Sunday, September 17, 2006


MEENAKSHI AMMAN TEMPLE is a veritable cove of architectural splendors. Getting into that temple to click some shots had always been a great thrill. I would have gone there a few times and many shots that I liked better are not with me now. I have lost them in the course of this long time. I present a few that are still in my personal album.

But more than the photos I took, one photo which I missed to take is still in my mind – in colour with its beautiful composition. It was the very first time that I visited the temple with my newly bought SLR camera, Mamiya Sekor. I did not know the rules and regulations for getting a camera into the temple. So I just stopped at the main entrance and covered only the front yard. On both sides there would be shops for puja materials. Tall columns with grand statues on both sides. It was a morning and the entrance faces east. So there was beautiful lighting. On my left at the base of one such column was sitting an young north Indian girl in bright red dress. It looked so good to me. The front of the column getting the diffused reflected light, dark background and a girl in the lighted area – it all looked so good. I wanted to maintain some etiquettes and so asked the girl’s permission to take a photo. When I finished asking her permission, the girl with all smiles, got up and moved a few feet away and sat again in another spot away from the column. Then I understood that my half-sign and half-English made all the difference; she understood, it seemed, that I was asking her to move away so that I could take the picture of the column!

Looking back it appears that all through these times the photos which I had never taken were quite better than what I took!

Friday, September 01, 2006


Some more 'wild' shots:



அலங்காநல்லூர் ஜல்லிக்கட்டு:

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It is a "period photo"! One can see the knee-length trouser and heavy boots of a cop with a stick in hand. Those were the days when the lower level cops had to wear this costume! Poor guys they did not have proper socks instead they had to use long and thick woolen (!) tapes for those very heavy boots. A British legacy!

Monday, August 28, 2006


During these days ‘expeditions’ to ‘shoot’ were quite often. The right mood and some amount of petrol in my Jawa would take us around to places. But visiting Meenakshi Temple and especially the visit to the top of the South Gopuram was quite unforgettable. At the top of the Gopuram there were openings for people to climb out and be on the very top of it. At that spot, what you have to hold are only the “kalasams”. I came out only to my hip level and the height, force of the wind at that height and the view of the whole Madurai at the foot – it all made me tremble and I safely kept myself within that opening while Ravi got on top of the tower and stood in between the kalasams! I barely stayed to just click few snaps and started my way down ! Of those two came out acceptably okay which I am posting here with one another shot of the Gopuram from the South-East corner of the பொற்றாமரைக் குளம் - the usual spot for photographers to take the full shot of the magnificent South Gopuram with Thirumalai Naicker in one of the pillars forming the foreground.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


The trials in photography were an unquenchable thirst. Mostly it was Ravi and I. We tried so many techniques we had in the books. Some came out with satisfying results. Many became flops. One such successful thing was this photograph:

The process is called ‘solarization’ and the product is ‘bas relief’. We would have got a 10% success in our attempts. What we tried for days, it is surprising, can be achieved in a jiffy with the modern software, say, adobe !

In those colorless bland world of the day, getting some color to the photographs was a great thing! We enjoyed such moments of success when the so-called toning processes were successful and we had some “color photographs”, though they were mostly monochromatic pictures. Still they had colors and made us feel great. A blue metal-toned picture:

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


The photographic spree was in its feverish pitch. Camera was always ‘pregnant’ - I mean, loaded with film. Buying 100 feet of film rolls in cans and spooling them in the darkroom was itself a great excitement. Any time the camera was handy; any object was catchy; any place was alright. Whenever I found anything worth taking my bike would stop there and I would not have any inhibition or whatsoever. I would start clicking. The roadside scenes were so many and one such shot is this:

Marriages of friends were inevitably another occasion when I would be busy with my camera. Mostly it was for fun and friendship and not for money since I never had an idea to turn a pro. Turning into pro would have made a lot of good for me financially but I would not have enjoyed photography.

I remember once being busy in a friend’s marriage, who is now a high level policeman. After a hectic time of photography, finished the lunch and came out of the marriage hall. There was a very old lady, haggard and pitifully sitting outside the hall, waiting for the leftovers of the marriage-lunch. I took a snap of that old lady. Though I don’t have the negatives or positives of that marriage, I valued this negative and still keep it safe. A withering leaf in the stream of life…here she is:

Saturday, August 19, 2006


After that initial victory my enthusiasm knew no bounds. A camera hanging always around my neck became a very usual sight. In college a group of students were around me always to talk and to experiment with me in photography. The college darkroom which was in my custody was a boon to all of us. Time of the day was irrelevant to us. The one who got associated with me for photography and then made it into a life long relationship was Ravi. He too got into this swirl and is still going strong in that. During this period anything and everything became subjects for our photography. We had climbed the top of Meenakshi Temple, heights of Alagar Hills, stood on the sun for hours to take photos of sun on a full eclpise. But above all, always the roadsides, the lower bridge of river Vaigai, and also our college campus had great attraction for me.

Some of the street side shots during that period:

Friday, July 28, 2006


"New brooms sweep well" - they say. So also my interest in photography. I did not stop with many attempts in toning, coloring etc.. but tried my luck in some photographic competitions. It so happened the very first photograph that I sent for an inter-university competition held by Annamalai University got the first prize. The model in the photo was the father of a friend, who was also my bike-mechanic. I titled the photo: “WHAT’S STILL BEYOUND…?” (This is that photo.)

I thought the crow-feet at the corners of his eyes and the distant look he had would suit a title of that sort. Later I was told that one of the judges liked the title more than the photograph! Anyway this prize gave me confidence in photography. But more than that this brought me the full support of my family – they never accused me for the time and money that spent on this hobby. Had they tightened the bridle a little then, either I would have turned a professional or left photography altogether.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Once some recognition came on my way, I was dragged more and more into the whirlpool of photography. Started to spend more time and money on the hobby. Mostly my elder daughter who was then a toddler was my model. She was quite cooperative and very understanding. Even in ‘b’ exposure, she would be patiently waiting for the final click, knowing the difference from the first and the final sound of the shutter. For long I wanted to take a picture of my daughter with side-lighting, preferably the light source from a ‘kuthuvilakku’ or a candle. Wasted many frames for long. The simple idea that I should have an extra light out of the frame as the major source of light while having a kuthuvilakku or candle inside the frame did not strike me at all. The idea came after so many miserable mishaps and finally I got a frame with the effect I very much wanted. By this time I had the privilege of having a dark-room for myself in the college, a help extended to me by another Prof. Dr. James who himself was interested in photography.

In this second dark-room I made the first “blow-up”. Don’t imagine the blow up was anything quite big. It was only a 10 x 12. But for me that was a big picture then since till that time I was making prints of at the most postcard size. So this was a big moment for me in my autobio(photo)graphy. I still remember the moments when I made the first large print and what sort of tension I had when I saw the emerging picture in red light. Tense moments. That would be after making so many test bits for an appropriate exposure. For my surprise the picture came out alright – at least to my satisfaction – in the very first attempt.

Though I made some bigger prints – really large prints – later, this “blow-up” has a special place in my memory. Here it is.

Monday, May 22, 2006


Years that followed in the college were real fruitful period, both for me and also for many students. I always had a bunch of boys interested in photography. A photographic club was formed and many students were motivated to take photography seriously. There were some who got into Film Institutes for learning cinematography. This interest among students had an impact on the college itself. While there were just two darkrooms earlier, now there were six! The dark room of the Botany Department was out and out for my use, thanks to Prof.Dr.James. But for this help from him I would have dropped photography long back.

With a dark room at my personal disposal I did use long hours for many experimental (!) work. Once I got into the dark room usually with some students, present or past, giving me company, we would totally last track of our time. Ravi, an old student became more crazy about photography than me and we many a time went out for 'out-door shootings' and indulged in many trials in processing. Whatever information we got from different books on photography on processing, we tried to experiment that. I am posting just two such photographs here, as examples of our many trials.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


In case the title sounds confusing, I mean that I plan to write about my biography in relation to photography. I would like to ruminate over how my interest in photography started and got stuck and never grew more at some point ! Some photographs of those periods of my life would be posted along with those incidents.

I remember the very first time when I handled a camera. It was immediately I finished my school and was about to enter into college. My friend had a borrowed camera to take some snaps of him in our school campus. He had the loaded camera and asked me to 'click' him in all different poses. I made him accept that one of those poses would be to my liking. I think it had 12 shots. 11 shots were over. For the 12th I made him stand on the cycle-stand and I lied down on the ground and took a shot! The film roll went for processing and printing and I don’t know what happened to that last click. I got only a comment that my friend looked like an abnormal skeletal structure! I felt sad that my friend had no taste for that ' cat's eye view '.
Then it took some years for me to have another camera, probably in my late twenties. This time I owned the camera and it was a Yaschica J, a viewfinder camera. I was just clicking around and nothing big about those days. But then I got my first SLR, a Mamiya Sekor. That would be in the late seventies, not my age this time!

In those days an SLR camera was a rarity and people were accustomed to see
TLR cameras of 120 format dangling around the necks of people. Interest in
photography makes one to keep taking photos and if something good comes out of it and if it gets due recognition that could make one feel great and the interest ,now turns into passion. Same thing happened to me. I did my B&W processing and printing in one of the two dark rooms of the Physics Department of our College. The Physics Professor V.Srinivasan was so kind enough that I can use the dark room anytime that I like. Since he showed interest in my photos I used to show now and then some selected photos. When he was impressed with one of my photos of that early period of my photography he had it in the departmental notice board with the technical details under my name. The word spread. Many students came to me with compliments or asking questions about it. That single photograph (Photo:1) got me some recognition in our campus and that kindled my interest further.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


I dont think houses in U.S. do have any tungsten lights at all, of course except in their bathroomsI I always wondered why no house has 'tube lights' and why their bathrooms are so well lit !

Saturday, April 15, 2006


One another from my old personal album. When colour photographs were a rarity, it was the transparent photo-colours helped us satisfy our longing for colour photos. We smudged the paints - as you see in this photograph! - and gave a look alike of some colour photos. No fancy, efficient and interesting software tools, just a brush and a pair of shaky hands!

Monday, April 10, 2006


It was a morning, at least some 25 years back, that I had a caller at my home. It was the assistant of a professional photographer known to me. Normally there used to be a tendency among photographers not to divulge the finer points of photography to others so easily. Probably they think ' I learnt it the hardway; why should I make things easier for others'. But this gentleman used to allow me to be with him in his dark room and never bothered to answer any question I asked on the practical side of photography. He was a true gentleman. Now I got a caller from him on that day, since no telephone faciltiy was there on those days as it is today. I went with this boy and my friend said that he got a colour negative film and asked me whether I want to use it and continued that it was an expired roll and I had to try my luck. I was overwhelmed with joy. But then I asked how to get prints. He told me that very evening one of his friends was leaving to Malaysia and he MIGHT get it done there.

You people belonging to this 21st C should remember that on those days colour film rolls were a rarity and there was no labs to develop the exposed films as far as I know in Tamil Nadu. I dont know about the erstwhile Bombay. So when I had a chance to have a colour roll, even an expired one, I was simply thrilled.

I took half day leave for my outdoor shooting since I thought that for taking a colour photographs I should have some greenery at least. I took my daughters dressed in their colourful silk dresses to a nearby park. Exposed the roll and dutifully returned it to my friend for him to send it to Malaysia. Three months would have gone and by that time I had completely forgotten about the roll. Then came the news from the friend that the prints had arrived. What a great joy to see "colour photos" taken by me...

These were 3 photos picked from that bunch which I keep as a treasure. Everytime I see these pictures I always travel all the way back to those days and ruminate how thrilled I and my family were. To retain the old day's charm I have not tried to enhance the photo in any way with any software. I just present them as they are...faded they may be.......but still they are quite valuable to me.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Like all the other B & W photos this also belongs to that 3-decade old period of my photographic ventures. It was a flop then, since I could not get a complete black background with my limited knowledge and inadequate equipment. What I failed to get then, could be accomplised now by photoshop ! Thanks to this Hi-tech period ...!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


இந்தப் படம் எடுத்த ஆண்டு அனேகமாக 1980 ஆக இருக்கலாம்.

My interest in photography was born a litter earlier than my daughter was born. But since serious photography and an SLR camera, at least in those days, had an interdependance, I can very well say that in that respect my daughter becomes the senior since i bought my first SLR -MAMIYA - SEKOR when she was three. My trials and failures in photography stand out more than any achievement. In that growing period of my photographic interest my daughter served as my model - a very understanding and coperative one. Even at that age she knows to pose even for time-lapse, slow-speed shots. This photograph is one such moment.


Then came color photography. She started showing interest to pose only for color photos and that interest too soon vanished and she became a very demanding model and so I then switched over to other things as my models - mostly non-living things. They never demanded anything !

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Friday, March 31, 2006

7. " U & I "

Mostly you take a photo and then find a suitable title. But sometimes the reverse process also does take place. I had a title " U & I " for a long time in mind and once i was lucky to get this shot on an evening in the bed of river Vaigai to suit the title.

No offence meant!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006



While stitching my shoes this old gentleman - in seventy plus - showed me a discarded video cassette and asked me whether anything could be done with that. I told him that it was nothing but a trash. This question he asked me when I asked him if his stitching would last long. I never realised that he had answered my doubt by that question. Because after stitching the shoes he asked me to test the quality of the twine he had used. It was really very tough and also looked very different. Then he told me that he had made the 'twine' out of the videotape ! I wondered at his ingenuity. When I appreciated him, he just poop-poohed the whole thing. He told of his life, the two wives, 11 children and all that. We became so friendly that he willingly accepted to be photograped. I should one day have a chit-chat with him sometime to know more about him. In case I do, i will let you all know, definitely.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

5. FACES...1

Whenever I see this pix that I took long time back, I always remember how this gentleman prepared himself - combing his beard and hair so neatly - when I requested him to pose for a 'single click' !

Monday, March 27, 2006


Is it not nothing but a blind fortune that I had a bird in the frame just when I 'single clicked'? !

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Barks of tress are always a fascinating subject.
You see anything there in them?
See any dog & monkey here?

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Come what may
I stand ...


Any temple in Tamil Nadu, India and especially the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai is treasure cove for anyone interested in photography. One will never be satiated taking photos of the lovely and antique sculptures and architectural marvels of this temple. For nothing it has been spelt out as one of the top 30 wonders of the world.