2013 Deck – Week 04

On some photo-walks you just never know what you’ll come away with.  We were walking around the area near Parliament Buildings and Big Market (Stabroek Market), when we noticed this building.

It was aging, had a nice muted colour (due to faded paint by the harsh sun), and the paint was peeling.  If only I had caught someone leaning on the building!  But I still think it’s a nice shot, even without the person leaning on it  🙂

Click on the image to see in the Gallery.

2012 Deck – Week 47

Last night (Friday 14th December 2012) I stood alongside two friends and fellow photographers, on a stage populated by artists, art-lovers and art patrons, among Giants in the Guyanese art-sphere who are masters in Painting, Sculpture, Drawing, Crafts, and I felt exalted and elated.

I am not a painter, nor a sculptor, I cannot draw nor mould, but this year the Guyana Visual Arts Competition and Exhibition committee included Photography as an art form, the first time in Guyana.  I was given the Bronze Medal, for third place in the Photography category, and was excited that my long time friend and photo-buddy, Nikhil, won the Gold, and his wife, Sharon copped the Silver.

I was thrilled to be included as a prize-winner, but even more astounded that I was chosen from what is reportedly a heavily contested segment, especially knowing that many other members of the Guyana Photographer’s Facebook group also entered amazing pieces.

To me, winning the Bronze was a giant step, but being among the first Photographers to be so honoured in Guyana is even more special.  To have our work judged meritorious is always gratifying, to have them judged by “Artists”; sculptors and Painters, Curators and Critics, and not by photographers is validation of Photography as Art in Guyana.

This is but a “drop in the bucket”, I look forward to the works of fellow photographers, fellow artists, as the future Competitions promise to be even better.

This brings me to my photo for the Deck Project for Week 47 of this year, “A Ripple in the Fabric”, I say to other Photogs, to other Artists, to all Guyanese who love art, “Look to the future, for this ripple in the fabric of the Guyanese art-world will not subside, but grow and change the way we Guyanese see Photography”

A Ripple in the Fabric

I don’t normally try Cyanotype processing, but I thought that this image looked better with a tinge of blue  🙂  I could be wrong….  Click on the image above to see it in the Gallery!

Variety and Diversity

I processed this photo yesterday after having the pixels just sit there for a year, and I wondered at the diversity of materials used in the construction and the “architecture”.  This morning I caught a snippet of Jon Stewart on the Daily Show speaking about the Diversity in the Democratic Party (funny stuff!), and I wondered at the coincidence of my thoughts on a building and his thoughts on a political party.

Growing up in Guyana, I never felt “race” play a part in my life until in my teens, before that it was always that we were different people, individually, not as a “class” or a “race”.  What happened when I was a teenager?  I learnt about politics and the struggles of the main political parties vying for power and each using the “race” card for their own ends regardless of what it did to the youth and the future of the country.

You can build a house entirely out of wood, you can build it entirely out of concrete, you can build it out of any one substance you feel like, it may or may not stand up to the elements (just imagine a real Gingerbread house in the rainforest! And no offence to the Igloos of the arctic and antarctic), but I’ve found that a good architect/contractor can take a variety of materials and produce not just a shelter from the rain, but a thing of beauty to “live” in, just as a good leader can make the best of the talents, varying and diverse, of the people who place their trust in him.

Click on the Image above for a better view in the Gallery, along with other images in the “Out and About” collection.

2011 Deck – Week 27

In the last post I mentioned that I was thinking about the past and the future, and this post was to be the photo about the “future” I was thinking about.

I recently spent a very packed week doing some “sports” photography, something that I don’t do.  I was volunteered to assist with the photography of the Junior CASA (Caribbean Area Squash Association) Squash Tournament.  Squash is an indoor game, played on a “closed” court, and in Guyana, there is very little area available for viewing, much less photographing the game.  The lighting on the courts is not exactly geared towards photography either, the courts are lit by flourescent lights (some more than others), three of them have glass backs, but the reflection in the glass are an obstacle by themselves!

I took photos in each of the five courts, two of them I had to shoot through the glass, no choice, two others have no glass wall, and I had to shoot from the spectator area above the back of the court, and the last court I shot through the glass, from the spectator area at the back of the court, and from windows high on the side of the court.

For simplicity I used the smallest lens I had, the 18-55mm, and since none pf my lens are particularly fast, it didn’t matter too much, I had to play a lot with ISO and shutter speeds  🙂

The photo I chose to use from that week is of one of the first round games of the tournament, as photos go, it’s not spectacular, but it shows the angle from which I was taking photos (up at the window), some athleticism demonstrated by the players, a small piece of the glass back-wall to the far left; it was taken at ISO800, with an aperture of f/5.0 and a shutter speed of 1/320.  During the afternoon I actually got up to those speeds, but as the time passed 5pm the light changed and getting any shutter speeds in the 1/200 vicinity was lucky  🙂

It was a learning experience, hours on hours shooting, hours and hours sorting the photos looking for acceptable ones, playing with camera settings just to get the shutter speed up!  The full gallery of photos from the tournament is at their home page, there are contributions from at least three photographers (all amateur) including myself.

I guess what made me think of the future for this photo, was that it was a Junior Tournament, so maybe some future great squash players, and for some of them (the players in the Under 19 category, like these two) it is their last year as Juniors, their future in Squash is with the Seniors.

Deje and Korin

A Touch of Colour

I often remark to Nikhil that he should start a collection called “A Touch of Colour”, or in his case “A Touch of Red”.  He usually finds these scenes where there is one item of colour, usually red, that stands out in his compositions 🙂

While processing these two images I remembered what I so frequently tell him and decided to title this blog-post with this same concept.

The first image is an image that has been selectively desaturated to emphasize the Red, the processing is unusual for me but I rather liked how it turned out this time.


Red Cap - selective desaturation

The second image was not treated in the same way, it was of some gaily coloured flowers against an old almost colourless background, I went close with my zoom lens and worked to get some nice bokeh from the background.



The Deck – Week 50

After three successive monochrome postings for the Deck project, I decided this week, that regardless of what the weather was like I wanted a coloured image,and I finally got something in keeping with the season, Demerara Mutual Insurance company lit up their building very nicely, and I took a few images at night to try and capture the spirit  🙂

Here’s the resulting image.  Demerara Mutual has it’s main office on Avenue of the Republic in Central Georgetown, to the right of the photo, you can even see a portion of City Hall.


Demerara Mutual - Christmas 2010

The Bar-B-Que

In Guyana, a Bar-b-que (or barbeque) is about smoked and grilled chicken over hot coals, Chicken, not pork or beef, Chicken!  If there are slices of beef or some pork-chops on the grill, they are incidental to us, we are all about the Chicken.  And now that we’ve come out of the dark ages, we can also have those store-bought sausages added for the extra novelty.

The Bar-b-que is also about that smoky flavour and the burnt edges, it’s about the rich basting sauce that is unsparingly applied, and it’s about the conversation around the pit/grill, conversation that could be about anything or nothing.

I am not a Bar-b-que man, I am probably more of a Burn-B-Que chap, but then I am usually in agreement with the old Guyanese adage that “when it bun, it done”.  Whenever I can learn a little bit more about the whole Bar-B-Que process (without putting myself to too much trouble, that is) I like to be able to say that I picked up a little bit from a master.  This weekend I was a a Bar-b-que at Nikhil‘s house, where we were “christening” his new Bar-b-que pit.  Before Nik actually built the pit we had lengthy discussions about the “ideal” Bar-b-que pit, and there were lots of ideas floating around, from an oven/pit combination to what he has now, which is very similar to the one in my yard, except he used some nice clay bricks, from a distance it may look like a wishing well, you can toss coins in if you like, just not when we’re barbecuing.  We were quite surprised when we saw it, but according to him, it’s not his fault, he gave very clear instructions to the builders, all of which they ignored, so, the grill and the pit itself needs some work  🙂

Learning from the master. The head honcho and chief cook was Naseem, he knows more about food than I’ll ever know, both about eating it and preparing it, and likely about its History too.  Something I learnt about Bar-b-queing this weekend was Naseem method of firing the coals. I have never seen it done his way and although I found it unorthodox, I thought it quite intriguing.

Firstly – the wood.  The quantities I put here are for cooking roughly forty pieces of chicken (leg & thigh, and wing & breast pieces).  What you need is this (you can probably substitute, but I’ll go with the Master) four to six pieces of greenheart wood, roughly eighteen inches by  four inches by half an inch.  I would be remiss to mention the proper nomenclature here or my old Biology teacher would be offended, greenheart is called Chlorocardium rodeii, and is one of the premium woods found in the Guianas.  The other wood used is what we typically call “roundwood”, no one can as yet inform me of its specie name, but I’ve been reliably informed that the roundwood crosses species, it’s a wild wood that grows fairly straight and is about two to three inches in diameter.  It is used in local construction for making T-shores (and I’ve also been told it’s used in cremations), we use three to four pieces of this, roughly five feet long.

The greenheart, you chop into long slivers; the roundwood, you cut into half the length then split each piece down the middle, and you put these into a teepee style arrangement, just like a campfire I suppose.  Next, a good dose of gasoline, and some matches.  Once lit, you can make sure the outer edges catch by using some wadded up newspaper.  Once this is burning nicely you put the grill back on top.  This is the interesting part, we didn’t put the coals on top the wood as I normally see done, we put the coals on the grill!  That’s right, on the grill, as if we’re cooking them.  Thank goodness Nik had two grills.

At this point, the Naseem method calls for Naseem to get away to the house, and instruct people who have no idea what his plan is to “get the coals hot and dig a hole in the middle and spread them around.  So we basically we just ignore all those instructions, we fire the coals on top the grill and when they’re nice and hot, all red underneath, we empty the grill onto the fire below and spread them around til it looks nice and even.

Very nice method, and then after adding a few more coals to it, we put the new grill on and prepare the grill for the chicken and everything proceeds as normal from there.  It’s at this point in the Naseem method that he reappears and has new instruction for some able-bodied men to go get the chicken and the sauce.

Firing the coals on the grill, that one is new to me, but most effective  🙂  Now let’s see, I think I have to learn the preparation of the chicken… or I’ll just have Nas do that every time.