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May 31, 2005

Karnataka Cane Fields II

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensMinolta 50mm f/1.4
Shutter / Aperture1/1600s / f/3.2
ISO100

I had to take quite a few pictures of this woman before the exposure came out correctly. The sun was too bright. I had to comprimise with my desire to keep a shallow depth of field and a wide shot. For this picture, I had to stop the lense down one notch and step a few paces closer in order to adjust the exposure.

She grew embarassed yet flattered at all my snapping. I cannot help but think that morning that having a firang dude snapping pictures of you while you work in your field was just about the furthest thing in her mind she thought was going to happen that day. I wonder if they still think about us?

You walk a fine line sometimes: trying to be playful to entertain your subject in order for the both of us to feel that we are gaining something from the interaction yet without being corny or rude in order to be considered exploitative and having the mood grow sour. The feeling out in the field was one of playfulness and curiosity. We had a great time and the workers really enjoyed showing us how cane was reaped, peeled and eaten.

 

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Karnataka Cane Fields I

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensMinolta 50mm f/1.4
Shutter / Aperture1/1250s / f/2.8
ISO100

Jim and I had a deal while travelling through India. If one of us saw something that we wanted to stop and get a closer look at we were to inform the other of us and we would stop and look as chances were we weren't going to get a second chance to see some of this stuff again in our lifetimes. This policy proved to be much to our advantage of seeing some very cool things.

One such thing was a cane field we passed shortly after our exit from the bird sanctuary. Jim wanted to get a closer look. We signaled to the driver to pull over. After Shiva had a quick chat with the field owner and we exchanged some photos we were happily accepted into the fields by the waving cane workers.

Here is the first of the cane workers I photographed. She was quite embarassed, yet flattered that I was taking her picture. I positively love the floral print of her dress. I wish people dressed that well up here in Minnesota.

As you can see from the EXIF data (above) it was really quite bright outside. I used a fairly wide aperture in this shot to try and accentuate the subject from the background.

 

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May 30, 2005

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary Boatman

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensSigma APO 70-300mm f/4-5.6 @ 130mm
Shutter / Aperture1/400s / f/5.6
ISO100

Here was our trusty boatsman through the Ranganathittu Sanctuary. He was a real nice guy. He didn't speak much English, just enough to know our names and where we were from but he didn't speak much Kannada with Shiva either. He patiently rowed us around to many interesting things and animals to see.

I found his look and the stark contrast of his facial hair to be very interesting. I snapped a series of shots when he wasn't looking and just sort of smiling to himself. I really like how natural his manner appears to be in this shot.

 

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May 29, 2005

Perpich Center for the Arts Class of 2005 Graduation I - Got Ethics?

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Here is my brother taking his walk to receive his diploma. The highlight of the graduation for me and my family. I was positively elated to see him take his final walk as a high school kid!

As you may know or can tell, the Perpich Center for the Arts is rather non-traditional. There was no valedictorian. The is no football team. There wasn't even a band playing Pomp and Circumstance.

The kids could wear whatever they wanted to the graduation. My brother chose to wear big 80s blue-blockers and a sport-coat over a tee-shirt. How very L.A. He better get used to the part, because he'll be moving to Santa Monica in the fall. California, here comes Evan!

Some of the other outfits that stuck with me was the girl in the bee costume (how very Blind Melon!), the kid in the Stalin era-esq military formal wear, and the girl wearing a mortor with artifical grassy turf and a flower on her head. Very creative!

At my graduation, I just remember feeling self-concious about not having any special honors stripes and being kind of fat.

 

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May 28, 2005

Perpich Center for the Arts Class of 2005 Graduation I - Got Ethics?

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Nothing is a greater joy to me than to watch somebody we love succeed. My brother Evan graduated from the Perpich Center for the Arts yesterday along with the rest of the Class of 2005.

There were presentations from all five disciplines of the school: literature, dance, music, visual and media arts. All of the students are so amazingly talented and seeing a sampling of the outcome of their two years spent at the school was an awe inspiring treat to see. The highlight for me aside from seeing my brother receive his diploma was to watch the charismatic and wise Mr. Wesley Wallace from the Science faculty give his speech to the kids.

Mr. Wallace delivered his speech in the form of small nuggets of light hearted advice that summed up to a mantra for how to live to maximize happiness and live well. Starting from the everyday, "always recycle, because it is the right thing to do!" and, "learn how to enjoy to do the dishes!" He gradually moved his message forward using a simple graph showing a rising line labelled "material wealth" intersecting with a dead-flat line that read "happiness."

He further expounded on this concept with quotes from Kurt Vonnegut, moving on to Socrates, "an unexamined life is not worth living," and ending on the above slide of, "Got Ethics?" to much excitement and jubilalation from the crowd. I could not imagine a better final lesson from a teacher to send these kids to the next stage of their lives.

CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensMinolta 50mm f/1.4
Shutter / Aperture1/60s / f/2.5
ISO3200

I, on the other hand, acted rather unethically during the graduation ceremony. There was an announcement that no photography or video recording of the precedings were allowed. It was stated that this was due for the, "safety of the performers during the ceremony." Indeed flashes can be dangerous and annoying but I felt this probably had to do more with the ability of the school to be able to sell you a DVD of the event later.

My father and I threw caution to the wind and we took pictures willy-nilly. It was quite dark in the Ted Mann Concert Hall so I had to crank the camera up to 3200 ISO in order to get anything decent. There is a bit of noise and banding in this image, but the preservation of the memory is what takes precedence.

My brother is the third student from the left. Way to go Evan!

 

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May 27, 2005

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary Crocodile, People, and a Curious Bird

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensSigma APO 70-300mm f/4-5.6 @ 120mm
Shutter / Aperture1/300s / f/7.1
ISO100

I had no idea what sort of wildlife we were going to run into in our little boat. The oarsman stopped at one point and pointed into some foilage: Jim, Shiva and I were greated with the gaping tooth-filled maw of a large crocodile.

To make an analogy, the shock of seeing something like a crocodile mere feet from me was the somewhat the same feeling one would receive from somebody stating midly to you, "did you know that the building is on fire?"

Being that the sign at the park entrance contained the words "bird" and "sanctuary" one does not immediately make the conclusion, "oh, there's going to to be things that could eat me!" Looking around, I realized there were multiple times more crocodiles than people in the park and for an instant I felt quite vulnerable in our tiny row boat.

After I checked our little boat for leaks and the initial shock let me I felt quite safe and shot scores of pictures of anything and everything that moved. There were many crocs, birds, and even other sets of tourists to shoot pictures of. The shot for today is one grouping that I caught with most of these elements together.

Although asthetically this isn't the most interesting shot in the world, I thought I would share with you my experience and recommendation of visiting this park if you ever get the chance.

 

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May 26, 2005

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary Boat and Boatman

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensTameron SP 28-200mm f/2.8 @ 28mm
Shutter / Aperture1/160s / f/6.3
ISO800

The Ranganathittu (say that ten times fast!) Bird Sanctuary is not too far from the city of Mysore in the State of Karnataka, India. Filled with lush greenery, plant and animal life, the sanctuary seems worlds apart from the chaos of the city.

Before I climed into one of these boats I had no idea what sorts of amazing animals I was about to see...

 

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May 24, 2005

Hotel Mayura River View III - The Raven

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensMinolta 50mm f/1.4
Shutter / Aperture1/50s / f/4.5
ISO800

When we sat down for breakfast the first morning, we were hounded by a murder of ravens. I didn't know until then that they would work in groups to try and lure you away from your food. I took their appearance as a chance to turn us into the hunters instead and snap a few pictures.

The bird in the picture provided the distraction for the others. He would hop in close and flap about while the others would try and sneak around from behind and take the spoils. You could tell there was a lot going on in their little heads to try and get a go at your food. Too bad for them that they didn't suceed.

I have to say, the ravens were nothing to combat compared to the monkeys. I hate monkeys. More on that later.

I had to take four or five shots of this bird before I got the one I was happy with. The first part of the equation was getting enough light in order to take a snappy picture and the remainder was all in trying to get the catch-lights in the eyes. I still remember the instructor from a wildlife photo class I took saying over and over again, "you don't have a picture until you get those catch-lights!"

For a bird picture, I am quite pleased with this shot.

 

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Hotel Mayura River View II - The Table is Set for Breakfast

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensTameron EX 28-200mm f/2.8 @ 28mm
Shutter / Aperture1/80s / f/5
ISO / Metering100 / Center Weighted

While I was busy shooting pictures around the lodging, the staff was busy preparing breakfast. Idli and sambar. I ate Idli and Sambar nearly every morning and never grew tired of it. Oh how I miss the food!

The Keveri River was so beautiful. It seemed so clean and calm. A stark contrast to the rest of India I experienced. It was a wonderful spot.

Nothing special about this image, I took it as a sentimental rememberance of what it was like to be there and I thought I would share.

 

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May 23, 2005

Hotel Mayura River View I - The Playground

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensTameron EX 28-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm
Shutter / Aperture1/80s / f/5.6
ISO / Metering100 / Center Weighted

After working hard for a week in Hyderabad, Jim and I met up with another business contact—a man named Shiva working in Bangalore— for a little R&R in Karnataka. This was to be followed by two or three days of business with Shiva so he happily showed us around his home state. Our base of recreational operations was The Hotel Mayura River View outside of Mysore.

Getting there was one of the more harrowing experiences of my life. Driving at night on Indian roads is not for the meak. Dodging people, truck drivers all in differing mental states, choking on pollution and stopping suddenly every kilometer or two for an impromptu speedbump on the highway are all the easy parts! It was the 3 hours of the worst motion sickness I'd ever experienced sitting in the backseat of our Tata Motors SUV that nearly got the best of me.

When morning came and after I had six hours of good sleep, the spinning had stopped by I felt rather hung over. When I opened the door to my dwelling, this was the morning I was greated with. I grabbed my camera and crossed my fingers. The fresh country air never had smelled as sweetly.

 

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May 22, 2005

Walker In The Morning

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensSigma 15mm f/3.5
Shutter / Aperture1/6s / f/11
ISO / Metering Mode100 / Spot
I'm doing a numbered run of 10 8x10 prints of this image, please let me know if you would like one!

Shot the same day as Saturday's shot.

Taking this shot was easy enough: stay up all night in order to be up early enough to take this photo without having to contend with traffic or people, setup a tripod on the median, and take the photo with the spot-meter on and bracket. The hard part was in the processing.

This may very well be the photo I've put the most work into trying to get it to look how I wanted. The challenege is getting the photo out of the camera to look like the picture you took with your mind. All and all I would guess there is somewhere around 24 hours of my time invested into this photograph trying to reconcile an idealism with an actuality.

The problem centered around the fact that I knew that I wanted to take this powerful, brooding picture of the new Walker building as how it stuck me: a sort of hulking metal monstrosity that deeply groans, "come inside—I'm filled with art." The things I wanted to pull together in order to make this a power brooding groaning picture was a composition that featured the richness of the pavement, the metallic smoothness of the building, and the moodiness of the sky without having any parts of the picture be underexposed or blown out.

The real problem with this is that the frame-up that happened to look the best to my eye was my fisheye lens. Unfortunately I don't have a neutral density filter that works well with a fisheye so I resolved to try and knock down the sky digitally in post-processing. I've used this technique before to some success. I had no idea what I was getting into.

What I found when I loaded the pictures off of my camera was that when I created the levels adjustment layer masked for the sky and began adjusting, all of the subtle chromatic aboration around the building began to glow as if the building was wrapped in neon. I tried many, many techniques to try and knock down this halo but in the end I ended up cheating my way from combating the problem directly.

Around the street lamp, at left, I applied the "traditional" technique of making a narrow selection and applying a color replacement on the high-luminosity colors. I couldn't quite get this this to work for the top of the building so I ended up just cutting out the building, pasting it on a new layer, and scaling it by 1% to paste over the layer containing the halos on the background. What you can't see, won't hurt you in this case!

The remainder of this image was processed more or less "normally" for how I finish my workflow. I applied a couple of HSL layers to convert to grayscale and used a single darkening layer to burn and blend some spots that needed blending. The end result is an image I am happy with...even if it did take a little cheating. I also have a color version of this shot I am happy with that I may post some time in the future.

Does anybody have another other techniques they would like to suggest? I would love to hear them!

 

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May 21, 2005

How I Would Have Had It.

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensTameron SP f/2.8 90mm
Shutter / Aperture1/8s / f/9
ISO / Metering Mode100 / Spot

Last weekend was one of those get down, get crazy creative weekends. I stayed up all night on Saturday authoring a program I've been writing until the sun came up. I tried to get to bed but couldn't. I thought to myself, "how often I am I awake by sunrise?" And so I decided to pack up my gear and head downtown.

I set out a rough shooting schedule of three locations: the new Walker Arts Center, Loring Park, and the farmer's market. I needed flowers for the garden anyway and besides there isn't any other place in the Twin Cities that I know of where you can get a grilled loaded bratwurst at 6:00am!

It was cold (single digits C), windy, and damp. A vendor at the farmer's market later remarked, "lovely March we're having, isn't it?" It seems you just never can tell with the weather now-a-days. Is it just me, or did the seasons seem more consistant when we were children?

I climbed up on the Irene Hixon Whitney Footbridge and pointed the camera at the Walker. The lighting wasn't quite right yet, the sun still had not quite risen over the horizon. I looked around, sipped some tea and noticed a lovely bit of poetry running the length of the bridge. For all the times I've crossed, I had never looked up and noticed it before.

I decided that I wanted to try and frame the shot tight yet balanced, subdued but interesting. I had sort of a rough plan as to how I was going to process this image; I thought it would be really neat to try and bring out some of the cloud detail that I was sure was going to be lost by the inferior to my eye dyanmic range of the camera.

Hours and hours of processing, trying and trying again I think I've got something marginally interesting. I'm not one to shy away from the digital process and not call it art. This photo has more than it's share of layer masks and adjustment layers. I hope that you don't find the selective colorization too cheesy.

I would be honored to know your thoughts.

I also bought more ink today for the Stylus Photo 2000P for some orders I have pending. If anybody wants prints make sure to contact me. Thank you everybody for all of your support!

 

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Main > Diary

May 19, 2005

System Down

Sorry about the website outage for awhile. It seems I was the victum of some sort of exploit against one of the services running on my server system. I have since removed the system and I've got my fingers crossed that everything will remain up!

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Golconda Fortress V - Nepali Groupie

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensSigma APO f/4-5.6 100-300mm @ 300mm
Shutter / Aperture1/500s / f/5.6
ISO100

There was an entire pack of 14-16 year old Nepali girls shadowing Jim's and my every movement. We would look over and wave, they would run and hide. This went on for hours.

I thought this was very funny and decided to take a picture of the girl that I had determined to be their "alpha-female."

Indeed, immediately after I took her picture she walked right up to Jim and decided to make contact. She asked us something historically funny, "are you two from Hollywood?"

We laughed and told her we sadly were not but all the same her and about ten of her friend wanted our autographs signed on the palms of their hands. It was a funny and memoriable experience. I think the most memorable feature of this picture is her smile.

 

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Main > Diary

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

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I saw the new Star Wars movie tonight at the 12:00am showing. My friend Amy was nice enough to run across from her place of work in downtown Minneapolis to the nearby Block E theater to get us advance tickets to the show. Thanks Amy and thank you Kevin for putting up with sitting next to my brother and me!

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I am not going to review the movie because a hoard of paid professionals have done that for us already. I will say that I did agree with A.O. Scott's review in the N.Y. Times which states that this isn't a great film but it certainly is a good Star Wars flick and certainly it is light years better than the previous two. Indeed the point of Scott's review that stuck with me the most was, "Mr. Lucas, who wrote the script...is not one to imply a theme if he can stuff it into a character's mouth."

Did I hear anybody yell, "edit!" out there?

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All the same it was great to see all of the fans there. Their youthful enthusiam is great to see! The theater was packed. People, including my brother and his friends (first picture at right, above) where in costume. The guy with the expensive looking polycarbonate light-saber was really impressive and a very nice guy for letting me take so many pictures of him as was the gentlemen wearing the Sith robe his mother made him. I've got to give you guys points for playing! Well done!

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When we left the theater everybody seemed properly pleased. That was, until we had to endure the hour long wait to exit the parking ramp. They should get traffic control on these things!

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Ally Watches the Final Dual

The wait gave us plenty of time to create some talking points for the movie:

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Golconda Fortress IV - From the Courtyard

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensTameron EX 28-200mm f/2.8 @ 28mm
Shutter / Aperture1/100s / f/8
ISO100

A pretty "Plain Jane" but clean shot of one of the four quandrants of the fort. With all of the switchbacks and passageways sometimes it is is difficult to figure out how the fort is constructed together until you just stop and look up.

One can clearly see two masjid in the picture, one low at center and the other up top just right of center, as well as the royal living quarters at far top left.

No special processing adjustments we really made to this image except for a slight contrast and white-balance adjustment.

 

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May 18, 2005

Golconda Fortress III - The Backyard

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensSigma 15mm f/3.5
Shutter / Aperture1/160s / f/10
ISO100

When I showed this picture to native Hyderabadians many of them told me that they had never seen this side of the fort before. I called it the "backyard."

I could see how somebody could miss it on a trip there: you've got to go off of the stoned covered walkway and up a dirt path to to the apex of the hill. It's not that far of a climb and well worth it. The view at the top is spectacular! It is amazing the amount of land that the settlement of Golconda fenced in.

From the top, there are also a number of other little pathways that lead downwards from there as our friend in the picture with the bright red cap is so nicely illustrating for us. Next time I go, I would love to do some more exploring among these seamingly lesser travelled ruins.

I took a few shots while I was back here. I recall playing around with the exposure compensation dial but ultimately I saved this shot. I really like the guy in the corner. Not only does he add a little visual interest and action to the shot, but I think he serves to deliver a decent sense of scale: at least as far as the foreground is concerned. What do you think?

 

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May 17, 2005

Golconda Fortress II

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensTameron EX 28-200mm f/2.8 @ 28mm
Shutter / Aperture1/100s / f/8
ISO (Adj.)100 (-0.30 EV)

A continuation from yesterday and more or less 180 degress from where that shot was taken.

Here we have our first taste into the intricacy of the fortress complex. Layers upon layers of history can be gleaned from the four distinct fortress sections that reside within.

 

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May 16, 2005

Golconda Fortress I

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensTameron EX 28-200mm f/2.8 @ 28mm
Shutter / Aperture1/125s / f/9
ISO (Adj.)100 (-0.30 EV)

Golcanda Fortress on the outskirts of Hyderabad is way cool. It is even more interesting and magical if you use your mind to try and imagine what this fortress and the city contained within were like.

The name Golconda derives its name from the Telegu for "Shepard's Hill." The hill is a about 120 meters high and made of solid granite. Although the fort was established by earlier Hindu rulers, Golcanda was expanded into its grand and golden period under the Qutb Shahi dynasty who's tombs we explored earier on this site.

This picture is of the ramparts standing in front of the main gate which tourists are marched through on their entrance into the fortress. Even though the sun was quite strong, I really liked how the shadows were interplaying with the architecture.

 

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May 15, 2005

Fall Rebirth in the Abstract

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CameraSony DSC-S70
LensCarl Zeiss 7-21mm f/2 @ 21mm
Shutter / Aperture1/470s / f/8
ISO100

So I've decided I like sticking to a theme during the week and switching to a different theme on the weekends so I can get a chance to pull things from my recent shooting about town, from my life, or deep from within the archives. After posting the image from yesterday I figured I was safe to find an image for Sunday.

I could have posted one of the many boring but pretty Velvia shots of fall leaves but that would be boring. I don't want to do that. Anything is better than boring. We'll save the boring for when winter reaches Minnesota and all of us living in the Northern climates forget what color looks like.

I reached back to 2000 when digital cameras were for early adopters, shaped like bricks, and buying flash memory required taking equity out of your home. Ah, how times have changed. Luckily, my processing ability has improved too.

I purchased my trusty DSC-S70 in Akihabara in a dodgy cash-only shop with my friend Fujii. It weighed in at a handsome 3.3MP (2048x1536!) and was my best friend until I did not lock the tripod key into the tripod properly while taking a self-portrait and it took a tumble to the black-top of the driveway below. The lens never quite moved correctly after that.

I've recropped, removed noise, adjusted levels, added grain and a slight vignette. I have a feeling you'll either like this shot a bit or hate it a lot. Let me know what you think!

Have a happy sunday!

 

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May 14, 2005

Last Fall

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It had been awhile since I had picked up the camera and it felt like forever since I had put an actual roll of film through my SLR. I had been working my butt off to be able to afford a Konica-Minolta 7d and yet I knew I was out of practice. I had moved and not even re-setup my darkroom I worked so hard to collect equipment for.

I knew that before I departed the country I would need to get back into the habit of taking some pictures so I asked my good friend Jeremy if he would like to go for a long walk through Minneapolis and snap some pictures of anything we happened to find photo-worthy along the way. One of my favorite things to do!

For a sunny fall day in late October, it was positively ass-kicker cold. The temperature was right around freezing but the wind was the real killer. We made pathetic little whimpering sounds crossing the Stone Arch Bridge only to be passed by a bunch of clucky older rotund women walking in sweats. If you heard them and saw with what nonchalance they cut through the wind you would have sworn they were enjoying a stroll on a nice summer day. Minnesotans are a tough stock.

All the leaves were peaked along the Mississippi. I took this shot, auto-metered on Provia 400 using my Minolta 9 with my Minolta 50mm lens which actually looks wide to me now. Damn, I hate that digital SLR cropping factor.

Apologies for the quality of the scan. I had this quicky scanned from a local camera store and their quality isn't the greatest. The highlights on the buildings in the background are blown on the scan, but fine on the film. One day, I'll do the scanning.

I am still waiting for the right moment to pickup a good quality 35mm/120 dual-format scanner. I am sure one will be able to pick them up for nothing in about another 9 months. Anybody got one they want to get rid of?

 

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May 13, 2005

Dog Day Tomb

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensTameron EX 28-200mm f/2.8 @ 28mm
Shutter / Aperture1/250s / f/8
ISO / Metering100 / Spot

Considering the phrase "a dogs life" doesn't mean the same thing in India. Dogs have it hard. All of the strays I saw were flee-bitten, dirty, rotting scavangers. Poor guys.

I once saw a medium sized dog with cow utters that dragged on the ground. A cow-dog. You don't see that in Minneapolis.

A friend of mine once remarked, "it'll change your thinking to go someplace without a social safety net," which is true. Considering this, it surprises me to realize that we even have a social safety net for animals. Animal shelters are a wonderful thing.

Like yesterday's shot, I think this one has the funk. I necessarily spot metered on the dome of the tomb so it wouldn't overexpose and handled bringing out the shadows in post-processing.

 

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May 12, 2005

Humble Tomb

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I am playing with some new code that will allow me to dynamically change the stylesheet in order to pick a better color scheme for each image. Let me know if this is a good thing, a bad thing, or if it doesn't work. The white sky of this image just looked horrible against the gray background.

CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensTameron EX 28-200mm f/2.8 @ 35mm
Shutter / Aperture1/300s / f/3.5
ISO100

I tried to take a photo of every tomb I came across at the Qutub Shahi tomb complex but I couldn't get a decent photo of this one. The sun was really high in the sky and everything looked so horribly washed out. I nearly purged it.

After I got back to the 'States I started playing around with images that were similar to this one: more-or-less decent except for a region of blown highlights. I found that for some of the images I could breathe a little visual interest back into them if I converted them to black and white and gave them a little funk. I think this one has the funk.

My funk recipie is pretty simple: convert to black and white using favorite technique, add contrast, add grain and tone. Voila!

 

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May 11, 2005

Qutub Shahi Tomb Carving Detail

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensTameron EX 28-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm
Shutter / Aperture1/160s / f/11
ISO100

Despite some of the tombs being in rather poor states of disrepair some of the features of the tombs are positively remarkable. I could not stop marvelling at the carving work.

Creating a hundred meters or so of this seamless carving must have been quite a task!

 

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Main > Diary > Politics

May 10, 2005

Finally, Some Civil Disobedience - U of MN General College Closure Protests

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As I was leaving the University of Minnesota after a final on Monday night, I was confronted by the site of about 20 or so tents pitched out on the concrete of The Mall between the Physics building and Walter Library. Curious and always ready for a good story I walked right over, perusing signs on the way that read things such as "keep your ego off our education" and "save G.C." I had a decent idea of what was going on there.

The impromptu camping session formed as an extension to May 4th's student sit-in after a camping permit was secured granting 7 days—which is less than the indefinate encampment as claimed by the student action group We Be G.C.—of camping upon the public park space that makes up the U of MN's Mall area.

All the same, I've got to give a hand to these students if for nothing else for bringing back a spirit of constructive civil disobedience to college campuses. My father and I would often discuss the irony of how an entire generation of children raised by what could be argued as the greatest generation of college-aged protesters in the 20th century stood by and did comparatively little during the election controversy in Florida, at any point of the Iraq war, or choose to demonstrate disobedience for any of the other myriad of reasons to be mal-content these days. Heck, one would have thought the double-digit percentage increases in student tuition for the three past consecutive years would have been a good enough reason for a mass student sit in somewhere.

And so, our campers on The Mall make me proud. The group out on the green even told me a couple of protest members took mace to the face and allegedly even a couple of kicks to the groin from police during their arrest at the sit-in as they were being removed via the tunnels beneath the building to avoid media exposure.

The students claim that they did nothing but peaceably resist removal.

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Police now guard Morrill Hall and check visitors at all entrances in an effort to prevent further hijinks.

Indeed, the police weren't the only ones angry with the protesters. A few students told me this morning that allegedly two other students showed up last night with sledgehammers in their hands and stood near their campsite ominously, but luckily unsure what to do next. When confronted by the campers, the students dropped their hammers and fled (picture of a camper with a captured hammer at right).

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But what initiated these protests in the first place?

The claim by the administration is that General College is not being closed down but its services are being restructured into other colleges within the University. Although the exact details of the plan have not been made clear, the "restructuring" would offer a claimed cost-savings to the University and help position it to achieve the newly stated goal of becoming one of the top three research universities in the country.

One primary concern from the student body has been that the General College is the primary entryway into the University for students of color. At least 40% of the students of color at the University enter through the general college.

The administration has responded that the University will not eliminate students of color from the student body by shutting down the General college but will instead raise-the-bar at the University by offering generous scholarships to exceptionally bright students of color to attend the school.

After talking with the student protesters and researching the matter on-line I have learned that the primary argument against this as of yet uncemented plan is that it would effectively turn the University's back against disadvantaged students of color at the level of the local community, not to forget about immigrants and students who are parents for whom the College is already well equipped to handle. The University they feel should provide a foot in the door for local Twin Cities students that may have not had the same opportunities to succeed as students pulled from other, more polished backgrounds however independant of ethnicity.

Indeed I am inclined to agree with this viewpoint. The University is after all a Minneapolis and St. Paul land-grant University. In exchange for land and tax-money the University should best serve the people of the surrounding land who pay the taxes and not cater only to the educational elite of the world at large. Not to say that the University should not cater to these people, but it should have a fiduciary responsibility for its local citizenry.

So why not just send present General College students instead to community college?

The general college is a highly integrated part of the University. After meeting specific requirements, it is relatively easy to transfer to one of the many other colleges within the U. In addition, general college students mix with the student body at large and add an invaluable yet intangible set of viewpoints from a variety of backgrounds that might be lost if the student body becomes more homogenous.

There is a broader argument here as well. There is somewhat a general consensus amongst the citizenry of Minnesota that the University's Board of Regents as been less than transparent on at least a couple occasions with regards to their decision making. There should be a transparent discussion of plans for making decisions as large as this one so that the people of the State of Minnesota can have adaquate time to react so the will of the people can be taken into consideration making a final judgement.

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For now, I happen to come down on the side of the protesting students on this matter. I want to know why we cannot have the best of both worlds. The University is one of the the largest in the country, a Big 10 school, but somehow there isn't enough money or space to attract both the best and brightest and serve the community, regarless that everybody pays their tuition to attend? I don't buy it.

What I would like to see is the actual plan post-closure of the General College and the true justification for closing the school as proposed by the Board of Regents and President Bruininks so I may decide the issue for myself. Unfortunately, right now there just isn't enough actual information and that fact alone is enough for people such as myself to be mad enough to camp out.

Good luck to the protesters on The Mall. I know your permit expires tonight!

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Further Reading:

 

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Main > Photoblog

Qutub Shahi Tomb Archways

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensTameron EX 28-200mm f/2.8 @ 28mm
Shutter / Aperture1/160s / f/8
ISO100

Yesterday, the site surpassed 100 comments. Thank you! Your comments mean a lot to me!

I swear I saw this exact picture in one of the other many fine photoblogs featuring shots from Hyderabad but I really liked mine so I decided to post it anyway. Not like repeating archways are anything new but...

...alright something more interesting tomorrow I promise!

 

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May 9, 2005

Qutub Shahi Tomb

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensSigma 15mm f/3.5
Shutter / Aperture1/250s / f/8
ISO100

...and we're back in Hyderabad.

The Qutub Shahi Tombs are one of the must see sights to be found within Hyderabad. Although they have fallen into disrepair, they are now sufficiently guarded by the state against further vandalism and are still quite the site to see. I will always remember them for being my halfway marker seen on the horizon when I was coming out of Jubilee Hills on the way to Gachibowli.

Srikanth took Jim and I to the tombs and we were impressed. But then again, we are always impressed by big old things.

This was, in my opinion, the grandest tomb of them all. I forget exactly which it was. I think it may have been the one erected in memorium for Hayath Bakshi Begum daughter of Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah...but I could be wrong.

The guys at left were making fun of me while I was taking the photo. Every time locals would make fun of me for taking a photo I would start laughing and then pretty soon we were all laughing. I guess I just find that picking on me is funny too!

I would have really liked to have a camera with bellows to correct the convergance on this picture. I guess that would have made me even more worthy of being heckled!

That little orange man near the entryway into the tomb is Srikanth. Hi Srikanth!

 

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May 8, 2005

Happy Mother's Day The Britt

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13:15 CDT: the color was bugging me, so I read did the image and reduced some the saturation. Much better!

CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensMinolta 50mm f/1.4
Shutter / Aperture1/15s / f/4
ISO / Metering3200 / spot

We jokingly refer to my mother as "The Britt" sort of like how Madonna and Cher only have a single name. And like Madonna and Cher, she has a knack for reinvention. She's been a model, a published artist, a toy inventor but always an inspiration. Happy Mother's Day The Britt!

I took this shot last night at her workplace—Alfred's Grand Petit Magasin—at a party intended to promote the store to their good customers.

I took my camera along last night because I thought there would be plenty of opportunities to capture candids of people shopping, eating, dancing to music—and there were—but I forgot to charge up my battery before I left and my camera pooped out shortly after I took this picture. It was only the third shot of the evening.

It was dark. I cranked the camera up to 3200 ISO, flipped on the spot meter and crossed my fingers as I turned on anti-shake. The shot looked decent enough on-camera. First stage processing included processing the RAW image to try and reduce all of the nuclear-hot highlights from overblowing in the backdrop—only some of which was successful as you can see— then applying manual white balancing and finally some noise reduction.

Then into Photoshop for more color re-balancing (which I still am not 100% happy with), a light unsharp mask, and the application of an adjustment layer to Mom to have her pop out a bit more. Not one of the best shots in the world but hey, it's Mother's Day! Definately the artist's fault here for not getting a true enough capture of a true beauty, inside and out!

 

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May 6, 2005

Happy Birthday

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensMinolta 50mm f/1.4
Shutter / Aperture1/60s / f/4
ISO / Flash (Adj.)400 / Yes (-0.25 EV)

So I'm going to do a new thing around here on the weekends; I am going to break with the present arc of photos on the weekend and mix it up with stuff from my very recent backlog or from the distant past. That way we'll get some variety around here.

I learned a little while ago that there is a special town in Wisconsin named Eagle River that produces only two kinds of people: geniuses or doorknobs. There is no middle ground. It's odd. I've been there.

Ryan here is a genius. Writer, musian, artist, "one of God's finest creations," and a good friend of mine. He's always doing something quietly funny. I wish I could have been the one to spot him posing in the corner of the room like this, but it was my Dad that said, "somebody better get a picture of that." I was all too happy to step in and make that happen.

Thank you Ryan for coming to the party; I miss you man. You've got to come into Minneapolis more often.

 

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May 5, 2005

Buddha Upon Hussain Sagar

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensTameron SP 28-200mm f/2.8 @ 28mm
Shutter / Aperture1/100s / f/7.1
ISO / Metering100 / spot

17.5m high of pure modern Buddha, baby. The Buddha Purnima is situated on an artificial island in the middle of Hussain Sagar in Hyderabad. When it was first brought across the lake from shore in 1985 the barge carrying it across capsized, killing eight and sinking the Buddha to the bottom where it would rest—undamaged—for two years until it was recovered.

The hand raised is the hand mantra meaning "No Fear," making this Buddha a Buddha of compassion. My friend Jeremey bought me a book on Buudhist art a few years ago. That definately made this trip to India more interesting.

Jim, Srikanth, and I took a boat across the lake, said "hi!" to the Buddha and I snapped this shot as we circled around it on our return. The mustardy colors of the sunset didn't look bad in the original version of this shot, but converting this image to black and white and adding contrast definately made it look better to my eye.

I used the spot meter on a darker portion of the budda, locked exposure, and recomposed in an effort to capture maximum detail without having the Buddha become just a a silouhuette against the bright setting sky. The backlighting certainly reduced contrast and darkened things up a bit more than I would have otherwised liked. I'm still pleased with this shot overall, however.

 

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Main > Diary > Politics

The Downing Street Memo

In the UK, this makes waves in the media. Here, hardly a dribble.

The Secret Downing Street Memo - The Times Online (UK)

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack...

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy...

To this citizen, "intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised," (Bush March 17th Address to the Nation) is a much bigger lie and a much larger crime than, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" (Washington Post).

Thank you Kevin for pointing out the contrast.

But hey—you know—things are going so well...lying is not a crime as long as you are winning, right?

Here's a similar analysis, another, and some pre-memo grumbling here.

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Woman Power in India III

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensSigma APO 70-300mm f/4-5.6 @ 300mm
Shutter / Aperture1/50s / f/5.6
ISO200

Part 3 of 3, the final installment, of this series of photographs of construction women working along Hussain Sagar in Hyderabad.

This woman was standing at this posture and taking a rest even before I reached for my camera. She took note of me and only changed the direction of her glance to acknowledge that I was there. Being a 6' 3" caucausian, I do not blend in very well all the time.

 

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Surprisingly Accurate

Not bad accuracy for comedy:

I am:

28%

Republican.

"You're probably one of those people who still thinks that getting a blowjob is not an impeachable offense."

Are You A Republican?

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Main > Diary > Technology

Outport

I was faced with the problem of exporting my contacts from Outlook to vCard format for use with my iPod. The iPod gives you the rudimentary ability to browse vCards with it's thumbwheel. It's actually pretty slick.

The problem is that Outlook doesn't support exporting blocks of contacts as vCards. Stupid software. Luckily, somebody has written a freeware tool to do just this: enter Outport.

Created for the expressed purpose of encouraging people to move from Outlook to Ximian Evolution (now flying under the Novell charter), Outport actually just works for a variety of purposes.

It worked just perfectly for my iPod!

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Main > Diary

May 4, 2005

Birthday Thanks, Big Wienies, and Mai Village

iPod Photo 30GB

Birthdays

We had a small gathering for my mother's birthday last week. As I said at the table, if somebody would have told me that for my & my mother's 25th and 52nd birthdays that we would have all been sitting around the same table, sharing food we've made and wine we've stored having a plesant conversation I probably would have fallen over dead. There is nobody I would have rather dined with last week than you guys. It was fabulous!

Thank you too dad for coming into town!

A big "thank you!" is also in order to all of my friends that came to my birthday party last Saturday. It was fabulous to see so many of the people I love and admire in one room!

An even bigger "thank you!!" is in order for the people that organized the party. Aimee, Will & Jane, Mom: thank you so very much! I had a great time!

The party was held at Marquette Place, Will & Jane's apartment building, downtown in the party room at the top of the building. The view from the top was amazing. One of the best views of the Minneapolis skyline I had ever seen. I'm sure I'll post at least one of the images in my Photoblog soon.

It was a lovely time, I was able to eat vast quantities of my favorite food (Malaysian curry chicken with potatoes [M1] from K-Wok restaurant on the U of MN campus), drink, and dance. A bucket was passed around labelled "donate to Jordan's save the whale pods fund" which was used to purchase a brand new 30GB iPod photo for my birthday. Thank you all very much again!

It's true, the iPod's are a great product. They might not have fancy visualizations or OLED screens or play OGG files, but they are well constructed, stylish, sound great, and have a decent battery life.

My only complaint so far is that I have had some initial problems getting the device to syncronize properly with iTunes on my computer that only supports USB 1.1. I've heard from friends and read elsewhere that this is a somewhat common problem. I think I'll be getting a FireWire interface for my PC soon. Yes, I am now officially another wieny with an iPod.

Hot Dog

Big Wienies

Speaking of wienies, my friend Ms. Amy Williams had a rather interesting experience with a rather large wieny in the parking lot of Rudolph's restaurant:

...my smile must have signaled something to you, nicely dressed, white male with drunken smile because after you pulled out of the lot and we just happened to be going the same way as you, you stuck something huge and flesh colored out of the passenger side window. I thought it was your arm and you were waving a friendly hello in your drunken stupor.

Then, my friend who was driving screamed, "OH MY GOD IS THAT A DILDO?!" And why yes, yes it was not your arm bending and swaying in the breeze, but a huge floppy dildo.

Amy, I hope you receive an answer to life's persistent questions.

Mai Village

Summary: 7.5 / 10

Last night I ate with Aimee and Jeremy at Mai Village restaurant. In short, it was good. As others have mentioned, it wasn't good in the down-home simple and cheap eats department as other restaurants such as Quang, Pho 79, or Jasmine Deli but I would still go back and give it another shot.

They obviously spent a lot of money sprucing up the place to attract a higher echelon of customers than what is typically seen driving through the 'hood. There are real orchids, dark wood carved furniture, and even a water fall leading to a koi pond that you pass over while being led into the dining area. This atmosphere obviously comes at a cost: I didn't see a lot of southeast asian neighborhood locals dining there which initially made me suspicious of the food. Too many white people in one spot is generally a bad indication for me when it comes to eating at certain venues.

This suspicion was in part confirmed when I saw the menu listed pages and pages of American Chinese favorites such as "Chicken Almond Ding." I steered away from those dishes as if they were depth charges on sonar. It seemed all the things I was interested, the house specials, were listed on the first page and the last page.

I wanted to order the 7 courses of beef (Mon Bo), but changed to the cook-it-yourself sliced seasoned beef with vegetables and rice paper wrappers when I was informed that if ordering the Mon Bo 7 yourself you actually only get 6 courses for the same price.

The beef was fresh and well seasoned. The plate of vegetables were fresh and clean, but nothing to write home about. The pineapple given for the wraps was obviously from a can.

The little grill the bring to your table is a lot of fun. sadly, the grill had to be turned down because it began to smoke...I wanted to achieve real browning but had to settle simply for cooking until done.

The ginger sauce served along with wraps was fresh-tasting and delicious. Warm tones of ginger bit at me gently while a chorus of asian flavors such as soy and sesame played in the background. I could have drunk that sauce with a straw.

For the three of us to eat it was roughly $80. An expensive weekday night out for certain but not a bad experience. We'll be going back probably to try the 7 course beef dinner when there are more of us there to order beef.

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Woman Power in India II

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CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensSigma APO 70-300mm f/4-5.6 @ 300mm
Shutter / Aperture1/100s / f/5.6
ISO200

Part 2 of 3 of the series I started yesterday.

Youth is another shocker for me whem I came across crews working. The entire family gets involved to help make ends meet.

I committed the cardinal portrait sin of cutting off the feet of the subject. As a result I cropped this photo to a three-quarters. Her smile was too good not to be shared with the rest of the world simply on account of my bumbling. I hope you'll agree!

 

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May 3, 2005

Woman Power in India I

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09:05 (CDT): so don't ever let me near the site in the middle of the night. I'm very sorry for clobbering the index page and scaring people with lame statistics. Everything is back to normal now, thank you for your patience!

One thing that consistantly surprised me as a foreigner in India was simply the shear amount of people used to in construction or public works projects. Whereas a large portion of the world would be content to hire three guys and a Bobcat for the day to move a pile of dirt, in India it seems the standard is to hire a whole squad of woman with shovels to pick at the earth and move it in giant bowls worn on their heads.

CameraKonica Minolta 7d
LensMinolta 50mm f/1.4
Shutter / Aperture1/160s / f/3.5
ISO200

In Bangalore, I saw a concrete flooring installed utilizing this method. On the fifth floor. Women would line up under a truck spewing fresh concrete and squat to have the bowl on their heads filled up. Then they would board an elevator constructed of rickety-looking scaffolding and dump their loads off on the floor at the top. OSHA? Sm-OSHA! It's India!

Jim, Srikanth, and I were heading towards boarding the boat to see the Buddha statue in the middle of Hussain Sagar when I passed this construction crew. I doddled off and took a number of photos here. This was the first one I got as I was walking by.

The focus point is a little ahead of the subject and there is some motion shake but considering I took this shot off to the side, no-look, I think I did pretty good. This shot is uncropped, it just happened to frame up this way!

 

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May 2, 2005

Bangle Shop Boy

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The ubiquitous shop children, guilting you shyly into purchases. I really like this kid's look and how the color of his shirt fit in with the rest of the wares within the bangle shop but he was too shy for me to take a proper portrait.

When he got involved watching the heat of the bargaining between Jim and the shopkeep I snapped this no-look shot off my hip. I really like the way it turned out, if nothing but for the natural quality of his posture and how he fits in his environment.

 

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