules also for composition. For me simplicity in the frame is the key, I generally avoid including too many elements, a straight forward approach works for me. A balance between various elements is very important in a photograph, the process of inclusion and exclusion help in maintaining the right proportions.”

 

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In an age where cellphone photography has inundated all visual culture and everyone is trigger happy it isn’t always easy to find a formal set of works. This collection belongs to that category.

Ravi adds his perspective. ” Photography is much more democratic now in the cellphone age and technically these smartphone camera produce decent images. This has made photography more challenging, to create a photograph which not only is good but also different is a tough task.There is nothing called  good or bad photograph, it is all about interesting or boring photograph. The viewer’s attention will still go to a visual which is different from others and yet effective in getting the story across.”

Ravi admires the works of Raghu Rai & Rafique Sayed and finds inspiration from their oeuvre. Among International names Yousuf Karsh is one of his favourites besides the historian and epic colossus of human studies the invincible Sebastio Salgado.

 

Critical essay by Uma Nair, Art Critic & Curator

 

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The book is available online on  Amazon and Flipkart

Click here to order Frozen In A Pause

 

Buy artworks online at Mojarto

 

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Coverage in Hindustan Times, HT City, 25th October 2017. Click here to read

Hindustan Times e-Paper - Frames that captured poetic moments - 25 Oct 2017 - Page #40

Click here to view the video by Art Explore 

Coverage in Millennium Post 6th November 2017. Click here to read

 

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Coverage in The Asian Age dated 9th November 2017. Click here to read the article:

 

 

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Photographs from the Exhibition Opening & Book Launch on 31st October 2017

 

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Ramayana

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Ramayana in Mudras by Kuchipudi exponents Raja and Radha Reddy 6

Click on the photograph above or the link below to view the ebook.

http://www.youblisher.com/p/982885-Ramayana/

Option to download as PDF also available.

Character Portrayal

Rama: Raja Reddy

Sita: Radha Reddy

Ahilya: Kaushalya Reddy

Ravana: Rashmi Vaidyalingam

Lakshmana: Tamal

Hanuman: Stans

Shurpanakha: Yamini Reddy

Jatayu: Bhavana Reddy

Kaikeyi/Garud: Shloka Vaidyalingam

Deer: Mahesh

New range of lenses from Canon

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Canon adds new lenses to its lens portfolio with the new EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM  Lens and their first-ever Macro Tilt-Shift lenses. 

New Canon EF lenses support a variety of photography genres  including Architecture, Portrait, Food and landscape. The new range is scheduled to be available from November 2017.

85 mm 1:1.4 L IS  USM

TS-E 50 mm 1:2.8 L Macro

TS-E 90 mm 1:2.8 L Macro

TS-E 135 mm 1:4  L Macro
Click here to read more about the new range of lenses

Press Release 

Photography in Future ?

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Photography is witnessing a total overhaul, evolution or transformation are mild words to describe this phenomenon. Twenty first century brought digital technology in the lives of photographers but the acceptance was gradual, it almost took 6-7 years for traditional photographers to move from film to digital. Post processing became an integral part of image creation and has resulted in over dependence on editing softwares. What was possible with extensive lighting setups can easily be replicated with a few clicks on computer.

Shifting from film to digital faced a lot of resistance, the initial technology was not fully developed, there were image quality issues and most importantly photographers had invested heavily in the equipment and early digital cameras were expensive. By the time digital technology became stable, sensors started producing excellent images and camera prices came down, another technology revolution was in pipeline.

Camera in phone brought a whole new perspective in the field of photography, every one with phone could click pictures. Number of photographs clicked everyday now exceed the number of photographs clicked in first hundred years of introduction of photography. A good camera in a phone is a major selling point for the phone manufacturers, self portraits or selfies helped the cause of democratisation of photography.

At present, photography has become totally technology driven, lot of innovations are taking place both in hardware and software. Advanced sensors which are smaller in size combined with fast processors driven by intelligent software are able to produce brilliant results which are comparable to high end cameras. Mirrorless cameras have brought down the size of the camera and allowed shooting at higher fps (frames per second).

 

Few years back Lytro brought a whole new technology introducing a new way of focusing, it allows choosing a point of focus at the time of editing. It was supposed to be a game changer but didn’t really catch the fancy of photographers. Not considering the sales figures of the camera, the innovation is commendable. Changing focus points can alter the story in a photograph and bring out better imagination and creativity.

Dual lenses (not front & rear cameras) in phone were introduced in the recent past but to introduce 16 lenses in a compact phone, the Light L16,  is surely a stroke of genius. This opens up a lot of new possibilities as far as imaging is concerned, it is revolutionary. Over a period of time, considering the speed in which technology is changing, multiple lenses in a phone camera can become an essential feature in the future.

Besides the hardware improvements, photography is becoming more dependent on softwares, the algorithms. Manipulation of images in the camera itself before or after clicking is another area where immense progress is happening. Uploading the photographs on computer and sharing will be a thing of past soon. The smart devices with extra smart cameras will do the job perfectly from clicking, advanced editing to sharing and storing in the cloud.

Google’s New Alogrithm

Computational Zoom 

  

iPhone studio portraits

For a traditional photographer this could be a scary situation where technology is fast taking over the human skills but at the end of the day, no technology can ever replace the eye behind the camera. The art of visual story telling will never change in spite of all the technological advancements after all photography is more about sensitivity and aesthetics than the camera. As Ansel Adams had quoted ‘ You don’t take a photograph, you make it’ .

© Ravi Dhingra 2017

The Great Indian Cricket Factory 

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25th June 1983. This day history was created and it changed the future course of sports in India. Asian Games concluded in Delhi a few months back, the mega sports event was a successful one by any standards. The stadiums drew decent crowds and millions watched on television, some in colour too, colour TV was launched at the same time in India. And there was no cricket in the Games, yet there was an overall interest in all the sports, hockey being the front runner. PT Usha in athletics, Khazan Singh in swimming, Chand Ram winning the Gold in 20 km walk became household names. Cricket was another sport with good following but it surely wasn’t the only sport which Indians were glued on to.

And then India won the World Cup in cricket in 1983, the mindset of Indians changed with respect to sports. By the way Cricket is only played by a small number of countries, one can count on fingers, mostly colonies of British Empire, aka Commonwealth Countries. And to excel among 10 nations playing cricket in the World, the game got some undue importance. Cricket became religion and some players God. And in this whole process of finding new Gods, other sports were neglected. Everyone wanted to play cricket, suddenly there was money in the sport. Television coverage, brand endorsements etc drew the attention of younger generation and the gentlemen’s game turned glamorous. 
Though in the last few years, other sports are making an effort to bounce back, cricket in India has not taken a backseat. Innovations and improvisations in the game has made it fast paced, more glamorous and has made the players richer and richer. Cricketers are role models for majority of the children in the country and to become like them is a dream which they all kids have. The parents also see an opportunity in this, education is important but to make career in sports(Cricket) is no longer a taboo. This obsession has resulted in mushrooming of ‘Cricket Coaching Schools’ all across the country, a few started by ex-cricketers of repute. Cricket Academy is another business now, and a profitable one too considering the enthusiasm.

 Every child who join comes with an aspiration to wear the Indian Cricket Cap, to represent the country and in the process become rich and famous and  to become a poster boy. 

Though the path is not easy, there is stiff competition and nepotism, the risk is worth taking.

Padding up to face the challenges, the young shoulders have a long way to go.

The trap is laid, the nets are spread, a selected few from millions will break the shackles and will reach heights to touch the sky.

A Photographer- Before & After

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Before, After and Afterwards. Dreams VS Reality 




Before getting into photography 

Why photography?

– Photography is cool and photographers are most sought after people 

– Want to be in a creative field, enough of my boring job in engineering or finance.

– Want to express my thoughts, my feelings through my images

– Education is fine but photography will help in getting a cool job in a lifestyle magazine operating out of a plush office headed by a super cool boss, like Ranbir Kapoor landed one  in ‘Wake Up Sid

– Want to follow my passion like Farhan in the movie ‘3 Idiots’

– A 9-5 job is not my cup of tea

– Want to travel, see the world, something similar to Ranbir Kapoor in ‘Yeh Jawaani hai Deewani’

– Don’t want to be a part of the rat race 

– Fashion photography is so glamorous, will be surrounded by beautiful models. John Abraham looks amazing on the beach with his camera in the company of good looking girls in bikinis 

– Photography is an art 

After making photography as profession



– do I have to upgrade my equipment? Will this lens not work, the new one will cost a bomb

– Why should I buy the editing software, the pirated one is working perfectly on my computer 

– Don’t tell me that my existing computer can’t handle the latest software to edit the files created by my new equipment, need to upgrade 

– Now that I have the latest equipment, latest software and brand new computer, getting assignments will not be difficult 

– What? Lifestyle magazines work mostly with freelancers, no one told me this

– The experienced and senior photographers charge quite a lot, they also use the same equipment, I can also quote almost the same figure.

– Six months now and no assignment, must reduce my assignment charges to land some work

– No work still, can offer free services for a limited period or work on barter system, free lunch in lieu of food photography. Also it will give me experience and most importantly exposure.

– Shooting for online shopping portals, 300 products in a day, 5 angles each. Money is good but no creativity 

– Candid wedding photography seems like a happening thing, must give it a try. Have heard there is a lot of money in this. So what if involves working at odd hours and to be always on toes. And there are so many options here : pre-wedding, post-wedding like maternity, new born etc

– Even wedding photography has a lot of competition, don’t mind working with a team of photographers, doesn’t matter if it is not candid, at least getting a hang of it. Birthday parties & even other events photography will do.

– 10000 photos, shortlisting and editing, this will be minimum 4 days in front of computer without any break

– You don’t like the photographs? I worked so hard to get them, spent a lot of time on editing and you will not pay. This is not done, pay at least 50% to recover my costs.

An afterthought 

Now that I am in this profession for a year now, know everything related to it, time to get into teaching photography, let me start with a workshop or maybe a photo tour. 

PS:

This is a reality which many photographers are dealing with today, there is no intention to discourage people to chose photography as profession. Photography like any other field is highly competitive, require investment of money and time and has a gestation period to get returns. There is nothing like instant results, every day is a learning experience and persistence is the key to success. 
Jaane bhi do yaaron 

Show me the Kwan, show me the money

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A young photographer, not upcoming but reasonably established, got in touch to seek advice on a problem he is facing.

 The problem unfortunately is not faced by him alone , this actually haunts all the professional photographers or rather all the freelancers. It is a catch 22 situation faced by all in the fraternity, to work or not to.
And the cause of concern are  ‘Outstanding Payments
A typical situation-the assignment was completed long time back, there was either no advance or it was just a small percentage of the total assignment fee. The client is delaying, refusing to pay or simply not responding to the payment follow up calls, messages, or emails.
One very common reason for delay in payment could be operational in nature or temporary cash flow issues with the client. Patience is the key here as long as the client is responding and is apologetic of the delay. This can happen with best of the clients and should not really be a cause of worry.
Other than the operational delay, there could be many reasons for this attitude from the client, one reason being not satisfied with the quality of final output. This generally happens when the details of photo shoot are not discussed in detail before the actual shoot. The expectations of client are not met because of gaps in communication. The client always expect best quality output at minimum possible price, here it becomes the responsibility of the photographer to not to compromise on the quality or quantity after the amount of assignment charges has been fixed even if they are too low. All negotiations should take place before the photo shoot and final terms should be put in black and white, maybe through exchange of emails. Once the terms are finalised, there should not be any going back or any attempt to compromise on the quality of final output. 
Not only the terms of payment , other fine details of the assignment should also be discussed. Always advisable to ask the client to share reference images, just to understand what is going in the mind of client regarding the assignment. Most of the times, advertising agencies share the concept but in case of direct clients especially the first timers, chances of miscommunication are very high. Better to clear all the doubts before than justifying the photographs after the photo shoot. Client is always right and to be on the same wavelength is of utmost importance . In situations where client is refusing to pay because of quality issues, best option is to offer a reshoot at no extra cost. 

Not delivering the photographs on committed time can also be a reason for refusal to pay. This could be because of certain reasons which are beyond control and these can be explained to the client and maybe some kind of compromise can be arrived at. At times the delay is on account of over commitment by the photographer.Promising a date knowing very well that it is not possible to deliver is something which needs to be avoided at any cost. Always request for extra time, the client will be happy if delivered before time but the delays are never appreciated . On a lighter note, I came across a wedding photographer who delivered the final wedding album after 6 months of the marriage. After some days when he asked for balance payment, the album was returned to him as the couple had already filed for divorce.
Now comes the toughest part, there are no quality or time issues yet the client is refusing the payment or not responding to payment follow up calls. This is a matter of serious concern, many professional photographers have faced a similar situation and it becomes a very frustrating experience. Here the intentions of the client can be doubted.
Some clients have understood the working of photography industry knowing very well that currently the supply of photographers is more than the demand (not discussing the knowledge and experience of photographers here). The client also knows that though it is a small world, there there is no exchange of information among photography fraternity, there is no forum where experience of a ‘bad’ client is shared. The client is confident that if one photographer refuses, there will be two more to grab the assignment. A small advance payment, fraction of total committed amount will increase the confidence of hired photographer. And it is goodbye time after getting the photographs, seek newer pastures when there is fresh photography requirement.
One solution to this can be holding the final output till the time full payment is received. Low resolution photographs with watermark can be shared with the client to give an idea about the result of the photo shoot. Once the total payment is released, high resolution images can be delivered. Here, many a times, the client will try to act smart, will try to delay the payment citing frivolous reasons, chequebook finished, issues with netbanking etc but will keep on highlighting the urgency of photographs. The photographer has to stay firm here and refuse to part with the final images till payment is made. The client may threaten to stop future dealings but it is just to intimidate the photographer. Stay firm, deal calmly, be professional in your approach. Stick to payment terms decided before the photo shoot.

There is another possibility, the photographer having trust in the client or under pressure of urgency has already shared the final images without receiving the full payment. The client is using the photographs but no longer responding to any calls or mails, what can be done in a situation like this?  When all efforts to get the money out from the client fail, resort to following:
1. Technically the copyright of the photographs remain with the photographer, send a notice of copyright violation if the client is using the photographs. Copyright violation is a criminal offence under Indian Law.

2. Name & shame the client on social media (ideal situation is a forum of photographers to deal with such issues but in absence of one),  making other people aware about the client is likely to ruffle some feathers. Here the client may threaten to spoil the reputation of the photographer but once the photographs have been used, people will see and understand the real story. 
Even after resorting to these measures, the chances of recovery are quite bleak in such situations but as a service to the fellow photographers sharing information will ensure that the particular client is blacklisted. If the terms are in writing, legal action may help but it is a long drawn and slow process. 
Consider yourself lucky if you get the payment , otherwise take it as a lesson learnt the hard and expensive way.
© All Rights Reserved Ravi Dhingra 

Busting the megapixels myth

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An informative article  by Rajiv Makhni busting the myth of megapixels in a digital cameras.

Busting the megapixel myth once and for all  

Even the size of each pixel matter, here the big boys- DSLRs score much better. Because of the larger sensor size, the pixel size is also big as compared to a smartphone cameras. 

Bigger pixel = Better picture 
Highlighting megapixels is more of a marketing gimmick by the camera phone industry, the quality of the image depends on many other factors as mentioned in the article