Category Archives: Art

Day of the dead (Dia de los muertos), Mission District, San Francisco, USA.

Day of the Dead, San Francisco

Earlier this month, I visited the mission district in San Francisco to photograph the Day of the Dead celebrations.  It was after a gap of nine years that I went to photograph this tradition also called ‘Dia De Los Muertos’ and was very surprised to see the overflowing crowd at the Garfield park this year.  This event seems to have become very popular by leaps and bounds.

I have uploaded some more photos in my photo archive that might interest you:  Dia De Los Muertos, Mission District, San Francisco

The following are my first impressions after attending the Dia De Los Muertos in San Francisco nine years back…

The sky weeps as a light rain falls. Human spirits, faces painted in white, eyes adorned with black circles, walk somberly. The light from the candles that the hands hold, is casting an eerie light on the face. Dead people are walking; dead in illusion but their spirits are alive. Death being a mere illusion for the living spirits. Altars have sprung up everywhere. Altars for the departed souls replete with food for the them, their favorite wines and food. Photos of the ones watching from above, adorn the altars as the living seek harmony with the dead.

A few hundred candles burn, lighting up the dark. A painted skeleton peeps into the mirror only to find itself staring back. A stark reminder of the image we might be, when the spirit leaves for the world beyond. I am drawn to the candles, slowly giving their life away to illuminate the world around. A little girl stands. holding a red candle, fascinated by the candle and the glow emanating from it.

I feel hesitant, unsure whether capturing these moments would mean intruding into the private rememberances. As I look through the lens, I feel one with the spirits, dead and alive. It’s another day, a celebration of being alive…

If it interests you, you may see some of those old photos from Day of the Dead 

I hope I get to see the dancing calaveras next year again.

A tryst with iPhoneography and instagram

Who knew I would be so taken up by iphoneography?

‘The best camera is the one you have available at a time’.

To this adage, I had taken a few photos whenever I did not have my SLR with me.  Mostly, it was my little niece who played with the camera on my iPhone.  When I heard about instagram, I downloaded this free app but did not register for an account for a long time.  Then, I saw a photo taken using Instagram and felt tempted to register for an account and see what this popular app was about.  That one temptation opened my eyes to photography using my ubiquitous iPhone.   Low-hanging fruits and pleasures of a point-and-shoot aka an iPhone, were rediscovered by me.  My photography felt rejuvenated and I was back to my old ways again.

An ode to Poverty and hunger follows.  Visualized with my iPhone at 2:30 am in the morning, on a water trip to the kitchen!

Rice, Water and the moon
Rice, Water and the Moon

“When I am hungry,

the mere thought makes me swoon

A few grains of rice and some water

take me to the moon”

Instagram is a deceptively simple app.  Point, shoot, apply a filter if you like and you are done.  As long as we realize the limitations of an iPhone, one can make some beautiful art. Of course, our mind’s eye takes the photo and like always, we choose a subject worthy of our admiration. It is what we see that makes a photo but the technological details are removed when using iPhone and Instagram.  By using a set of fifteen-odd filters, we can choose beautiful renditions of what we foresaw.  This is what makes it so powerful.  And, with an online community to share and provide inspiration, I felt rejuvenated.  By seeing some photos, I could be visiting Paris, reliving some of my memories there or seeing some abstract, beautiful art from strangers in Indonesia.  Using instagram, one can choose to follow people’s pictures and be followed.  To gain an audience, you tag a photo with tags and people will find your photo, like and/or comment on your photo.

I saw photos on Instagram that were absolutely stunning and wondered how this could be taken using an iPhone.  Then came the realization that there are so many apps that one could use to make layers of perception in a frame.  It was as if I had discovered a whole new world.  Some people were actually shooting with their SLR, using Adobe Photoshop, Snapseed, Filterstorm and other apps and then, uploading the pics to instagram.  Many others prided themselves on their proficiency with the edit tools and would come out with their own edits of someone else’s photos.

My shadow can fly!

One may use many tools but art is art and beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.  And, many of these photos are an inspiration.  There is beauty in simplicity and for now when using my phone, I am only using Instagram to shoot, create art and share with the world.

Love and Trust

As if to welcome ‘my discovery of Instagram and iphoneography’, Instagram got bought over by Facebook for a cool billion dollars, around that time.  Wow!  But, I digress.

Art is not about making money but to satisfy our souls, to provide happiness in the process of creation.  When we lose the passion, the charm is gone and art is not the same anymore.

Happy clicks to you!  Feel happy!  :)  And, if you like, follow me on Instagram!

A gothic architectural gem: Sainte Chapelle, Paris

One of the most beautiful, exquisite chapels that I have ever visited has to be Sainte-Chapelle, in the center of Paris. This gem of the gothic architecture is hidden in Ile-de-la-cite, Paris.

I had seen street signs pointing to this church before; there are so many beautiful churches in Paris that I never thought about going there. Last year, as I sat chatting with a friend over dinner, he casually mentioned Sainte-Chapelle and its beautiful stained glass windows. I have been able to visit it a couple of times since then.

A little history here: Sainte-Chapelle was built between 1242 and 1248 to house the relics of Passion of Christ by the king, Louis IX (later beatified as Saint Louis). Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie, are the only visible remains of the oldest palace of kings of France.

The building houses two sanctuaries – the lower chapel, for the palace staff and the upper chapel, for the king and his close friends and family. The upper chapel is airy, monumental and exquisitely decorated with sculptures and thin lattice framework supporting the stained glass till the ceiling. In every home, there is usually a personal place of worship and/or meditation; Sainte-Chapelle was the royal palatine chapel for Louis IX.

I have tried to record the architecture details, the XIIIth century stained glass, and the beauty that I see in Sainte-Chapelle. Photos are slowly being added to be viewed as a slide show in my Sainte-Chapelle gallery. But, photographs do not always do justice.

Hopefully, when you visit Paris, you will able to experience Sainte-Chapelle for yourself. Happy travels!