A few weeks ago, I was at Sutro Baths in San Francisco for the sunset. I headed there from my work place along with two other photographers after the California-based weather forecasting service Escaype estimated a good cloud burn along the coast. Our initial target was to reach Rodeo Beach, but we were caught in the heavy evening traffic and realized we wouldn’t be able to get there before sunset. So we drove to Sutro Baths instead, reaching the spot well before the sunset.
Sutro Baths were a privately owned public swimming pool complex in the Lands End area of San Francisco. It once stood as the world’s largest indoor swimming pool, but was burned down in the 60s and is now in ruins. The ruins are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Walking along the ruins, we reached the rocky beach, joining another photographer, all looking for a good composition of the sea stacks
Before/After Post Processing
Last summer while I was in India, I was sitting on the terrace of my childhood home one evening, sipping a cup of filter coffee and fiddling with my iPhone’s camera. The thing was, it has been two weeks into my vacation and I haven’t shot anything yet. Although, I carried this phone for about an year, I never really shot much with it. Actually, I was least bothered about this tiny lens since I always picked my SLR for shooting. I brought along my SLR to India, but it rested mostly inside my bag. Because of its bulkiness I guess, it mostly attracted attention from the people around. In general, this made me really uncomfortable and I find it hard to focus on my shooting, which is the reason why I refrain myself from shooting any street life.
From where I sat, I looked around to see if anything interesting caught my eye. I saw kids playing cricket on the street below, the sun setting behind the numerous rows of concrete houses, my neighbor speaking loudly into his mobile and my grand-dad humming a carnatic raga while tuning the frequency on his radio. Is it possible to capture each of these moments and be able to tell a story? Ofcourse, that’s what people with great imagination and an artistic eye have always been able to do, irrespective of the lens. The challenge for me has always been to capture moments like these. As much as I enjoy landscape and cityscape photography, there has always been a part of me that yearned to make images that showcased everyday moments. It’s the subtlety that has been the most challenging to capture. At that moment, a thought crossed my mind whether this tiny lens, could become another tool in my hands and help me develop an eye to capture such delicate moments. I wouldn’t attract much attention either while shooting given it’s small form factor. Starting there, I decided to experiment and immediately clicked a handful of images.
Three years ago, making an image for me was merely a push of a button on my camera as a result of a mental stimulation invoked by vision. When I looked at these images on my computer, I categorized them into good compositions, which I kept, and the bad ones, which I immediately discarded. It was my aesthetic sense that played the role of a decision maker. The philosophy of aesthetics, which indicates the cognitive process of perception and judgement, and forms the basis of art or creativity was (and still is to a large extent) beyond my intellect. Being an engineer by profession, I always believed that for every judgement, a logical assessment is of pivotal importance.
I was certain there existed metrics to judge my creations. With a simple query search in Google, a bunch of them popped up. The rule of the thirds, the golden ratio, golden triangles and spirals, filling the frame, patterns, lines and texture are amongst the many that I came across. Gradually, I applied some of these rules to my images, and after a couple of months, they totally controlled my image making and composition decisions. Judgement seemed better now as I held on to these rules as golden reference for deciding between keepers and tossers.
We visited Singapore for the first time this May. Both of us have some good old college buddies living in the city, which surely made our stay even more pleasant. We came well prepared for the hot and sultry weather, but still had occasions when we couldn’t take the weather anymore and hopped into one of the many gigantic malls to cool off.
We reached our friend’s place in Clementi district around noon. After being served an awesome biryani for lunch, both of us kicked off our city exploration by heading to the famous Chinatown for the rest of the day. It’s the largest historic district of Singapore and lies close to the Financial District. It’s amusing that a city with almost 75% ethnic Chinese population needs one such town. It mainly serves as a window to the past, to the earliest Chinese settlements in the city and their culture.
There are different ways to get to Chinatown, but the easiest of all has to be through the city’s extensive metro system called MRT. I recommend getting a MRT tourist pass if you are planning to stay more than 2 days. It certainly is the easiest and cheapest way to explore the city. Please note that you cannot get a tourist pass at all MRT stations. We didn’t know this at first and were trying to find it at a ticket kiosk at one such station. Refer to this fantastic page that lists the stations where you can get a pass along with most of the FAQs answered.
Ofcourse, the alternative is to get there in a cab. After multiple cab rides within the city, we realized that the fares are generally reasonable averaging around S$15 for a 10km ride.