Friday, December 07, 2012

"In Delhi, everything is possible."

"One single grateful thought raised to heaven is the most perfect prayer."
 ~ G. E. Lessing, German writer and philosopher (1729 - 1781)

Wow, my first 10 days in Delhi have been exhausting. What - I've only been here three days?! Now you're talking nonsense.

The flight from San Francisco to Delhi, via Munich, was painless. It was 11.5 hours to Munich, 2.5 hours layover, and 7.5 hours to Delhi. The highlight might have been when I was standing behind a young Indian woman in Munich taking a photo with her iPhone. She said, "You're coming in my picture." I'm, uh, pardon me? "You're coming in my picture. Look." I saw my reflection in a mirror and moved. Close call.

I'm hoping to post photos more frequently while I'm here, with fewer photos in each newsletter, he said vaguely. Big plans - we'll see what happens.

Much love!

I walked past this woman and her friend and just said hello. Then I walked back to ask if I could take their photo. At first they acted mad and wanted money. When I said no money and started to walk away they got mad because I wasn't taking their photo. I guess a few words of Hindi might have been helpful.

You can see there's more HDR tomfoolery to be had in me. This scene is like a little slice of modern India: jeans-wearing modern Indians, Grandma wearing her traditional clothing, modern technology, and some Western tourists who probably don't know what they're getting in to.

Approaching Delhi on a chilly and cloudy early morning.

A dry cleaning shop, with a door open to the street.

My taxi driver from the airport ought to be racing cars professionally. Actually, I guess that is what he's doing. He approached a traffic jam blaring his horn, and I said "You're the only one honking." He said, "Yes, because if no honking, no going." As we squeezed past a bus literally two inches to my left, I told him how back at home people stay in their lanes and drive so differently. He said, "In Delhi, everything is possible."

So far, only two people were nice enough to tell me that they prefer "regular" photos to these HDR images. I suspect there are more of you out there...

I took photos here last year. It's in the Pahar Ganj area of Delhi, the cheap backpacking-friendly area that I've been coming to since 1992. The giant vat is boiling milk, which they serve with or without sugar, and add a dollop of the milk skin on top. It's delicious.

This young guy beckoned me over to watch his mad skillz on the one-jug-to-another trick. The photo looks like it's HDR, but it's not. The original was very dark and contrasty, and when I adjusted it, Bob's your uncle. (Compare the original here.)

Chaotic Main Bazaar, the main street of the Pahar Ganj area.

After getting a physical at a top-rated hospital in Delhi, (where the bastards categorized me, correctly, as "overweight"!) I went for a wander, knowing I'd get back on the metro if I got too lost. I did get too lost, and this guy on the motorbike helped me with directions. There are places in Delhi where you see a lot of foreigners. This isn't one of those places!

All these photos were taken with my Sony RX100. It's light and easy, but a little hard to know what's happening as I take the photo. I can't quite see their expressions as I'm taking it. Also - people tend to look at me and not at the camera, which really doesn't work for a portrait.

Prepare yourself: I found a new camera setting I like: "Black and White High Contrast." I've only taken a handful of B&W photos in my life, so it's all new for me. But I like this one. Pretty much any color photo could be converted to B&W on the computer after it's taken, so I'm not sure what I'm doing. (Story of my life.)

This beautiful kid in his school uniform was doing his homework at the door of this house, which is right on the sidewalk.

Just next to the open door above, these two were hanging out on the sidewalk. I wonder why. Today I passed a filthy, shoeless young man walking timidly upstairs towards the Metro and I had the thought that I will never in my life know what it's like to be so broken and vulnerable. It's devastating to open yourself to the level of suffering that's likely involved. Paradoxically, I recommend it.

This is the friend of the lady in the first photo.

Even in Hindi, which I don't speak, I could tell that this guy takes a lot of grief from his wife. He was OK with a photo, but his wife wanted money, then wanted to complain, and he just shook his head, like "What can I do?"

The famous Lotus Temple, a Bahá'í House of Worship built in 1986.

(The End)


Rusty said...

Is HDR the 3 exposures in one thing you described before? Is this a point and shoot camera? Love the way the photos put you (me) in the scene , almost like I'm there. Keep up the good work, hope you have all your shots!

Prettypopcorn said...


jen said...

Welcome home!!!!!!!!!!!!! Awesome photos! Can't wait to follow!!!!!!! More more more! With more more more photos! Not less!!!! 

fabrice dieudonné said...

Welcome back to (mother) India Dave ! I cant really say if I prefer HDR or normal pictures, to me it really depends on the subjects. I do that work usually in post processing, using a light equalizer on my software (ACD See Pro) to brighten certain area of my picture. On the other hand I really like the natural effect of lights and shades like that picture of that kid in school uniform at the door of his house.
Anyhow it seems that all those settings we find on compact cameras are just pre programmed tools that we can find on post processing software like Lightroom or the one I use.

Did you bring your 7D to India, as you said, for portraits, it's really the best.

Looking forward to the next newsletter (tomorrow ?).

Have a lassi for me.

Jay Hennessy said...

Hi Dave,

Just a thing I noticed on my micro 4/3 'SLR' - if I shoot in B&W I get higher shutter speeds - presumably the sensor can use more light by not looking for the colours. That's one reason I like to shoot in B&W. The other is that I can't always tell if a photo is going to look good in B&W unless I preview it as such.

I like a lot of the HDR shots, although some do look a little 'un-natural'.


Laurenvanham said...

I like the photos, all the settings, including the B&W.  :)  And what still has me giggling is, "no honking, no going."  classic!  xoxxo

Fanny Lieveaux said...

Hi Dave! Thank you for this beautiful sharing! 
I've recently found out that you can go on "street meditation" retreats, if you are interested in getting a bit better what it can be like to be homeless... India is very present in my heart again, as Louison just met her indian grand-parents (I love them!) for the first time. They came to France for a couple of weeks. We may go soon... Maybe we could meet and travel a bit together..? Take care and enjoy, Lots of love from Fanny

Laurie-Ann B. said...

I agree with Jen: more photos is good!  Lots of newsletters and lots of photos, please.