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New York City – Street Affairs


I think about photographs as being full, or empty. You picture something in a frame and it’s got lots of accounting going on in it – stones and buildings and trees and air – but that’s not what fills up a frame. You fill up the frame with feelings, energy, discovery, and risk, and leave room enough for someone else to get in there.” – this is what Joel Meyerowitz said. And I agree with this wholeheartedly.

As I am spending some quality time with photography and refining my thought process, this is the same realization coming from inside. I do feel that memorable photographs are having three dimensions. And I do prefer to say the third dimension as feelings, energy, discovery (what Joel pointed out in his own words) or whatever emotional aspect you can think of which touches heart and embraces soul and make a persistent impression in life. If the third dimension is missing, does not matter how much colorful it is or how beautifully it composed, it will never stand in viewers mind for a long time. I have put together my views here more elaborately.

Here are few street shots from New York City where I have tried to fill the frame with love and affections.

Woman Holding Dog and Man Kissed Her
Kiss, City Hall, New York City, 2014
A Girl Standing against a Wall and a couple passing by
Behind the Wall, Battery Park, New York City, 2012
A couple smoking sitting on a street sidewalk
Smoke, New York City, Near Wall Street, 2012
A couple Passionatly Kissing in the backdrop of Lower Manhattan
A Passionate Kiss in the backdrop of Lower Manhattan, New York City, 2013
A couple kissing at Pier A, Hoboken, Jersey City
Hoboken, Pier A, 2013
A Relaxing Time at Bryant Park, New York City
Bryant Park, New York City, 2014

 

A Black and White Couple , Brooklyn Bridge, New York City, 2013
Black and White, Brooklyn Bridge, New York City, 2013
World Trade Center from Hoboken
World Trade Center, 2013
World Trade Center Construction In Progress
Love and World Trade Center, 2011

Again, with Joel’s own words “We think of photography as pictures. And it is. But I think of photography as ideas. And do the pictures sustain your ideas or are they just good pictures? I want to have an experience in the world that is a deepening experience, that makes me feel alive and awake and conscious.”

Please share your thought process, realization and experience you have on good photographs. If we can not define it, pre-visualize it – how can we possibly create it? Thanks.

net-veined leaf

In the Woods


If I remember correctly, Alex Webb once said in an interview that it’s not always photographers who hunt photographs, but sometimes photograph looks for a right photographer too. I have experienced it recently while roaming around in the woods of Bushkill-Falls forest in Pennsylvania. A little boy out of nowhere came to me and asked me to take a picture of a net-veined leaf he was holding in his hand. And at that time, he was with no one and I wondered. Few minutes after, his mother and brother joined and the whole picture was clear to me.

Of course, I took few pictures of the leaf and then I asked him to hold the leaf over his face and got this below image. I cannot define what exactly this mean, but it’s interesting to me – something like it has questions and untold answers, a sort of surreal connection with the little boy, net-veined leaf over his face and woods behind creating an enigmatic atmosphere.

net-veined leaf
face covered by a leaf

 

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Alleys of Old San Juan City in the Rain


It was raining heavily in Old San Juan City, Puerto Rico when I woke up at around 4.30 am in the morning. It was Saturday, 10th May, 2014. Initially, I was too upset and started thinking that my planned photo-shoot trip in Old San Juan was going to ruin completely. Then I realized that I can shoot in the rain from the car, if required I could drop my window glass and stop for a while to take few shots – at least that would be far better than doing nothing and sitting idle at hotel room. Thanks God, traffic was not too bad; I had got some time to get few shots. In some cases, I needed to make turns to the same alley again and again where I missed due to heavy traffic.  I roamed around in the alleys of Old San Juan City while driving the car slowly and looked around for photo opportunities until 8.30 am. It was still raining then. At the end, I had nothing to regret – I got few shots those are unique and little different from shooting perspective. For me, it was nice experience.

Little Angel and Briyant Part

In Pursuit of Sunshine


While processing and putting all these images together, I was listening to John Denver’s famous song “Sunshine On My Shoulders”. And yes, it is so lovely I can repeat it again and again.

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy, sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely, sunshine almost always makes me high.
If I had a day that I could give you, I’d give to you the day just like today.
If I had a song that I could sing for you, I’d sing a song to make you feel this way.

If I had a tale that I could tell you, I’d tell a tale sure to make you smile.
If I had a wish that I could wish for you, I’d make a wish for sunshine for all the while.

Sunshine on Bryant Park
Little Angel on Sunshine

 

Sunshine in Bryant Park
A Couple Enjoying in Sunshine

 

Sunshine and beautiful evening
A Couple Having Fun time in Brooklyn Bridge Park

 

Lovely Couple on Hudson Shore
Sunshine Kiss

 

“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness — just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.”

- Laura Ingalls Wilder, Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder – Volume One: On Wisdom and Virtues

Golden Sky at Hoboken
A Matured Man and Golden Sky

 

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air…”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes (American Poet, Lecturer and Essayist, 1803-1882)

Golden Sunshine
Sunshine on Her Face is so Golden

 

Golden Sunshine
Sweet Sunshine on Her

 

Sunshine allover
Sunshine on her face

 

Sunshine and a Cute girl
Golden Sunshine on Her Face

 

Golden Sunshine
Golden Sunshine on her hair

 

“Kind hearts are the gardens, Kind thoughts are the roots, Kind words are the flowers, Kind deeds are the fruits, Take care of your garden And keep out the weeds, Fill it with sunshine Kind words and kind deeds”

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow quotes (the most popular American Poet in the 19th century, 1807-1882)

Little Angel and Briyant Part
Little Angel Playing in City Sunshine
Mom and daughter together sitting together in sunshine
Mom and daughter together sitting together in sunshine

 

The world goes up and the world goes down, the sunshine follows the rain; and yesterday’s sneer and yesterday’s frown can never come over again.

- Charles Kingsley

Lights over a couple
Sunshine and a Couple
Sunshine and New York City
A Lady and City Hall in a Fine Evening
New York City Sunshine
Mother and Son enjoying city Sunshine

 

“May you always walk in sunshine. May you never want for more. May Irish angels rest their wings right beside your door.”

- Irish Blessings quotes

Let's roll over Sunshine
Sunshine on her head

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”

- Walt Whitman

Sunshine on her head
Sunshine on her Mind
Sunshine across the City Buildings
Sunshine across the City Buildings

 

Please leave your comment and feedback in comments section, would appreciate a lot. Thank you.

 

Interesting Tattoo Wordings

The Tattoo Girl


সবচেয়ে সুন্দর আত্মার অধিকাংশ শক্তি আছে – this is Bengali, a sweet Indian language and I speak in this language at home. English version of these Bengali wordings should be like – “The Most Beautiful Soul has Maximum Power”. Now you can figure out of your own what it actually means.

I found this charming lady at Times Square, New York City and took few shots. When I saw Bengali typeface tattoo on her back, it looked very interesting to me and I immediately asked her if it was okay to take few shots of her and the tattoo of her back. Thanks to her (I know her name but it is better not to use it for sensitivity), she spontaneously agreed to pose for few shots in the busiest street of New York City. I do appreciate this and got few amazing shots.

Charming Girl
Tattoo Girl, Times Square, NYC
Tattoo Words
Bengali Tattoo on a beautiful girl’s back
Smile at her Face
Charming Face at Times Square
Interesting Tattoo Wordings
Diptych, Tattoo in Bengali

For quality view of these images, please click HERE

Dramatic Sky, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Sudden Pause of Reality


I have taken the following two images are from our recent visit to Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. The little kid featuring in the first image is my son and on the right hand side of this frame, there is very old cemetery known as Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis, built around 1860 (2nd image).

For the first time, my son realized that everybody eventually dies. And his mom & dad will die too and he will be on his own without his parents in this world as he saw the cemetery and made a connection with the scene and future. It was a sudden shock in his innocent mind and since then, he started asking questions about life and death. For him, this thought was heart breaking, by his looks I could easily make out that he was terribly upset and it seemed like his world had already collapsed.

Dramatic Sky, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Dramatic Sky, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
a bride in her bridal dress

The Bride


In my last visit to my home country India, I was invited by the bride (in fact a close family friend) to take few of her wedding photographs in her bridal dress at the ceremony time. And of course I did and always love to do this for a friend.

These images came out okay – not as good as I expected, I had some issues I never thought I would face that much. Indian weddings are always chaotic and this one was not an exception… lots of people in a small place, hot atmosphere all these make me so nervous. The space between camera and bride was a concern and dedicated photographers always have the best spot by their own right.

Anyway, even after all these, I loved to do this and I will continue doing this and improvise whenever I will get a chance in future.

Indian Wedding Ceremony
Indian Wedding and Bride
Indian Wedding Ceremony
Indian Wedding and Bride
Indian Bride
Portrait of an Indian Bride
Bridal Dress
Portrait of an Indian Bride
Indian Marriage
Indian Wedding Ceremony
Indian Hindu Marriage
Hindu Wedding Ceremony
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Inside Story


These images are from my recent trip to Los Morrillos Light, also known as Faro Los Morrillos De Cabo Rojo, is a historic lighthouse located at the southwestern tip of the island Puerto Rico, in the municipality of Cabo Rojo. El Faro Los Morrillos was built in 1882 by the Spanish and even since it has been a guide for ships to navigate safely through the Mona Passage.

Spiral staircase
Cabo Rojo Lighthouse

There is little story about this particular image above. While taking this picture, the guy is the photograph was asking me “hey, what are you doing up there? Is there anything to look at?” I smiled and replied to him – nothing. And then I waited for the guy to leave and I got the below one.

spiral staircase
Cabo Rojo Lighthouse

This one obeys some basic rules of photography like leading line and right decisive moment, I guess, but first one is something like it is asking to the viewers what you are looking at. I have difficulty to choose which one is better than another. I like first one for the gesture of the guy and inherent question what is there in this picture. And the second one is also theoretically solid in terms of decisive moment (not that I care too much) and symmetrical aspect. I leave it up to you guys what you will choose if you were me.

And after that for a minute there was none and I got the below one – certainly without any human figure it is looking little blank but Fibonacci figure is very prominent in this.

spiral staircase
Cabo Rojo Lighthouse

Then I came down at the ground level (it is not an very big lighthouse) and took another shot from below. Here is the view from down to top and it is more or less similar to the above one – cast-iron spiral staircase leads up to the top point.

puerto rico spiral staircase
Cabo Rojo Lighthouse

At the time of return back, I saw very bright and vibrant color inside and took this one at focal length 16 mm (on full frame camera) and corrected distortion as much as possible with Adobe Lightroom.

Lighthouse basement vibrant color
Cabo Rojo Lighthouse

All these images are taken with Nikon D800, Nikon 16-35mm f./4 and processed with Adobe Lightroom. Thanks you very much for your views and opinion.

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What does a portrait mean


To put it simple and short, I am referring to Paul Strand’s words – “It is easy to make a picture of someone and call it a portrait. The difficulty lies in making a picture that makes the viewer care about a stranger“.

Is it making sense to you? For me, it works and I believe that the quality of true portrait photograph. A colorful painted face or a gorgeous expression of a celebrity is always attractive, not for the quality of the photograph but for the real appeal in the subject itself. When the person in the frame is a complete stranger and a normal looking person without any special feature and still one care about the photograph that is the photograph I honor as a true portrait work.

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Portrait of a Stranger
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Street Fashion Portrait of a Stranger
an empty bench

To be honest with photography


To Be Honest With Photography –  A Personal Approach

I love photography and capture anything that makes sense to me. I do not classify or attach myself with a particular genre because for me it does not exist or perhaps I have not realized it yet. Well, what do I look for in a photograph? What do I actually want to capture and for whom am I going to do it?

These are the fundamental questions come to every photographers mind once they are satisfied with the queries and eagerness of all technicalities involved with photography – shutter speed, aperture etc. That is the transformation process and it’s bound to come for self-learned photographer’s mind as there is no syllabus exists and currently I am going through similar kind of transformation. Now, I have my own taste and definition that I always look in a photograph. When I see those qualities in a photograph, it satisfy me and I feel good about the photographer and make some sort of connection with the photographer and when I do not see anything in a photograph I care about, I feel disappointed for not seeing a good picture. Okay, that’s pretty clear and straightforward up to this point, what’s next.

What are those things and qualities I look for and hunt as a photographer? Here are the core values and all I started caring about in a photograph recently. I believe photography is kind of personal extension after certain time and a series of photographs as a whole talk about the person – the photographer’s characteristics, taste, and intelligence level. In a good photograph what I see – it is always more than what is confined within the frame, it goes beyond and it has some sort of capability to evoke human emotion in a tricky way. Photographers leave some clue knowingly or unknowingly (as they practice a lot – they might improvise it instantly without recognizing it) in a photograph to connect with something else those are already known or hint to think about something else which is sensual, touchy and play a role in life. Yes, I am talking about the transcend quality of the image which lead it to a surrealistic level. This is core part of any art (or some kind of art at least, I believe) and it has to be in a good photograph if that qualify as an art.

Now, photography in a real sense that is happening around us is something that we all are very used to and it is very difficult to see it in a different perspective. Here the job of a photographer is to find a particular scene or combination of objects, its arrangement and the aesthetic decision in such ways that make sense and can be regarded as valuable art. What does make sense? Does it going to make sense to everyone? Probably not. Everyone cannot be pleased at a time – that never happens.  By these I mean here, in a photograph there has to be something you can connect or relate with or interpret in a different meaningful way – not necessarily directly related with the subject – it can go far beyond what you see in the photograph, inspire you to think differently, lead to a concept or a focused idea – if not possible by a single image, then with series of images.  That means a good photograph is not only a photographer’s job – it is to some extend viewer’s responsibility to get what it might mean – of course it should have provocation and a subtle hint has to be there which can help to connect.

Explicit elaboration of connecting material within the frame might not be a good taste for a photographer, some actually don’t do that and it is not their style. For example, a smiling face of a beautiful girl with some floral ambience does not much leave much to connect – it is very obvious to guess the mood – and we quickly relate with something like romantic and now juxtaposition of other things start play the factor. Here the point is it diverts mind easily to a definite direction and do not leave much space for interpretation and thus imagination.

So, I like to say here that a photograph even though it is combination of well-known objects – it has to be a piece of abstract – it’s a photographer’s job to let viewers interpret the scene in a different way. Now the complexity begins and it is the deciding factor how close you are to create a valuable piece of art with everyday insignificant objects, with people on the street or with a natural scene – not necessarily a landmark location. Real intelligence, depth of life, sensuality, lots of practice to see and realize, human experience, artistic ability and a real master’s guidance if you are lucky enough – all play together to make a photograph – such a photograph is the one I care about and treasure in my mind.

Now, individual photographs give a feeling or connection to start with in some cases. People say it as story telling because it is easy to explain and give a nice justification what it is all about and keep involve with the subject as much as possible. It stays within the frame (read it as subject) and not let go beyond – far beyond. I have no objection with that. Photojournalism is that kind of art – it tells the exact story what is in there in a smart way and it is all about the subject and if there is something extra that is a bonus. Okay, that’s fine. But here I am not talking about photojournalism – rather photography with no photojournalistic attitude – photography as an art form. Here subject is just a tool of an expressive mind to use and give a surrealistic sense and unknown unidentified reaction that will kick off easily in a sensible mind and stay there for a while or forever. That’s a power of true photograph. In fact, it is true for any kind art form, isn’t it?

I am really after to make such a great photograph – I am just preparing myself to get there. It’s a realization and a complete satisfaction that this is what I want – this is the way it has to be. To get a pure abstract that has a meaning to me is the one I am thrilling that I can make someday. It is far now, but with time and persistent work, I think it is possible. In art making process when we believe we are totally in, it’s all the frustration or pleasure whatever you say. It definitely involves very high chance of failure when you are experimenting with something which is new in kind and abstract in form, playing with a new idea that about to establish –  not yet quite there. I cherish when I see that kind of photograph someone making or after with serious dedication, I feel I am not alone in this.

Questions that often come to my mind, is this kind of work possible in street or any particular genre of photography?  Yes, I think it is possible any genre and only depends how smart the photographer is in his craft.

I would like to clarify here that I am not a great photographer – not even close by any means, I am a self-learner and this is my realization about photography as art form at this point of time while writing this little blog of mine (date: 24th April 2014) and I am going through a transformation phase and I might end up with a different interpretation about photography in next 2 years – who knows. But for now, my goal is to capture something that make sense and reach to viewers more than what is in there. Hope, I make my points clear.

Thanks for reading and bearing with me. If you think it make sense to you, write me or leave a comment here or if you think this is absolutely nonsense, please let me know your thought. I would love to know your opinion on this. Thank you.

an empty bench

a dedicated photography blog by sudarshan mondal

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