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Friday, December 28, 2012

Sunset over Pushkar

Camels mirror each other in the setting sun as I run to compose symmetrically. Nikon D700, Tamron 28-75 f2.8.
End of day, Pushkar. Nikon D700, Nikkor 70-200 at
200mm f2.8
Life changes, and each stage of my career is bringing with it new lessons and opportunities. These days, much of the work I am doing is governed by privacy ethics and laws and so my blogging has taken a down turn - as some of you may have noticed. And yet, today, during this usual lull at the end of every year, I find myself sorting through tens of thousands of images, hundreds of directories and a history of photography that I am proud to call mine. So, starting with this post, I think I am going to revisit my images and present their stories to you as often as I can.

So, lets start with India....

These images were taken at the famed Pushkar Camel Festival. At the time I was running a photographic tour for an old friend in the industry, Darran Leal. Darran's company, World Photo Adventures, is one the best in the business if you want an unforgettable and educational photographic experience. India was an experience I will never forget - on almost every possible human level.

Walking through this festival, a festival at which tens of thousands of camels are bought and sold, there are photographs at every turn. The camels, their owners, the buyers, their families, the dusty landscape, the colourful culture - the list is endless. You are in a dusty, hot, overcrowded photography heaven. Documenting an event like this is difficult enough as video at 25 frames per second. One image at a time is even more difficult.The problem is not 'what do you take?' but rather 'when do you stop taking?'. 

This in itself poses a problem - the problem of prioritising. When you are in a situation in which there is just too much to photograph, it becomes a case of 'what to leave in and what to leave out'. Once you have eradicated the 'what to leave out' aspect, the 'what to leave in' is challenge enough, but less so. So what do you leave out?' To me, that answer then becomes about light. If the light is not in any way complimentary to the image, then leave it out - epecially when there are thousands of potential images complimented by great light. 

Returning the festival in the late afternoon, the light becomes more workable and interesting, complimenting each image with warmth along with more manageable highlight and shadow details. In these conditions, everywhere you point your camera suddenly assumes more natural capture potential - especially in a place like Pushkar and an event like the Camel Fair.

Working with two cameras, each armed with a completely different focal length made the decisions and the process easier. So, the first port of call is the lens choices. To maximise the opportunities, I chose a wide angle to medium Tamron 28-75 f2.8 on one body and a 70-200 f2.8 zoom on the other.

Because I prefer to produce images to the degree possible in camera, metering was manual, which is my usual preference.  Then....well...you look, watch, point and wait for the moment. Conversely, you see and grab. There is no formula. You just get what you can - cursing when you miss, chimping when you hit. The chimping compensates for the cursing until after a while you realise that you are capturing images you have dreamed of taking since you were a boy who dreamed of traveling afar, camera in hand. When that realisation hits, you stop, take a breath of gratitude and continue your quest. There is no room for cursing or regret over any allegedly 'lost' images or opportunities. Right here, right now...this is the opportunity. Just concentrate, and enjoy. After all, you may never be here again.

Bred for warfare and known for their inward turning ears, a Marwari Stallion becomes too hard
handle at  a Festival designed for a less noble beast of burden...

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The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller