Rajiv Chopra

A Gypsy, Bismillah & Esmerelda The Spider Sit With Yama At The Vaitarna

Monochrom Madness: Smoke

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This was taken in Chawri Bazaar, Delhi just last week. You have seen some other photos of the same place.

These two chaps passed me, as I was photographing the smoke, and whispered ‘pollution’ in my ear. Then, one of them turned and smiled.

Welcome to Delhi

1-4 Challenge: Feb Week 2. Kalinjar HDR

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So, here I am, back with Week 2 now.

In this case, I converted the three files into one HDR image, using the Aurora for Mac programme, and a Landscape preset.

The colours were highly saturated, so I reduced the saturation levels, especially in the red channel. I also added a graduated filter layer, and reduced the opacity.

So, here you are.

For those interested, I am attaching the screenshot of the process in Photoshop.

As you will see, this is quite different from the image that I put up last week/

Screenshot 2016-02-08 13.06.16

My Camera And My Chai: The Joys of Street Food

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My Camera And My Chai

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I tried… I really tried to align these two images onto one line, but my skills came up short.

I did speak of chaat last week, and this is a photograph of the chaat that I ate. Chaat is just one form of street food in India, and there are several kinds of chaat.

The photograph is bad, and out of focus, and I can assure you that it tastes better than it looks. This one (and, I really have no idea of how to translate these words into English) contains papri, bhalla, dahi (yogurt), spices, etc. The sauce – or chutney – is a kind of tamarindy one, and there is a bit of something else, which I cannot even spell in English. The nasal sound of the ‘o’ in the word simply cannot be written in English unless you are a linguist, and can use those squiggly little signs that indicate how you are to pronounce them.

Anyhow, Indian street food is tasty.

If I may be allowed to make a provocative statement (and I am sure Indians from other parts of India will raise their hands in feeble protest), the best street food is served up in North India. In fact, we North Indians are the kings of Indian street food.

It is something that can make you salivate like a panting puppy. There is street food for all seasons, all served up with a dish of honest sweat, grime, diesel and dust. The last four ingredients are essential for making really good street food. Some restaurants, including five star places, have made the occasional attempt to serve street food in a restaurant, in air-conditioned comfort. But then, you lose the essence of the stuff.

Would you eat your food if all the ingredients were scrubbed with Dettol?

No?

Think about it.

Still, no? Well then, you get what I mean.

What you need to bring to the party, is a strong stomach. The food is yum, but if you don’t have a strong stomach, then you will soon feel a noxious, fiery gas emerging from your nether regions, followed by several trips to the White Throne.

You do know what I mean.

At that point, you will be tempted to sing the famous ditty, composed in doggerel. It goes like this:

“Indian street food, it is so yum                                                                                                   It creates a warmth in my little tum                                                                                      But oh, but oh, what have we here?                                                                                      The food, I know, is yum, yum, yum                                                                                                    But what is happening to my bum,bum, bum?”

You know this song? No?

Well, you have heard of The Delhi Belly? The song was composed in honour of the world famous Delhi Belly….

Sing it!

From The Archives: Grant Road, Bombay

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Long Ago. Yet, Not So Long Ago

Long ago, in Bombay, a man sat by a door. Framed by the doorway, leg bandaged, he probably thought about the futility of his life.

Long ago, in Bombay, a man sat by a door. Framed by the doorway, leg bandaged, he probably thought about ending his life.

Long ago, in Bombay, a man sat by a door. Framed by the doorway, leg bandaged, he probably wondered if anyone knew anything of his life.

Long ago, in Bombay. Yet, not so long ago.

On The Street: Fire

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This is another image from Chawri Bazaar.

Despite the warm winter, it can get chilly for a poor, homeless man on the street at night.

Never mind that the smoke is toxic, seeing as it is generated from burning plastic and other muck.

Another life.

A small speck amongst millions that die, possibly unlamented and unknown.

Just, a speck in the wall.

Back On The Streets – Chawri Bazar. Chaat Shop

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I am back on the streets again. Last night. This time, I will be shooting at night, or before the sun goes up.

To make it fun, I will use my old Nikin D 200, and a 50 mm lens only. It is also a relatively low risk approach. If someone bops me on the head, then the financial loss in terms of camera is not that bad.

As you leave the Metro Station at Chawri Bazaar, you come to Ashok Chaat Bhandar, or Ashok Chaat Shop.

What is chaat? It is an Indian street food, in the snacky format. There are various forms of chaat, and can be salty, tangy and/or spicy. Generally never sweet

A well made chaat can send you to gastronomic heaven.

If your stomach is not strong, it can make you a doctor’s delight.

So, there was this gent, gobbling his chaat, surrounded by all sorts of chaat eaters. That foil thing he is holding, is his plate/ bowl

8 pm yesterday..

Monochrome Madness: Snaking Wall

SnakingWall-RajivChopra

This time, I took a slightly different turn on the challenge of “Curves”, and I pulled one out of the crypt, so to speak

This dates back to the years that I was living in China, and had visited the section of The Great Wall, in Badaling, at Beijing.

I was fascinated, even at that time, as to how the Wall, snaked itself around, and over the mountains.

This edit was done to highlight the snaking, curving path against a very dark mountainous background.

Oh, for those interested, I duplicated the background, and used the Topaz B&W Effects Filter. I then added a vignette, and a very slight curves adjustment

During the edit, I also boosted the whites and the blacks, to heighten the contrast

One Four Challenge: Week 1. HDR – Kalinjar

Kalinjar-Surreal-RajivChopra

Surreal & Bizarre

I am going to use this month’s One-Four Challenge, to explore various HDR techniques. I am kicking things off, by actually posting one that, in my opinion, failed.

So, hang me out to dry – or roast – if you must, and will. Be brutal..

This time around, I was trying to process these pictures of Kalinjar Fort, with Photomatix. For some blighted reason, the programme insisted on making the picture red and green. I ran it through the processor 10 times, but Photomatix was stubborn.

Screw you, ass, it seemed to say to me.

So, I glared at the screen and said, oh yeah?

On the 11th attempt, I decided to double tone-map it. I applied a surreal preset over the version that Photomatix dutifully dished out to me.

Was that enough? nooo. I said. I applied one more preset over what I was given, and went monochrome.

What you have, is something out of the world of dreams and nightmares,

As long as you keep that in mind, the image may work. Else, it does not.

What say ye, my friends?

I would insert a poll, but I don’t know how to do it!

My Camera, Chai, My Car: Reflections From The Road

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So, here I am back, with another crazy category.

“My Camera & My Chai” is not dead. Long live CMC!

But, “My Camera, Chai, My Car” is more about reflections from the road, about the road, and all things bright, beautiful and wonderful – or not – about the road.

So, what do you see in this picture? The highway from Khajuraho to Jhansi. My Nikon D 200. The other Nikon is in the car. You see my chai, of course.

You also see the plastic chair and the table. Plastic. Long live all things that butcher our environment. You see my beloved Duster.

What you see below, is a picture, of my companions at this chai dhabha. Folks sitting on a char-pai. A char-pai is a traditional Indian bed, however, this one is missing the more traditional coir. Instead it has some lousy shit on which you lie. It is a modern day char-pai (4 legs, literally, or 4 feet)

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What is it about the road that inspires a sense of freedom? What is it that inspires a sense of walking into the unknown? That of discovery? Self-discovery, perhaps.

You see the best of people, and the worst of them as well. In the picture above, you see the chaps sitting. They seem to have no care in the world. They seem to be the epitome of laziness as well. It is often romantic enough to believe that, when you meet people on the street, they are all very simple folk, who don’t possess any of the cunning of the city folk. The fact remains that people you meet on the road are, in many ways, just like any of us. In other ways, they are different. There is indeed much to learn, but much to be wary of.

On this trip, for instance, I was travelling in territory that was largely populated by dacoits. Memories of violence don’t disappear so fast, and neither do old habits. So, I generally tended to err on the side of politeness, and sometimes behaved like a mouse that would scurry into it’s little hole.

However, I also met some really nice folk. I also met a murderer, who chatted with me as though he was the simplest chap on earth. Later, I learned that he had decapitated a man, and had dragged the headless body through the village, to serve as a warning to others.

That’s the life. You meet all sorts of people on the road. Some good, others not.

Like you do in the city. However, their motivations are often different. This, we have to respect.

Life on the road can be one of discovery. It can also be one of self-discovery. This, and this, is one of the great joys of being on the road.

After I left the corporate world, I plunged from the world of five star hotels, to cheap ones; from luxury to simple homestay.

Yet, I also started to rediscover my own country. This is great.

Despite the shit that is in my country – physically and otherwise – it is still a marvellous country to discover; and the realisation that there is much beauty amongst the crap we find is, in itself, something to be grateful for.

The Dispatches Of Hira Singh: Arthur & The Drums

The most persistent sound that reverberates through man’s history is the beating of the war drums”……….. Arthur Koestler

Do you think this is true?

Maybe, it has more truth than you, me, I would like to believe. Much of what we learn in history, is the study of human conquest.

Wars of accession, wars of succession, wars of attrition. War on terrorism. Terrorism against humans. Humans against terrorism.

Your religion versus mine.

Your woman, who I want.

Alexander is extolled. So is Achilles and his heel.

Panipat, a small and dirty town in India, is known for the three battles that redefined Indian history. Talain, an even smaller town, 50 km from Panipat is known as the town where the decisive battles were fought, ending Hindu rule in India for 1,000 years.

How many warriors do we remember? How many scientists and poets? I would wager that there is an even split. Yet, there are poems sung to glorify those who died in battle.

At the end of the Mahabharatha, when Yudhistir reached the gates of heaven, he met with his cousins, the Kauravas (the ‘villains’ of the epic). They fell, in honour, in battle and so went to Heaven. Oddly, we don’t really have any descriptions of Heaven in Hinduism.

So, what is it that, despite our protestations to the contrary, drives us to war? Why do we spend so much money on it? What primeval instinct drives us to fight?

These are questions that have begun to trouble Hira Singh, as he starts to delve into this topic.

Soldiers are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends. They feel love. They kill, at the behest of their kings and leaders other soldiers who are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, and who also feel love.

Why then, the hate? The blood and glory? Why then, the spoils of war? Why then the haunting images of death that haunt those who fight, for the rest of their lives? Why then, for some, the glory of the kill? The madness that haunts them, and walks in their shadows for the rest of their lives?

There is no answer yet, but only the sound of the war drums.

The slow, hypnotic drumming that drives us to war, and to the kill.

 

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