Calcutta – The potters colony

The first stop of our fourth trip to India was Calcutta, or Kolkata as it is called now.

At first I was very excited to go to India at the period of Diwali the festival of lights, but it turned out that is is more a private event celebrated at home than something you can experience in the street. True, the cities were all lighted-up and people were busy shopping for lights and decorations for their homes. Actually, that week was just after the Durga puja which is a popular celebration in West Bengal, but also the week of Kali Puja which is another big celebration in the area. And particularly in Calcutta.

If we were first struck on the night of our arrival by the number of people sleeping in the street, we were also very surprised to see number of bamboo structures being erected across the city. This, were we told, was for the construction of temporary temples for the upcoming Kali puja.

The next day one of the highlights of our tour was the “potters colony” or Kumartuli. I did not do much research before and was afraid to be inflicted one of the pseudo artisanal attractions you see from time to time. It turned out that the potters colony is the place where these craftsmen are building statues of deities (or idols as our guide reffer to them) for the various celebrations of the hindu year. That week all the colony was busy making statues of Kali for the upcoming festival.


The highly decorated statues present Kali, with a necklace of severed demons heads that she defeated but also stepping on her husband Shiva, she generally has her tongue sticking out. The explanation we were given can also be found on wikipedia:

Once Kali had destroyed all the demons in battle, she began a terrific dance out of the sheer joy of victory. All the worlds began to tremble and sway under the impact of her dance. So, at the request of all the Gods, Shiva himself asked her to desist from this behavior. However, she was too intoxicated to listen. Hence, Shiva lay like a corpse among the slain demons in order to absorb the shock of the dance into himself. When Kali eventually stepped upon Shiva, she realized she was trampling and hurting her husband and bit her tongue in shame.

It is difficult to imagine that so many statues will found someone to buy them; but they actually do. Strolling through the colony you can see statues of various shapes, colors and sizes; but all describing the same scene. You will see idols at various stages of their completion, from gross straw shapes, to fully finished ones. Most of the statues will have their head covered if they are not finished. Artists are painting the fine details of eyes or decorations, some even using spray paint for shades.

All pictures with Nikon D700 + Nikkor 17-35F2.8D, I use a polarizing filter mostly all the on this lens.

Calcutta – The potters colony

Almost as good as new – Singapore Kite Festival

A couple of weeks back, we had a lovely weather for the week-end and by complete chance this was the Singapore Kite Festival. NTUC, which is a kind of local “Union”, organized this day out on the Marina Bay, right in front of my office, and their own nice office building.

So a lot of people, kids running around, kites, sun, colors, but also acrobats, jugglers, and much more. A perfect opportunity for a photo walk, and by the number of cameras around I was not the only one to have the idea.

In my current line of thinking that nobody cares if I miss or succeed in an individual shot, let’s try to make things a bit more fun and bring along a manual lens. Namely the very nice, 70-210F3.5 Angenieux zoom lens. This is a very nice piece of kit, made in France and still goes our second hand for a bi of money. I bough it second hand in Belgium back in 93 or 94 for the equivalent of then 500 EURO. It has a constant aperture of 3.5 which is fast enough with the auto-iso option of the D700. Using a manual lens with the D700 is very easy as you can either rely on our eyes or use the internal rangefinder. Using a digital body, if you miss a shot no bid deal, you can try again at no costs.

Just a couple of negative remarks:
– the Angenieux focuses the opposite was to the Nikon lens

– the infinite focusing does not seem to work well

– it looks to me that with manual lenses the D700 has a tendency to underexpose the shots…

  

Above: The waterdrops stilt walkers

Above: I like very much the colors and the “dark side”, pity the woman on the right is not totally in the frame.

 

Above: the wind garden, close, wide open
  

above: one of the pro kite flyers 

 

above: all ages gathering at Marina Bay this day

Above: one of the artists, a mime

 

Above: there was even a band playing

 

Above: A very funny juggler, unfortunately I have no outstanding shot of him.
 

The lens is now mounted on the Nikon F… (to be followed)

Almost as good as new – Singapore Kite Festival

The German- Soviet Pact (In photography term) – Take 2

For hobbies there is never any reason not to follow the path of silly or failed ideas. As the say goes in Batman: “Why do we fall down sir? So we can learn to pick ourselves up” (or learn from our faillures or do we?).

See : The German- Soviet Pact (In photography term)

So here I was again last December, playing with the Industar 22 lens on the Leica M4. Not only did I do it once, but in fact twice. But I like the collapsible lens on the M body, so slick, and the manual focusing works like a charm.

On 5th Dec I was invited at a charity lunch organized by Mark Weingard for Inspirasia foundation at the Mandarin Oriental in Singapore and brought this combo instead of a DSLR. On my way to the lunch I stopped by my favorite film shop (Ruby photo at Excelsior Plaza) and bought a roll of Ilford 3200 ASA. Well that did not go out too well, light was too dim, even for 3200 ASA, I would have been better off with the Summilux. Only the following shot reach the level of view-able.

Chef Eneko Atxa with Pat

This is trippled Michelin starred and cool chef Eneko Atxa(left) with my friend Pat inside a kitchen before the lunch.

Back from Xmas holidays I have a few shots left on a Kodak Portra, so on my way to the office I changed lens for the Industar and shot happily. Pity the lens flares so much, otherwise with a bit a post production work the results are quite acceptable.

Street Art – Summerset MRT – Singapore

First stop the skate park close to the nearby MRT station, the same street artist is back, so am I. I like his drawings a lot, looking forward to meet him when he’s at work one of these days.

White umbrella – MBFC – Singapore

Across the street from Marina Bay Financial, I was attracted by this white umbrella. Do you notice there are only women in the frame?

Your were warned – MBFC – Singapore

At the back MBFC tower 3, I think I already shot this. Too many signs kill the sign… well you cannot say you were not warned.

Camera:Leica M4
Lens:Industcar 22 50mm 3.5+adapter
Digifilm:Epson V500+Lightroom

The German- Soviet Pact (In photography term) – Take 2

Home for elderly people in Pashupatinath – Kathmandu – Nepal

This shelter is on the side of the main temple of Pashupatinath on the way to the Ghats where the cremations are held. Not the best picture ever but I like the atmosphere, I regret not to have spent more time there.

Look on the Flickr stream for the picture of the blind man, same place but on the top of the central platform.

Camera: Nikon F3
Lens: Nikkor 50mmF1.4 AIS
Film: Kodak Tri-X 400
Scanner: Epson V500, Epson Software

Home for elderly people in Pashupatinath – Kathmandu – Nepal

Newar Man – Thimi Nepal

Newar Man

Bright morning at the small temple as the junction of the motorway to Tibet and the road to Thimi. This guy came to us and start talking to our guide. I asked if I could take her portrait and here it is.
At first sight the best picture of my two rolls of film.

Camera: Nikon F3
Lens: Nikkor 50mmF1.4 AIS
Film: Kodak Tri-X 400
Scanner: Epson V500, Epson Software
Given my recollection of the weather and the DOF the picture must have been taken at medium apperture, probably F8 1/250s.

Newar Man – Thimi Nepal

100.000 – One hundred thousand

Site under construction

My account reached one hundred thousand (100000) views on Flickr this week, probably nothing to be too proud about, surely a big part of it have not even been seen. But yet, some have, so thank you flickr.

“Site Under Construction”, at Marina Bay Financial Center (MBF) in Singapore.

On the way to my new office MBF Tower 2, the construction continues. Tower 3, maybe 4 ? I don’t know – don’t care really. But nice shot opportunities.

Camera:Nikon D700
Lens:Tamron 28mmf2.5 Adaptall 2 (aka the infamous)
Processing:LR3+PS Elements 4.0

100.000 – One hundred thousand

Temple in Penang

Temple in Penang
Mosaic on temple roof in Penang

This is a close up shot of the roof of a temple in Penang (Malaysia). The mosaic is made of broken piece of coloured china bowls.

Picture was taken with the D700, I have brought along the manual focus zoom Angenieux 70-200 F3.5. Not as practical as the nikkor 70-210 F2.8D, but a bit lighter. I realy like the look of this picture, really film like; the vigneting is out of the box. One funny thing, the focusing works the opposite way to the nikkor lenses so your have to turn your focusing ring the opposite way to what the rangefinder indicates.

Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: Angenieux 70-200 F3.5
Post Processing: Lightroom 3.3

Temple in Penang
Chinese New Year Bokeh
Chinese New Year Bokeh

Here comes Chinese New Year, the town is decorated, Chinatown streets are buzzing.

A quick Friday evening stroll with the D700 and the old Tamron 28mm F2.5 manual focus lens. I could not resist to shoot the pink lights in the fake trees along south bridge road. Here comes my Chinese new year bokeh.

Incidentally I have upgraded to Lightroom 3.3 this week because it support more lenses for the correction option; I was looking for the Nikkor 24mm F2.8D.

Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: Tamron 28mm F2.5
Retouches: Lightroom 3