Mave On The Move Week 29

David M. Byrne

Well-Known Member
Hello once again,

At the start of this week, shortly after leaving the relative quiet of the beach, I was standing on the side of the road outside a bus station in southern Kerala, India. It was, in a word, bedlam: people, countless numbers of people, going this way & that; traffic (auto rickshaws, cars, buses, oxen-pulled carts, mopeds, bicycles) all somehow avoiding each other on the same stretch of inadequate road; food stalls cooking the next meal; cows on a slow meander; beggars lying in the gutter or standing with their hands out; traders boisterously advertising their wares. It was a mealy of overbearing sights, sounds and smells. It was typical India.

This is my third time to the country so its overbearingness isn't a total surprise. But this is my first time here with the intentions of photographing the country & standing there on the side of the road I found myself questioning as to how I was going to sufficiently capture the scene all around me. I quickly came to the realisation that I wasn't going to be able to (can anyone?). I felt lost & I didn't know what approach I was going to take to photographing this country. I decided to not worry too much about it, do my thing & see what happens. One week on from that day and it seems that people are dominating my pictures thus far. That doesn't really surprise me; with 1.2 billion colourful people, almost one-fifth of the world’s population, you’re never too far from an Indian or, as is typical, many, many Indians. I mentioned earlier this week in one of my travel updates that I’d been hankering for something other than people to photograph so I have tried to mix it up: in the past week I've tried without success - & from two different locations - to visit the Kerala backwaters; & I visited Mysore primarily to see its gaudy, over-the-top palace… only be prohibited from photographing it. No doubt over the coming weeks I’ll photograph a monument or two, a sunset, a river, a train etc. Everyday stuff. There I say mundane stuff. But I’m guessing even when I do I’ll have people in the image as well. For now however here are 10, yes 10, of my favourite people-dominated captures from this past week, week 29, days 196-201 of the trip.

Picture 130, Day 196 – Alleyway, Alleppey, Kerala, India. September 17th 2012

My first post-beach stop was a town called Kollam. Further north again is Alleppey, the so-called Venice of India, a title Venice, itself a little rundown (but in a good way), hardly deserves. I came here, and to Kollam before it, in the hopes of visiting the Kerala backwaters, the spindly network of rivers, canals & lagoons that are the ‘emerald jewel in South India’s crown’ (so says Lonely Planet). That proved a task too far so I found myself passing through both towns fairly quickly en route to Cochin further north again (see the following pictures). But before I left both locations I made sure to take my camera out on to the streets, with the above picture one of my favourite captures.

Picture 131, Day 197 – Barrels, Forth Cochin, Kerala, India. September 18th 2012

I spent a few days this past week in historic Fort Cochin. I feel it’s a place that finally gave me something to photograph. Something other than people that is. It’s a place steeped in history, having been a spice trade centre for over 3,000 years & the first place in India where European colonization took root. In many places it remains a living homage to its varied colonial past. In any given century this region teemed with traders from around the world – Arabs, Romans, Moors, Chinese and the aforementioned Europeans, among others. The stories they brought home, of street bazaars overflowing with spices, silk and gold, made the Kerala coast world-famous. Cochin is no longer an international trading post but the air remains thick with history and the smells of cardamom, pepper and ginger for sale in the spice shops. Trading still goes on as it did centuries ago, particularly by the busy waterfront spice warehouses on Bazaar Road where I took the above picture of a well-loaded barrel transporter.

Picture 132, Day 197 – Waves & Smiles, Fort Cochin, Kerala, India. September 18th 2012

The kids of Fort Cochin were always eager to smile, especially these kids in an auto rickshaw/tut-tuk on the way home from school.

Picture 133, Day 197 – One Man Cast, Forth Cochin, Kerala, India. September 18th 2012

As it turned out there was plenty to photograph in Cochin with the undoubted pictorial highlight being the unofficial emblem of the Kerala coast, the massive cantilevered Chinese fishing nets that dot the northern tip of Fort Cochin. A legacy of Chinese traders from around 1400, these enormous, spider-like contraptions require the mussel of at least 4 grown men to operate the counterweights. These days’ modern fishing techniques are rendering the nets less profitable but that does nothing to diminish their picturesqueness, especially at sunset. I took this picture from under the wooden structure of one of the massive nets as a local fisherman cast his slightly smaller net.

Picture 134, Day 198 – One Up, One Down, Forth Cochin, Kerala, India. September 19th 2012

A simple, colourful picture of traders on the tip of Fort Cochin.

Picture 135, Day 198 – Chinese Fishing Nets at Sunset, Forth Cochin, Kerala, India. September 19th 2012

One final picture of a section of the Chinese fishing nets at sunset.

Link: You can see more pictures from my time in Cochin as uploaded to [URL=""]the Fort Cochin entry of my photography blog

Picture 136, Day 199 – Hand. Forth Cochin, Kerala, India. September 20th 2012

I was waiting for the ferry to leave Cochin on day 199 of the trip when I noticed the setting sun casting nice, soft light & shadows on the hand of an elderly lady across from me. It was one of those ‘umm, that would photograph well… but my camera is out of commission in my bag’ moments (my gear is always well stashed when moving from place to place with all & sundry, about the only time I’m not at the ready to capture pictures). What ensued was a game of will I, won’t. She won, keeping her hand there long enough to entice me to take out my camera & attach my 70-300mm lens. A few seconds later I had the following picture, one I like a lot.

Picture 137, Day 200 – On the streets of Mysore, Karnataka, India. September 21st 2012

Having left Cochin, & Kerala, I have spent the last two days, days 200 & 201 of the trip, in Mysore in the southern state of Karnataka. The city was a dynastic seat of power right up until Indian independence from the British in 1947 & I came here primarily to see its magnificence palace. I saw it - the palace - but my camera wasn't allowed to. So I ended week 29 of the trip just as I started it – out on the streets taking pictures with the above image one of my favourite captures. This was captured with my 30mm f/1.4 Sigma prime, a lens I’m still getting to grips with having only recently added it to the bag. When things click with this lens they really click (the full resolution image of this picture is stunningly sharp) but it easily provides me with the largest percentage of throwaways of any of my lenses.

Picture 138, Day 200 – Bustling Devaraja Market, Mysore, Karnataka, India. September 21st 2012

The photographic highlight of Mysore was without doubt the Devaraja Market. My guidebook wasn't wrong when it claimed it as ‘one of India’s most colourful & lively bazaars’. I had a lot of fun in here with my camera but at times felt overwhelmed; this place provided one hell of an assault on the senses. I took many pictures here & I feel this picture does a good job of conveying the colour & bustle of the place.

Picture 139, Day 200 – Man & Shadow, mark ii. Mysore, Karnataka, India. September 21st 2012

One of my very favourite travel pictures captured over the years is an overhead picture of a man & his shadow walking on the streets of Annam, Jordan. I took it from the balcony of my hotel room overlooking a main street in downtown Annam. I love it and its simplicity and whenever I find myself in a similar elevated position, like I did yesterday here in Mysore, I’m reminded of that picture. This picture is eerily similar to that mid-2008 picture from Jordan which is probably why I like it so much. It’s Man & Shadow mark ii.

Link: You can see some of the pictures as displayed in this entry, & many more besides, as uploaded to the The People Of India entry of my photography blog, an entry I will be adding to as a I continue to travel around the country.

What/Where Is Next?
It looks like week 3 in India will be spent taking in the ruins of Hampi & visiting the beaches of Goa, back on the Arabian Sea. Hampi was always on the itinerary, Goa wasn't & train travel logistics means we’ll be spending a few days there to end week 30 of Mave ON The Move. So ruins & beaches to come in the next entry. Oh, & people of course.

dMb Travel
Don’t forget you can keep up to date with my trip on the dedicated travel page of my photography blog, a page I set up to specifically chronicle this trip.

Until next time. I hope you enjoyed this latest instalment and of course I hope you’re enjoying the series overall. Any comments, critiquing or feedback would be much appreciated.

Regards from India.

David M
Wow, what a great set David. I like them all but the first is probably my favourite - what a great idea to shoot from the neck down as it were, it really helps with the impression of the anonymity that such large number of people can engender. I also really like the calmness of the shot of the two ladies with the child.
Wow indeed, this is easily the best set so far I think ... Really stunning work!
i have to admit to only skimming, Ill read properly later ... The pictures though really stand out this week!!!
Yeah, I do like this set myself so I probably agree with you, Hamish. Picking 'only' 10 pics wasn't easy, I tell ya!

And thanks Pete for your reading of that 1st pic. Interesting how you interpreted it; I always like reading your comments.