Thursday, September 21, 2017

Puppet Theatre of Indonesia

Wayang (Krama Javanese: Ringgit ꦫꦶꦁꦒꦶꦠ꧀, "Shadow"), also known as Wajang, is a form of puppet theatre art found in Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia, wherein a dramatic story is told through shadows thrown by puppets and sometimes combined with human characters. The art form celebrates the Indonesian culture and artistic talent, its origins are traced to medieval era spread of Hinduism and the arrival of leather-based puppet arts called Tholu bommalata from southern India.

Wayang refers to the entire dramatic show. Sometimes the leather puppet itself is referred to as wayang. Performances of shadow puppet theatre are accompanied by a gamelan orchestra in Java, and by gender wayang in Bali. The dramatic stories play out mythologies, such as episodes from the Hindu epics the Ramayana, the Mahabharata as well as local adapations of cultural legends.Traditionally, a wayang is played out in a ritualized midnight to dawn show by a dalang – an artist and spiritual leader, and people watch the show from both sides of the screen.

UNESCO designated wayang kulit, a shadow puppet theatre and the best known of the Indonesian wayang, as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on 7 November 2003. In return for the acknowledgment, UNESCO required Indonesians to preserve their heritage. Wayang has also been a significant historical art form in Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.
 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Some photographs  of puppets and puppet making are below:

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Orchids | Singapore Changi Airport

The Singapore  Orchid Garden  at Changi Airport Terminal 2 features more than 700 orchids of 30 species grouped by their various colours and shapes, representing the 4 elements of nature – Earth, Water, Fire and Air. White orchids displayed with floating glass bubbles represent 'Air', while rare brown and green orchids displayed with tree root sculptures represent 'Earth'.  Floral columns simulating giant candles represent 'Fire' while clustered blue and violet orchids represent the 'Water' element.

Some photographs of the stunning orchids in bloom:

Monday, September 4, 2017

Manaslu Magic | Black and White

View from Samagaon monastery looking south 
 The circuit of Manaslu the eight highest mountain in the world now qualifies as one of the finest treks in the Nepal Himalaya. A team from South Col Expeditions trekked the Manaslu circuit in April 2017. This is a monochrome look at the circuit.

Manaslu from Samagaon

On the trail to Manaslu Base Camp from Samagaon

The Budhi Gandaki river near Dovan

Campsite at Deng

Birendra Tal lake

Tree near Samagaon

Peak 29 from the village of Sho

For more information on the Manaslu circuit, routes and timings please see the links below.

Useful Links

Monday, August 28, 2017

Vittorio Sella | Mountain Photographer

Jannu from Chunjerma
Today 28th August 2017 is the 158th birth anniversary of the great mountain photographer Vittorio Sella. 

Vittorio Sella  was an Italian photographer and mountaineer, who took photographs of mountains which are regarded as some of the finest ever made. 
Sella was born in Biella in the foothills of the Alps and acquired his interest in Alpinism from his uncle, Quintino Sella. He made a number of significant climbs in the Alps, including the first winter ascents of the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa, and the first winter traverse of Mont Blanc. He took part in several expeditions further afield, including three to the Caucasus (where a peak now bears his name), to Mount Saint Elias in Alaska, to the Rwenzori in Africa, and the 1909 expedition to K2 and the Karakoram. The latter three expeditions were in the company of Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi. Sella continued to climb into his old age, and made his last attempt on the Matterhorn at seventy six. The attempt failed when one of his guides was injured in an accident.
The high quality of Sella's photography was in part due to his use of 30×40 cm photographic plates, in spite of the difficulty of carrying bulky and fragile equipment into remote places. He had to invent equipment, including modified pack saddles and rucksacks, to allow these particularly large glass plates to be transported safely. His photographs were widely published and exhibited, and highly praised; Ansel Adams, who saw thirty-one that Sella had presented to the US Sierra Club, said they inspired "a definitely religious awe". Many of the photographs he took were of mountains which had not been previously recorded and so have historical as well as artistic significance; for example by recording the retreat of glaciers in the Rwenzori mountains in Central Africa.
Sella died in Biella in 1943. His collection of photographs is now managed by the Sella Foundation (Fondazione Sella) in Biella. Some pictures of Sella are exhibited in the Museo Nazionale della Montagna "Duca degli Abruzzi"in Turin. [ From Wikipedia }

Some of Sella's photographs are below: 
Siniolchu and Little Siniolchu from the Zemu Valley 1899

Muztagh Towers Karakoram

Siniolchu Zemu Valley 1899

Camp Zemu Valley 1899

Glacier near Mont Blanc

Chardon Glacier 1888

In the words of Ansel Adams Knowing the physical pressures of time and energy attendant on ambitious mountain expeditions, we are amazed by the mood of calmness and perfection pervading all of Sella’s photographs. In Sella’s photographs there is no faked grandeur; rather there is understatement, caution, and truthful purpose… Sella has brought to us not only the facts and forms of far-off splendours of the world, but the essence of experience which finds a spiritual response in the inner recesses of our mind and heart.”

Useful Links:

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Nikon D850 | A Monster of a Camera


Nikon announced the formal launch of it's new full frame SLR - the 45.7 MP D850 which has specs far advanced than the current series of Nikon cameras. The specs of the D850 are given below and they are very impressive.  The options for three sizes of raw files depending on need, ISO going from 64-25,600, full weather sealing, advanced autofocus system, 7 fps which is commendable with a 45.7 mp sensor, 4K video capability.

However on the flip side is the body weight 915 grams and the price a wopping $3300 body only! Professionals would definitely buy this body instead of the D810 or D750 in the full frame space. It remains to be seen how the Nikon flagships like the D5 fare against this new monster of a camera!

Nikon D850 Specifications

  • Sensor: 45.7 MP FX BSI Sensor, 4.35µ pixel size
  • Sensor Size: 35.9 x 23.9mm
  • Resolution: 8256 x 5504
  • Native ISO Sensitivity: 64-25,600
  • Boost Low ISO Sensitivity: 32
  • Boost High ISO Sensitivity: 51,200-102,400
  • RAW Formats: 45.7 MP (Full Size), 25.6 MP (Medium Size / mRAW), 11.4 MP (Small Size / sRAW)
  • mRAW / sRAW File Support: 12-bit lossless compressed
  • Processor: EXPEED 5
  • Metering System: 181,000-pixel RGB Meter
  • Dust Reduction: Yes
  • Weather Sealing/Protection: Yes
  • Body Build: Full Magnesium Alloy
  • Shutter: 1/8000 – 30 seconds
  • Shutter Durability: 200,000 cycles, self-diagnostic shutter
  • Storage: 1x XQD slot and 1x SD slot (UHS-II compatible)
  • Viewfinder Coverage: 100%
  • Viewfinder Magnification: 0.75x
  • Speed: 7 fps, 9 fps with optional MB-D18 battery grip
  • Built-in Flash: No
  • Autofocus System: Multi-CAM 20K AF sensor
  • AF Sensitivity: -4 EV at the center point
  • AF Detection: Up to f/8 with 15 focus points
  • LCD Screen: touch-enabled 3.2 inch diagonal tilting LCD with 2,359K dots
  • Movie Modes: 4K UHS @ 30 fps max
  • Slow Motion HD Video: Yes
  • Movie Exposure Control: Full
  • Movie Output: MOV, MP4
  • Time Lapse: 4K and 8K Timelapse
  • In-Camera HDR Capability: Yes
  • GPS: Not built-in, requires GP-1 GPS unit
  • WiFi: Built-in
  • Illuminated Buttons: Yes
  • Focus Stacking Feature: Yes
  • Focus Peaking for Stills and Video: Yes
  • Wireless Radio Flash Control: Yes
  • Silent Photography Mode in Live View: Yes
  • Bluetooth: Built-in
  • Battery Type: EN-EN15a
  • Battery Life: 1840 shots (CIPA)
  • USB Standard: 3.0
  • Weight: 915g
  • Dimensions: 146 x 124 x 79mm
  • Price: $3,299.95 MSRP

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Himalayan Diaries | Conversation with Sujoy Das & Paula Sengupta

Artist Paula Sengupta and  photographer Sujoy Das have travelled through the Himalayas for many years.

This exhibition brings together some of Sujoy's small frame works and reproductions of Paula's drawings from her Himalayan diaries.

Using monochrome as a preferred medium Sujoy focuses on patterns, textures, detail and light so often missed while focusing on the giant mountains of the Himalaya.

Equally meticulous attention to detail is seen in Paula’s miniature format drawings, that attempt to record life in the high Himalayas, as also it’s evocative atmosphere and fleeting moments of beauty.

On 23rd August 2017 at 7 pm the duo will be in conversation with artist Chhatrapati Dutta to discuss their work.

The exhibition will continue at The Zs' Precinct until September 2nd 2017 ( 11 am to 7 pm ) excepting Sundays and holidays.

The mane wall at Khumjung Nepal 2012

Monastery at Kagbeni Nepal 2015

Friday, August 11, 2017

Galen Rowell | Mountain Photographer

Exactly fifteen years ago on this day celebrated mountain photographer Galen Rowell and his wife Barbara Cushman Rowell died in a tragic plane crash. Rowell was 61 years old at that time.

A multi faceted personality he was a photographer, a mountain climber as well as a writer.

Though Rowell was primarily a landscape photographer, he was not averse to other forms of photography as well. He spent long hours waiting for the right light for his photos. Living in California, the nationals parks like Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon were his back yard  including Owens Valley in the Sierra Nevada and  it is here that he did some of his most splendid work.

A Rowell photo has a distinctive stamp on it and if you are familiar with his work you would probably recognise the photographs.

He pioneered a photo technique using a filter called the split neutral density filter in varying strengths to lift the shadow detail in a high contrast landscape shot. Rowell was so successful at this that the boutique filter company called Singh-Ray developed split  ND filters based on what Rowell had pioneered!

One of his most famous images is the rainbow over the Potala Palace in Tibet. The story goes that when the rainbow appeared in the sky Rowell was no where near the Potala. He ran to the Palace and positioned himself in such a location that the rainbow seemed to emanate from the roof of the Potala an amazing shot which has become a signature Rowell print as well.

Some of his great photographs which has inspired and will continue to inspire generations of photographers all over the world are reproduced below:

Some of Galen's best remembered quotes are below:

You only get one sunrise and one sunset a day, and you only get so many days on the planet. A good photographer does the math and doesn't waste either.

When the magic hour arrives, my thoughts center on light rather than on the landscape. I search for perfect light, then hunt for something earthbound to match with it.

My advice for climbers or photographers is to really tune into your own passions and not just what other people are doing or aren't doing. Figure out what works for you, what turns you on, what gives you the greatest amount of energy and feeling of satisfaction. 

“Galen Rowell was a man who went into the mountains, into the desert, to the edge of the sea, to the last great wild places in the world to be absorbed by their grace and grandeur. That is what he did for himself. For the rest of us, he shared his vision with—click—the release of a shutter, creating photographs as timeless, as stunning, and as powerful as nature itself.”
Tom Brokaw, from the foreword of Galen Rowell: A Retrospective

For details of Galen's work and the gallery he established in Bishop,  do visit  and for an essay from the Sierra Club archives do visit 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Himalayan Diaries | Exhibition at The Zs' Precinct Kolkata

Image may contain: outdoor

Himalayan Diaries, an exhibition of drawings by Paula Sengupta and my black and white images from Nepal opened on Saturday 29th July 2017 at  The Zs' Precinct, 18/76A Dover Lane, Kolkata - 700029.

The exhibition will run until 2nd September 2017 every day from 11 am to 7 pm other than Sundays.

A brief note on the exhibition is below:

Artist Paula Sengupta and  photographer Sujoy Das have travelled through the Himalayas for many years. 

This exhibition brings together some of Sujoy's small frame works and reproductions of Paula's drawings from her Himalayan diaries. 

Using monochrome as a preferred medium Sujoy focuses on patterns, textures, detail and light so often missed while focusing on the giant mountains of the Himalaya. 

Equally meticulous attention to detail is seen in Paula’s miniature format drawings, that attempt to record life in the high Himalayas, as also it’s evocative atmosphere and fleeting moments of beauty.

Map and directions to the gallery please call:

 For more photographs please do visit


For some information on The Zs' Precinct please visit


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