Find Your Pattern

Patterns - If you keep your eyes open and look for it, its everywhere. The key is to observe. 

Patterns in simple terms are repetitive shapes, colours or objects, ordered in either regular or irregular formations. What could otherwise be a boring scene can be transformed into something intersting by putting patterns to use. As photographers, the key is to find them and then to carefully compose to make most of it. 

In this blog, let me emphasize on some of the effective ways to utilize patterns to create an impact. 

A. Connect 

Certain patterns could be used to convey a story. The key to success is to connect, in other words, juxtapose, to relate found pattern to the subject you carefully include. This would certainly take extra amount of efforts as one needs to wait for the right subject to appear in the frame. Could take a good amount of waiting and praying, hoping for the magic to happen. There are times it works in your favor and yet times may not yield any result. Thats the beauty of photography.    

In the example above, shot in Pushkar, colorful star studded background at a local "amusement" park caught my attention. Once I had carefully decided on my frame, including nothing but the colorful backdrop, minus any void, it was now time to think on how to make most of this beautiful canvas. Stars were the centrepoint of the image. It was now my duty to include a subject which could connect with the stars. As I parked myself, focus & exposure locked on my Nikon, this kid walks upto me to show his magic tricks. One of many in Pushkar trying their luck for quick cash. I failed to notice at that moment the shirt he was wearing, which apparently had stars on them. He performed a coin trick and I was amazed. I promised to pay him if he revealed the trick to me and he did ;) Once paid, he insisted to perform more tricks, which I opposed because I had image to make. Knowing his show was over, he wandered into my frame and leaned on the backdrop I was patiently waiting to fill. It was then that I noticed his shirt with stars. Without a word spoken and before a second could pass, I froze the moment - and here it is. 

At Dubai mall, the beautiful background with stripes of colors filling the frame caught my attention. Repetitive patterns - found. Now comes the hard task of connecting the background with a subject . Dubai mall being a very busy place, number of people passed through my frame, but none connected. Also, being Dubai mall, it isn't the easiest place to shoot with a DSLR, it was important for me to see way in advance, the people that may pass through my frame and keep myself ready to snap it away, when I see the right subject. About 30 minutes later, I see this kid walking towards me and observed the splash of colors on her dress. Once the shot was made, it looked as if this kid stole each of the colors on the wall as she ran across it. Connection - successful. 

Once the background with blocks of white tiles, which to me, related to game of Tetris, was found, it was now time to connect and make more sense of my imagination. Being a busy footpath, there was no shortage of subjects passing through, but none connected. And then this man walks by with a hand cart, as if he's the tetris collector. 

B. Scale 

Another creative approach is to showcase the grand scale of the scene using patterns. But the real success in showing the scale narrows down to breaking the pattern. Most often, the subject used to break the pattern should follow a minimalistic approach, so as to not disturb the flow of patterns. few examples below, 

The repetitive pattern of the parking lot facade is the main canvas and the cyclist is included to convey the scale of the frame and to add dynamism to otherwise lifeless image. Cyclist takes minimal   amount of framespace, while the facade takes a whole lot, which is the desired approach to stress on scale of the scene. 

Here we have a window cleaner dangling on a skyscraper in Dubai. The skyscraper follows the theme of patterns while the window cleaner highlights the grand scale of the scene. Minimalistic approach is again followed here to keep the frame in check. 

Without the human elements in above image, it could be hard to know the expanse of the image or convey the unique birds eye view perspective. With human element, the viewer can now immediately gauge the frame and skip a heart beat. 


There are times when you see patterns but find it close to impossible to have a subject which correlates or connects with the pattern. In such cases, just breaking the patterns in itself could prove sufficient to create a photograph with impact. 

One from holi in Barsana. The guy at the centre with the blue drum breaks the pattern. The blue color creates the contrast and acts as a visual magnet, the point to which the viewers eyes gets attracted to. 


And one final tip to play with patterns is to just let them be. Idea is to not break it but rather let it expand and consume whole of your frame, edge to edge. 

Burjuman centre as seen at night. There's no break in pattern in this image. The whole frame is occupied with windows, from end to end. The visual echo more or less leaves the audience puzzled and on the edge, wondering whats beyond. 

Yet again, on a very similar concept of filling the frame with repetitive patterns of vertical and horizontal lines. Point to note is to keep the corners closed. No voids, no leaks, just tightly closed with right amount of zoom as you shoot. 


One the biggest advantages of looking for patterns is the fact that it makes you OBSERVE. Its important to polish your vision as a photographer and I believe hunting for patterns and finding correlation of lines, colors, shapes and more in search of repetitions only makes your vision sharper. 

Good luck hunting :)

Change Your Perspective

No matter what brand of camera you use or what genre you follow, if there's one aspect that's pretty much common throughout photography, it's the habit of shooting at eye-level. Nothing wrong with it, some of the most iconic images fall under this category. But, as photographers, we are always hungry to create something new, to show world around us the way less seen, to ignite the curiosity of the viewer and most importantly, to leave our signature, to stand out.

What may look like just another frame could change drastically when shown from a different point of view. Its good to experiment and come up with something extraordinary out of an ordinary scene. This is very much possible, if you just think beyond the usual.

As you see a scene with potential, play with angles. Get low or get high, try various vantage points, put to work all the composition rules you have learnt over the years, do not settle, like I always say, "dance around your frame with eyes sticking to your viewfinder", till you hit the sweet spot.

In todays blog, lets look at the perspective of "Getting High and Shooting Down".

Finding a high vantage point and looking down is the easier part. Just looking down at a potential frame doesn't make it a good image. You have to think of various other aspects to better the frame. For instance, knowing what to include and more importantly what to exclude plays a major role in making or breaking an image.

In the example above of Holi in Barsana, I had firmly placed myself on top of a temple, looking down, I could see the scene unfolding with devotees filling the frame from edge to edge, beautiful tsunami of colors worked to my benefit but the photograph wasn't complete yet. The strength of the image was repetitive pattern but to better it, I had to break the pattern. Few minutes rolls by and the person with blue drum walks in and stands right in centre of my frame. Bingo !

And here we have another example from Varanasi. A baby having sound sleep while her mother sold flowers at her little stall on the banks of river Ganga. At eye level, it was a pretty busy scene. Background had too much of information to convey the mood. Solution was simple. To change my perspective from eye-level view. With permission, I got on the little platform of the stall, looked straight down, kept the visible lines as diagonals and froze the moment. From a busy cluttered background to a clean canvas of blues, just by change in point of view and looking straight down.

As I walked searching for photographs on the streets of Dubai, I observed the footpath having patches of white and blacks, which on closer observation, reminded me of tetris, the game we have all grown up playing. How do I convey this message ? Yep, by getting high and looking down. Adjacent to the footpath was a 10-story parking lot. Once on top, looking down, I had my canvas set. It was now just a matter of time before the right subject passed through, which apparently happened about 15 mins later. Tetris collector walked in and I got what I wanted ;)

Cayan tower in Dubai Marina is among the most accessible and most shot rooftop in Dubai. 1000s of images shot from this very roof top showcases the grand wide angle view of Dubai Marina and Palm Jumeirah. But surprisingly, not many photographers have tried looking straight down. Looking down, once the vertigo fades away, whole new world opens up. Theres beauty in small details and thats exactly what I try to see. Imagine the above photograph, minus the boats, that was my canvas as I looked down. Boats were the elements which completed the image.

And another example of looking down, yet again shot from Cayan Tower. I'm sure you get an idea by now. Here are few more examples.

Shot from Cayan. A swimmer having good time on christmas eve. Keeping vertical and horizontal lines in check was the key in success of this image. I repeat, its about little details ;)

Constructions workers dotting the frame and the yellow band adding balance to the image.

Looking straight down some 60 odd floors, the beautiful pattern, which goes unnoticed when on ground level, becomes the centre point of the image when see from birds view point.

Next time you head out to shoot, think beyond the usual and change your perspective :) 

What The Fog

Fog in Dubai is a natural wonder on epic scale. The collision of ultra modern skyscrapers with the dense fog and the drama that unfolds is truly spectacular to watch.

I have been wanting to shoot fog for over 3 years but never managed to get on rooftop when the D-day arrived. Always late to the party ;)

Fast forward to December 2016, I finally had my share. I spent almost every second night on roof top waiting for fog and it sure was worth it. (minus the dark circles) ;)

As said earlier, its been 3 years of waiting, to put it in perspective, let me call it '1000 days of perseverance'. Finally, the "FOG" shots are done and dusted. 

Now that I knew the pain and disapponitment involved in getting to rooftops,  didn't want this spectacle to be a selfish endeavor. Was happy to take number of friends to cover the event, all of whom have done magnificent job in creating their memories.

Now answering the question thats been asked over and over again...

"How to get access to rooftops?"

Im not a rooftop photographer, safe to say, I'm not an expert at this. But here's my 2 cents,

Firstly, there's no shortcuts. Those who have access have put in sweat and time to secure their spots.  If you haven't got access yet, it just translates to "you haven't worked hard enough". Its important to work towards it way in advance than on the day fog shows up. If someone else can, you too can. Rather than be ignorant or disappointed, its better to work your way up, even if that takes 1000 days or more, like in my case. Its always sweeter when its earned.

I cannot complete this blog without thanking Baber Afzal and Sabah Saleem - you very well know why ;) 

For now, I'm eagerly waiting for the next session in coming months, when fog rolls by just before summer. 

Until then, keep hunting :) 

Personal Favourites - Travel Portraits - 2016

What could be more simple and yet very complex, obvious and yet so profound but a portrait. 

I enjoy portrait photography, its one of those genres I strongly connect to. The overall process of meet-greet-chat-create is quite satisfying as a whole. Its said, portraiture is a window to the soul and thats exactly what I try to achieve as a photographer with each portrait I make. 

Presenting my Top 12 portraits from 2016. 

'Impersonator' - Pushkar, India

'Angel' - Bogdang, India

'Fading Away' - Hemis, India

'Free Spirit' - Varanasi, India

'Composure' - Varanasi, India

'Pride' - Hemis, India

'The Holy One' - Varanasi, India

'Dignity' - Hemis, India

'Be The Tribe' - Hemis, India

'Pure' - Ladakh, India

'Content' - Varanasi, India

'Where eyes do the talking' - Turtuk, India

And that concludes the 3 segment 'Top 12 picks of 2016'. 

In case you missed, make sure to check out previous countdown :

Personal Favourites - Travel & Streets - 2016

While the previous blog featured 12 of my favorite images from 2016 shot in Dubai, this hosts the best of my travel photographs taken last year. 

Not the easiest task to shortlist but these are the ones that's really special and very close to heart. 

'Shhhh' - Varanasi, India 

'Devotion' - Varanasi, India

'Game on' - Varanasi, India

'Group Studies' - Ladakh, India

'Tea Time' - Ladakh, India

'Army' - Barsana, India

'Red-Fest' - Nandgaon, India

'Golden Glow' - Pushkar, India

'The Lone Ranger' - Pushkar, India

'Star' - Pushkar, India

'Salvation' - Varanasi, India

'Nirvana' - Varanasi, India

In case you missed, here's the link to previous blog featuring best of Dubai from 2016 :

Coming up next, my Top 12 portraits from the year gone by...

Personal Favourites - Dubai - 2016

Year 2016 was, in one word - Fantastic.

Lots of travel, new friends, great memories and a good collection of satisfying images.

Here's a look back at my personal favorites, which I will break into three segments.

A. Top 12 - Dubai
B. Top 12 - Travel & Street.
C. Top 12 - Travel Portraits.

Presenting below my 'Top 12' photographs from 2016, all of which are shot in #MyDubai ;)

'Modern Living'

'Unsung Heroes'

'Tiny Creatures'

'Choose Your Adventure'


'If I were a bird, I would use my wings and fly, just to know freedom isn't a lie' 


'Close encounters of a third kind'

'Galactica Dubai'

'Silent Night'


'Unreal Estate'

Coming up next, Top 12 images from my travel journey... 

Heres to more learning and unlearning...

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