Pictures of an Abstract Mind

Jul 14, 2011
*Special to asia!

Between February and March 2011, with the support of The Patatas, I conducted a photography workshop with some 34 students in Nepal, most of which were from underprivileged backgrounds. During the month-long course, students kept a journal of the lessons they learnt and the reflections they experienced. This is an excerpt from the journal of one of my students, Anupama Shree Dhamala.

1080 Anupama photographs her mother.

By Anupama Shree Dhamala

22 February: Today is my first day with a camera. Today is also the first day of our photography workshop. On the way home, I clicked several photographs. As it was loadshedding time, most of my photographs came out black. I took pictures of linear shadows on the walls, shadows of bicycles, buildings... it was fun.

On reaching home, I first of all clicked pictures of my mother and father, then I clicked some pictures for today's assignment: Lines.

23 February: After school, I roamed about and clicked lots of pictures. Click! Click! Click! It was such a wonderful experience capturing whatever I saw. And it was so surprising that I so so many lines around me. Once, I even went 'Oh!' in the middle of computer class today, when I spotted a triangle-shaped window. After class, I took a picture of the window. I saw straight lines in the steps of a staircase, railings, buildings, bricked walls, electrical poles, trees, farm lanes, electrical wires... so I took pictures of all these.

25 February: I took pictures in the photography class today. I really loved one - this abstract picture of light on the table of our class. Today, we got more tips, suggesstions and inspiration from Debby, and we also got a new assignment.

We mostly reviewed our pictures and everyone got tips on how to make their pictures even better. I plan to re-shoot all the my pictures that were reviewed today, following Debby's instructions. I really liked that she individually looked at all our pictures, selected amongst it, really observed them carefully and commented great things) either looopholes or nice things) about it. It makes me want to put much more effort in shooting my pictures which I hope to do starting from this moment.

26 February: I woke up early and shot pictures of silhouettes of birds at dawn. I also shot lots of pictures of my mother. I shot pictures of her worshipping and doing her daily work in the kitchen.

In the afternoon, I asked my mother to pose for me so many times. Debby was right when she said that mothers are very patient. Then, I followed my mother with the camera and shot many pictures of her.

1081 Anupama Shree Dhamala.

8 March: Today, I went on a photography adventure and captured many pictures. First, I shot the sun being reflected on window panes... I have got one or two artistic pictures of that. I got a nice circle... from a rotating blue plastic cover. At last, I tried capturing the gleam of sun on the rotating cover and I think it worked. I shot the morning sun through a paddy field, and the smoke coming from an incense stick. I tried shooting macro of mustard flowers many times.

I reached a brick factory. There I shot pictures of people working and children of these people playing, reflection of the piled bricks in a pond. The sun was up and it felt scorching hot. So I hurried back into a hotel lobby to cool down.

Now I am tired but very pleased. I will go again tomorrow.

9 March: Today, I woke up even earlier than yesterday - 4.30am. Dressed, ate (because I felt really hungry yesterday) and went out for another expedition all by myself.

It was quite chilly outside. But that didn't matter once I started clicking pictures. I first clicked a picture of a tree. I shot the sky (the colours change) and some abstract lines. I spent quite a lot of time shooting a yellow flower in macro. I think that the camera doesn't focus properly if you move too close to the subject beyond a fixed distance - concluded after repetitive experiments. It was very hard to focus but I tried many times and I got a few nice shots.

I think I shot so much abstract and macro pictures. I shot pictures like those of leaves, dewdrops on plants, mustard flowers, fissures on the ground, bricks. I shot a picture of water dripping from a tap but putting the camera low as Debby once suggested. I got an interesting picture. I also shot bubbles on the ground when the water hit - they look really abstract, you wouldn't be able to tell they were bubbles if I didn't tell you. I was walking alone trying new modes when I suddenly found the Black and White mode. I just LOVE black and white images! So I jumped and screamed with delight in the middle of a paddy field. I was so happy to have found that.

11 March: Today's our last class with Debby. Right now, I'm in the class and it's time to submit this journal. At last, i want to thank Debby didi for all that you have done for us. I feel like I can't even thank you enough but do please know that I have a lot of gratitude for you. Thank you (so) much!


Anupama is enrolled in the Underprivileged Girls Education Support Program (UGESP) established by the Little Sisters Fund. The workshop is a joint project by, the Little Sisters Fund, Takshashila Academy, and The Patatas.

debby ngDebby Ng forayed into journalism following failed attempts at becoming a world-class equestrian. A wildlife crime investigator, underwater photographer, dive master and founder of a marine conservation organisation, she spends what remains of her time writing about the environment, its wildlife, and its people.

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