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Woman in a red sari

Hunter or Fisherman?

It’s sometimes been said that photographers tend to belong in one of two camps, there are “hunters” and then there are “fishermen”. Hunters go out actively looking for photo opportunities, “stalking their prey” if you will, whilst fishermen find a location that appears to hold some prospects and “lie in wait” for their prey to happen along. It’s an interesting analogy and I’m not sure that I belong definitively in one camp or the other, however today’s image is one for the fisherman!

Taken during my trip to India earlier this year, it was late afternoon and I was on board a long distance train, sitting next to a window and contemplating the long overnight journey ahead. Whilst waiting for the last few passengers to board and for the train to get underway, I looked out the grimy, foggy window and wondered how the window might make an interesting “frame” for a photograph. The window was double glazed with a crack in one of the glass layers meaning that moisture had got between the layers and formed condensation on the inner surfaces. At this point, perhaps unusually, I was grateful to the Indian Railways for not repairing or cleaning the window as the condensation over a period of time had led to the formation of mildew and staining.

Woman in red sari
Woman in red sari

Canon 5D Mark 2 with 24-105mm zoom lens at 24mm and F5.0, shutter speed 1/80 second at ISO 3200.

Vignette Courtesy of Indian Railways.

One form of presentation of my images that I often like,  is to use a subtle vignette with the edges of the frame slightly darkened whilst leaving the central area of interest lighter in tone.  Further I like to take the vignette idea a step further by selectively sharpening the central area and selectively blurring the edges as well.   In this instance I used no sharpening nor blurring,  that dirty window which,  as luck would have it,  was slightly cleaner in the centre,  provided my vignette.    Thanks Indian Railways,  sometimes a lack of maintenance can actually be a good thing!

The “Fisherman” casts his line.

The frame and the vignette don’t amount to much if the content of the image isn’t interesting.    I noticed the lines that were formed within my frame and liked them.   The stairs on the far side of the railway platform came down in a zig zag pattern and have their parallel in the stairway roof,  another set of stairs led into the frame from the left edge.   Nice graphic elements but now I wanted a human element to complete the image.

As the evening drew closer,  light levels were dropping and ISO went out to 3200.    I switched off auto focus and set manual focus on a point on the railway platform where it was most likely my “human element” would appear.    I took several shots as the scene changed.    A dog sauntered by…a man with a suitcase…a young woman with a bag on her shoulder which concealed her head.    None of those shots worked for me.    To continue the fishing analogy,  they were small fish that got thrown back.  As I waited,  I kept thinking and wishing,  the Indian women wear some wonderfully colourful saris,  what I really needed right now was for one of those women to walk through my frame for me.

I guess one of the attributes of a good fisherman is patience and my patience was about to be rewarded.   Out the corner of my eye I observed something red approaching from stage left.    I framed my shot and tried to capture her as she was “mid stride”, a dynamic posture.    This was the “fish” that I’d hoped for.    On later inspection of the image I realized that maybe I was luckier than I originally thought,  in the background a man was walking along the stairway and is also caught mid stride,  a distant parallel to my “woman in a red sari”.