Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Book release

Secret Lives is available right now only at the IISc Archives and Publications cell (Old TIFR building next to ECE), I'll let you know as soon as it gets available elsewhere.

The book will be released on the 13th of December at the IISc centenary conference (I have this vision of books fluttering away from me.) It will be available at the conference, and then at Tata book house, the campus book store (from where you should be able to order it). I'm currently working on getting to other stores as well. Also eventually the IISc alumni cell will set up to do ship orders as well. We'll see how it all goes and will keep you updated and linked as soon as it happens.

It's gonna cost INR 1500, about (30USD,23 EU, 20GBP ), 20% off at the conference. I'll probably hang around a bit to smile benevolently at my babies and coax you into buying a copy. See you there!

PS: Sorry I've been busy and tired and really haven't had much to say photographically recently. Life intrudes. And I haven't been shooting much, which is what used to set my posting rhythms. But I will do my best to return soon. Until then!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Further book stories: Pragati printers

I'd love to do a longer post, but I simply do not have the time. The extremely short version is I went to Pragati press is Hyderabad to start the printing process. These guys know what they are doing, they are good at it and extremely professional and great to work with. They have a great reputation and I can see why. I would recommend them very very strongly to anyone wanting to get anything printed in India. And if the prices are competitive, think about them even if you are not in India!

The print isn't done, but the proofing is mostly done. Colour corrections, etc through. Print when the payment gets made. Which might take some time, since IISc needs to go through the entire bureaucratic process.

Here are just a few shots from the proofs, which were gorgeous!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Secret Lives, the book

I've pulled up and put upfront one of my old book posts since many of you are going to be arriving here from the various sources that have been talking about my forthcoming book. (Many thanks to everyone who linked here!) There's also an older post that this one links to, do have a look. Especially on the book structure.

And as a bonus, at the end of the post, the current working cover...(umm, all those who voted, please don't kill me!)

Somewhere along the line, I felt that I had to do something with the huge collection of photographs I had racked up with my obsessive shooting. I'd met someone who had been a photographer once, stopped, moved here from another country, was working software. And was nonetheless planning and pulling off a book on the Kaveri.

A seed for a book was planted. Shooting got focussed and was ratcheted up a fair bit. Then I pulled together what I thought was a decent structure for it, first the chapters and their scope. Then I tried the first tentative layout, showed it around, got my fair share of gentle criticism, redid it a few times before settling on a structure. I wrote and laid out two entire chapters. And then the truly hard part began.

I had to find someone to publish it. The book was going to be about the biodiversity in IISc. So the obvious choice was to take it to IISc, especially since the centenary years around the bend. So began a long process of negotiation. In many ways, very difficult and exhausting, made so partly by my own inexperience and partly by just how things are this end of the world. I had a lot of help and thanks to the folks who helped me along each of the steps of my own negotiation. It made photography look easy and I truly admire people who do this for a living!

The good news is that the negotiation is done!. We've decided on terms, a schedule for meeting them and things have begun to move. Chapters have been submitted and hopefully have gone out for review. (We're scientists, we believe in review. I, for one, am quite grateful for the once over.) All things should be finished sometime middle of this year. Ladies and gentlemen, I have a book on the way!

That there on the top is the current cover, it's changed, and it can again. If you have a favorite that you absolutely think should be the one on the cover, lemme know. May the wisdom of the crowds prevail!

Little more info on book structure here. Sneak peek of opening pages here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Book dummy no. 1

Sorry I guess you've been waiting and wondering what I've been upto. So I thought you should have a look at it. That's the first book dummy. The first full print out I taken of the book!

And it has been covered in correction post-its over the next two days. Tonnes of them. It's so much easier to catch mistakes in hard-copy than on a computer screen. But I will never catch them all. I despair! The book goes to the printer by the 1st!

Friday, September 19, 2008

M.I.L.K.: the photo competition

This sounds like a really nice competition for those of you that might be humanistic photographers. Not least because they have truly fair terms and because its less a competeition more a recruitment of photographers for a book with the added benefit of award money.

Link to competition website


In 1999, British publisher Hodder Headline (now Hachette Livre) held a global photographic competition called M.I.L.K. (Moments of Intimacy, Laughter and Kinship). Inspired by the 1950s landmark photographic exhibition, 'The Family of Man', M.I.L.K. began as an epic global search to find unique and geographically diverse images on the themes of friendship, family and love. It was not only the richest in photographic history, but also one of the most significant, drawing participation from 17,000 professional and amateur photographers in 164 countries. In total over 40,000 images were received by M.I.L.K., including at least four Pulitzer Prize winners. The 300 winning images were chosen by the Chief Judge, Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt, and were the basis for three books entitled Family, Friendship and Love and an international touring exhibition launched at New York's Grand Central Terminal in 2001.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the original M.I.L.K. competition, M.I.L.K. Licensing (now a subsidiary of PQ Blackwell), again in association with Elliott Erwitt, is conducting a new competition founded on the themes of friends, families, lovers and laughter to create a new collection of 150 images. The 150 winning images will be published in a new book entitled Fresh M.I.L.K.: Friends, Families, Lovers & Laughter in Fall 2009, and on selected licensed products.

Link to competition website

Monday, September 15, 2008

Eyecandy number N

My blogging schedule seems to follow my shooting schedule. And my life's heated up since I came back. The book is breathing down my neck, MS writing and post-doc fellowships and other assorted things-to-do. Some might say I got a life finally! :)

At any rate, shooting is slow to non-existent, and I went today after a long while and this is from today's shoot. I love this image, this lovely soft jungle effect which comes from shooting through trees in low light.

White breasted water hen (click for larger image)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Magic Mushrooms

Mushrooms and fireflies (my twin obsessions)

Both of those images were made in the field, but the procedure is much the same as used and described (check comments) here before. The first image itself will be up on Redbubble shortly for those who want it to remind them of all those days in the 60s gone by. It just needs a hookah-smoking caterpillar on it, doesn't it?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Extinctions R US

Kaloula sp., a microhylid found on campus
I found a specimen of the Painted toad and photographed it. Last of the four amphibians I am certain are on campus. There should be more but I don't know for sure. (Older post for context)

And then I was treated to these two stories based on research from this supplement of PNAS. Leakey and Lewin have said before that we have been responsible for extinctions in the past. I think the setting for their scenario was in Africa. A paper from the PNAS issue has a similar theory based on new evidence implicating humans in the extinction of Tasmanian megafauna. Giant sloths, giant kangaroos, marsupial rhinos, leopards, that no longer walk this earth at least partially due to our ancestors.

And then another paper, that implicates us in an ongoing one, that of the amphibians. Where we exacerbate the effects of the fungus that is affecting them through global warming. These animals that have survived four mass extinctions, are too fragile for human messes.

One can only wonder when it's going to be our turn.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Mushrooms and more

So this weekend, with all my deadlines looming I went took photographs. Why, you ask? Well my trusty Dell, for only the second time in it's four years went *poit*. The adapter had gone bad. And nothing could be got until the week began. Incidentally all things go *poit* on Fridays when you can do little about them.

I took it as a sign that the world wanted me to do something else for a while. Here are some of the results.

Mantis female laying her eggs in an ootheca

A peach one (not quite impudent, how I wish it were)
A purple one

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The 80/20 rule

Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink
The monsoons are a terrible time to be sitting on the metaphorical bench

This was never going to happen to me, no, I was too clever for that. Or was I?

I'm no professional photographer. My main income isn't from photography. And yet, all things tend to this state of affairs. Unfortunately my other professional life and my photography have both gone and done it at the same time. And it is deeply unsatisfying and cuss-word inducing....This my 80 % penalty catching up with me.

To echo Benvie, one day I’ll get out to take photos again, I’m sure.

Monday, July 28, 2008


And how blogs are places to put the sharp cuts.

There are far too many images crammed into the 224 pages of my book. I am cutting a few out. And I am attempting to be ruthless about it. The hardest to remove are those that are interesting for some reason (the story of how they were shot, the behaviour depicted, etc), but not really upto the mark visually. I'm going to use the blog to make the thing a bit easier to do....

Here's one that is out. (For now. (Commitment-phobe!))

A gruesome little drama plays out on the football field.
A Tawny coaster butterfly remains attached to its mate even
after it has been partially eaten.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

In another skin

I've been a bit neglectful of the blog haven't I? I've been really busy, sorry. To make it up to you, here's something I've only ever tried once. I reserve that status for mistakes usually, so let's hope writing and 'publishing' my own fiction does not become one of mine.

In another skin

He climbed out of bed, squinted at the noonday sun with milky eyes, tried to stretch his tense body and failed. Time was unkind to him, he thought, as he slid into the seat in his air-car, jostling with others on the highway on their way to work. His driver’s cheery smile had annoyed him and he’d hissed a ‘good morning’ that he now wished to retract. There was nothing good about a morning that you could barely see.

He tried hard to snap out of it, and to concentrate on the meeting he had ahead of him. It was important that he should get this contract, well, somewhat important. His brain was too small to comprehend his vast assets; his cunning at the negotiating table was legendary, almost biblical. The returns had become irrelevant to him; he had merely enjoyed the twists and turns, the tortuousity and the wiliness. He wished he could forget it, let it go, but it wasn’t in him, the tenacity of his type was something of a curse. He looked at his driver again and thought how far his people had come. Their little speedy bullet of a vehicle was run by thought alone and even his incompetent driver made small work of it.

They hit a little air pocket, the Trime-X7 bucked and his skin seemed to pull a little tighter around him as he was dislodged from his comfortable position. He almost bit the head off his driver but restrained his quick and violent nature; he still had to get to office. He did not fancy driving, any amount of excess thought, however negligible, would clutter up his precious brain. Things went smoothly after that and in a little while, the long silver bullet pulled up to a door in an impressive granite fa├žade. As he rose at giddy speed up to his office up among the clouds, he remembered how so many of his kind would be happier on the ground. Years of success had made him accustomed to many things that others hadn’t even dreamt of. The doors responded to his presence and parted to reveal a marvelously furnished cabin. Warm humid air circulated through the room and the tropical plants that he so loved glowed with health and almost beamed at his return. He perched on his armchair and appreciatively let out a stream of air through pursed lips. As he settled in, his sinuous secretary gracefully slid in through the door and briefed him about his day. Most of the things were routine and he was relieved at the thought that he would be able to reserve his energies for his meeting with the AnE corporation executives.

The day wore on, his skin seemed to crawl and pull and tug at him with a life of it’s own. His muscles ached from the effort of its confinement. His vision ebbed and flowed; he accepted it as calmly as his nature would allow, which meant not at all. He snapped at his employees repeatedly and then exhausted, retreated into immovability, growing angrier still at having wasted energy on those he considered trivial little belly-crawlers, snapping harder the next time around, extending himself further despite the pain, unsheathing his teeth and dispensing his venom. That day the office trembled and everyone’s defenses were up. No one ventured his way if they could avoid it. Finally the time came and his secretary called on the intercom rather risk being in his presence and announced the AnE executives. ‘Ask them to wait’ came the furious reply and she seated them in the lounge.

And then he felt it, he knew it was coming.

He quietly slipped off his seat to prepare for it. He forgot about the people who waited for him in room outside, they were now irrelevant. He looked around at his cabin, at his friendly plants and waited.

He quietly disappeared between the branches of his favourite Arbutus. He nuzzled its rough bark tenderly, almost as if he sought the tenderness his kind were reputed never to feel or seek. The roughness felt good, he had waited for it a long time and as his skin split at the lip, he almost purred. He wished he had eyelids to keep his eyes shut to savor the last moments of haze and darkness. When his skin had peeled past his eyes the sun like brightness of the room suddenly burst into his retina, a stream of photons clamoring for his attention. He took his time now, chuckling to himself, thinking of the people who waited for him, knowing full well that they would wait as long as he wished them to.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Benagaluru Pride parade '08

Looking for simple stuff

The spectrum
Sight gags: Tathastu
Sight gags: Suffer the children to come unto me?
The khaki people
The colourful people

Monday, July 07, 2008


Or something like it. I haven't much to post right now. So here you have an image I made in a pub in London. Why? Who knows? It was a beautiful moment.

My exercise in an unusual lens bag didn't always work. I am a reluctant photographer outside my comfort zone. And I've grown much too used to my shooting habits here. I need to move on.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Water skater

Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on

- Joni Mitchell

Sunday, June 22, 2008

WPY 2008 Semi-finals

That is as far as I got. The original entry is here. It's a high hit rate, but why oh why am I not getting past the semi's. Any insights anyone?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Stones and open spaces

Stone from Widemouth bay: what are those lines? Geologists?

I criss-crossed Cornwall and Devon over the last long weekend. Geology written large across the landscape, Tors in Dartmoor, old seabeds and strata exposed on Cornish seasides. I wish I knew more, I wish I remembered all I read clearly.

Pony in Dartmoor National park

Crockern Tor in Dartmoor

A hare at Lizard point
Seaweed at Widemouth bay
A seagull at Tintagel
The same bird

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bristol's other urban wildlife

I've seen foxes on three or four occassion already. There are birds, insects and flowers, spring is truly here. Yet these intrigued me the most so far...

A trilobite painted onto steps near Bristol's science museum

A wooden woodpecker that brightens up my walk to work everyday

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Andean goose in Slimbridge

Sorry for the lack of updates, this may continue for a while.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Help me pick a cover

Cover 1Cover 2
Cover 3

So my focus group so far has picked the following three as possible images for the cover. On the basis of appropriateness and appeal. Pick your favourite. In the poll in the sidebar. This ones for those folks who've never hit the comment button. Heres your chance to contribute!

PS: I had an email today from someone called Rashmi and unfortunately it went to my spam folder and I noticed it just as the page was refreshing after I hit the delete button. I appreciate mails that I get from folks who read the blog and really enjoy getting them and I usually reply quite soon. So if I've done this before, I'm awfully sorry!

PPS: I think we have a winner in number 1!