Sadhu in Varanasi images - 56/1.2 & 35/1.4

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deednets Forum Pro • Posts: 10,010
Sadhu in Varanasi images - 56/1.2 & 35/1.4
27

Just got back from India yesterday. Hasn't been my first trip there, in fact I have been visiting - if you like - since 1988.

On this trip I spent  - amongst other places - 4 days in Varanasi, that one place in the world where you can have you papaya lassi, whilst less than a metre from your lassi claypot, dead people are being transported to their final journey.

An intriguing place.

Amongst other things I also had some interesting communication with some Sadhu:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadhu

The internet is full of great - and not so great - information regarding these people so won't get into the history etc here. After all this is a gear forum right?

When taking pics of the Sadhu, there are of course the usual questions regarding "stealthy" pics, versus "posed" images. Since I never was a great friend of those stolen pics, my few example shots here were taken where those Sadhu were fully aware of me being there. Since I also get - kind of - close it would also be very hard to miss me taking those pics.

A colourful affair in both surface - and below - those encounters can be.

Now regarding "gear": I took an X-T3 plus the 35/1.4 and the 56/1.2 plus the RX1RII with me that day. I could have gotten away with just those 2 lenses, but thought I would also take the RX1 as it provided me with 35mm/FF. Since the 23/1.4 I also own wouldn't have saved much weight over the RX1 I left it at home.

C&C as always welcome.

Deed

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debo Senior Member • Posts: 2,219
stunning ....
2

Deeds, very nice composition and stunning captures. I had family there during my childhood and I can relive my memories with such pics (and of the ghaats). Thank you.

Varanasi is a surreal place once you ignore the peripheral stuff.

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yrc4 Forum Member • Posts: 64
Re: Sadhu in Varanasi images - 56/1.2 & 35/1.4
5

I like them especially because they’re fully aware of your presence.  BTW, the question of posed shots vs stealthy has haunted the practice of photography from the very day the first cameras were brought to India in the 19th century.  In fact, the use of cameras by European officials and civilians first, then later by traveling native photographers who would go from village to village with their large format cameras and elaborate studio tents and props has had a deep influence on how people react to cameras all over India.  Read a fine book called the History of Photography in India to get a sense of this.  Also look at the amazing work of Raghubir Singh.....one of the great photographers of the country.  Some of his work on Varanasi is on the internet.

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New Day Rising
New Day Rising Senior Member • Posts: 3,228
Re: Sadhu in Varanasi images - 56/1.2 & 35/1.4
1

Glorious photos, with full marks for having the sadhu engaged with the photo. They work incredibly well.

If I was going to offer any suggestion or would be that in the second photo there is a bit of something red, pink and blue in the bottom right corner. I found it a little distracting, so would be tempted to crop or clone to get rid of it (cloning being the better approach as the balance of the composition is so good).

But, really, that is a totally trivial suggestion in the face of some genuinely excellent and very beautiful images.

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Jerry-astro
MOD Jerry-astro Forum Pro • Posts: 14,752
Re: Sadhu in Varanasi images - 56/1.2 & 35/1.4
1

These are wonderful, colorful, and totally engaging, Deed.  Really nice work.

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Jerry-Astro
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Zaax
Zaax Senior Member • Posts: 1,209
Please post more

I love these. Please post more.

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Zack S
"May the Focus be with you"
Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/10025089@N05

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OP deednets Forum Pro • Posts: 10,010
Re: Sadhu in Varanasi images - 56/1.2 & 35/1.4

yrc4 wrote:

I like them especially because they’re fully aware of your presence. BTW, the question of posed shots vs stealthy has haunted the practice of photography from the very day the first cameras were brought to India in the 19th century. In fact, the use of cameras by European officials and civilians first, then later by traveling native photographers who would go from village to village with their large format cameras and elaborate studio tents and props has had a deep influence on how people react to cameras all over India. Read a fine book called the History of Photography in India to get a sense of this. Also look at the amazing work of Raghubir Singh.....one of the great photographers of the country. Some of his work on Varanasi is on the internet.

Will checkout Raghubir Singh!

Thanks

Deed

 deednets's gear list:deednets's gear list
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OP deednets Forum Pro • Posts: 10,010
Re: Sadhu in Varanasi images - 56/1.2 & 35/1.4

New Day Rising wrote:

Glorious photos, with full marks for having the sadhu engaged with the photo. They work incredibly well.

If I was going to offer any suggestion or would be that in the second photo there is a bit of something red, pink and blue in the bottom right corner. I found it a little distracting, so would be tempted to crop or clone to get rid of it (cloning being the better approach as the balance of the composition is so good).

But, really, that is a totally trivial suggestion in the face of some genuinely excellent and very beautiful images.

Thanks for your comments! I had a look at your suggestion regarding the colours in the bottom right corner.

Are you by any chance left handed?

Deed

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OP deednets Forum Pro • Posts: 10,010
Re: stunning ....

debo wrote:

Deeds, very nice composition and stunning captures. I had family there during my childhood and I can relive my memories with such pics (and of the ghaats). Thank you.

Varanasi is a surreal place once you ignore the peripheral stuff.

Thanks for your kind comments! I found that it wasn't the Ghats alone that kept my attention but also the little alleyways, have you heard of Blue Lassi??

Deed

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OP deednets Forum Pro • Posts: 10,010
Re: Sadhu in Varanasi images - 56/1.2 & 35/1.4

Jerry-astro wrote:

These are wonderful, colorful, and totally engaging, Deed. Really nice work.

OK, thanks four your rather generous comments! You know that I think you should go some day??

Deed

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OP deednets Forum Pro • Posts: 10,010
India oversaturation??
1

Zaax wrote:

I love these. Please post more.

You might have followed some of the portraits of India threads in the last wee while? I thought that posting those few pics might already be a bit of a stretch.

Might post some other subject matter some other time, but appreciate your kind comments!

Deed

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Jerry-astro
MOD Jerry-astro Forum Pro • Posts: 14,752
Re: Sadhu in Varanasi images - 56/1.2 & 35/1.4

deednets wrote:

Jerry-astro wrote:

These are wonderful, colorful, and totally engaging, Deed. Really nice work.

OK, thanks four your rather generous comments! You know that I think you should go some day??

Deed

You're probably right, Deed, though I tend to be a bit more into landscape, astro, birds, etc. and much less so into photographing people.  I've tried a bit, and might be able to develop those skills over time, but up to this point, it hasn't really resonated with me.  I've traveled in Asia (Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Bali) a number of times in the past, but that was years ago and well prior to my getting serious about photography.

It's on the bucket list somewhere, but a little ways off I'd say.

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Jerry-Astro
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OP deednets Forum Pro • Posts: 10,010
Re: Sadhu in Varanasi images - 56/1.2 & 35/1.4
1

Jerry-astro wrote:

deednets wrote:

Jerry-astro wrote:

These are wonderful, colorful, and totally engaging, Deed. Really nice work.

OK, thanks four your rather generous comments! You know that I think you should go some day??

Deed

You're probably right, Deed, though I tend to be a bit more into landscape, astro, birds, etc. and much less so into photographing people. I've tried a bit, and might be able to develop those skills over time, but up to this point, it hasn't really resonated with me. I've traveled in Asia (Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Bali) a number of times in the past, but that was years ago and well prior to my getting serious about photography.

It's on the bucket list somewhere, but a little ways off I'd say.

Ah yes ... photography: as interesting as it is to grab a camera and take some shots, there is of course also th aspect of just being there.

What India offers is fairy tales (google Rani Padmini, then travel to Southern Rajasthan). Stepwells make interesting objects, ancient kingdoms, temples etc. They do have tigers and fabulous colonial architecture.

And with regards to "people" photography: there is a demi-challenge for you which also can be A LOT OF FUN!!!

Deed

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ikaika777
ikaika777 Senior Member • Posts: 2,233
Re: Sadhu in Varanasi images - 56/1.2 & 35/1.4
1

Very very nice, well done. Could you tell me which ones are the 56 and 35? Could be useful for people who are interested in one of those lenses.

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After all is said and done and your photo is hanging on the wall, no one is going to know or care what camera, lens, or what post processing you used. All they care about is if the image moves them.
I’m not hung up on the Bokeh fad because I’m too busy chasing shadows.

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Babu K Forum Member • Posts: 50
Re: Sadhu in Varanasi images - 56/1.2 & 35/1.4
2

yrc4 wrote:

I like them especially because they’re fully aware of your presence. BTW, the question of posed shots vs stealthy has haunted the practice of photography from the very day the first cameras were brought to India in the 19th century. In fact, the use of cameras by European officials and civilians first, then later by traveling native photographers who would go from village to village with their large format cameras and elaborate studio tents and props has had a deep influence on how people react to cameras all over India. Read a fine book called the History of Photography in India to get a sense of this. Also look at the amazing work of Raghubir Singh.....one of the great photographers of the country. Some of his work on Varanasi is on the internet.

With the advent of camera phones the Indian attitude to photography has changed enormously. Most Indians have mobiles, and they're all photographing like there's no tomorrow.  I remember 10 or 20 years ago often being told off by watchmen not to photograph fun fairs or even some fancy new building, as they were suspecting I had some nefarious motive. Now it hardly matters. On the other hand, sometimes it's hard to do stealth photography, as the moment you point a camera in someone's direction, they will strike a happy pose, basically ruining the shot - even if they just want to be nice.

Sadhus, especially in places like Varanasi, are usually very eager to pose, afterwards often asking for 'baksheesh'. In Kathmandu, there are many fake sadhus, who just put on some outlandish dress to attract the attention of tourists and consequently a photo fee.

OP deednets Forum Pro • Posts: 10,010
Re: Sadhu in Varanasi images - 56/1.2 & 35/1.4
1

ikaika777 wrote:

Very very nice, well done. Could you tell me which ones are the 56 and 35? Could be useful for people who are interested in one of those lenses.

I only noticed after I posted those that the EXIF had been removed, wasn't my intention, sorry.

First one is 35/1.4 the others 56/1.2

Deed

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OP deednets Forum Pro • Posts: 10,010
Organised photo shoot business/pics for money etc.
2

Babu K wrote:

yrc4 wrote:

I like them especially because they’re fully aware of your presence. BTW, the question of posed shots vs stealthy has haunted the practice of photography from the very day the first cameras were brought to India in the 19th century. In fact, the use of cameras by European officials and civilians first, then later by traveling native photographers who would go from village to village with their large format cameras and elaborate studio tents and props has had a deep influence on how people react to cameras all over India. Read a fine book called the History of Photography in India to get a sense of this. Also look at the amazing work of Raghubir Singh.....one of the great photographers of the country. Some of his work on Varanasi is on the internet.

With the advent of camera phones the Indian attitude to photography has changed enormously. Most Indians have mobiles, and they're all photographing like there's no tomorrow. I remember 10 or 20 years ago often being told off by watchmen not to photograph fun fairs or even some fancy new building, as they were suspecting I had some nefarious motive. Now it hardly matters. On the other hand, sometimes it's hard to do stealth photography, as the moment you point a camera in someone's direction, they will strike a happy pose, basically ruining the shot - even if they just want to be nice.

Sadhus, especially in places like Varanasi, are usually very eager to pose, afterwards often asking for 'baksheesh'. In Kathmandu, there are many fake sadhus, who just put on some outlandish dress to attract the attention of tourists and consequently a photo fee.

You sound like you have a deeper insight into all matters Indian!

I am also aware of those "fake" Sadhus, like there is only genuine in the West? My take on "fake" or not is not an easy one.

Here is how I try - possibly partially in vain - to be genuine and at the same time not make a fool out of myself:

I ALWAYS talk to the people first, typically sit down so this never is a fleeting "visit".

  • Sadhus live on donations only, so asking for bakshees might be a legitimate one as not every foreigner knows how the system works.
  • NONE of the guys in those photos asked for donations. I did however offer to buy them a chai. "Them" as singular one after the other, they weren't part of any group.
  • I guess we all have our theories about how the world ticks. My theory is that a lot of fake disintegrates if you are prepared to invest some time into an encounter.

Note that I also donate money to beggars that appear genuine to me. Ai am of course aware of organised begging but leprosy is what it is - and life simply can't be just groovy when some limbs, feet of fingers are missing. If this then still is fake so be it and let it be their happy day.

I DO NOT shoot poverty and don't shoot human suffering.

Hope this clarifies a few things?

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Jerry-astro
MOD Jerry-astro Forum Pro • Posts: 14,752
Re: Sadhu in Varanasi images - 56/1.2 & 35/1.4

deednets wrote:

Jerry-astro wrote:

deednets wrote:

Jerry-astro wrote:

These are wonderful, colorful, and totally engaging, Deed. Really nice work.

OK, thanks four your rather generous comments! You know that I think you should go some day??

Deed

You're probably right, Deed, though I tend to be a bit more into landscape, astro, birds, etc. and much less so into photographing people. I've tried a bit, and might be able to develop those skills over time, but up to this point, it hasn't really resonated with me. I've traveled in Asia (Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Bali) a number of times in the past, but that was years ago and well prior to my getting serious about photography.

It's on the bucket list somewhere, but a little ways off I'd say.

Ah yes ... photography: as interesting as it is to grab a camera and take some shots, there is of course also th aspect of just being there.

What India offers is fairy tales (google Rani Padmini, then travel to Southern Rajasthan). Stepwells make interesting objects, ancient kingdoms, temples etc. They do have tigers and fabulous colonial architecture.

And with regards to "people" photography: there is a demi-challenge for you which also can be A LOT OF FUN!!!

Deed

You make a great point, Deed, and that is a spectacular shot.  Beautiful.

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Jerry-Astro
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biza43 Forum Pro • Posts: 11,240
Re: Sadhu in Varanasi images - 56/1.2 & 35/1.4

Excellent set.

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yrc4 Forum Member • Posts: 64
Re: Sadhu in Varanasi images - 56/1.2 & 35/1.4
2

Babu K wrote:

yrc4 wrote:

I like them especially because they’re fully aware of your presence. BTW, the question of posed shots vs stealthy has haunted the practice of photography from the very day the first cameras were brought to India in the 19th century. In fact, the use of cameras by European officials and civilians first, then later by traveling native photographers who would go from village to village with their large format cameras and elaborate studio tents and props has had a deep influence on how people react to cameras all over India. Read a fine book called the History of Photography in India to get a sense of this. Also look at the amazing work of Raghubir Singh.....one of the great photographers of the country. Some of his work on Varanasi is on the internet.

With the advent of camera phones the Indian attitude to photography has changed enormously. Most Indians have mobiles, and they're all photographing like there's no tomorrow. I remember 10 or 20 years ago often being told off by watchmen not to photograph fun fairs or even some fancy new building, as they were suspecting I had some nefarious motive. Now it hardly matters. On the other hand, sometimes it's hard to do stealth photography, as the moment you point a camera in someone's direction, they will strike a happy pose, basically ruining the shot - even if they just want to be nice.

Sadhus, especially in places like Varanasi, are usually very eager to pose, afterwards often asking for 'baksheesh'. In Kathmandu, there are many fake sadhus, who just put on some outlandish dress to attract the attention of tourists and consequently a photo fee.

No doubt, the ubiquity of camera phones has led to a change....but its the striking a pose part that I was referring to.  In the little village that I grew up in, we kids looked forward to the annual arrival of the photographer with his props and tent: literally a portable studio.  In the early years, he used to come with a large format (8x10) camera and the only thing you could get were B&W prints. Later, he graduated to medium format film cameras; the unbeatable TLRs from Rollie. Everyone in the village, including my family put on their best clothes and lined up to get photographed.  In hindsight it seemed odd that we got excited, because my father was an avid hobbyist photographer and owned some pretty good cameras....two Rollie tlrs; a Mamiya medium format and a few rangefinders.....but he never took a single picture of any one in the village.

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