It was almost more than 50 years ago, in 1964, when I started photographing the world around me, my first assignment with Hindustan Times as a photojournalist, being one of the young photographers, I had several senior news cameramen around me still carrying a medium format camera. I used to wonder why carry such a cumbersome piece of equipment to do a quick news coverage. Apart from the fact that when the subject matter was close enough and no pushing and shoving, they would get better quality compare to a 35mm negative which happened rarely. But sure, enough as 35mm camera users, the advantage we had, we could use a wide angle or a telephoto lens to get closer to the subject matter as per required circumstances and never missed the idea of medium format.
In 1998, Fujifilm came out with an amazing piece of equipment, Fujifilm TX-1, as a special project with Hasselblad. It was a very unique product that produce a wide panoramic 65x24mm negative, almost equals the width of two standard 35mm frames side by side to get a panoramic view of the world. India my homeland that I love deeply, where most of the cities are overcrowded. India has been a horizontal and multi-layered experience for me. The western masters who talked about capturing a moment in space, India was not to be just that but here I experienced several moments throbbing at any given space. Wow! May be that’s what I was looking for – an X-pan, an experience much larger and wider than capturing a moment in space. The way I started framing the panoramas of my heart to fulfil my experience as to what India means to me.
This continued for several years, and then arrives digital technology that revolutionized the approach towards this medium and things began to change in an unexpected way. I can, without any doubt, claim that digital technology has changed my life as a photographer. The ability to click and see the image right now and to understand where ones steps were going, was a very challenging and fulfilling experience for me. I also must admit, I just couldn’t go back to using film cameras, so the downfall was I couldn’t use X-pan anymore and my love for horizontal experience came to an end.
Being a 35mm camera user, these high mega pixels were good enough for me to get amazing quality and details of any given situation. The life was moving very smoothly but the world out there was contemplating something beyond our comprehensions. Then arrives Fujifilm GFX 100s, medium format, 100 megapixels camera with a thud. It was as light or as heavy as any other full frame camera. And more than that for me the magic is that GFX 100s has several formats in it namely 4×5, 2×3 and above all the panoramic mode that I have been missing ever since digital technology took over the world of photography. With the variety of Fujifilm GF lenses available for GFX system, yet again a new world of possibilities in creative expression open up for me. This medium format camera is not only much lighter but very efficient in coordinating and changing various feature at any given time. The dynamic range compensates almost 6 stops up or 6 stops down with better pixel quality in low light areas – An experience of fulfilment and satisfaction.
As I was engaged in photographing two World Heritage sites – Ajanta and Ellora Caves–
the epitome of rock-cut architecture. These are the largest rock-cut monastery-temple caves existing of 30 caves of Ajanta from 200 B.C to 100 A.D and 34 caves of Ellora , date back to 600 – 1000 CE. What was so amazing, the craftsmen travelled from the top of the rocks, cutting and digging hundreds of pillars – each pillar with most intricate carvings and with different pattern than the other. And within those pillars a large hall gets created and then there are deities like Buddha with his disciples in Buddhist caves. Then Shiva and his epic of miracles he created and other Hindu deities. And then comes the most amazing part of the Jain caves – one after another, amazing masterpieces of our ancient civilization – still surviving in perfect shape.
The experience inside is inviting and challenging that a photographer could not ignore. Hence, a GFX100s with super quality lenses allowed me to capture the details of the sculptures and the mood inside the large expanse of caves.