Urban Landscapes in Boston – Experiments with Medium Format Film Photography

I have never understood what the fuss is about medium format photography. Until last weekend, that is! This thing about the size of the negative being bigger, bokeh like buttah, the dynamic range blah blah… I knew a lot about it at a theoretical level but had never actually seen a comparison between small and medium format for myself. So I bought my first roll of 120 film, rented a camera and took a walk around town with Venks shooting some urban landscapes. You can see the results for yourself. I am stunned by the level of detail in these pictures. Highlights which would normally have been completely blown out have more detail in them than I ever would have hoped for. Just look at those clouds!!! They tell a story by themselves, don’t you think?

I think I am going to be going analogue more often from now on. There is something deeply satisfying about waiting for a roll of film to come back from processing and also thrilling at the grand unveiling of the results.

All photos shot on Kodak Portra 400 120 Professional Film, Mamiya 645 afd + 80mm 2.8 AF Film back. These are very low-res scans. I have no idea if higher-res scans will make these look any better because this is the first time I am doing this. Maybe someone who knows more about this can tell me?

  • Gayatri Rao - I love the first 3.ReplyCancel

    • admin - thanks, mamma! I have been wanting to try this for many years now. Happy that I finally got off my ass and did it.ReplyCancel

  • Sreshta - Love the first one of the buildings!ReplyCancel

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Zack Arias is right. Fuji IS the new Leica.

I had heard/read so much about the new Fuji X100s and what a great camera it is, that I decided to rent it and take it on vacation with me to Maui in Hawaii last year. Here’s how it did.

Getting ready to go to London in a few days from now and wondering if I should rent it again. If you can get past the slowness to focus, this camera is quite a gem.

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Wow, the follow-up post is so long overdue. I just realized these guys are very quickly going to be celebrating their six-month anniversary. It is just the wake up call I needed to get off my ass and post part II of the Hyderabad wedding I shot last Christmas!

A wise man I met in India told me I need to edit a lot tighter, and so I am going to try and pay heed to that much more going forward. Less is more. Less is more, I have to keep telling myself. Looking back at a lot of my past work and I am wondering how on EARTH a lot of the stuff that made it to a final edit made it to a final edit.

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A HYDERABAD, INDIA, TELUGU WEDDING | or the trip which will forever be remembered as “Go-gle-la cēyaṇḍi medem”

Sometimes it isn’t the event itself but a random occurrence around it that forms the most abiding memory of a trip. For this F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S wedding in Hyderabad, India (see pictures below) – I thought I had everything covered. So it came as a really rude shock when I discovered that the chauffeur of the taxi I hired for the three days knew NOTHING of the city he was driving in. NOTHING. ZERO. Not even major landmarks like the Jubilee Hills checkpost etc. (For anyone who doesn’t understand this, this is like a New York cabbie not knowing how to get to Times Square!)

I am prone to exaggeration, but in this instance, I swear I am not. This guy didn’t know whether to turn right or left once he drove out of my gate. Setting out at 7:30 am for an event from Cyberabad (where many of Hyderabad’s IT offices are headquartered) to Banjara Hills, stopping every five minutes to check with passers-by if we were on course, I worried that I would not make it to the event on time. This was frustrating beyond belief and at one point I angrily asked the driver how he could drive a taxi in a city he knew nothing about.

Right off the bat, as if expecting this question, he answered: “Go-gle-la cēyaṇḍi medem!”

Sensing from my expression that I hadn’t understood him, he repeated, “Go-gle-la cēyaṇḍi, medem! iPhone undi kada?” (Google it madam! You have an iPhone don’t you?)

In that instant I was both infuriated and bemused at his response – a weird mix of emotions that left me stumped. Later when I related the incident to my brother, we marveled at how apt his response was for the setting we were in – i.e. Cyberabad!

Anyway, the upside of all of this is that I now know Hyderabad quite well and can get around on my own. Since my phone’s data connection refused to work (grrrr, Reliance) I figured it all out the old-fashioned way – asking around, praying a bit, drawing hand-scrawled maps etc.

For anyone who knows me, you would also probably know that I delight in (mis??)adventures like this. It is what makes the journey of being a wedding photographer in India attractive and worth it to me, because I see the profession as a vehicle that will transport me to places and experience cultures and people I wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

So invite me into your home, wherever that may be. And watch the magic happen.

P.S. this turned out to be a bit of a long post, so this is Part 1 of 2.

  • Jenna - This bride looks very beautiful. Is she an actress?ReplyCancel

    • admin - She is stunning! but no, not an actress.ReplyCancel

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Thoughts on eating in America

Fresh off the boat from India in the summer of 2009, some of my initial impressions of America were based on how different the food culture was from other parts of the world that I had been to.

The culture of excess and waste didn’t sit very well with me. (I come from an Indian family where it was, and still is, mandatory to finish every last morsel on your plate.) The idea that produce at a farmer’s stand costs more than veggies in a supermarket seemed illogical (it is the exact opposite in India.) I guess it was the culture shock I experienced that sparked thoughts of experimenting with vegetarianism, and an overall curiosity in how and where my food was coming from. These were surprising, disconcerting thoughts, because I am someone who loves meat and eats every kind there is. (Still do!)

That summer was also when I decided to pursue photography more seriously. I enrolled myself in a continuing education course in Documentary Photography at MassArt, Boston. Our only assignment over the next 12 weeks was to document a topic of our choosing – and mine, naturally was food.

I discovered some of those pictures today and many of those early food memories came flooding back. I made hundreds of pictures over the weeks that I shot this essay – visiting farmer’s markets, restaurants, poultry farms, bakeries and food fests all over Boston. I don’t really know what I did with all the pictures I made – that was before I learned the importance of archiving. These are the few that remain on an old laptop that I used at the time. So here they are in no particular order – My first impressions on how America cultivates and consumes.

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