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Varanasi Sadhu

By WeeGeordieLass    
This Sadhu was standing on the Burning Ghat (the area where open air cremations are carried out) in Varanasi.

I know there's a bit of noise in the image but I had on my 300 mm lens with ISO 800 set in the camera. Our group was moving quite quickly and I didn't have long to get the shot, or risk losing sight of my traveling buddies and finding myself lost, on my own!

I loved the character of this guy, so just snapped away.

Does the noise, especially in the background, detract from the image?.......I wondered if I should try and blur the background a little - I'd appreciate your opinions.

I've held back the saturation on this image, and would appreciate any comments.

I'm off to bed soon, so will get back to those who kindly comment tomorrow probably.

Tags: General Landscape and travel Portraits and people

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


pablophotographer 6 932 333
25 Feb 2013 10:04PM
Hi Elaine,
I have no issue with the background, similar colours, some construction, temple, fire set, whatever, it blends with the man.You have got him looking at you and blessing you. Have a nice time there.

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banehawi Plus
13 1.8k 3879 Canada
25 Feb 2013 10:44PM
At 300%, I see no noise, so not an issue. What I would suggest is to rotate the whole shot clockwise a bit, both the Sadhu and the building are leaning!

Also, sharpen a little more, - does not introduce noise, and once you rotate, you need to crop a little as in the mod, which has all the above done. Its a really nice shot, love that smile and eye contact.

I watched a documentary about this place, - apparently the same family have owned the "fire" there for generations, - the fire used for the cremations, and only members of that family can do the cremations. Looked so interesting.

Hope this helps,


Sooty_1 7 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
26 Feb 2013 12:34AM
Willie got in first, again! The background is fine, just sloping, so addressed in the mod. Saturation could be a little more, but not too much, you don't want it to look unreal, and his face and hair are about right as-is.

paulbroad 10 123 1243 United Kingdom
26 Feb 2013 8:38AM
I don't mind the slope. I'm looking at him. Very nice amusing portrait with a smile. Could sharpen a tiny bit, but not far off at this size. I guess the original may be OK. Would just have composed with his head a little nearer the right than left and a gentle stroke with the dodge tool just across his eyes.

No noise to me either, but noise translates as grain in the old world and there is nothing wrong with grain in many images. We seem to have gone noise made. Looking for it is becoming compulsory and I really don't think it matters providing it is tight and not in huge clumps. Tight sharp grain was a great feature of TRi-X and HP-5 mono films. It often actually improved an image.

iancrowson Plus
8 211 146 United Kingdom
26 Feb 2013 11:01AM
I like this one too, really good capture. I agree with Paul's points.
Good to see these pics of your adventure. Were you expected to pay these dressed up people to photograph them? This one looks pretty happy with life. Hope to see some more,
mrswoolybill Plus
11 1.2k 1929 United Kingdom
26 Feb 2013 3:00PM
The colour in this is so much better than in your upload of four faces - this still says warm sunshine to me, but without needing sunglasses to view it.
I'm pleased to find someone else in Paul who doesn't share the current obsession with noise. We look back at some of our old darkroom stuff and think, well nobody commented on it at the time...
But the most important thing - you engaged with him, you established a rapport, you got him to participate in the shot - even if it was just a matter of moments, even if you paid him; he enjoyed being photographed that day.
26 Feb 2013 8:53PM
Hi Guys,

Hello Pablo - Thanks for commenting. I hadn't thought about it but yes, I agree the background does complement the subject of the shot.

Hello Willie - Thanks for the mod and the tips on how to improve the image which I'll definitely take on board. Varanasi was my favourite places on the trip....amazing. I wish I was a better photographer as it really is a "photographers Paradise" much life on show, everything happens!!

For anyone who would like a first hand account of what it's like to visit that place here are links to my blog pages of Varanasi, photos (straight out of the camera), and a "not very good" video describing what it was like for me when I visited Varanasi.

Hello Nick - Thanks for taking the time to comment - yes I'll try upping the saturation very slightly.

Hello Paul - Thanks for your advice regarding noise/grain, and I'm pleased you like the shot.

Hello Ian - I think our tour leader may have given this chap a few rupees but I never gave anyone any money for taking photos - most of the time they were very willing, lovely people and taking photos of them wasn't a problem.

Hi Moira - I'm glad you didn't need to don your sunglasses this time!! Most of the people I came into contact with were happy to be photographed. This guy was friendly.

Thanks for your support and advice everyone. It's much appreciated.



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