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A Pottery Assembly Line

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I recently posted about a pottery village I visited on the outskirts of Delhi, India. In this village, most of the pottery for the city and elsewhere was made. We got to see a number of potters working. They go so fast! At one stop (pictured above), one worker started with the lump of clay and got the base made and then passed it on to the next potter who did the upper half work on it. It was a fast assembly line. They worked in a very small, dark room, surrounded by clay and lit only by the light coming in the doors.

We also got to try our hand at the potter’s wheel and it was a good thing we had help! Clay went flying, pots got misshapen and none of them turned out high quality. It was fun though.

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A Pottery Village in Delhi

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In February 2015, I arranged a tour of a pottery village for members of a group I belonged to in Delhi, India. On the outskirts of the city, people made most of the pottery for the city. Older workers passed down their skills to the younger generations.

Here is an excerpt from my journal of the the tour:

“So five of us headed off to western Delhi to explore the largest pottery village in Asia. There are 750 families living in the village if I remember my numbers correctly and all of them make pottery. 15% are decorative or “fun” pottery items and 85% are more traditional or practical items. At Diwali, each family makes thousands of diyas—the small, shallow clay candle holders.

All the pottery I have seen sold around Delhi comes from this village it turns out. They sell it wholesale to vendors who then sell it in markets and on street corners to anyone needing pots. We were allowed to buy directly from the families we saw working and I bought a few teeny tiny vases, just big enough for one bud. They were adorable….

…The tour included stops at a number of potters’ homes. One made the tiny vases I bought. Another was a larger family who made tons of pots, some of which they painted black. Most of the pots are not painted or glazed, but a few families do paint them. One stop was a potters’ cooperative where a group came together to work. Each family in the village has their own kiln and only runs it when it is full. This makes turn around time a bit slower. Our guide mentioned that if families shared kilns and all worked to fill the same kiln, they’d have faster production times…”

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Finding good shots in “bad” spots

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I don’t normally post pictures of my kids on the blog seeing as my focus is travel photography. However, this shot illustrates a good point so I figured I’d roll with it.

Often when traveling, or taking photos in general, you either find a great scene that’s “ruined” by something (big trash can in the middle, wires going this way and that, too many people, etc) or you have a picture in your mind and can’t find the right scene for it. How can you make a subpar picture great?

For the above shot, I knew I wanted a fall photo of my daughter with the colorful trees. But it needed to be in a safe spot for a 3 year old to run around (the ideal scene I found was right by a busy road and wouldn’t work with a child) and the tree needed to be low enough for her to reach. We took a walk around the neighborhood and I finally found the right tree. I zoomed all the way in to blur the background some (made the house harder to see) and to naturally crop out an old fence, the paved walking path, and some electrical boxes. Then I laid down on my stomach so that she’d fill the frame and it wouldn’t look like I shot down on her. It also allowed me to get the pretty leaves on the ground.

How does this translate to travel photography?

If you want to eliminate something in the background, try zooming all the way in. This helps blur out what’s in the back and makes it less obvious.

If zooming doesn’t work, try a short depth of field (set your f-stop to a really low number). This also blurs the background.

Try lying down, crouching, or climbing on top of something to get a different angle. Be safe, though! You might be able to eliminate the problem items.

Try shooting only part of a scene, building or landscape. If you can’t get a decent shot of the whole cathedral because of renovation work or the crowds of people, try for zooming in to just the bell tower or even just a gargoyle. Give a taste of the whole.

If you can, think about time of day. The best light according to most photographers is the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. Of course, you can get great photos other times, but the lighting is very flattering those times. The above shot was about 1.5 hrs before sunset and gave a special glow.

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Civil War Reenactment in VA

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This weekend we went to a Civil War reenactment at the Sully Historic Site near Dulles Airport in Virginia. Sully hosts a number of historical events throughout the year, but the Civil War one is a favorite. Volunteer reenactors showed up representing both the Confederacy and the Union. Along with infantry (pictured) and cavalry, there were also some medical people, plus women representing the one-roomed school house on the property and showing off clothing of the period.

For those outside the US, the Civil War took place between 1861 and 1865 and was roughly between the North (Union) and the South (Confederacy). It was very bloody and emotional and different people fought for different reasons, though state rights, a difference in political opinions, and slavery all played roles. Abraham Lincoln was present at the time.

Look at what they are wearing. Heat Index yesterday was easily 100 degrees F (37 C). Now picture wearing that marching during the war where heat index could easily be even higher (especially when you went farther south). Whew!

Soldier at Grand Palace, Bangkok

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The Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand served as the royal family’s home from the late 1700s to early 1900s. While the royal family currently lives elsewhere, it still hosts official events, plus swarms of tourists. The King’s Guard is part of the Royal Thai Armed Forces and performs ceremonial duties, protects the palace and protects the King and his family. We saw them marching when we visited the palace.

The Grand Palace is worth a visit. It has a lot of gold, which makes it very beautiful!

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“Ek Photo”

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While in Delhi, I went with a group to visit a pottery village on the outskirts of the city. These families have made pottery for generations and supply much of the pottery needs for the whole city. Many of the children were fascinated with us and followed us around demanding photos. This boy kept going “ek photo! ek photo!” “Ek” in Hindi means one. He wanted me to take his photo and then show it to him on my camera screen.

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The Lime Soda Walla

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“Walla” in Hindi has many meanings, but in this case it refers to the occupation or what one does. So a lime soda walla makes lime soda, a taxi walla would drive a taxi, the garbage walla picks up your trash, etc. Lime soda wallas are as common as chai wallas (aka tea sellers) as you walk around Delhi. This man was set up at a wholesale flower market on the outskirts of Delhi early one morning. You can always recognize them from the piles of lemons on his cart.