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Seasoned photographer Ashwini Attri’s exhibition captures play of light and shade

Seasoned photographer Ashwini Attri's picture "Third Eye" brings to fore how common objects are perceived by a photographer

Ordinary objects and situations get our attention but then do attract photographers who are able to perceive something different in them, egging them to click. This comes to the fore at Ashwini Attri’s ongoing photo exhibition titled “Third Eye ” being held at India International Centre Annexe.

The first frame to catch viewers’ attention is “Third Eye”, an engaging image of a leaf covering the light emanating from a bulb behind it. The leaf gives the impression that it has been dried between the pages of a book and shows its midrib, veins and edges.

Sharing this image’s backstory, shutterbug Attri told India Narrative: “I shot this photo at the home of Corky Siegel, an American musician, songwriter and composer in Chicago while attending a musical evening there with my brother. When I saw this night lamp in a bedroom which had no other illumination, I was simply fascinated and clicked it with my camera which I was carrying.”

When asked if the camera has become his extension, the seasoned shutterbug who has been shooting for years, laughed. “Yes, the camera, lenses and tripod became my extension a long time back. The joke in my family is that I may forget to put my kids in the car, but never forget my camera equipment for any journey.”

Another frame that is eye-catching is “Potter’s Delight”. It seems like several terracotta plates placed on top of one another but it is not. It is a pitcher’s neck which looks like plates with illumination zooming on it.

Potter's delight
Potter’s Delight

When asked by India Narrative how he chooses his subject, Attri replied: “I don’t. The subject chooses me, except when I am on a planned trip to any monument or other scenic spots which I had been craving to visit. I click what appeals to me, be it the portrait of a person or an animal, a landscape, a light and shadow pic or a silhouette or macro photography involving animate/inanimate subjects.”

Some frames when viewed together weave their own narrative. Take “Blue Ruins” and “Palatial Lights” which highlight how time treats buildings and structures. The former shows the abandoned patient ward of Government St. Mary’s Hospital in Gunhill, Mussoorie while the latter portrays the magnificence of Hotel Nahargarh, near Ranthambore, Rajasthan.

Blue Ruins and Palatial Lights
Two pictures capture opposite state of a building with ‘Blue Ruins’ (left) showing abandoned ward of a hospital, ‘Palatial Lights’ show an illuminated hotel at night

Revealing how these photos came about, Attri told India Narrative: “’Palatial Lights’ many of the photographers would tend to click, whereas, ‘Blue Ruins’ may get ignored by the majority of them.  I was taken to the erstwhile St. Mary’s hospital by a doctor friend who felt very strongly about the crumbling building and there I took many pictures. This one was an old four-bed ward, now abandoned.”

Latticed Window and Floral Reflections
Two different places of worship captured by photographer. On left is ‘Latticed Window’ showing a church while ‘Floral Reflections’ depicts a mosque

Likewise, two other works bound to draw viewers’ close attention are “Latticed Window” and “Floral Reflections”. The first one was clicked at Glasgow’s Cathedral Parish Church in Scotland while the other other at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Both show light filtering through window frames lending a touch of divinity and serenity to the two places of worship.

Touching on what role does the quality of a camera play in getting a stunning image, Attri told India Narrative: “It is a myth that very advanced and expensive cameras give better results. The fact is that it is always the person behind the camera and his or her eye for composition and the basic skills. For example, on a photo walk, when 10 persons click photographs of the same situation or a subject, on seeing all of them will one realize that everyone has a different eye for composition and the point of focus. “

This becomes evident when one looks at the mesmeric frame “Filtered”. Shot in Udaipur it shows light coming out of a decorative candle holder and spreading on a table cloth. The yellow colour inside the holder and the dissipated light in red makes the image a stunner. This also holds true for “Blend of RBG” where ordinary objects, namely a window, a ladder and switchboard washed in varied colours, blue, red and green, make them different and extraordinary.

The dance of light and shade in ‘Filtered’

Attri was drawn to photography since his childhood as his father used to click pictures for the family. He took it up as a vocational course while pursuing graduation on his brother’s advice. “Through that experience, I learnt the process of black and white film rolls developing and using enlarger for enlarging the photographs in the darkroom and continued practicing it. My first self satisfying image was that of my five-year-old sister, a cousin under an umbrella,” he recalled for India Narrative before signing off.

Blend of RBG
The play of red, blue and green in ‘Blend of RBG’