India Apr 2008 – Madivala Market Part#2 (Podcast 134)

by | Apr 23, 2008 | Art Talk, Podcast, Travelogue | 0 comments

In the last episode, we started to look at some photos that I shot during another brief visit to the Madivala market in Bangalore, India last week, which for the sake of those listening to the archives in months or years to come was April, 2008. I’d also visited in September 2007 and was searching out the people that I’d shot that time to give them prints of their photos. If you didn’t listen to the last episode, number 133, then it might be better to go back and listen to that first, to get more of the background and see the first five shots of this series with my comments about the thoughts behind the images. If you’re already up to date though, let’s proceed with our brief trip through the market.

We finished last time with a photo with that wonderful gentleman with the red and white checked head dress, who had literally exploded with joy when I searched him out and handed him his photo from last year. This was actually as far through the market as I intended to go, as I this gentleman had been the last person I photographed previously, but there were three people sitting in a stall to our right that had been sharing our moment as I passed the other gentleman his photo. They been smiling and laughing, and as I turned to face them the lady in the middle beckoned me over, and asked to take their photos. Again, it was my pleasure, and I shot a number of frames of them all, and then also the man at the back. Let’s take a look at image number 1747, which is the first one in which we see all three of them.

Three Merchants

Three Merchants

I’d say I messed this up to a degree, because I included all three people, but didn’t close my aperture down enough to get all three of them inside my depth-of-field. I was still at F4, with the shutter speed set at 1/125th or a second, but F4 would not give me enough depth-of-field for all three of these people. I knew that, and I took a couple of shots with the focus on the ladies face, then a few more having focussed on the man to the right, but still was trying not to overwork the situation. I regret this to a degree, but still, I got that kind and sincere look on the ladies face nice and sharp, so I’m not overly concerned. Note that I’d crouched down to be almost at the same level as the people in the shot. It would be easy to just shoot everything from a standing position, but that would not make for very flattering or respectful images.

Man and Child

Man and Child

I then turned to the man on the left of the group as I look at it, and asked if I could take just his photo too. The result is image number 1748. There was a child in the background, looking on inquisitively, so I’d actually shot some further frames, where I’d moved around a little more to my right, to get the child out of the frame, but I ended up preferring this one, as it adds another dimension I think. This too was shot with an aperture of F4 for 1/125th of a second. As I said last week, I’d set my ISO to 200, as many of these people were shaded from the sun by the canopy of their market stalls. While I’m on the subject, I also shot all of these with my 85mm F1.2 lens. I’d left my 16-35mm and my 70-200mm F2.8 lenses in the car, so that I could move around with just my camera, and no camera bag. I also didn’t have my photographer’s vest with me, which I wear religiously at all other times, but remember I was here primarily on business, and so the vest was not really appropriate for this flying visit.

As I walked back through, I was ambushed again by the gang at the fish stall. These guys were just great, and I shot a number of other images. I won’t show you anymore this time, as we looked at a few in the last episode, but remember there is a link in the show-notes that will allow you to see all images in the series on my Web site. If you jump to any of these images using the number I call out, by entering the number into the field under the Podcasts menu at then clicking enter, you will also be able to click the India_Apr_2008 link under the photo too, and that is basically the same link that I will provide in the show-notes.

Cool Fishmonger

Cool Fishmonger

So, this snowballing effect of the more I shot, the more buzz I created, and in turn the more people asked me to take their photos too, just kept going. I was having a kind of one man photo-festival. As I walked back towards the car, many people that I’d not shot previously continued to ask for their pictures to be taken and I of course obliged. One guy was actually combing his hair as I walked towards the front of his stall, and was getting into position behind some scales as I moved closer. He then put on a baseball cap, kind of making his hair combing a little redundant, but then hit some great poses for me. Some were very natural and some not so. Trying to keep the number of shots of any one individual to a minimum, I only uploaded one photo of this guy, which is image number 1749.

I started to shoot from the front of his stall, but there was room down the side, so I decided to try to get a different angle. Now, I mean absolutely no detriment to the wonderful, warm people that I was sharing time with, but the market is pretty dirty. There is lots of vegetation that is chopped off from the produce as they prepare it for sale, and this is just left to rot on the ground. Very ecological, but it makes for a fair amount of flies, as well as food for the cattle and chickens that roam free here. There is of course no refrigeration, so the fish stalls especially attract a lot of flies, which I hear is one of the original reasons why many dishes are curried here in India. That7s also why people in England used to salt everything, before the advent of refrigerators and deep freezers, but that’s another topic.

Anyway, as I was shooting this guy that had combed his hair, I really wanted to get him from a better angle, and so walked right into his stall, to get to his side. It was at this time that I realized there were literally thousands and thousands of flies in the area that I’d walked in to. I saw them as I walked in, and many took flight as I got closer, but I was totally unfazed by them. I have seen scenes in documentaries where there are many flies buzzing around, and it usually makes me cringe a little, although I usually say to my wife who hates to see things like this, that I’d be OK in that situation. Still, as I thought about this afterwards, I was amazed at just how unfazed I actually was. I was not concerned about them at all. I could see them in my peripheral vision as I shot, and a few settled on my head, so I brushed them off, but still kept shooting, as though they really weren’t there. Quite a strange experience in hind-sight, but I can only think that I was so deep into the zone that pretty much anything could have happened, and as long as it wasn’t life threatening, I would have remained calm.

One of the people I was with actually remarked later that he’d wished he had a photo of me pretty much engulfed in this swarm of flies. I don’t actually very much like having my own photograph taken myself, but that sure would have been one for the album. The other amusing thing that happened here was that the young man in the photo started asking for the photo as I was coming to the end of shooting him. He actually thought that I could give him the print right there and then and seemed a little disappointed when I explained that I would need to print it and bring it back with me next time. He’d obviously seen me handing out prints, and must have thought that I was shooting with a Polaroid or something. From the size of the 1Ds, that it is probably not that difficult to imagine that it could spit out a photo either. Still, when I promised to do take him a print back next time, he smiled and seemed to be OK with the deal. By the way, to minimize depth of field here, and because it was a little darker at the back of this stall, I opened the aperture up to F2, and the shutter speed was set to 1/200th of a second, still at ISO 200.

As I walked further along, I saw a young boy and I think his older brother at another stall, just a few stalls along from the last guy we looked at. We can see these brothers in image number 1751. I’d actually asked the older brother if I could shoot him, as he looked pretty cool sitting cross-legged on top of a wooden platform, but as I asked, the younger brother threw his arms around the older one, in the posture that we can see here. I have one shot with all of the older brother in, but decided to go with this head and shoulders shot of the two of them, to close in on their faint, but sincere smiles and facial expressions. I closed the aperture down a touch to F2.8 for this, and the shutter speed had to be 1/80th of a second as the light was pretty low. This meant that the boy in the blue shirt’s face is a tad soft, but not enough to ruin the shot, and the background was a little distracting too, so I didn’t want to go with too much depth-of-field either. Well, you’ll know if you’ve been listening for a while that I generally think is terms of how wide I can get away with, when it comes to aperture, and sometimes I push it too far, as I almost did here. Also, you’ll probably have heard me say that you should position yourself so that the background bokeh works for you, not just trying to through it out of focus, but here, as I mentioned last week, I really didn’t want to choreograph these people too much, so I was really just trying to shoot what I could, and take the results as they came.



As I walked further along, there were two men at a cart with lots of grapes on it who asked for their photos. I shot a few frames of them both together, then a few of them individually. I uploaded one of each, but we’ll just look at the one today, and that is image number 1754. This guy has a great face, and although was posing for me, with his hand holding the grapes over the scales, I think it turned out to be a relatively natural looking shot. I was using the same settings as the last image, so the background is very bright, but the guy himself is well exposed, so I left it at that. Note that I pretty much shoot in Manual all of the time. Had I been in Aperture Priority mode here, the background would have altered the exposure quite a lot, and the guys face would have been very dark, unless I started to use exposure compensation, which is an option of course.

Grape Seller

Grape Seller

As I shot the second of these two guys at his stall, images that I ended up not uploading, the guy that we just looked at, who was still standing at the grape barrow, put a small bunch of grapes into a bag and handed them to me. I thanked him, and asked how much they were, thinking that this only courteous, though I thought the gesture was in return for taking their photos. He told me they were 25 Rupees though, so pleased that I’d asked, I gave him the money. Then he gave me a huge bunch of grapes in another bag, so it seemed that the first bunch actually was a present, and I’d gone and bought another bag full. I actually wrote much of this transcript in the hotel in India on the evening of the day of the shoot, and I ate a few of these grapes as I typed. I can tell you, they were the best tasting grapes I’ve ever had.

Fruit Stall Man

Fruit Stall Man

In the next image, number 1755, we can see the gentleman that I photographed last year, and uploaded as image number 1542 if you are interested. This is actually the person that I mentioned in the last episode, who I approached first when I returned to the market on this visit. I didn’t photograph him early during the visit, but now on the way back to the car, I was more relaxed and the photo-festa whirlwind just kind of got me shooting him again at this point. There were two ladies at the back of this stall too, one I believe was his wife, and I asked them if I could take their photos too. One of them agreed, but unfortunately, although they’d had beautiful smiling faces until this point, I couldn’t get her to smile, and the photo didn’t really work with a straight, almost nervous looking expression. I was still at F2.8 for 1/200th of a second for this shot by the way.

Almost back at the car now, there was a young man sitting in what I think are banana leaves, which he was cutting away at, and he laughed as I drew closer, so I asked if I could shoot him too. I got a number of shots of him alone, but then he moved across to a second young man on the other side of the stall, and put his arm around him in a gesture of friendship. This seemed to make a better photo than the first, which is shot number 1756. Again shot at F2.8 for 1/200th of a second, I think this is a nice boyhood friendship sort of shot. I’d wish that the banana leaves weren’t in the way, but it couldn’t really be helped without dragging them away from their work. Great smiles again too, which I really like.

Banana Leave Workers

Banana Leave Workers

Happy Boy

Happy Boy

I was literally working away from the front of the stalls back towards the car, when the boy in the last photo of the series, number 1757, looked at me as if to say, “What, you aren’t going to photograph me?” and as cute as he was, I wasn’t going to leave without doing so. It was really quite funny actually, because the first two shots he was doing an army salute, which was nice in its self, but pretty unnatural. Then an older boy tried to jump in on the act, and this guy got really angry with him, until he left him alone, then his expression had changed to a very angry and serious one. Again, I dropped the camera and gave him a big smile, and was rewarded with his wonderful smile, as we can see in the photo. This little guy was actually not under his canopy, so I had to raise the shutter speed to 1/640th of a second for this exposure, with the aperture left at F2.8.

This was the last photo of the shoot, as I really had to go. If you check the EXIF data for any of these shots in my online gallery at, note that all of the images’ capture time is thirty minutes later than it actually was. I didn’t change the time on my camera during my trip, and India is three and a half hours behind Japan. Lightroom has a feature to change the capture time, but does not have 30 minute increments, so I just moved them back by three hours. The shoot was actually basically from 3:30 to 4:00PM, but all the EXIF data has the images shot between 4PM and 4:30.

As we drove away from the market I was on a bit of a high. I didn’t really know what to expect when I started to give prints to the people that I’d photographed the previous year, and I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to photograph many people this time as well. From the expressions on everyone’s faces when I handed them the photo, to their kind and friendly smiles in the new photos, and just general happiness from both sides of the exchange, the whole thing was simply amazing. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do this while on a business trip, without actually taking a few extra days, but I do regret to an extent that this had to be such a rushed visit. With the electric atmosphere that we seemed to generate though, I don’t know if it would be fair on the people trying to make a living here to take up much more of their time either. Apart from just taking the next batch of prints back when I visit again, I’ll have to think how I will expand on this project in the future.

Well, if you’ve enjoyed this virtual walk through the Madivala market even just a 100th as much as I did, you’ll have had a good time listening to these two episodes. Remember that I always welcome feedback on any aspect of the Podcast, or even just mail to let me know you’re out there. The easiest way to contact me if you do want to let me know anything is by the Contact Form that you can find in the Contact Us menu at If you are a member of the site, you can also send me a Private Message, using the PM button in the footer of any of my posts in the forum. Come to think of it, if you haven’t gotten involved in the forums yourself, please do stop by too. Even if I say so myself, it truly is the best photography forum on the Internet, because of how each and every one of our members interacts with each other. There’s no pretentiousness, and photographers of all levels interact in a very civil and professional way, without ridiculing the lesser skilled members when they ask more basic questions. Even for highly skilled amateurs and professionals, there’s always something to learn, and as I find by doing this Podcast, putting down what you know in a format that makes it easy for others to ingest is actually a great learning process in itself, so whatever stage your at in your photography learning process, I encourage you to drop by and join in the great community.

In the meantime though, let’s wrap it up for this week, and I’ll be back next week with more tips, techniques and the artistic process behind my Photography. For now, you just have a great week, whatever you do. Bye bye.

Show Notes

You can view all shots from the Madivala Market, including my previous visit with this link:

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