A recent column by Rajeev Srinivasan brought back memories of my photo expedition through coastal Kerala during the 2007 monsoon season. As we neared the settlement of Payyoli, on a lark I decided to call on P.T. Usha, the local heroine and the greatest athlete India has produced in recent memory. [Memo to Indians: Give your bozo worship of sissy boy Sachin Tendulkar a rest.]
Just as I got to her door, it swung open and there was Usha herself, lamp in hand, immersed in the rhythm of her daily evening pooja. There was no time to adjust my camera settings much less think of compositional nuance if I was going to capture the spontaneity of the moment. I quickly dialed in a high ISO number and took the shot in fading light. It remains one of my prized photos.
Usha and her husband were warm and welcoming, and a quick portrait session followed. I prefer to shoot portraits in natural light, but it was dark outside and the dim interior lighting didn’t help either. Direct flash had to be deployed which meant it would reflect off Usha’s skin. Well, we photographers learn to quickly accept the cards we are dealt. Although I have tried to mitigate the harsh footprint left by the flash in post-processing, the end product is not entirely to my satisfaction.