This Should Have Been A Friday Before-After Thing… But… Next Time

LeavesOnTree-O

 

This should have been a Friday Before-After Challenge thing, but I did not read the rules.. Sorry, Stacey!

Anyway, the above is the original image…

The image below is the one that I finally ended up with…

LeavesOnTree-S1

So, what did I do?

I converted the image into a smart object.

The entire edit was done using Nik’s Color Efex Pro, thereafter

Step One. I used the “Foliage Filter” using the drop down in the Nature set of presets, and then I used a green look

Screenshot 2015-05-29 12.02.39

 

Step Two. I added a “Fog Filter”

Screenshot 2015-05-29 12.03.01

Step Three. Going to the Portrait Section, I added a pastel filer

Screenshot 2015-05-29 12.03.25

Step Five. I darkened the centre and lightened the bordersScreenshot 2015-05-29 12.04.19

 

Step Six. I added a vignette. The fun here, was that I changed the colour of the vignette.

Screenshot 2015-05-29 12.05.21

Step Seven. The Last. I exported it back to Photoshop, and made some global changes in the HSL slider. And, that was it

Screenshot 2015-05-29 12.05.51

 

 

 

My Camera & My Chai – I Dare You, You Blighters!

My Camera And My Chai

My Camera And My Chai

 

The heat has hit us. It is not yet as bad as it was last year in Delhi, but it is hot. It is 44.5 degrees Celsius in Delhi. It did hit 47 in other cities, but we have been spared those extra few degrees this year.

Now, look below:

CarPark-2The above picture, and the one below, is one of the car park in one of the markets where I had gone yesterday. I had an hour, because a meeting got cancelled, and decided to go for a lemonade

Car-Park1

I dare any of you to be able to park your cars in this mess. I did manage. Ha! to you!! We wiggle in and wiggle out, desperately hoping no one will scratch your car, or that some idiot is not zipping behind.

If you can’t find your slot – a slot – then, you simply park your car somewhere, hail the parking attendant, and give him your car keys. They then find a way to park your car. They wiggle in and out, park your car in front of someone else’s and life carries on. If the chap who’s car you have been parked in front of, appears,then the attendant simply moves your car away, since he has your key. Life carries on.

ManAndKeys

They don’t steal anything that is in the car, and this is the super thing of the system. If you enlarge the picture above, you will see that the chap on the right is holding a wire, with lots of keys. These are the keys of all the cars that he is parking for various people.

He does this job in the heat.

He does this job in the rain.

He does this job in the cold.

He does this job when the hot summer wind blows dust into his eyes.

At the end, you pay him 33 US cents, and find your merry way along the road. Of course, in some places, it can get more expensive. A full day’s charge in Connaught Place can put you back by 2 USD…..

I dare you to park here….

Oh, from the view point of sustainability and climate control (those wonderful buzz words), you have to idle your car a lot. Not good, eh? Vehicular pollution increases….

Happiness Is Not Grand

I have taken this title, and the quote from Aldous Huxley’s book, “Brave New World”, and I thought, “Hmm, there is truth in this”.

And then, thanks to WordPress, I rediscovered a marvellous singer / comedian called Ken Dodd. One of his songs, called “Happiness” had a major influence on me as a child, and I would even say that it has probably played on my subconscious/ unconscious mind, and has probably played a larger role in my developing a somewhat mystical regard and love for nature than I would have earlier cared to admit. Call me a pagan if you will, but the only two Gods that I do ever consider following are Shiva and Pan.

Anyhow, read some of the lines from his song, “Happiness”, and then watch the You Tube video before you go on:

“Happiness to me is an ocean tide

A sunset fading on a mountain side

A big, old heaven filled with stars above…’

https://youtu.be/m9_9cVxFny4

Very simple, if you think of it.

Yet, why does the line, “Happiness Is Not Grand” resonate so much? When I look at much of my writing, there tends to be a negative slant to it.

Read the papers. Do you read articles of optimism?

Look at political spendings. We spend more on weapons, than we do on nutrition and research. Then, we do tai qi, yoga or whatever crap to gain mystical enlightenment. Or, we dunk our heads in the waters of the Ganga.

Look at cartoons. Would we watch “Tom and Jerry” if one of them wasn’t always blowing the other one up?

And then, we have a powerful song from Ken Dodd, that to me, teaches more than millions of scriptures.

I don’t have answers. Yet, if each of us vows to change our thought process (slowly! I love a rant as much as the other one!), and to find something positive every day, maybe we could make the world a better place. I know this sounds simplistic, yet who knows?

This is one thing that I did vow to do in my photography – to try and change the slant from glorifying misery and feeling good about it – to possibly trying to find beauty.

I don’t usually vent but…. For Shame, Mr Prime Minister

I don’t usually vent, but I am pissed as hell.

This morning, I read that our blessed Government, in it’s abysmally stupid wisdom, decided to withdraw Delhi’s bid to be included as a UNESCO World Heritage City.

Delhi, apart from Cairo and Rome, has the largest number of historical monuments in the world.

However, we also have a burgeoning population, filled with greedy builders and squatters. The squatters need to go somewhere, and the builders need to make money for themselves and the politicians

For Delhi to be a World Heritage City, UNESCO places demands on the city’s infrastructure, and insists that the heritage sites be protected.

However, we cannot allow this. We must destroy our history says the government, all in the name of short term profit.

Screw the city runs the chant.

Long live our purses, runs the refrain.

We don’t need heritage, we don’t need a clean environment, we don’t need discipline, or pride.

As long as our political purses are filled, who gives a damn?

For Shame, Mr Prime Minister, for shame.

Testicular Fortitude

I had spoken of two remarkable women in India – Begum Hazrat Mahal, and the Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi. Going back into history, there are two others who come to mind – Nur Jahan and Razia Sultana. “Sultana”, because she was a woman. However, she refused to answer to the title “Sultana”, and answered to the title of “Sultan”

So, lets go to 1236 AD, when Razia became ruler of the Delhi Sultanate. She was the third ruler of the Delhi Sultanate’s Slave Dynasty. The first two, Qutb ud-din-Aibak and Iltutmish were very good kings. Iltutmish, her father, thought she had better qualities instead of his sons, and she was his preferred choice to take over the kingdom.

Razia ruled from 1236 AD to 1240 AD, and died in after being defeated in battle. I won’t go into the history. She did face opposition from her nobles and ministers, for the fact of being a woman, and for entering into a relationship that they did not approve of.

A writer of the times, Minhaj Siraj had this to say of her:

Sultan Razia was a great monarch. She was wise, just and generous, a benefactor to her kingdom, a dispenser of justice, the protector of her subjects, and the leader of armies. She was endowed with all the qualities befitting a king. But, she was not of the right sex, and so in the estimation of men, all her virtues were worthless.”

Does this sound familiar? Razia Sultan lived from 1205 AD to 1240 AD. She was 35 years old when she died.

We do like to believe that we have progressed since then.

I intend to visit her grave, which is in Delhi. It is quite forgotten, but I discovered the location quite by accident. When I was talking to a chap on the street, I exclaimed, “Wow! Razia Sultan is buried here! Wow!”

His reply, “Razia Begum, you mean. Not Razia Sultan..” 

I am attaching a picture of her tomb, that I downloaded from Wikipedia

Tomb Of Raiz

Tomb Of Razia Sultan

What was Razia Sultan’s problem? It appears that her only problem is that she possessed breasts and vulva, and not testicles and a penis. This, in the eyes of the men of the time, did not qualify her to be a ruler. It was not her qualities that mattered, but the nature of her genitalia.

In today’s world, the mantra of the times is ‘diversity’, and this is measured by the number of women in management positions etc. By the way, the word ‘mantra’ as used by the Western world has no relationship to the meaning of the original word. We mean something completely different when we use the word ‘mantra’.

Anyway, back to the point – when you create quotas for women on the board – this may be a good thing, in that the intentions may be good. However, there is a reverse discrimination at work here. Women who go to such positions, while they may be good, may very well be appointed because they are women. It is, however, a numbers game. Real diversity happens when you respect those who are different. Men and women, while they complement each other, are different. This is a fact. Maybe, I shall return to this from a different perspective one day.

In my opinion, you need to create level playing fields, and let the best person win.

In India, attitudes have become fairly primitive. Women who dress well were referred to as “dented, painted women” by the son of our President, Pranab Mukherji. He also had the gall to stand for elections thereafter, and thankfully lost.

Mulayam Singh Yadav, when the tale of the gang-rape in Badaun was mentioned to him, laughed and said, “Boys will be boys.”

We often say that we have come a long way from the days of 1235 AD.

Have we?

The Magic Frame: Osho. Pink Floyd. Death. Creativity

RajivMFSquare_1

 

 

How many of you remember that brilliant song called “Time” by Pink Floyd? And, how many of you remember that line that goes, “And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you/ No one told you when to run/ You missed the starting gun..”

I pondered that line through my teenage years, and then one day, when I was looking, ten years did get behind me, and then another ten years got behind me.

Then, I listened to that tape by Osho on Death, and while it did get to me, I don’t remember a damn thing he said.

However, notwithstanding the photographic/creative journey we embark on; notwithstanding the gradual maturing of our creative juices (inshahallah), there comes a point in your life, when you are suddenly faced with your own mortality.

At that point (and, I have) maybe we ask ourselves that inevitable, dreaded question – have I produced any work of real quality? If not, then what do I do? What next?

Maybe this is the time we ask the question – have we been true to ourselves as creative people? Have we allowed ourselves to evolve?

If I may quote another example from the world of music. Jethro Tull was one of my favourite bands, and they produced some marvellous music right until the album called “Stormwatch” Then came “A”, and thereafter, the steady downhill journey. Many of us felt that Ian Anderson had started to sell out, as it were, and some of the music that he composed was too damn clever and tricky, but had lost it’s soul.

When Death starts to stare at us in the face, and starts to peep at us over the horizon of our time on earth, what questions do we ask ourselves?

Do we let Death hurry us along to produce works of mediocrity? O

Or do we look Death in the eye, and say, “Hello old friend. I see you peeping at me. But, before we meet, I have some good work to do.” ?

 

 

The Magic Frame: Osho, Zen & Creativity

RajivMFSquare_1

A few days back, I wrote about boredom and creativity. Sitting and tapping away at the keyboard of my IPad, I realise that it does not offer me the flexibility of my desktop. Och! I cannnot dress up the post as I want to. Moreover, I am sleepy in the middle of the afternoon. I had two appointments, and they got cancelled at the last moment, which upset my rhythm, and knocked some of the creative juices out of me. So, forgive me if I say, “Och! I am feeling shrivelled..”

You may wonder what this has to do with Zen, Osho and creativity. Ostensibly, nothing. (I will update this post when I get home)

However, there is a link that I am cunningly about to weave into the post.

When I heard that tape about creativity, the late Osho spoke about a Japanese Master carpenter, who was very much into the tradition of Zen. He had to make a table out of a tree. For a few months, he did nothing. Or, you can say that he did nothing obviously. He would go into the woods, and touch the trees and caress them. Over time, he started to focus his attention on one tree. He caressed it, felt its texture, it’s smell. He spoke to the tree and felt it’s spirit. A few months later, he made the table, and it was magnificent. When someone complimented him on the table, he merely said, ‘it is nothing. the tree fashioned the table itself. I was merely the conduit.”

(At the bottom of this post, is a marvellous melody called “Chopping Wood” composed by the Osho Musicians)

It is similar to clicking a shutter, for me, or writing. There are times when I produce photographs that are passable, and there are many times when I produce photographs that are the most God-awful tosh.

There are times when I process pictures like a machine gun, and the results resemble mayhem. There are other times when I gape at the photograph on the screen for sometime, and then I know what to do.

When I shoot those passable pictures, I realise that these are the times when my mind is quiet. There is no distraction. The phone’s beguiling screen falls silent, and the Siren’s of the mobile phone ring tone fall on deaf ears. It is only when I go into that state of almost meditative calm that I produce pictures that are okay.

When I spoke of pushing the boundary, and pushing back the edge of boredom, I find that I am better able to do it, when the push resembles an evolution, and not a bloody massacre.

Creativity happens when the mind is calm, when you are not seeking gimmicks. Sometimes, the photograph fashions itself. No struggle. No stamping and frothing at the mouth. you need only to look at the works of photographers like Ansel Adams, Minor White and, more recently, William Neill to realise this.

It just happens.

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