Mumbai Offers Several Unique Photo Opportunities

Mumbai commuters
Black & white photo of Mumbai commuters (Photo by Rajarshi MITRA / CC-BY)

There’s a wealth of places you’ll want to take photos in Mumbai. Selecting which to visit can be a challenge for the traveler with only a little bit of free time. Here’s a couple of the most popular.

Gateway of India
Gateway of India, Mumbai (Photo by Jorge Láscar / CC-BY)

Although considered cliché by frequent visitors, the Gateway of India shouldn’t be missed by anyone new to the city. Visit early in the morning to get a shot of the monument without hoards of tourists around it.

Marine Drive, Mumbai
Marine Drive, Mumbai, at night (Photo by Madhav Pai / CC-BY)

Marine Drive, is best place to get a photo of the Mumbai skyline across a stretch of sea. Visit in the evening, and you’ll immediately understand why this area is also referred to as the Queen’s Necklace. Perhaps the most popular hangout in Mumbai, you’ll also find lots of couple and families hanging out here.

Dhobi Ghat, Mumbai
Laundry hung out in Mumbai’s Dhobi Ghat (Photo by Jon Connell / CC-BY)

The Dhobi Ghat is Mumbai’s infamous and huge outdoor laundry. Everyday, around 200 dhobis (washermen) wash thousands of garments that are then hung for drying on long lines throughout the area. This is a great place to get some memorable photos.

Plucked Duo
Flowers for sale at Dadar Phool Market, Mumbai (Photo by Meena Kadri / CC-BY)

If color and flowers attract you, Dadar Phool Market is the place to go. This flower market is located in a small gully lined with flower stalls. The shop owners are used to photographers, but arrive early in the morning for the best shots of this bustling market.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai, at night (Photo by bWlrZQ== / CC-BY)

CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) station, is one of Mumbai’s iconic landmarks. Opened in 1887 to commemorate the Queen Victoria’s 50th birthday, the CST was originally named ‘Victoria Terminus’. If you’re looking to shoot chaos, bustling crowds, and lots of stalls, all against the background of incredible colonial architecture, a visit to CST is a must.

Many first-time travellers to Asia, particularly those on business, have asked about easily accessible photo opportunities in the cities they visit. This post is part of an ongoing series, each on a different Asian city, introducing a few photo locations for visitors with limited time.

Chen Man – A Contemporary Chinese Photographer Who is Truly Inspired

Woman on bicycle in China
Fashion shot – woman on bicycle in China (shot by Chinese photographer Chen Man)

One of China’s top fashion photographers, Chen Man was born in 1980 in Beijing. After attending a high school specializing in art, she studied graphic design in Beijing at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, where she graduated in 2005. Prior to graduating, the foundation of Chen Man’s photographic career had already begun to be laid with the 2003 launch of a series of covers she produced for Vision, a Shanghai-based fashion magazine.

Chen Man photos
Self-Portrait & Boombox Model photos by Chinese photographer Chen Man

Between 2003 and 2007, the cover photos that Chen Man created for Vision were received in China as ground-breaking, and even avante garde. Her method of highly-stylized, over-the-top, manipulated images had never been seen before in Chinese magazines. But the nuances of glamour, energy, and freedom of imagination portrayed in her cover photos resonated with China’s emerging youth culture.

Photos by Chen Man
Fashion photos by Chinese photographer Chen Man

As the magazines reached the public, viewers were in awe of Chen Man’s skill in combining a strong aesthetic eye, photographic technique, and mastery of post-processing and 3D rendering. The fact that she was young was a pleasant surprise to Chen Man’s Chinese audience, and there was also an element of national pride that she was a Beijing native. This initial success launched Chen Man’s meteoric rise.

Chinese model in traditional costume, photo by Chen Man
Chinese model in traditional costume, photo by Chen Man

Since gaining recognition for her work for Vision, Chen Man has shot covers for every major Chinese magazine, and has also became a regular contributor to the Chinese editions of Vogue, Elle, Bazaar, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, and Esquire. She has also shot for ID, The Times, Wallpaper, Muse, Guess, Adidas, Motorola, Gucci, etc. Additionally, her work has been exhibited in many major galleries and museums.

Fashion shot of Chinese model in veil by Chen Man
Fashion shot of Chinese model in veil by Chen Man

Chen Man’s has created her own style of photography based on a combination of her skill with a camera, and her expertise with a computer.

Fashion photo of two Chinese mdels by Chen Man
Fashion photo of two Chinese mdels by Chen Man

According to Chen Man herself, “My work is complex and it matches the faces of our era; it’s Eastern and Western; it’s neither mainstream nor anti-mainstream; it’s the past, the present, and the future; it’s tacky and elegant. This is all achieved through a combination of ‘hardware’ from ancient Chinese culture and ‘software’ from modern Western culture.”

Fashionable Chinese woman in red dress. photo by Chinese photographer Chen Man
Fashionable Chinese woman in red dress. photo by Chinese photographer Chen Man

Suggested Photo Locations in Bangkok

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Due to Bangkok’s horrendous traffic congestion, visitors with just a bit of time on their hands are not going to be able to see many of the sites. Depending on how much time you have, the following are a few suggestions for photography.

 

Wat Pho
Reclining gold buddha statue at Wat Pho, Thailand

Wat Pho is where you’ll find the famous Reclining Buddha. This 15-meter high, 46-meter long, gilded statue is probably the most photographed Buddha in Thailand. But, it would be a tremendous mistake not to also explore the huge temple complex with its many elegant buildings, monks going about their lives, and even birds perched on the temple roof.

Grand Palace - Bangkok
The Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

Located in central Bangkok, the Grand Palace is a complex of buildings that was the former seat of the king. There are many truly stunning buildings to photograph, but pay attention to the signs as there are strict rules governing what is allowed to be photographed (particularly inside).

Soi Cowboy, Bangkok
Soi Cowboy nightlife district at night, Bangkok

If you’re feeling adventurous one evening, visit Soi Cowboy to get photos of Bangkok’s notorious nightlife. This street is ablaze with garish neon lights, and its denizens are used to photographers. Still, you should avoid snapping away at the working girls on the street as they usually don’t want their faces photographed.

Bangkok with a Bang
Boat traffic on the Chao Praya River in Bangkok

An easy way to get a lot of great photos of Bangkok is to take a boat up the Chao Praya River. For a nominal fee, the boat takes you by stilt houses, kids playing in the river, cargo barges carrying all sorts of goods downriver, and ferries carrying passengers from one side of the river to the other.

Wat Arun
Wat Arun temple at night, Bangkok

Finally, one of the most alluring images you can take of ancient Bangkok would be a photo of Wat Arun, known as the ‘Temple of Dawn’. Although the temple is located on the Thonburi side of the Chao Praya River, the best photos of it are taken from the opposite side of the river.

Many first-time travellers to Asia, particularly those on business, have asked about easily accessible photo opportunities in the cities they visit. This post is part of an ongoing series, each on a different Asian city, introducing a few photo locations for visitors with limited time.

Nepali Photojournalist Creates Images That Are ‘Readable’

Sailendra Kharel - Nepali photojournalist
Sailendra Kharel – Nepali photojournalist

Nepali photojournalist Sailendra Kharel believes, “a photojournalist is a messenger who witnesses a situation and uses the camera as a tool to express about the situation”.

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Kharel learned the power of photojournalism when he met a beggar who couldn’t read, but followed the news by looking at, and interpreting, the photos in local newspapers.

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Kharel’s work reflects his philosophy of engaging viewers while respecting his subjects.

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Former Prime Minister and Nepali Congress Party President Grija Prasad Koirala is being discharged from from Sahid Ganalal Hospital,Basbari on wednesday. KANTIPUR PHOTO: SAILENDRA KHAREL

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August Photo Opportunity: Colorful Tribal Dancers of the Philippines

Kadayawan Festival performers
Participants of the “Indak Indak sa Kadalanan” perform before the crowd along Roxas Blvd. during the 23rd Kadayawan Festival in Davao City on August 23, 2008. The street dancing is one of the highlights of the week-long Kadayawan Festival. Keith Bacongco / AKP Images

A riot of color waits to be captured by photographers venturing to the Kadayawan Festival in the Philippines.

Simply Joy
Street dancers at the Kadayawan Festival, Davao, Philippines (photo: Bro. Jeffery Pioquinto, SJ)

Kadayawan is held annually during the 3rd Week of August in the city of Davao, the Philippines. Davao is found on Mindanao, the nation’s second-largest and southernmost island.

Kadayawan Indak Indak sa Kadalanan 2015
Tribal dancer at Kadayawan festival in Davao, Philippines (photo: Bro. Jeffery Pioquinto, SJ)

The weeklong festival is a celebration and thanksgiving for nature’s bountiful harvest, and offers wonderful photographic opportunities.

Christmas decors for sale in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines
Christmas decors for sale in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines (photo: Keith Bacongo)

During the festival, the streets of Davao are adorned with local fruit & vegetables, providing a colorful background to the tribal dances and floats. Floats are covered with fresh flowers and fruits, and the energetic dancers from various indigenous tribes wear their finest costumes and jewelry.

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A GIANT ÒPARULÓ (Christmas lantern), a product of craftsmen from the City of San Fernando in Pampanga province, entertains spectators at the 2014 Ligligan Parul (Giant Lantern Festival). Photo: Keith Bacongo

To get the best photos, pick a spot early as the streets get crowded quickly as visitors flock to watch the dancers and parades.

Photographer Herman Damar Captures the Best of Indonesian Village Life

Indonesian village woman and girl
Indonesian village woman and girl

Self-taught photographer Herman Damar lives in Indonesia. He came to the attention of the photographic community with the images he captured of idealistic moments of the everyday life of villagers residing outside of Jakarta.

Indonesian village man washing water buffalo
Indonesian village man throwing bucket of water on water buffalo

An ex-advertising director, Damar’s beautiful photos focus on the warmth of traditional village life. The settings, composition, and warm light all combine to give an idyllic quality to Damar’s photos. He says his favorite time to shoot is between 7am-9am.

Indonesian boys having water fight
Indonesian boys playing, having water fight

Particularly alluring are Damar’s images of village children playing in their natural element – in rivers, in muddy fields, with hand-made toys, and with their farm animals. His images beautifully emphasize the connection the villagers have with the natural world around them.

Village boy playing with chicken
Indonesian village boy blowing water at chicken

According to Damar, the villagers are very friendly and happy to have him take their photo. This is perhaps due to the fact that he spends time among the villagers learning about them and their lives.

Indonesian children at play
IThree ndonesian village children playing

I definitely hope Herman Damar continues to create his wonderful images, and look forward to seeing the results of his next projects.

Indonesian boy in the rain
Black & white photo of Indonesian boy under a leaf in the rain

An Amateur’s Experiences With Street Photography

Street photo of young Japanese woman
Street photo of young Japanese woman in Akihabara at dawn

I’ve never specialized in any one genre of photography, which is probably why I consider myself as an amateur in all genres of photography. Portraiture, HDR, landscapes, light painting – I constantly switch from one to the other, and enjoy them all.

One constant is that wherever I happen to be, I always enjoy going out for a walk to see what I can capture with my camera. While the majority of photos I take on these walks include people, I don’t consider that to be a requirement. Neither do I try to focus only on taking shots that document something in particular. So, I suppose I’m actually talking more about photo walks than about true street photography.

Asian street photography
Street photography taken in Asia

So, why do it? I’ve found shooting on the street is a great way to hone your skills in being aware of what’s going on around you, test different camera settings, practice using different lens, learning to be quick, and forcing yourself to think about how to create a compelling image. And, best of all, you never know what you’re going to find.

One of the allures of shooting people on the street is the opportunity to capture candid moments. This allows you to portray honest human emotions, which can lend to creating a memorable photo.

Old Man's Dreams
Old man in winter in black & white

Of course, you have to deal with the innate hesitation we all have to taking a stranger’s photo. Will they get mad? Will they think you’re some sort of strange stalker? Ideally, you’ll be quick enough when you press the shutter release that they won’t even notice you – that’s how you get a real candid shot.

Thirsty in Delhi
Turbanned man drining water on the streets of Delhi

There are a few options you can use to get candid street shots. One is to go someplace where a lot of people are taking photos – a public event, or a park where a street performer is putting on a show. You’ll easily be able to take photos of people in the crowd without attracting a lot of attention. Another technique is to look for people who are so engrossed in whatever they are doing that they won’t notice you (someone feeding the birds in a park, for example).

A common ruse is to pretend you’re shooting something besides the person whose photo you want to take. An easy way of doing this is to set up a shot and allow the person to walk into the frame. If they notice you, just keep shooting even after they’ve passed by. Chances are, they’ll think they got in your way.

Teenage girl years
Teenage girl in a crowd

It’s just a personal opinion, but I don’t recommend using a telephoto lens to take candid shots of strangers. I’ll admit I tried this when I got my first telephoto lens as a gift, but the whole experience felt creepy and I gave it up immediately. I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m just saying it’s not for me.

Begin a ‘foreigner’ in all the countries where I shoot, it’s inevitable that I stand out and get noticed. This means some of the shots I get are of people looking directly at me. Sometimes this enhances the image, but other times (when they start ‘posing’), it weakens the shot.

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Street photography in Asia

When people notice that I’ve taken their photo, I always give them a big smile and offer to let them to look at the photo (sign language goes a long way here!). It’s always awkward to be caught taking someone’s photo, but so far I’ve never had any problem. It probably helps that I never take photos of people that purposely are unflattering – when they’re arguing, etc.

Exercising common sense and practicing common courtesy both go a long way into making amateur street photography a fun experience! The things you’ll learn, and the practice you’ll get in using your camera, both make it worth the time and effort.

 

Lala Deen Dayal – The Doyen of Indian Photographers

Famous indian photographer - Lala Deen Dayal
Famous indian photographer – Lala Deen Dayal

Born in 1844 at Sardhana in Meerut in the United Provinces (Uttar Pradesh today), Lala Deen Dayal was a successful engineer in Indore, where he was Head Estimator & Draughtsman with the Public Works Department. It was here that he was introduced to photography. His skill with the new medium was noticed by ruler of Indore, Maharaja Tukoji II. In 1875, the Mahajara became his patron, and encouraged him to set up his first studio. Shortly after establishing his studio, Dayal photographed the royal visit of the Prince of Wales (who became King George V), greatly enhancing his reputation.

Tiger Hunter - by Indian photographer Lala Deen Dayal
Tiger Hunter – by Indian photographer Lala Deen Dayal

This success was followed by a string of appointments over the years that allowed Dayal to capture a unique photographic record of Indian aristocratic life not easily accessed by his British counterparts.

Maharaja of Bijawar
Maharaja of Bijawar – by Indian photographer Lala Dayal Deen

This portrait taken in 1882, depicting the Maharaja of Bijawar sitting cross-legged, surrounded by servants, is a example of Dayal’s portrait work at the time.

In 1886, Dayal was appointed as the court photographer to the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad (an Islamic dynasty in India). Remaining in the Nizim’s service until his death, Dayal captured intimate portraits of the royal family, opulent palace interiors, and the pageantry of the times. In appreciation of his work and dedication, the Nizam bestowed on him the honorific title of “Raja”

Jain temples at Sonagiri near Dattia
Jain temples at Sonagiri near Dattia – as photographed by Indian photographer Lala Deen Dayal

Besides the Nizam, Dayal photographed various British dignitaries throughout his career. In 1887, he had the unique honor of being appointed as “Photographer to Her Majesty and Queen” by Queen Victoria. Dayal also received numerous awards in exhibitions in India and abroad, notably at the World Colombian Commission in 1893 in USA.

Dayal captured a wealth of images of both the British and indian ruling classes
Dayal captured a wealth of images of both the British and indian ruling classes

In 1896 he expanded his business and opened the largest photography studio in Bombay, which was patronized by both Indians as well as the British.

Photos of India by Lala Deen Dayal
Historic photos of India by Indian photographer Lala Deen Dayal

Dayal photographed on a wider scale than any European photographer of the time, as he moved with ease between the Indian and English worlds. His albums of India views and ancient monuments became very popular and were bought as keepsakes and gifts by both the British and Indian aristocracy.

It was not only in his portraitures and depictions of the lives of the ruling classes that makes Dayal’s work memorable. He also captured the rich culture and tradition of India’s architectural heritage – its palaces, temples, monuments, and forts.

Dayal passed away on 5th July 1905, and his work was carried on by his sons. His contribution to Indian photography has earned him the title of “Doyen of Indian photography”. Lala Deen Dayal was the first Indian photographer to earn international renown for his pioneering work in the field of photography in the subcontinent.

The Natural World Is Celebrated By This Singaporean Photographer

Ernest Goh -'Selfie'
Ernest Goh -‘Selfie’

Previously a photojournalist with The Straits Times, Ernest Goh is a Singaporean photographer and visual artist whose work focuses on animals and their relationship with humans.

From 'The Fish Book'
From ‘The Fish Book’

Ernest’s animal portraits have been published in The Fish Book (2011), Cocks (2013, republished as Chickens in the US in 2015), and The Gift Book (2014) a collection of 15 gift-wrapping paper designs created with various elements from nature – including insects, butterfly chrysalises and flowers.

From 'The Chicken Book'
From ‘The Chicken Book’

His most recent work was presented in the solo exhibition ‘Breakfast at 8 Jungle at 9’ (Objectifs – Centre for Photography and Film, Singapore, 2015).

From 'The Gift Book'
From ‘The Gift Book’

According to the artist, Ernest’s fascination with the natural world began as a boy at his grandmother’s rural kampung (‘village’) in Singapore, as he waded in streams looking for fish and jumped into bushes searching for spiders.

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Get Down And Dirty – A Photo Tip That Gives Immediate Results

Korean woman in B&W
Black & white photo of Korean woman against sign

Your back, thighs and knees will hate this photography tip!

Why is it that the majority of people you see taking photos are doing so standing up? It seems that if we have a camera in our hands and then see something we want to shoot, we raise the camera to our eye, compose, and press the shutter release. Even when we use tripods we tend to extend the legs to eye level and then start shooting.

I recently read a great line that said, “Most of our lives are spent well above ground level and by the time… we’re adults… we rarely spend much time down low”. Have we forgotten what the world looked like when we were rolling around on the ground as kids?

Crouching down for the best angle doesn't always look elegant
Crouching down for the best angle doesn’t always look elegant

Honestly, I think when we’re faced with the opportunity to take a photo, it just never occurs to most of us to get down low. Or, if it does, maybe we don’t want to get our knees dirty, or subconsciously avoid getting down as we realize that it’s not as easy as it used to be. (Neither is getting back up)!

Yet by automatically shooting at standing height, we’re condemning our photos to being taken at the same boring perspective that everyone sees everyday. Shooting from a low angle allow us to show a different perspective of the world.

Sample photos of little girls
Samples of photos taken of small children from a low angle

You’ve probably come across articles that suggest getting down low when taking photos of pets and/or children. The objective, we’re told, is to be at least eye-level with them, if not lower.

On the other hand, it’s generally agreed that adults tend to look their best when shot at a camera angle that is either at their eye level, or just slightly above. Shooting from slightly above their eye level makes people’s faces look thinner and is generally more flattering.

But, have you ever considered that shooting from a low angle can also bring a fresh perspective to both your portraits and landscape shots?

Turbaned man
Close-up of turbaned Indian man

The next time you photograph an adult who is sitting down, take a photo of them from a standing position. Then, squat down and get down to their eye level, and take a shot. Compare the two photos. Chances are the photo taken from a lower angle will be more interesting and dynamic.

Photographer Lawrence Ang uses his knees to get the best angle
Photographer Lawrence Ang uses his knees to get the best angle

In landscape photography, by getting really low (dropping to one knee, or even lying on the ground) you can incorporate, and put more emphasis on, interesting foreground elements. This allows you to include objects into the image that can make it more engaging. – a rock, or a path leading to the mountains in the distance. By getting down low, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how this change in perspective will make your photos different than those taken by the majority of the casual snapshot shooters out there.

Low angle shots taken in Asia
Low angle shot of Gateway of India, and low-riders in Japan

Remember, it’s easy to capture engaging new perspectives in your photos without buying any new gear, or mastering specialized techniques. All you have to do is make the effort to crouch or lie down, and be willing to get a bit dirty. The point is, learning to use a low camera angle is a really simple way to create unique and powerful compositions that will make your shots more interesting.