CS Sharada Prasad | Photography
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Difference between UC-E17 and UC-E6 USB cables

My Fujifilm x100s, my earlier Nikon D7100, and my new Nikon D750 don’t have a micro or mini USB connectors on them. Hence one needs to use a special cable. While Fuji just calls it as an USB cable, Nikon has fancy names for these cables. The names of the USB cables that come with different camera models of Nikon also vary. For example, the cable that comes with Nikon D7100 is called UC-E17 while the one with D750 is called UC-E17. Is there any difference between the two? Apparently not. I used UC-E6 on D750 and UC-E17 on D7100. Both the camera has responded well. Even my Fuji x100s worked with both the cables. I did not find any links online that could explain the differences among the USB cables of Nikon (there is also an UC-E16!). I did not do any tests related transfer rates on any of the cameras. I am happy as long as I can transfer the files. So, if you’re looking for an extra cable to use with any of these cameras, just grab the one that is the cheapest ( UC-E17 /16 or 6) in your favourite online store.

Clock Reset Icon Mystery – Nikon D750

On day 1 of getting my new Nikon D750, I made several changes to the default factory settings. Several icons lit up on the back LCD screen when I pressed “Info” button.  But the presence of “Clock Reset” icon worried me. Even after 10 days, it just stayed there. According to the user manual, the icon should flash if there is any problem with the internal clock or internal clock battery. The internal clock battery charges within two days and lasts for three months. In my case, the icon just stayed there. It did not flash/blink. In the above pics, I am talking about the clock icon to the left of NR icon. It just stayed there. I changed the battery once, left the camera without any battery for two days, and the internal clock was not reset.

Clock reset Icon - D750

Clock reset Icon - D750

I posted queries on Amazon.com and flickr D750 club. The mystery was solved by Peter Hastings on Flickr. The icon appears when long exposure noise reduction is enabled. Disable that feature and the icon will disappear.

I wasn’t seeing the icon on mine but when I was trying to replicate your settings it appeared!

See what happens when you turn long exposure NR off!

I thought that it might be a software bug, but when I looked at the manual, the ‘clock not set’ icon on p15 is like a clock showing 9 o’clock, but the icon on p14 looks like a clock at 3 o’clock. And if you look at the top of p14 in the manual, the arrow under ’28’ points to between the two icons, not just at the letters ‘NR’, so I think that it’s intended that when you turn NR on, both icons should appear – the clock indicating long exposure.

I don’t know where the ‘clock not set’ icon flashes – presumably it isn’t allocated a spot on the ‘info’ page because you will probably never get it?

Peter

I belong to the roads!

I started my fieldwork in January 2014 and I halfway through. Since then I have travelled to two countries and more than 25 cities, close to 12,000km. The best part is, all of this is by road. Not even a single flight.

Yes, travelling by road takes time but gives you back a unique experience. Time allows to absorb the landscape around you, observe your fellow passengers, see the world where you really belong to, up close!

I prefer waiting on a railway platform to waiting in an airport. In an airport, I am surrounded by snobs who are upset with flight delays, long check-in lines, and cumbersome security checks. In an airport I am surrounded by disappointment. But on a train platform, I see hope, I see support. When I travel by road, I see how 90% of India really lives. On an aircraft, people wear earphones to avoid conversations with fellow passengers. On a train, people share food and tea with fellow passengers.

Trains - The lifeline of India

Trains – The lifeline of India

I usually travel alone. That pushes me to trust people. I leave bags with strangers when I go to use restrooms or buy something to eat. There are still trustworthy people out there. World has always been bad and cunning. In the recent days, media is more focussed than ever on highlighting crime. This has made every traveller suspicious in in the eyes of other travellers. As long as we can trust people, there is joy left in living, and there is peace left is breathing.

I have six more months left. More travelling and bonding with the earth and its people. I am grateful that my fieldwork has given me ample opportunities to travel by road and interact with people who keep this country going. Every mile I travel, I get to know India a little better.

India, I LOVE you!

Kalindi Khal – Elevation Profile

Below is an approximate elevation profile of Kalindi Khal trek from Gangotri to Badrinath. A group of 15 of my friends and myself attempted this in May 2007. We had to retreat because of a snow storm.

Using paper maps, I have created a google map and an elevation profile For the people who are curious about the path of this trek.

If Google Maps interest you, here is the link.

If you wish to view the below profiler in a separate page, click here.

What makes Malgudi days special?

Yes, all episodes of Malgudi days are now available on YouTube. So what?

Click here for the playlist

Why should I watch an old TV series half of whose actors are either dead or about to die? Why should I spend my precious time on Malgudi days when there are so many TV shows to watch ? Why should I care about a TV series which does not use computer graphics, loud background music or is not aired everyday of my living life?

I am not calling Malgudi days as is the greatest show on earth. I am sure there are several shows which are awesome. But Malgudi days matters to India, it holds a huge lesson to the directors and viewers of today’s soaps.

Malgudi days oozes with art. The immersing nature of the series makes Malgudi days a hybrid between a book and theatre. Just take a look at the first episode. So much effort has been put in to create a sense of space and time. The camera does not always focus on the face but zooms out and pans to show how people dressed, how the buildings looked, and how people interacted with the surroundings. Malgudi days makes us enter new worlds and minds.  It is a visual treat.

Today’s TV shows are replete with background music. A loud background music stifles the voice of the artists. Dialogue is what should drive a scene, facial expressions are what should convey the mood of the characters, not some loud music. The screenplay is what makes the delivery powerful and not the constant flashing of lights or crooked camera  angles. Sadly, the plots are recycled with a filling of cliches.

Today’s soaps are made by lazy directors for lazy viewers. Setting the drama as contemporary is convenient. Not much attention has to be paid to the details – No need to build a new set, no necessity to think about what should stay in the frame and what should not. All artistes, wearing a thick makeup that makes their skin look smooth, fair, and soft, appear far from real characters in life. Where is the stained teeth, weather-beaten skin or the shadow of other imperfections that are the reflection of a struggle called life? When characters seem real, they connect better with the viewers.

The last aspect I want to highlight is that of light and sound. Every face is brightly lit and there is always a background music trying to mute the sounds surrounding the characters. The shadows, the darkness, the sound of that river flowing, that bird chirping, or that spinning of the washing machine is what brings the drama closer to the viewers life.

Just seeing someone making coffee with a loud background noise makes the scene look fake and coffee unpalatable. The irregular lighting in the kitchen, that ticking of the lighter that does not light the gas on the first stroke, the that clinking of the steel pot placed on the burner, that sizzling of the milk, that crackle of pouring the coffee into the steel cup, and that cup brimming with coffee of brownish white froth.

Directors, just as writers, should focus on showing and not telling or killing with sound, for that matter.

I am grateful for the works of RK Narayan, the author, and Shankar Nag, the director of Malgudi days.

This photo is edited!

“This photo is edited!”, “Did you make any changes to the original?”, “The photo should be termed fake since you used Photoshop!”, “I appreciate truth more than illusion”! Yes, my friends sound like philosophers, activists, and art connoisseurs! I want to use this blog post to answer their questions. The answer may not satisfy the people who raise those questions, but this post is an effort to make people aware of my perception of the genre of photography I am into.

I am not a journalist, a reporter, or a documentary photographer though I admire all of them. My interest in photography is, to a large extent, limited to capturing the beauty of the interactions between humans and their surrounding environment. Ideally, I want to be a photographer who captures the dialectic nature of human-environment relationship – the way humans alter their surroundings and how those surroundings respond back to that change. But for now, all I am doing is, having fun with light! I am very new to photography and I am figuring out what type of images drive me! I will not be a great photographer, but my effort put into learning photography will help me appreciate what goes into creating good pictures! (if you want to know the answer, it is money!)

Photography is an art. Just as an artist chooses the type of paper, color, brush, texture, perspective, and the subject, photographers also make decisions on the type of lens, focal length, aperture, shutter speed, composition, light, and subjects. To print a photograph in colour or black and white is also a conscious choice! Photographers have to manipulate different elements of photography, blend the science and art of photography to evoke the emotions they felt when they witnessed the scene! Yes, photographers are selective. They want to show the world what moves them. Since a photograph is usually viewed in the absence of the photographers, it is very essential for the photographers to guide the viewers to the message in the photograph. Many a times, the message may not carry the same intensity that the photographer felt! When the valley is viewed from the mountain top, the sheer energy it takes to climb the mountain adds to the experience. The exhaustion is not easy to factor into the gorgeousness of the photograph!

Part of the novelty comes from introducing a different light, increasing the vibrancy of colours, changing the point of view! Instagram is a success because it introduces elements that make us nostalgic! The deliberate distortion of the reality, if we may call it so, is part of the real deal! Ansel Adams introduced new printing techniques to create better photographs which have not been termed fake or misrepresentation of reality! Light whacking, light leaks, lens flares and tilt shifting are hardware based, with software alternatives, light manipulation setups to create novel photographs. Wide angle lenses, telephoto lenses, macro lenses, fish-eye and almost every lens other than a 50mm prime lens should be discouraged if photography is all about depicting reality! Even then, a camera will not be able to capture the reality, the objective truth we are seeking – the pursuit is so esoteric that a camera, a photograph or the photographer will not be able to complete it!

Almost all of my photographs are post-processed using Lightroom, Photoshop, or Photmatix (only for HDRs), sometimes a combination of these tools. I will continue to use these post-processing tools as they will help me correct the limitations of cameras and also apply my creative thinking, however primitive it could be! Photography, according to me, is quasi-discursive! Just as we choose a set of facts to construct a story that appeals to different people, photographers use a set of tools to construct a reality (yes, we all construct realities that suit us, realities that help us defend our behaviours and personalities!) seen through their lens and mind. Even documentary photographers cannot be objective. What they frame and don’t frame is very subjective, and for many, this choice of framing can be obfuscation of truth!

Part of the inspiration and substance to my understanding and belief in post-processing of photo comes from David DuChemin’s book – “Vision and Voice”. I love the introduction where the author says:

We’ve grown up being fed the lie that the camera never lies. So if “the camera never lies,” is our starting point for objectivity that any manipulation of the negative can only introduce corruption into the process? But that’s the problem, isn’t it? The camera tells any lie we ask of it. Or any truth, for that matter. It’s a tool, no more objective, really, than a microphone. Wielded by Martin Luther King, Jr., it’s a tool of truth and justice; wielded by a corrupt politician, it’s a tool of spin and propaganda. A tool. No more. No less.

The deeper my forays into digital photography, the more I am sure that there are three images that make a final photograph: the one you envision, the one you shoot, and the one you develop.

The complete introduction can be read on Amazon’s website. Click on “Look Inside” icon and scroll down to “Introduction”

Here is a photo my friend took:

Unedited

And here is my post-processed version of the photo:

Edited

Why should roads be wide and linear?

If you travel by foot on the streets of any of the old cities of India, say Varanasi or Old Delhi, you might feel claustrophobic because of the narrow roads, with houses standing tall on either side as if they are people watching your every movement. If you look a little further along the road, you might see those houses closing in on you. You might feel flabbergasted and to some extent frustrated by the twists, turns, and abrupt endings of the roads. Roads in these places are not named or  paved, sidewalks, if they exist, end into surprise potholes,  neighbourhoods are not clearly marked, and there is no logic behind the house numbers.

Postal addresses usually consist of the name of the addresses, care of (C/O) some prominent person in the household (who has lived there for such a long time that the postal worker or neighbours can easily recognize the name), house number, name of the house (yes, houses in India usually have names), cross and main (if it exists), a landmark close to the house (mostly in the same lane), a temple, mosque, church or other landmark in the neighbourhood, name of the neighbour hood, Stage / Phase or Block number, name of the city, state, and a PIN. Some addresses may need two envelopes to write them fully 🙂 In few cases, number of words in the “from” and “to” addresses written on the envelope might exceed the words the in letter the envelope is carrying!

Asian cities have survived because of the long-standing co-operation among its people. The human interactions built these cities and now these cities are in turn facilitating those interactions further. The lifestyle is built upon the personal connections between people – the grocer, the milk man, the vegetable vendor, the rickshawwallah, the neighbours… I remember the days when we shared newspapers and magazines, we used our neighbours fridge to make ice-creams, watched Ramayan and other mega tele-serials with everyone on our street on one and the only colour television in the street, learnt to ride a bicycle and motorcycle from our uncles, borrowed bicycles from not so well acquainted people!

I like the way my friend Ayan Ghosh puts it:

I think the reason I love old cities is they have more crosswords. Each crossroad asks questions, makes you stop, take a decision and stick by it. In every lane we discover new things and think what did I miss on the other lanes? I must come back. I must give more time. This is why I have never enjoyed planned cities. They are too linear, too defined. You just walk from one end to the other and you have seen it all. But life is more like an old city than a highway.

In 2008 I travelled around  India for 12,000 miles on a motorcycle without a GPS, just a road atlas. I had to stop at major intersections, talk to people, watch out for diversions. It made me develop a deeper temporal and spatial awareness. In US I travelled with my parents for 9,000 miles without asking for any directions, without speaking to a single human. I never had to bother about the surrounding. Technology disconnected me from my surroundings. Of course, nobody forced me to use the GPS, but sadly there will not be any human soul around to give me directions if I get lost! Today’s technology can easily isolate people if we don’t know how to wield it properly and fall head over heels in the name of individuality. We like the pictures and status updates of our friends instead of having a chat with our family members who are right next to us. The age is of video games and not of the games that teach us to interact with real humans and build sportmanship!

Roads don’t have to be wide if all can walk to our workplace, to our schools, and to the market. Roads don’t have to be linear,if the towns are small enough! Roads don’t have to connect every place on earth if we don’t develop the greed to over consume – everything needs to be big – airports, roads, hospitals, schools, and office spaces, when we lose track of life and indulge in a lifestyle that focuses on money and exotic and extravagant consumption! We have fallen for the definition of development which epitomized – concrete roads. Concrete or asphalt roads don’t have character – one doesn’t see the colour of the earth beneath, smell the soil when it rains, feel how slushy the road gets when it absorbs water, experience the crumbly nature of the road when it dries up! Paved roads, when badly designed, which they usually are, reduce water percolation and thereby deplete groundwater reserves. Wide roads are for a society where a huge SUV is occupied by just one person, linear roads are for people who are not interested in talking to other people in the society, door numbers is for a society where people don’t want to spare time for each other! Wide roads are for people who are in a hurry to reach the workplaces where they don’t want to be, to do the work they don’t like to buy the stuff they don’t need!

Small is beautiful!

A Walk in Kathmandu


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