Portraits – stories; theirs and mine

portraits (1)

I was in the MRT and saw this girl standing near the window which had a nice blue tint and rain drops strewn all over, thanks to the cloudy weather and recent drizzle. After debating with myself whether to ask for clicking a pic, I finally went up and it turned out to be a rather interesting conversation!

 Me: Hi! Sorry to bother you but do you mind if I take a quick pic

(while gesturing with the camera)? Your hair..the window..kinda nice..(of course, I was hesitant but hair?! window?! I’m laughing at myself in my head by now!)

 She: Oh ya, ok! (very friendly and at ease…now I’m a bit relieved!)

 (I quickly compose, take a shot and preview it – damn; train is shaking like hell..blurred..need faster shutter..wider aperture/higher ISO..still have a few f-stops in hand, let’s go that way..another shot..quick turn of dials and yet another one..walking to her, previewing the images..ah! seems nice..I show her, she says it’s nice..

What she said next took me completely by surprise..)

 She: That’s a prime right? The 50mm?

(pointing at the lens I have on the cam)

 (I’m thinking WOW, in caps lock; way to go! Probably only a couple of friends into serious photography could have looked at the lens from that distance and identified it – and I’m not even talking about people who just own an SLR here!)

 Me: Ya, ya, the Canon 50 mm.. Are you also into photography?!


 She: Ya, I like taking pictures too.. That’s the f/1.4 right? Not the f/1.8… the ‘plastic-ey’ one..

 (Oh, this is just amazing! Now, there are 3 variants of this same lens; Canon 50mm – the f/1.8, the f/1.4 and the high end L series f/1.2. Granted, the L series lens has a distinct red ring on it but that damn thing costs twice as much as my camera body so there’s no way in hell I have that lens!

Anyway, total respect for this girl! And yes, more so because I’ve come across more guys who are into photography than girls; nothing sexist about it.)

 Me: Ya, this is the f/1.4 one..it’s really sharp..even wide open..

(feeling infinitely dumb again! of course, if this girl can look at the lens and tell me it’s a 50mm, f/1.4, she obviously knows how sharp it is!)

 She: Ya and more expensive too.. (with a nice glint in her eye)

 We chatted for a while on general stuff and what we were doing in Singapore etc before she got off at her station.

portraits (2)

It’s difficult to find someone of the younger generation in Singapore who is not hooked on to the phone or other gadget when alone. Then again, this is the case almost everywhere; just that here one gets a chance to see a lot of people at once in the MRT but minus the over-crowding that happens in the Mumbai locals!
This was just a randomly shot photo; not in greyscale originally, of course but I just like it this way. The layering/selective colouring didn’t quite bring out the effect I was looking for.
portraits (3)
This kid was a bit restless at first and wouldn’t settle down even though mommy tried a lot. Finally daddy picked him up and things were better. I was totally convinced he just wanted a nicer vantage point than his stroller, since so many people were standing around him like sky scrapers!
The couple was Marathi-speaking too and I had a very brief intro with the daddy before I had to get down at my station. I did manage to get a few shots of the kid and I was tempted to skip my station and get down at the next and come back in the opposite direction. Although it’s very easy on the Singapore MRT to do that with just one track in either direction and a small platform in between, I just got down at my station.
I wanted to play around a little with ‘soft focus’ to see if I can somehow capture the ‘smoothness’ and chubby features without much ‘harsh transitions’, for a lack of better description. The tricky part is to not focus the lens perfectly but get it slightly off although by a very small amount so as to not loose enough details.
It was practically impossible to stay much still and do a lot of fine focusing with the moving train and the kid’s ever-curious nature to constantly look here and there didn’t make things any easier! Obviously this shot didn’t bring out all that I just said but I feel there is some small positive effect of the off-focusing in it.
I want to experiment more with this fascination of soft focusing but definitely with someone older!
portraits (4)
The silver cross and the grey straps balanced out the plain black colour so well. When I went up to the girl to ask her for a pic she asked me back whether I wanted her to remove the chain and hold it in her hands! Although I’m happy with the picture, a little more background blur would have been nicer I think.
portraits (5)
I liked the big, flowery thing and also the way the guy smiled occasionally with his eyes almost shut! After taking a couple of shots I told him jokingly that he can open his eyes now and he laughed saying his eyes are always closed in photos. Though I’m still trying to figure out whether he is winking in this pic or not!
portraits (6)
This pic was fun to shoot – I was sitting across from this cute little girl when I looked at her and smiled. She smiled and shied away immediately. I took out the cam and hoped to get her attention again. Then she would look for a very short while and when I would smile and gesture to her that I want to take a pic, she would smile mischievously and look away! After the lady noticed our little game she looked at me and reassured me very slightly with a nod so as to not let the little girl notice and then stooped down to talk to her. I had originally thought of taking a pic of just the little girl but I got a better shot!
portraits (7)
I was waiting for a few friends to reach the Marina Bay Sands where we had decided to meet up. At the bay front there is a nice stepped seating area where people relax in the evening and later catch the laser/water/fire show. While walking around I saw this couple laughing and chatting while lying down. They were obviously surprised when I went over and asked them if I could take a pic. They began to sit up for the pic but that wouldn’t have been any bit as fun as this one. They were almost laughing out when I told them to look at each other instead of the camera!
I had read a lot of times that portraits can have a very good appeal if there is some sort of connection or story that comes out of it. I couldn’t have felt it more true any time before this. Of all these portraits, the last two are the ones that make me feel satisfied the most and it has a lot to do with the whole ‘complete story’ thing.
Hopefully, many more and better portraits to come!

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