Back to Heaven

Minimalism as Simple Geometry


Minimalist Photo of a Staircase at a cafe in Bani Park, Jaipur.
Photo By © Prakash Ghai
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I am doing this post after a long time. I had been busy all this while promoting Minimalist Photography via my Instagram Page LearnMinimalism. I have been working very hard over it for the last few months and now the base work has been completed. Therefore, I have some spare time again to do blog posts. Well, Last week I was out for a photo-walk and I wanted to do a post then but I happen to jam my camera's shutter and had submitted my camera to the service center for repairs. Its only today that I got my camera back with the shutter replaced by a new one. Thankfully I had a few days of warranty left or else I would have had to pay roughly about $100. On my way back from the service center I stopped at a local coffee shop for some test shots. This is one among-st them. The cafe is really beautiful. Its a garden cafe with gravel laid down on the floor, green plants everywhere and some fascinating colors and architecture. Loved their sense of aesthetics. This staircase I spotted at the back of the cafe and what was striking was the two little yellow arcs on the right. In fact there were three of them but I took two for my composition. I titled this "Back to Heaven" as I got that feel the moment I looked at it. Of course, whether I go to Heaven or Hell depends on my Karma but I am so far happy and confident of it, hence the assumption. 

There were many different ways this could be shot but I choose an aperture of about F/8 and focused right on the center pillar of the staircase rail. I wanted the pillar and it edges sharp and the two arcs on the right properly exposed and in focus. I was standing a little to the right of the staircase I was OK to have the steps fall in focus on their own with that aperture setting. I had my 50mm 1.4 pricey prime lens on. I could have also shot this at F/11 is what I realized later. Anyways do let me know your feedback about the shot. Have a nice day.

A Flower For Every Petal

Minimalism as Less Elements


Black and White Minimalist Photo of a Curve at a wall near Jantar Mantar Jaipur. India
Photo by © Prakash Ghai
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Have faith in yourself and the universe, you are not just a petal. You hold the potential to be a blossoming flower. Many a times people think that their life is over and all their efforts have gone to vain. Later, their state of mind deteriorates and they start missing any opportunities that come their way. They either don't believe in them or think that they are just a trap to make them meet failure once again. But, NO. Do not commit such a mistake. Your job in life is to keep trying till you die, or until you get old. Someday you will click and be successful. You hold the potential, yes you do. One day surely you will shine and stand upright like a flower blossoming in the sun. Nature rewards those who keep working hard. If it does not reward you for your hard work, mind you it shall be messing up with its own rules. Success will be yours eventually. Only those who give up half-way shall not be rewarded. Believe in yourself and your abilities. And not to forget, most importantly "Believe in Nature". For once trust it. It shall not disappoint you, ever.


Composition


Shot during broad daylight at about 10 in the morning with my Canon 50mm 1.4 prime lens. This is Minimalism as Less Elements.The abstract flower sort of a feel the structure was giving me caught my attention. The light and shadow combination instantly reminded me of the leaves of a lotus flower (inverted). I kept it really simple and avoided center placement of the subject. Yes that was the trap here. Converting to monochrome was an active choice as some areas were blown out due to excessive light and because I was bored of the regular yellow that's spread all across my city, Jaipur.

Illuminated Exit

Minimalism as Less Elements


A Minimalist Photo of Geometry at an old heritage astronomical site Jantar Mantar in Jaipur.
Photo by © Prakash Ghai
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Each soul has a purpose in life and the purpose is made known to it before it takes shelter into a body. Some souls are able to fulfill their purpose and are given an Illuminated (or celebrated) Exit from the world just like a gala farewell party to a performing employee of the company. The illuminated geometric structure with sky in the background is used here to depict such a scenario. Many souls on the other hand fall prey to minds influenced by the material society, hence they feel trapped and continuously crave for an exit. So the question is what do you do? Well, become aware of your soul and its wants. Listen its calls. Make it feel comfortable in your body. Don't do any sort of self-harm. Follow a healthy life-style. Souls may want to live longer in your body to fulfill their purpose and they would tend to feel restless in an unhealthy body.

Ok, now back to the shot. This shot was taken at Jantar Mantar during the first Instameet cum Photowalk oragnised by my Instagram Page "Learn Minimalism" for the theme Simple Geometry on 20.09.2015. (I am doing my bit to popularize this genre of photography.) Although I have categorized this shot under "Minimalism as Less Elements", this can also go in under "Minimalism as Simple Geometry" i.e lines. I was down on my knees for the shot, looking towards the sky and it took me a good 6-7 shots to finally get done. I generally compose shots using my LCD screen but since it was extremely hot and bright nothing was visible on the screen. Therefore I switched over to the View Finder. Why did I mention this? because in the View Finder of most cameras there is no 3x3 overlapping grid which makes things a little tough for visual artists like me.

An Artists Dilemma

Minimalism as Simple Geometry


A Black and White Minimalist Photo created using the Shadow of and open door and a water outlet at Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur.
Photo By © Prakash Ghai
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It is not easy being an artist. Usually what happens is that your immediate peers i.e your close friends and your family won't understand the work you do, nor will they be very optimistic and hopeful for you. They just do not know the scope and potential of your genre and art overall and therefore they will try and make you believe that you have chosen the wrong path. An artist requires about 3-4 years of base building before he could properly monetize his work. So here comes the dilemma. What should an Artist do? stick to his non-money generating art in his early years of creation or listen to his immediate peers and choose a different path.  I, myself face this dilemma as I do Minimalist Photography. The non-mainstream photo art. No I don't do wedding, product or portrait photography and people keep asking me where is the money and I usually have no response to give them. Though I believe if I stick to what I do, I shall be able to sail through. But life is really not easy. If you are an artist too and facing the same dilemma, share your story too.

Coming back to the photo, The door on the bottom right is used to show the artist's the immediate peers (or a different path). The water outlet on the left represents the artist. The long shadow of the outlet shows that he/she has been able to take forward his/her genre to quite an extent. The partition between the water outlet and the door shows the disconnect or the difference of opinion between the artist and immediate peers. The composition's highlight here is the depth created on the right by purposely placing the door on bottom right by keeping it on the rule of thirds. The split between the walls due was caused by the shadow differential although the color for both walls was the same. I took the shot around 4 pm in the afternoon which resulted in the shadow play.

The Inflection Point

Minimalism as Less Elements


A Minimalist Photo of a rusted iron chain partially submerged in a water puddle
Photo By © Prakash Ghai
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Each loop of the Rusted iron chain here represents "An unsuccessful attempt to succeed in life." Some people do not have much luck by their side. They keep failing in whatever they do. If you carefully observe there are 11 loops or 11 attempts or 11 new ventures an individual tried, starting from the top all of which are in focus. But, the vision blurs out from the 12th one signifying that unlucky person is now tired and completely exhausted from a series of failures. He has reached The Inflection Point, from where everything has started to look blurry. There is loss of hope, lack of self belief and complete loss of faith in god. What should such a broken person do ? Give up? or still Carry on? Isn't there a limit to anything ? How strong could one be or rather act?

Composition 


This is an extreme low angle close-up shot with my 50 mm Canon 1.4 prime lens that I recently bought. Results of this lens are way better than my previous 50 mm 1.8 Canon prime lens. While composing I kept my aperture at F/7 and the focus point around the beginning 1/3rd of the frame to try and get most things sharp. Following rule of thirds was a little tricky and I don't like center splits, so I placed the diagonal line formed by the rusted chain a little off-center and biased towards left.

Whenever it rains

Minimalism as Low Detail


A Minimalist Photo of the Reflection of multi-colored street lights on a rain drenched road late evening.
Photo by © Prakash Ghai
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Rains generally make everyone smile, uplift people's mood and bring in a sense of love and romance. The feeling is indeed very special. But, for people who have had a fight with their loved one or for some reason or the other are away from the one whom they really care for, rains remind them of their loneliness. It reminds them that, neither they are "able to express their love" nor "they are able to get back any in return". It is even worse for people who are single, not because they did not get any proposals of friendships but because "they could never find anyone who could ever understand them". They are still waiting for the companionship of that special someone with whom they can walk hand-in-hand and get drenched. On the contrary, the lucky ones get to celebrate this gift of mother nature. They go out on long drives, eat out, party. Well plenty of options for them. 

Composition


I was out on a photo-walk with a good old friend of mine and while on my way back when I had given up all hopes of taking some good shots due to the heavy shower, I spotted this. Two traffic lights next to each other. The yellow one was continuously blinking and I had to wait for the other to turn green. The red you see next to the green comes from the brake lights of the cars passing by and the big patch of yellow on the top left are the bright yellow overhead lights meant to illuminate the crossing. The composition and the Minimalism Type: Low Detail is self-explanatory.  

PS: For me this is a rare shot as I had to bend on my knees and I am very lazy.

The Half-way mark

Minimalism as Less Elements


A Minimalist Photo of the Half-way mark at Staircase at Jawahar Kala Kendra - Jaipur
Photo by © Prakash Ghai
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One may have any kind of goal or objective in his/her life but it all begins with the first few steps. Generally goals, (I am not talking about dreams here as they are usually vague) are set high and one starts working on them on the premise of hope, optimism and hard-work combined. But what happens with most people is that they work way too hard right at the start and get tired or exhausted by the time they are supposed to reach the "Half Way Mark". 

They end up concluding that the path they chose was wrong and they should try something else. My point here is that one should be patient enough and work at a steady pace until one reaches the Half Way Mark. Because after reaching this point, the goal (depicted by the red square) becomes clearly visible and what needs to be done or how many more stairs to climb to get there becomes clearly visible too (depicted by the number of stairs left to be taken). 

So what we learn here is that we should never take a call on something before we reach the half way mark. 

Getting back to the Mini-tutorial part of the photo. This is Minimalism as Less Elements. Some of you may argue that the geometry is spread out evenly and the shot is a little too detailed. But here I have inferred the Staircase in totality as one elements and the red square as a supporting side element. This might also fall under the category  Minimalism as Simple Geometry as there are a lot of lines and basic geometric shapes in the shot. Shooting this fully sharp from front to back required a high aperture and I shot it around F 8.0. Remember to keep your focus point roughly at 1/3rd of the total distance/depth of the frame to get everything mostly in focus. I kept the focus point on the left, between the 2nd and 3rd zigzag. Hope you enjoyed the shot and I send you all seasons greetings all the way from Jaipur- India. 

PS: Don;t forget to check out my new venture on Instagram the "Learn Minimalism" and the hashtag that I started there  #LearnMinimalism

By using the hashtag you too can take part in the Minimalist Photography Contest. The page has more than 43,000 followers and about 2,30,000 photos in the hashtag and growing. A lot of effort has been put in to promote and spread Minimalism in Photography on a global level. This lesser known genre deserves to be spread and "I am doing my bit for it."

Infant to Adult and Thereafter

Minimalism as Simple Geometry (lines)


A Minimalist Photo of Lines in zig-zag created by a combination of light and shadow.
Photo by © Prakash Ghai
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If you carefully see the picture. It is divided in to three rows. I call them the three stages of mind development. 

Stage 1: 0-10 years (Infant Stage)
Stage 2: 11-60 years (Adult Stage)
Stage 3: 61 to "n" years (Deterioration Stage)

I am no psychologist nor I have read much about it. The inference that I have drawn is purely from my own experience and what I have observed, read or felt. There is no first hand experiment or research conducted and since I am an artist I like drawing conclusions from photos. 

Well, in the first stage or the Infant stage, the mind is relatively less developed, rather its flat and stable and that here is represented by the small vertical line created by the light and shadow differential on bottom left in the first row.

The second stage is the Adult Stage or 11-60 years and it is the longest. Here the mind keeps learning new things by each passing day and this goes on relentlessly until the age of roughly 60 years. I have used the diagonal line which starts from the intersection point of the first and second row on the left and moves one way to the right until it kisses the third row on top without any blips to represent the adult phase. This is the phase where the mind learns the most.

When diagonal line hits the third row or the "Stage of Deterioration" of the mind, it starts moving in the opposite direction signalling that the mind has now lost its power to learn new things. It has started to unlearn and become forgetful. 

Composition


To compose this I just had to focus on my neighbor's wall at about 3 pm in the afternoon and then punch in the right exposure and aperture settings. I love shooting yellow and to give my picture that extra yellow boost I used the "Daylight" setting as the White Balance on my camera.  To add to the image and make it pop I darkened the shadows in an editing software. Placement of  my core subject i.e the lines created by the light and shadow combination was a little tricky. Also the rule of thirds was hard to apply. I cannot explain how I applied it but it is quite evident from the Minimalist Picture

I hope you enjoyed the shot and the fictional psychology. Art is all about interpretations and I love going crazy with that sometimes. Today is one such day. Do leave your feedback and questions if any. Thank you. I wish you all a great Day/Evening. 

Different Therefore Cornered

Minimalism as Less Elements


A Minimalist Photo of a red leaf at Smriti Van, Jaipur.
Photo by © Prakash Ghai
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Take a different stand or opinion and you shall be cornered quickly. Now-a-days there are very few people who respect "difference of opinion" or the uniqueness of people. Suppose you choose a career that is not very popular like, enrolling for a fine art course or sculpting rather than business management or finance or science, people start viewing you differently. Some may even stop hanging out with you. Behind your back they will tell to others that something is seriously wrong with you, and that you are not a normal person. Well, I fail to understand how does if matter that you choose what. Even for me, whether I choose to do Minimalist photography knowing the fact of it being non-mainstream and I wont be able to make premium dollars for it, or I do wedding or product photography its completely my choice.  Why do people get bothered?. People are diseased with "crowd-behavior" and they want others to do the same. Why do they forget that at some point even the most popular genres of work were not so popular and it took a group of few individuals who believed in these genres and made them popular.

Composition


Coming back to the shot, I found this beautiful red leaf at Smriti Van Jaipur. The photo-walk was organized by the local Instagramers Jaipur team and me being a power user decided to attend it. Quite a few of my work is listed on Instagram and you can follow me there via my Id: @prakashghai

I have taken many leaf photos earlier but this one was special as the leaf was red in color. How could I not make a minimal composition with that, is what I told myself. I wanted the focus purely on the leaf and therefore I placed the leaf on extreme top right, making the shot fall under the Minimalism Category: Minimalism as Less Elements. I chopped off most part of the distracting blue fence. It was spoiling the color palette and was making my shot look more maximally minimal in nature rather than minimally minimal. I used leading lines in reverse this time, beginning from the left of the frame and broadening as they approached the leaf and hence pointing at the subject.

The Lucky Shirt

Minimalism as Less Elements


A Minimalist Photo of a Lucky green shirt drying on a clotheslines in India
Photo By © Prakash Ghai
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Anil was a small construction contractor working in Jaipur and he had about 20 day laborers working under him. This green shirt was his favorite and it was not just for its color. Whenever he used to go out on field for negotiating a new construction contract wearing this shirt, he used to bag that contract.  Yes, he was very superstitious and this became his "Lucky Shirt". This kept on going for about 15 years. He had just turned 44 and on his birthday he got a call for a very big contract. It was about 20 times the size of the regular contracts he used to receive. This was his make or break moment. He promised his wife and two children that after successful completion of this contract he shall buy a new house for the family and also a nice new four-wheeler. As usual, he got dressed in his Lucky Green Shirt and headed for work. On his way, something terrible happened. Anil met with a very serious accident. A stranger rushed him to the hospital. He had suffered from serious head injuries. By the time the doctors started the treatment, Anil had already passed away. That stranger who brought him to the hospital completely broke down and with his shivering hands he took out Anil's cell phone from his pants. It was time to pass on the bad news. He made a call to the last dialed number on the list and it turned out to be Anil's wife Sunita. She could not believe her ears, she was certain that such a thing could not happen with Anil as he was wearing his lucky green shirt. She rushed to the hospital, but to her vain all that she found after reaching the hospital was her husband's dead body.
Was Anil's shirt really lucky or were these merely a series of coincidences? Do we learn anything from the story or Whatever happens just happens? To be or not to be "Superstitious" that is the question.
 (PS: this is a fictional story)

Composition


I spotted this shirt drying on the footpath next to a busy street, where some nomads lived. They only had a plastic tent to cover their heads. I loved the color palette and therefore decided to go as close as possible to the subject and carve out a frame. I loved the partially un-dry nature of the shirt with water accumulating down its sleeve, forming a nice light to dark gradation of greens. I let the metal clothesline run diagonally across the frame beginning from top left, and let everything else fall in place.  Negative space was not an issue and I also did not want too much of it, as I wanted the shirt to have more attention. The texture of the wall particularly interested me and that is the key highlight here. And there you have it. A Minimalist Photo of a Green Shirt. :)


Other Minimalist Photos using Clothesline as a Subject:

 

If Tomorrow Never Comes

Minimalism as Less Elements


A black and white Minimalist Photo of a window at a building under construction being illuminated by the light coming from outside.
Photo By © Prakash Ghai
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Each day I sit next to the window thinking about you, dreaming that one day we will be together. I tell myself to be patient and let nature do its job. But sometimes I am very fearful. I know that we are destined to be together, but what if "If Tomorrow never comes?.

Last Sunday, I was sitting idle at home relaxing and thinking where to go for a photo-walk. I ran out of options and was very reluctant to go the places I had been before. It is 15th June 2015 as I write, and on 3rd of June "Jaipur Metro", the new Public Transport service via Train was inaugurated in Jaipur. The train station is a mere 100 feet away from my house, so I thought it would be a nice idea to go there and shoot the new building and its creative architecture. I had planned to shoot that very popular "Still man, moving train" street photography shot which I had been longing for. I entered the placed and asked the security guard if photography was allowed. I was expecting a positive answer from him, but he replied that "photography is only allowed for those who have official written permission from the operations head". I was very disappointed. None of the public places in Jaipur allow photography (apart from the heritage tourist places) and I happen to miss a lot of quality street shots for that reason. I have seen many of my international photographer friends on Facebook post very good street shots taken at public places. I thought why not try taking permission, so I went to the inquiry counter and asked for the operations head, but he was not at his desk, I told myself, "forget it". And I decided to leave the train station.

While I was on may way out I saw a staircase which was under construction. I took that staircase and that lead me to this dark big hall with only a window letting in some light. I felt a little better as I knew I had my Minimalist frame right in front of my eyes. To compose, I placed the window on the right and the slanting rays of light running across, just under it. During editing, I enhanced the highlights and darkened the shadows.