Back from the Desert and some Street Photography

Fluff Lady PortAmidst the madness surrounding the Mumbai bombings it is hard to imagine that there could be a place where people wouldn’t be aware about the tragedy that took place. Well, we have just come back from what is probably just one of many places like that, right in India, about 210 km from Jodhpur, but more like the middle of nowhere. We went on a little camel ride with the old cameleer we met at the Kolayat fair. People in his village are quite oblivious to anything outside their area, no TVs or computers there yet. I was curious whether the cameleers that accompanied us had heard the news, so I asked Hardik to find out. – “We watch, the news…on TV…sometimes” was their answer. The journey itself had its share of madness and adventure, but more on that in the next post.

Before we went off into the desert I did some shooting in the streets of Jodhpur, not much really, however in Jodhpur you can’t help but come across at least something or someone photogenic in a day’s shoot. The old city is full of people who go on about their everyday work in the most photogenic of environments, surrounded by wonderfully textured, stained walls, rusty tea-pots and pans or some strange medieval looking machines. I wanted to capture some of these individuals doing what they do and went out on a little search.fluff-ladyThe lady at the top of the page (and above) was taking the stuffing out of mattresses; she would put it into the machine which turned the stuffing into what seemed like huge snowflakes. My guess is that this is some sort of cotton recycling; the ‘snowflakes’ would be collected into a bag, weighed in another room and shipped off somewhere. It was a little challenging to photograph in this particular environment, the floating flakes/stuffing goes directly into the nose, eyes and wherever else. I covered my nose with the top of my shirt and shot for a few minutes. By the time I got out I looked like I had a furry hat and Santa Claus eyebrows. For the first shot Tanya helped me with an off-camera flash in a portable soft-box to accentuate the natural light and to give a bit more depth/shape to the face. In the second image natural light is penetrating the woman’s ‘office’.chai-wallahSuraj is a tea maker at a tea-stall just by the first gate (from the outside) to Sadar Bazar. He has worked at the stall for 25 years, while the business has actually existed for 50. Suraj had an almost royal quality about him, the way he went about his work gave the impression that he wasn’t simply making chai, he was running the business, filling up hundreds, maybe even thousands of tea-cups every day and doing it with tremendous dexterity. Again an off-camera flash in a soft-box to accentuate the natural light and sculpt the face.mithai-wallahI couldn’t resist taking a few shots of this man making traditional sweets. He would boil the oil with some strange gadget and then unload the content onto the large metal plate. I was attracted to the textures of the scene, but it was getting dark, so once again comes out the flash. Same as in the images above. I find the flash increasingly useful these days, of course I would probably not use it at all if I had to have it camera mounted. I thank God that my wife isn’t sick of carrying it, sometimes in a soft-box around the streets. Surprisingly it hasn’t drawn much attention. When she instinctively put the soft-box on her head in a crowded area some local women had a bit of a laugh.

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4 Responses to “Back from the Desert and some Street Photography”

  1. Jan Says:

    Hello Mitchell,

    These are some very good portraits. The second picture does not use flash at all, right? Could you please specify which softbox you used? I would like to get some further information on it.

    Thanks,

    Jan

  2. Dave Says:

    Hi Mitchell,

    Loved the use of off camera flash, as you say it produced some great modelling light.

    I too would like to know what your using for the softbox (make/model) and also, how you are triggering the flash.

    Thanks for the posts – inspirational and insightful.

    Dave

  3. Mitchell Says:

    This is the flash related equipment that I use:
    Canon 580 EX II Flash + ST-E2 Trasmitter – this sets off the flash. I also use gels, different gels for different occasions. These are rather important.
    I do not remember the brand or the number of the gel that I used for these images, it is in my hotel room and I am in an internet cafe, but there are plenty that will achieve similar results. My suggestion is to get a free sample gel kit from BH photo video (or wherever you can) if anyone still offers them and play around.
    The portable softbox is from Photoflex. Here’s the link: http://www.photoflex.com/Photoflex_Products/LiteDome_xs_Kit_1/index.html
    Jan: Correct, the second picture only uses natural light.

  4. Catherine Says:

    Hi Mitchell,

    The lighting is so beautiful in these shots!

    Cathy

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