Loopers workshop with Matt Stuart & Jesse Marlow

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Just came back from Bangkok after attending a 4-day workshop with Matt Stuart & Jesse Marlow. This is by far the best 4 days of street-photographic education I have had. Matt & Jesse are so hands-on they are with you almost all the time keeping an eye on your technique, constantly prodding and pushing you to improve. The changes they suggested for me made a dramatic improvement in my photography. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. All pictures in this post were either taken during the workshop or were taken after the workshop in the past week.

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The first thing I learned was to properly read the light and get better control of the exposure. Autoexposure gets the job done for plain documentary situations but when you keep moving between light and shadow, you better get a grip over your camera. This was the most difficult exercise for me and I ended up with quite a few underexposed or overexposed pictures. Gradually things have gotten better and are pretty much under control.

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The second thing I learned from the workshop was to change from my personal favorite 50mm to a more standard 35mm lens. This did two things. I had to get closer to the subject to avoid wasted space around the frame. I now didn’t have to back up too much into the streets to get wide scenes. I thought this would be very challenging but I adjusted almost immediately.

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The creative technique I learned was to identify a potential picture and wait ‘fishing’ for the magic subject to arrive. Sometimes it takes 10-15 minutes and sometimes the subject never turns up. That wait for the unexpected subject was quite enjoyable and I started to like this technique a lot.

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The other creative technique I learned was to identify a potential ‘intereting’ subject and to tail them for some distance until they meet the ‘right’ background. I tried this only a few times since I was happier with the ‘fishing’ technique. Looks like I am a fisherman after all.

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The most important thing is to take pictures when the light is good and to rest and regain your strength when the light turns bad. Midday and mushy light is challenging to shoot. Unless you are working on using these light situations consciously, have a break or hang out with friends and come again later.

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Bangkok is a lively city. It was full of action and the people were very welcoming. Thai people are extremely curteous and very rarely object to have their picture taken. Bangkok is a fun place to try different ways of taking street pictures. And before I forget, the food is great.

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Loopers Collective, the Bangkok-based street photography collective organized the workshop. These guys are photographers who love street photography. They know their Bangkok like the back of their palms. It was great fun taking pictures accompanied by these guys. I got to develop new friendships that I hope will carry on for a long time.

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I already miss the buzz of the streets of Bangkok. The other most important thing I learned was to seek interesting situations in my own city and take pictures using my new-found skills.

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Even when people do not want their picture taken, they can contribute to a good picture.

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Streets of Goa

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I had this wonderful opportunity of participating in GoaPhoto 2015, the inaugural event of the annual GoaPhoto show. I was one of 24 participants in the Magnum Photo workshops.

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Richard Kalvar, Magnum Photos, was my mentor. He was very meticulous in editing our images and spent a lot of time on critique. It was a great experience having him review most of our images and selecting the best ones. I continued shooting even after the show was done and so I have featured more images than what I showed as my final sequence in the photo show.

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I spent most of my time stalking the streets of Fontainhas seeking out images.

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The four days were spent shooting and reviewing selected images of the previous day’s shoot.

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You get a lot of insight into how a professional photographer’s selection process (called editing) works.

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In a way editing is probably the most important part of the work.

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Goa was colorful and the people were really friendly.

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They let us take pictures freely and sometimes they wanted us to take more pictures. Welcome break from Doha.

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The food was fantastic if spicy food is your kind of thing. The Goans do fix you up with good drinks. You’ll never go thirsty in this place.

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The weather was muggy as summer just started. The schools will be off in a few weeks time.

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The Goan people are a mix of rural and cosmopolitan people.

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I would love to go back to Goa and continue shoot more pictures of the amazing Goan people.

Florence Diaries. Day-2.

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Today morning I decided to take the short train trip to the nearby town of Arezzo, where Benigni had shot some of the landmark scenes for his film ‘Life is Beautiful’. It is a lovely little town.

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Italy is pigeon country. There are pigeons everywhere and nobody seems to be bothered. The pigeons don’t create a rukus here.

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The summer heat was a little better today but even then nothing like some tree cover for the high noon.

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Back to Santa Maria Novella and I paid a visit to a bakery we had been last time, a few years ago. Bought a bag of cantucci, a double-baked hard biscuit full of almonds. A must-try if you are visiting Italy.

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Also paid a visit to the spanking new Museo Novecento, the museum for modern art in Florence. Italy is still very much in love with the Renaissance and as a result modern art seems to have taken a back seat (at least through the eyes of the museums). There is a fantastic collection in Milan, right next to the Duomo, which displays a few Picasos. Other than that there is not much of a representation in Italy. The Museo Novecento tries to correct that mistake, at least for artists from Tuscany. The museum displays two pieces by Morandi, my favorite Italian modern artist. He has got a spartan minimalist approach. The two pieces differ by 10 years in age and the evolution of Morandi’s style is clear to see. Painting almost similar still life objects (cups and vessels) he has abandoned a meticulous shading style to a more modern broad-based style with limited tones. Despite the reduction in tones, his objects don’t seem to have lost any depth. In fact they appear to have more depth with well defined edges. Very subtle artist who needs all the attention to appreciate. These two pieces made my visit worthwhile for the day. And there are more from other artists.

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Sunset at the banks of the Arno, with a whole melodrama on the streets. A Chinese couple had flown all the way to Florence to shoot their wedding album. They could have chosen a more colorful month with a bit of fog for the wedding.

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There are no evenings without street performances in European cities.