Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Do we live in a crazy world or what?

Just saw something hilarious and had to write about it! This is printed on the screens on all the windows in our new apartment - I thought it was hilarious that they would write it that way :)Sometimes I wonder if this is actually for someone's safety or just to avoid lawsuits! "not intended to provide for the retention of objects or persons from the interior"!!! Could somebody actually mistake it for a strong support?

All things Montreal

I just got back from Montreal, Canada where I was attending a conference & was able to go around the city for a bit to take in the local Canadian = English + French flavor... Montreal was a pleasant surprise. In many ways it is very much like an American city (and I assume most of Canada is like the U.S.). The visa check points while entering Canada and while coming back into the U.S are the only things that show that I was entering a different country. And yet, Montreal is distinctly different with its unique French ways. Most of the people are multilingual - they speak French & English. So greeting anyone happens twice - bonjour, hi. Then they launch into French and you have to say hello to stop them & make them switch to English instead.

Other than the language mix (which is evident in everything - roads signs and all), what struck me most about Montreal was its grandiose Christian architecture (oh, and also the curious absence of touristy stuff like gift shops that would make every Montreal artifact into a profit making commodity). Anyway, huge church buildings (one of my friends remarked/wondered why religion always has to make a big statement! Hm, had never thought of it that way!) can be found around every nook and corner - each beautiful in its own ways. Here's an example - this is the Marie-Reine-Du-Monde cathedral in downtown Montreal, close to where I stayed.And this one is St. Georges, also close to where I stayed -I went inside the Marie-Reine-Du-Monde cathedral to take some pictures and it is so beautiful! Statement and what not, definitely a place one should visit if ever in Montreal.

Another interesting aspect of Montreal was the 'walking dude'... Do you see the difference between the Canadian dude and an American one? My American friends had so much fun talking about the Canadian one - he seems active and so on the go! Also saw some crazy artifacts such as these -

All in all, a fabulous experience!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Finding glamor in the mundane - Part II

No new pictures to share today, but rather somebody else's work! I've written a little bit about how one can find glamor in the mundane... and guess what(!), I thought I'd share an awesome example with you. One of my friends, Anne, is the queen of finding glamor in the mundane!!! Some of the places she's been are exotic, but even there she's found a way of capturing the regular life and making it look intensely beautiful... Is it you or is it your camera? Here's a shout out to you Anne! Love your work :)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Finding glamor in the mundane...

I admire people who find glamor in the mundane... I had seen a picture of a bridge among Steven Pinker's collection of photos in and near Boston - he's a professor at Harvard and has an awesome collection! I would have seen only a bridge, but Dr. Pinker found out a way to get past the obvious and bring out the beauty in the surroundings. Here's the picture in question. How did he do that? Well, framing the sky, the bridge and the water in right amounts is where the art is. I've been to most of the places he captures, but have not been able to get past the daily routine of traveling thro' these places to be able to notice what now seems obvious!

So coming back to the point - I decided to capture the mundane in the hope of finding something interesting. Found a bunch of keys nearby - they are mundane enough, aren't they? So here's what I tried first - just a top view of the keys...Disappointing, isn't it? I thought so... But decided against giving up! So after trying a few different angles, here's what came up! Not totally glamorous, but more interesting than the first one for sure... So what did I learn today? Of course - the most obvious is to not give up! And something else - finding the best position for your camera lens is the most important thing you'd do. Getting good pictures (even with a digital camera!) is not as easy as point and click as they'd have you believe... it takes time and effort and commitment to the task. Most of us are generally satisfied with run of the mill pictures - nothing really wrong in that - but lately I've tried to be a little more involved in pictures I take and it has been wonderful!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Black and white and beautiful?

If my world wasn't so colorful, would it be beautiful still?
Disclaimer: This picture wasn't taken on a B&W film, just a quick conversion to blank & white in picasa.

I converted this picture to a black and white image to see how it would look without the color. I've heard such good feeling toward B&W photography among serious photographers - its almost a holy grail - for those who attempt B&W are in an entirely different league! We had tried our hand at one B&W film for our Canon Rebel a few years ago and nothing significant came out of it. Now of course, B&W film + developing/printing is expensive than color - so we let it go at that. But it has been at the back of my mind since then.

I've seen beautiful B&W photographs in the Central Pennsylvania Festival of Arts held each year in State College, PA. Renowned photographers converge in the happy valley (home to the Penn State Nittany Lions) each year for this festival and strut their art. While I have marveled at the B&W pictures, I've also realized that not all pictures would look good on a B&W film. So I tried converting a lot of different kind of pictures (people, flowers, buildings, sea shore etc) in my collection to B&W and most of them just looked pale and uninviting. This picture however, which I took on Cape Cod last year, became mildly more interesting than its colored counterpart. Here's the colored version - take your pick!
Do we like color or B&W? Does it convey a different emotion? As I've said before - I'm a fan of sunlight - and when we take away the color - we take away the light almost! But beauty is in the eye of the beholder... Try some on your own... Authentic B&W film if possible, but digitally converted at least...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Orchid in a flash

Here's the point - I'm a firm believer in sunlight and sunshine... so taking pictures indoors has always seemed tedious and I've never been good at getting good pictures indoors - especially people pictures! There's either too much flash or not even light. So when we arrived at the ag arena today for the Orchid show, I was immediately put off because the flowers were inside the arena & not outside as I was hoping.

Result? I took 258 pictures in about 45 minutes - and almost 75% of them are either too grainy or too flashy such that you can't even make out the detail. Call it lacking skills or whatever... but I wasn't happy. And then this brilliant fluke came along and made my day! Perfect amount of flash... Thanks to a friend (here's a shout out to you Nagesh!) who showed me how to click such pictures with examples from his brilliant collection - I can finally say - this is a keeper - and it 'll go in a frame :)