একটু অন্য রকমের দীপাবলি ।

I wish you all a very happy festive season. Warm greetings on this auspicious occasion of Mahavir Nirvan Diwas, Kali Pujo, Naraka Chaturdashi and what is popularly known as “Diwali”.

mother teresa, missionaries of charity, diwali celebrationDebarshi Duttagupta, flying lantern, fanush, phanush

While most of us are celebrating “Diwali” across religions, regions, age groups and while most of my friends are shooting candles and Diyas or else partying, a few friends of mine were doing some real good job. While Aroop organised gifts and clothes for the Salt Lake slum dwellers, Asmita and her friends go to the Missionaries of Charity bursting crackers with the children and nuns there. Photographer Debarshi Dutta Gupta and his friends light flying lanterns in memory of those who have passed away in the last year.

Valmiki’s Ramayana reportedly has no Diwali in it. While the Jain texts mention this time to be the festival of lights after the Supreme light ( Lord Mahavir ) attained Nirvaan (Enlightenment/ Death) . The rulers of the land said that the Supreme light might have gone, but the event shall be marked by the earthen lights. “Diwali” is popularly known as the festival of lighting lamps across streets to mark the celebrations of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after having defeated the demon king Ravana. In Tamil culture, it is Naraka Chaturdashi where God Karthik and Goddess Kali killed a demon. In Bengal, this is the time for Bhoot Chaturdashi, where the spirits (read: Ghosts) roam around freely on the streets without restrictions and is followed by Kali Puja or worshipping Goddess Kali, the war Goddess and the Goddess often associated with excess power, ghostsand supernatural acts.

 

Did you know about Mahavir Nirvan Diwas?

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fanush, flying lantern, debarshi duttagupta, calcutta, kolkata
flying lantern, calcutta, debarshi duttaguptaflying lantern, calcutta, debarshi duttagupta
The flying lantern event was like a mini Kolkata Photography Club gathering, many of whose photographs I follow and have learnt from. I saw photographs last year and this year, I asked for an invitation for myself :D ..and took Saimantick with me.
Diwali at Missionaries of Charity, Kolkata, nun, diwali
asmita nandy, asmita nandi, asmita diwali, Diwali at Missionaries of Charity, Kolkata, nun, diwali
I wish I could spend some more time with them. I took a friend Rajatabha with me. He seemed fascinated and he appreciates the initiative to spend time with the children and nuns of Missionaries of Charity. He said he has personally conveyed his regards to Asmita. Another very small incident happened that touched both Rajatabha and me. Koustav bought a chocolate for a girl on the footpath. The girl did not run away taking the chocolate. She actually smiled and said a “Thank you”. Well, we all had smiles on our faces.
I am happy as long as my friends are happy and smiling. Both Saimantick and Rajatabha seemed very happy, (Koustav কে দেখে কিছুই বোঝা যায়ে না। আমার মনে হয়ে ওরও ভালোই লেগেছে।) ..and I seem to be the happiest person.

Rajatabha Ray, Missionaries of Charity
Photograph: Rajatabha Ray

 

Do you know how to make Flying lantern?

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I’ll add a few photographs to this blog post sometime later today. Bhai Phonta time, you see.
How was your Diwali?

Meghalaya: Color-ob

People, India, Meghalaya, Khasi hills, tribes in Meghalaya, Harshit Mehta, Surrbhi Kaul

What did it feel like?

It felt like a cacophony of colours, colours everywhere.. the lush green fields, the darker green of the forest.. the wild red berries, the kids and their enthusiasm. The sky was a complete blue with shades of grey smudged. I wish I could photograph the yellow birds. Can you give me a better term  for “cacophony of colours”?

How about “Color-ob”?

It definitely had been a color-ob, the riot of colours outside and inside me, conflicting emotions up in arms against each other. The concrete junglees that we have become, do we not miss the blue sky we all romanticised about in our teens or perhaps the darker clouds which used to carry messages to our loved ones? The white patches of the Kaash flower dominated my senses. It was the Durga Puja.

Tired of frequently checking my WhatsApp, I decided to move slightly away from all the hustle of the live English music to this place, above which was a clear sky studded with small scintillating diamonds. The chill of the wind and the cold rock I laid on, mellowed my senses. No, I can not risk my dignity.

The dark of the night made way to a sun light in the clear sky. Harshit woke me up and went out to see the sun rising. By the time I arranged for the camera, the light of the sun put a smile on my face.

Meghalaya is a fresh start to my life. The calm blue of the sky smeared with the light grey and the white somewhere far there embraces the gigantic hills.

 

 

 

People, India, Meghalaya, Khasi hills, tribes in Meghalaya

 

 

 

People, Meghalaya, colours, travel, tourism, colours, trek, forest, gregory, harshit, kids

 

The kids were the flavour. Restless and camera shy, mostly they flock together and blow kisses to people who pass by. I spared a few moments with the group of young boys.

We walked through forests and small inhabited villages. It felt incredible. The green of the forest playing with the golden sun rays created magic in my mind.

 

People, Meghalaya, colours, travel, tourism, colours, trek, forest, gregory, harshit

 

The green and the blue acted like an intoxicant, it made me rediscover myself. The brooks and water falls, the narrow roads carved out of the rocks and the incessant but peaceful sound of the insects create a setting unmatched.  Meghalaya, ‘the abode of clouds’. An experience for the senses, an unexplored heaven.

 

Meghalaya tourism

 

People, India, Meghalaya, Khasi hills, tribes in Meghalaya

 

 

 

People, India, Meghalaya, Khasi hills, tribes in Meghalaya

 

 

 

People, Meghalaya, colours, travel, tourism, colours, trek, forest, gregory, harshit

 

 

 

People, Meghalaya, colours, travel, tourism, colours, trek, forest, gregory, harshit

 

 Which places did you visit? Did you go to the seven sister falls?

Well, that’s another blog post.

—-

“Color-ob” (Pronunciation: Caw-Loh-Rob / Kolorob): Korolob, in Bengali, means riotous noise.
The name is suggested by Parama Dasgupta, journalist working with the leading Bengali daily newspaper.
The blogpost has been edited by Surya Shekhar Chakraborty, Arkadyuti Palit, Arjyak Bhattacharya, Rupsha Bhadra
and reviewed by Preeti Roychowdhury and Sanveer Mehwal.

A photo blogger’s take on Plagiarism

Indian copyright act, photography, photographers India
 

 

 

From forwarding SMS’s to sharing content over the social media, we seem to be in a habit of copying content from one and publishing it from our profiles. This is scarily taken to the next level when the advertisement makers, “copy” photographs from the internet and use them while making advertisements.

Why is this scary? The advertisement maker, who designs the advertisement, is heavily paid for it. All s/he does, is to search, download, Photoshop and use. Not consulting the photographer or seeking permission. This is as good as stealing. In legal terms this is the theft of Intellectual property*.

Not only does the advertiser depriving the photographer of the money, which the photographer requires for a decent living and pursuing better photography, he is also promoting the idea of stealing and in my very honest opinion – killing the work culture and the enthusiasm an experienced photographer should have.

My primary source of income is not photography. Even then I feel terrible when I see my photograph stolen and made into government advertisements, book / magazine cover or a political party’s mass greetings card.

Picture this: You invest quite a good amount of time to understand, learn and master a technique and someone simply steals it without mentioning your name. How would you feel?

For example, the Tagore light painting: It took me around 3 hours of constant practice in the Dark room, painting in the air with the torch. One fine evening, a friend of mine informed me – it is printed in a big hoarding near Nandan. When I rushed there to see it, I saw my watermark was removed and it had become the face of an entire festival organized by a reputed theatre group. The festival was inaugurated by the then West Bengal Education minister.

Tagore light painting, plagiarism
Another day, another young friend informed me that the Tagore light painting had become the cover of a collection of Tagore short stories book, published by a reputed publisher based in Delhi. Considering all online and print publications, the Tagore light painting has been stolen more than 25 times.
Tagore light painting, jainco publisher plagiarism

Now picture this: You go to an unknown place just to discover the purest form of Baul music. You spend money seeking required permissions, paying performers, taking all related risks and doing the running around. One afternoon a friend tells me over WhatsApp, that it has been stolen and used in the State Government’s advertisement.

lok prasar prakalpa, plagiarism

My photographs have been stolen otherwise as well by state BJP, a magazine in Sri Lanka, a website in Dhaka. (I am not listing all)

BJP unit’s photo stealing:
Bijoya, BJP, plagiarism

Magazine in Sri Lanka:
plagiarism

Let me share a stray incident, which I forgot to mention while drafting this blogpost.

According to me, this is slightly more shameful and scary.
Don Bosco Park Circus

This is the official website of one of the most reputed boys school in Kolkata, listed in India’s Top 10 Boys schools this year. They search over the internet, take my photograph, use it. After having informed, they show no sense of apology, regret. Not even a personal message whatsoever. It is designed by school kids of class 10 – 12 and I took it lightly considering them kids. Today I ask, if this is not the age to build ethics, when shall it be appropriate? I do not expect students of reputed schools to steal and I’ll be honest about it.

 

We artists, invest our time to learn and execute the art form. If someone steals our work, we feel more deprived. Not always do we require money in exchange of the work but our pleasure lies in the mention of our name along with the piece of art.

Each time someone downloads music illegally, e.g. – an Indian classical music CD (since I know a few musicians closely), you are depriving him of money. He needs money to survive and pursue his music to create further music. We photographers need money to buy better gears & better photographs. And if not gears, we require money for basic survival. So each time you are illegally downloading and using something, remember – you are pushing someone to death, very slowly and mercilessly.

Coming to the legal aspect of it: This is covered under the Indian Copyright Act. And I am told by my lawyer, every time I press the shutter, I hold the right to publish and distribute the photograph. If you are shooting it on behalf of a company, the company holds the right to publish the photograph.

Can legal action be taken? The answer is yes, if proven. If it is online, it can be taken down after a police report. But if it is offline, the case becomes more credible and easy to prove.

Check a few graphics I made for the Indian Copyright Act, 1957.

There are a few people who contest the thought. In a way, they support plagiarism. A friend of mine once told: in this age of social media, there should not be strict copyright laws as the content is up on public display. Another much respected elder said that she and her company often do that. She does not see any harm in it, as it is open to be accessed. To me, this logic is as credible as this: “She is raped because she wore short clothes; she is raped because she was alone on the streets.

I am not sure about other photographers. But as I keep blogging, my reach will only increase making my photographs easily discoverable over the search engine and open to stealing. I put my email address and phone number along with the blog post where I publish the photograph. If someone wants it, might just give me a call seeking permission. I ask money only if I have invested money for the shot. Even if I have invested money, at times I do not charge money if I am approached properly with dignity. Example: Daricha foundation used my photographs of Tusu; Bengali Association of Greater Atlanta (BAGA) used my Tagore light painting. They were kind enough to seek permission. Not only did I allow them to use my photographs for free, we are in good terms now and share a bond of mutual respect.

Do I stop blogging? Perhaps, no, it is only because of blogging, a few brands like Harley Davidson, Rolling stone magazine had earlier approached me and now I am shooting for the social media promotion of another globally recognised clothing brand. I’m happy that there are people who are not as ignorant.

Udaan magazine
There is a some silver lining: Udaan Bengali travel magazine was in need of a photograph of Boshonto Utshob. They searched the internet and found a photograph from my blog shot by Pratyay Mukhopadhyay. They asked for permission from both me and Pratyay and the next month, the photograph became the cover photograph of the magazine.

The number of rapes however is not coming down in any parameter of statistics. Not that my blog post would change the photography thieves any drastically. But we can spread the awareness of intellectual property rights, share contact details of lawyers who have already fought similar cases. We should be more aware of safeguarding our creations and spreading the awareness to create a better world. Read about Indian Copyright Act 1957. More than the artists who still now are a minority, it is you readers who can make a difference. You need to be aware and spread the awareness.

The newer world of mobile phone photography and instagram.

Mobile phone photography is not really new. A lot of people have been doing it since long back. I remember, back in 2007, when DSLRs were not much of a craze, my friends used mobile phone cameras to freeze hostel memories. The first expensive mobile phone I bought was Samsung D900i (April 2008), only because it had a very good quality 3mp camera. That in fact, was the start to my “photography”, per say.

After I got my first proper camera in 2009 January, I neglected my phone and almost forgot that it can click photographs as well. With Samsung Corby (since April 2010), I hardly photographed using my phone. My compact camera used to accompany me anywhere I went.

I find  my now camera Nikon D7000 heavy and cumbersome and the company I work for, does not allow me to carry it to my office. I need something lighter to fit my pocket and sharp while photographing. Voila! I discovered that my phone Samsung SIII has a camera in it and that works! Call me callous, please do. Now of late, after my screen has multiple cracks and my phone is more than 2 years 3 months old, I am taking a new to mobile photography. Possibly because of square frames and instagram!

Now let me say what almost all camera and social media pundits might have already said – Mobile phone cameras are a very useful tool in this world of social media. You shoot and directly share with the world. Your loved ones can see what you are up to. If the photograph has journalistic value, nothing like it. You will be doing live reporting from ground zero! If you want to be a citizen journalist, all you need is a mobile phone with a good camera and there are plenty of them. From Samsung to Motorola to Xiaomi, they all make good phones with good cameras.

Talking about citizen journalism, my friend Vikram is coming up with his new product – MNetra. If you are interested, you might just wish to click on the hyperlink and check out the Facebook page. It is a mobile application,  the first and the only citizen reporting platform in India.  One of the primary geographic areas Vikram wants to make this app reach is West Bengal. (How do I know Vikram? He was a co-speaker with me in NASSCOM IT Niketan 2012, an IIT Kharagpur passout and a superb human being.)

Talking about live posting, check this photograph I shot amidst rains during the Jadavpur University protests.

HokKolorob, Jadavpur protests
Shot at #HokKolorob protests on September 20, 2014 amidst rains. (Camera: Samsung SIII)

Daring the stormy weather and the rain, a huge number of protesters were walking on the streets roaring “Hok Kolorob” (Let there be noise_). Being there, I got engaged in managing people actively. Under such conditions, I could not dare to take the DSLR out. My mobile phone camera was to the rescue. And this is a cropped version of the entire frame.

Let me share a few other photographs shot by my mobile lately.

Durga Puja in Jail Road, Shillong:
Shillong Jail Road pujaShillong Jail Road puja
Shillong Jail Road

Local Pujo in Dum dum park, Bhasan:
Bhasan Durga Puja KolkataBhasan Durga Puja KolkataBhasan Durga Puja KolkataBhasan Durga Puja KolkataBhasan Durga Puja KolkataBhasan Durga Puja Kolkata
Bhasan Durga Puja KolkataBhasan Durga Puja Kolkata

 

A few other photographs, which might not have been possible with the big DSLR. The photograph of me holding my shoes on the waterlogged Dum Dum Park street or people rushing to the office after lunch during a rainy afternoon. Or photographs of Kapu, when playful.
Anirban Saha Selfie, Indian men selfie, selfie tipsAnirban Saha Selfie, Indian men selfie, selfie tips
Anirban Saha Selfie, Indian men selfie, selfie tipsAnirban Saha Selfie, Indian men selfie, selfie tips
Anirban Saha Selfie, Indian men selfie, selfie tipsAnirban Saha Selfie, Indian men selfie, selfie tips

Taking quick panorama is easier with mobile phones and specially when you want to share with your friends very fast!

Panorama, Double decker root bridge
Double Decker Root Bridge, Meghalaya. Panorama by Samsung SIII
Panorama, Kalna Shiva temple
Wider Panorama. Kalna, Shiva temple complex.

Not just these, you can take random selfies and share with your friends (over personal messages) and on the mainstream social media! Personally speaking, I am liking the selfie thing. It felt slightly weird at first. Now it seems fun !

It can be my “The white Kurta Selfie” in some unknown city of Shillong or the “How am I looking?” selfie! Or perhaps the group selfie before you leave for a vacation or with school friends reunion! Err, or or this : Before and after a slight makeover.
Anirban Saha Selfie, Indian men selfie, selfie tipsAnirban Saha Selfie, Indian men selfie, selfie tipsAnirban Saha Selfie, Indian men selfie, selfie tipsAnirban Saha Selfie, Indian men selfie, selfie tipsAnirban Saha Selfie, Indian men selfie, selfie tipsAnirban Saha Selfie, Indian men selfie, selfie tips

If you think that selfies only interest me in my friend circles, please do have a look at this Facebook conversation here.

Generally a blog post should add some value to the reader. This blog post does nothing of it. So here, although I am not the bests of persons to do this, I will try to give some tips – Try to implement the normal rule of thirds in your framing and not just central framing. Use instagram as this makes you share your photographs over Facebook and Twitter in the easiest possible manner once you connect your accounts. Try not to spend too much time post processing your photographs in your mobile. For me, it is a big turn off. Keep it fun. And follow me on instagram!

 

I’ll end this post here. Suggest me a mobile phone with a good camera ! Do comment your honest reviews on this post. And do not forget to stay subscribed to my blog if you love it.