Food photography- Quality vs Quantity


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A few months back I posted about a food photography proposal I received from a Food App. The proposal, it seems was designed by a Management Graduate ( no offence to MBAs, there are exceptions, some are really creative), the whole photography model was volume based , on the quantity of restaurants a photographer can cover in a day. The assignment which was described to me was to visit around 200 restaurants in around 2 months and take photographs of 10 dishes in each restaurant. The assignment charges per restaurant were too low to be even discussed but when it comes to volume of business and generation of revenue, it seemed like a decent amount for a photographer. I didn’t think in terms of volume of business, number of restaurants to be covered because as per my experience in food photography ( almost 18 years now) , it takes almost a day to click 10 dishes where each food item is nicely stylised and every detail is taken care of. Visiting three restaurants in a day where travel time also needs to be considered, means spending around an hour maximum per restaurant to take photographs of 10 dishes.

In such a scenario, quality of photographs can be an issue. Food photography is not about the taste, it is all about the looks. Most of the Chefs have taste in mind, presentation of food may not be suitable for the photograph. A food stylist plays an important role here who ensures that food looks fresh, appetising and inviting in the visual.

I posted about the offer from Food App on the wall of my Facebook, majority of photographers questioned the offer and agreed that food photography is different from photography for e-commerce but one photographer took offence and justified the business model which is purely volume based and evaded answers on the quality of photographs. He even accused me of misleading young photographers who are getting an opportunity to make some decent earnings.

The discussion was inconclusive but a food photograph which I came across today brought back the memories of the offer & not-so-healthy exchange of words.

Food photography is all about detailing in presentation besides the other technical aspects of photography and lighting. To me and majority of other photographers, it is the quality which matters, not the quantity. The famous quote by Ansel Adams sums up the importance of quality in photography :

“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop”


In the photograph above, as far as my interpretation goes, the oil leaking from the dispenser is an omission, an oversight, a hurriedly taken photograph where the photographer has not spent time on observing the elements in the frame. Simple mistakes can ruin a photograph, here not only the photographer but the designer ( Art Director ) of pamphlet where this image is used is equally responsible. This is not the only food photograph where the quality is questionable, there are so many such other images where restaurants have spent huge money on setting up the place and advertising/PR but have not spent enough to hire an experienced photographer and/or a food stylist.

PS: Anyone who feel that oil spill is intentional and is a part of composition is requested to ignore this post.

Oil spills are not only bad for environment but also for food photography 😊.


Happy clicking!

Disclaimer: The photograph used in this post is only for the purpose of reference. Copyright of the image is owned by the respective brand.


Prabhadevi, Sridevi’s sister


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Not many people know about Prabhadevi, Sridevi’s sister. Her untimely death brings back memories of this photograph of her sister.

Cine Blitz magazine broke the story about her sister and actually it turned out to be a prank.

It will be a shock if you get to know the person who enacted the role of Sridevi’s sister, he is none other than one of the most versatile actors, Anupam Kher.

Photographed by one of my favourite photographers, Gautam Rajadhyaksha, this was a sensational revelation which actually was just for fun.

The Magnificent Twenty


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An exhibition is not only about the artworks or products on display, it is also about how these are displayed. Exhibition design is an art in itself and success of a show depends also on the aesthetics involved in the process of showcasing. A good display enhances the visual appeal and makes the whole viewing experience more interactive.

Packaging can be theater, it can create a story – Steve Jobs

‘Twenty under thirty five’ at Gallerie Romain Rolland, Alliance Francaise de Delhi is a perfect example where the display is meticulously planned for each of the exhibitor and complements the products and installations. Curated by Design X Design, a joint initiative of Alliance Francaise de Delhi and Studio IF, the exhibition is a must visit for anyone related to art and design.

“ Is Indian design recognisable? Is there a vision guiding it? Can tradition and modernity, continuity and change co-exist in it? Is it culturally relevant? Questions such as these are more alive today than ever before. One sure way of gaining an insight into this and more is by looking at the work of young upcoming designers. ‘Design X Design Exhibition: 20under35’ attempts to do just that by sharing the design philosophies, working methods and future aspirations of the twenty shortlisted design practices under the age of thirty-five” – Iftikhar-mulk Chishti, Convener, Design X Design.

From January 24 to February 13, 2018.

Closing walk: Tuesday, February 13, 6pm.

Gallerie Romain Rolland,

Alliance Francaise de Delhi,

72 Lodi Estate, New Delhi.

© Ravi Dhingra

Say no to 300dpi


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For a photographer, designer, advertising agency, publisher or printer, ‘300dpi’ is not an alien term, it is a kind of prerequisite for submission of photographs. From entering a photography contest to submitting images after a professional photo shoot, one comes across this term very often. For most of the people in the industry, 300dpi means high resolution but is it the right equation to describe the resolution of a photograph ?

In the current scenario 300dpi is the most misused term, it is rather incorrect, outdated and incomplete.

DPI is abbreviation for Dots Per Inch, a term which is related to printer dots per inch.

The resolution of a photograph is ascertained by pixels. Pixels are the square, solid colored smallest element of an image file. Camera manufacturers highlight MP-MegaPixels to describe the quality of sensor in the camera.

Megapixels mean million pixels, a 10mp sensor has 10 million pixels which is calculated by multiplying the horizontal pixel dimension with the vertical pixel dimension.

A 10 megapixel photo is 3872 pixels wide by 2592 pixels high

(3872 x 2592 = 10,036,224 pixels = 10 megapixels)

An 18 megapixel photo is 5184 pixels wide by 3456 pixels high

(5184 x 3456 = 17,915,904 pixels = 18 megapixels)

A camera does not give output in dots, only pixels are relevant in a digital image. When the term DPI is used, it really mean Pixels Per Inch or PPI.

When it comes to printing a photograph, even 300ppi is not the complete term, it does not mean anything unless accompanied by the size of the print.

A 6 inches by 4 inches at 300ppi will have 1800 by 1200 pixels ( 6×300 by 4×300) or 2.16mp (1800×1200). A same print at 100ppi will be 600 by 400 pixels and at 200ppi will be 1200 by 800 pixels.

A 12×8 inches print at 300 dpi will be 3600×2400 pixels or 8.64mp

A camera with a resolution of 24.2MP is able to record an image which contains a total of 24160256 pixels. Shot in an image ratio of 3:2 a 24.2MP image would have a resolution of 6016 x 4016 pixels. With this resolution, a print size of 20.05×13.38 inches is possible at 300ppi. At 200ppi the print size will be 30×20 inches and 60×40 inches at 100ppi. At 72ppi the maximum print size without any quality loss can be printed which will be 83.55×55.77 inches with this sensor. Below 72ppi, the print quality will start deteriorating but again it depends on viewing distance, sometimes the big hoardings which are placed at a distance are printed at lower than 72ppi.

So next time if you come across 300dpi ask for print size and do not forget to point out the difference between dpi and ppi.

Happy clicking!

© Ravi Dhingra

Textile cultures of India


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Vishwakarma, is the presiding deity of all craftsmen including potters, weavers, ironsmiths etc. This was an appropriate name given to a series of exhibitions which were conceived in 1980s to showcase the textile cultures of India through ‘Festival of India’. Smt. Pupul Jayakar, the doyen of Indian culture was given the task to show the diversity of Indian Culture through performing arts performances, textiles, crafts and cuisines to the world. Exhibitions were held in United Kingdom, United States of America, Sweden, China and France, which were highly appreciated and gave the people an insight into Indian folk, tribal and regional cultural diversity.

Under the name of Vishwakarma, seven textile art and history exhibitions were held between 1981 and 1991, which was a result of a harmonious interaction between handloom weavers, designers and artists. Shri Martand Singh, affectionately called Mapu by everyone, is given the credit to give a new lease to the Indian textiles. He took the charge of designing and presenting the textiles for the Festival of India. His approach towards reviving and revitalizing the handloom sector was unique.

The first Vishwakarma was called Master Weavers, to celebrate the skills of handloom weavers of Ikat, Jamdani and Brocade. Around 600 designs were made for this exhibition. The handloom weavers working with Weavers Service Center, under Ministry of Textiles, collaborated with textile designers to revive lost and languishing techniques of dyeing and weaving. ‘Pudu Pavu’, the second in the series concentrated on the weaving traditions of saris, dhoties and textiles in the Southern part of the country. Next one ‘Rasa’, the variant moods, resulted in sampling of around 300 designs. ‘Dhaari’ meaning lines was an attempt to look at the lines or stripes in different techniques which was explored in all medium of textile production in ten Indian States. Trellis or ‘Jaali’ experimented with the play of light and shadow and tone on tone through design innovation in Jamdani techniques. The sixth in the series, named as ‘Kshetra’ or field was all about crossing the boundaries or pushing the limits, which gave 600 new and diverse designs. By this time the handloom weavers had become confident and trusted Mapu’s team of designers and artists and collaborated to explore and experiment. The seventh and the last one “Birds and animals’ was a tribute to late Dr. Salim Ali, Ornithologist.  Around 1800 animals and birds found in India were depicted by using Jamdani weaving, Leheriya and stencil printing and block printing.

What is highly commendable is that Mapu’s vision was not only to look at the aesthetics, but also to explore technique, material and socio cultural nuances to create something which would remind people of tradition but offer something new. Textiles of the Vishwakarma exhibition, developed around 30 years back and documentation of textiles under ‘Amar Vastra Kosh’ has till date remained an important source of authentic, unadulterated information. The most amazing part is that Mapu imbibed the beauty of the technique along with the emphasis on changing with the times.

This was the first time that the idea of exploring contemporary relevance with traditional knowledge and skill was explored and fetched fantastic results. The process must have been tedious as Indian crafts and techniques are inherited and passed on as oral tradition. Finding something that is lost or hidden would have been exciting but some of these journeys would have ended in disappointments too.

‘A search in five directions’- an exhibition of handcrafted textiles from the Vishwakarma exhibitions is presented by Devi Art Foundation at the newly renovated galleries at the Crafts Museum, New Delhi. The textiles offer unending delight to the viewers into the world of Indian textiles, and leave the textile enthusiasts mesmerized and spellbound with the quality of craftsmanship, eye for detailing and the unique and distinct regional character.






Crafts Museum courtyard on way to the exhibition dressed up with Rajnigandha flowers.



Jamdani Neelambari laid out in the front. Char Bagh Brocade panel from Varanasi in the background.





Dye painted and printed Tree of Life






Odisha Bandha– weft Ikat shows lotuses, coiled serpents and poems in Oriya script




Padma Pichhavai showing the lotus buds and full bloom in profile and realistic as it is seen in Ajanta frescoes




Morkuti Pichhavai depicts the dance of the peacock to court the peahen




Rusnata (Russian influenced) Gyasar Brocades made in Varanasi for Buddhist monasteries




Base of an elaborate and resplendent tree of life achieved by the dye- painting process using indigo and madder




Patan Patola ‘Chabadi Bhat’– baskets of flowers pattern




Screen and block -printed textile for the seventh exhibition ‘Birds and animals’ using single colour with half and quarter tones of black to fetch painting quality




Bengal Jamdani for ‘Jaali’




Block printed birds on a large hanging measuring around 9 meters X 5 meters






Metallic Gyasar for the exhibition at USSR on the theme ‘Jaali’, woven at Varanasi






Morpankhi textiles. Peacock feathers are woven as extra weft




Showcasing different weave patterns in a weave blanket




Design directory of block printing patterns from Sanganer, Rajasthan




Repertoire of block prints from Pethapur, Gujarat




Single Ikat Patola from Gujarat. Transition from traditional patterns to geometrics


Text by Dr. Sudha Dhingra, Professor, Textile Design Department, National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi

© Photographs : Ravi Dhingra

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.”


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.”


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.”


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


The book is available online on  Amazon and Flipkart

Click here to order Frozen In A Pause

Buy artworks online at Mojarto



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


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






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

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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.