That title will make sense in a moment. Moving on.
Thanksgiving break is almost over, and I’m not looking forward to going back to work. But go back I must, so let’s not dwell on it. Let’s talk about my week instead – a week which started out looking so jam-packed with activity I believed I’d have no time to myself, and ended with almost all my plans getting canceled at the last minute so that I got rather bored. It wasn’t bad, just more low-key than I initially expected. In fact, when plans started changing, I was relieved to see that I was going to have a day here and there to myself – I just didn’t expect the whole week to be so quiet. I did take a few pictures though:
I could have done more to make the week festive, but my usual cluelessness and/or laziness took over, as it often does. For example, when I learned that we were going to be spending Thanksgiving day alone with my father-in-law instead of spending it with my big ol’ family, I could have put out the effort to cook some special things so as to make the occasion feel more festive, but we opted to pick up barbecue instead. I’m not even sure why we made that decision, other than the fact that we always stop and pick up barbecue when going to visit him. That was the problem with it, really – a special meal might have made the day feel like something more than just another house visit, but I honestly didn’t think of it. And whenever I get a bit of time off from work, I start to get over-protective of my time and try not to make plans, when it might be nicer if I at least considered the possibility of using the vacation days to meet up with old friends and family members – again, to make the whole thing more special and less like just a few days off. Ah well. Christmas break is coming up in three weeks, so I’ll try to learn my lesson and do better then.
That’s a SOOC photo of Simon. Nice enough, but I played around with all my new editing tools this past week and of course I captured a few in-progress shots. So let’s see how this one looks after using my RadLab photo editor:
Ah, better – sharper and brighter, with a bit more color and light, and the dirt smudges edited off the wall! But I’m not finished yet – next comes some of my new Topaz software (I bought so many little programs that I can’t recall which ones I used here):
I honestly don’t know how anyone just uploads photo straight from the camera without at least a little editing. This one is so much better! Moving on…
The photo above was taken while standing in a parking garage in our Town Square shopping area. I decided to find an incredibly boring picture and see if I could make it interesting using all the new software I’ve purchased – I’m not sure I succeeded, but at least I made it more colorful.
The rest of the photos I’m going to share came from my new iPhone 6 Plus. Since abandoning my 365 project, I’ve fallen out of the habit of taking a DSLR anywhere, and twice this week I regretted not having at least my SL1 with me. Once was at my father-in-law’s house, because he has beautiful gardens (my mother-in-law was a master gardener, and after she died Jimmy hired someone to keep everything blooming year-round just as she liked it) and I realized I could have used some of the day to take photos of flowers; instead I popped off a few with my phone to see what I could come up with, then edited them in Snapseed – again, on my phone:
The other time I really regretted not having a camera on me was Saturday, when I went to our Town Square center to get a quick massage. I know I’ve posted about this here before, but there is a large Indian community in my area, and they often hold wedding ceremonies at the Marriott hotel located inside our town square; one was happening Saturday morning and I was there to watch the whole festive procession. But all I had was my cellphone, so I did the best I could.
The ceremony involves what I believe is called a punjabi baraat, which is a procession of the bridegroom from (traditionally) his house to the area where the wedding takes place. All members of the groom’s family, as well as his invited guests, take part in the procession, which involves a lot of music and dancing (see my video below for an example, it’s so fun to watch). I say this is what I believe I’ve witnessed at the square, because some of the traditional details I turned up when researching the baraat don’t match up to what I’ve seen, so I’m not sure this is exactly what is going on; perhaps the wedding processionals I’ve seen are a more modern variation or just something similar with which I’m unfamiliar. At any rate, when these weddings occur at the hotel, the participants gather in front of it and then slowly make their way around the square, dancing and singing and laughing; they make one big circle around the area and end up back in front of the hotel where they dance some more before eventually going inside for the rest of the ceremony. It really is something to see and hear; there’s usually an SUV with speakers mounted on the back blasting music, and a DJ walking with the crowd, entreating them to keep dancing and waving their hands, and a drummer leading the crowd around with a energetic beat.
I took about 400 photos total, but wasn’t pleased with most of them. My iPhone takes nice pictures, it’s true, but it can’t really live up to my standards when shooting from the hip and while in motion like this. Still, I did the best I could, and snapped away like crazy figuring I’d get at least one or two decent shots out of it. All of these are, of course, heavily edited using plug-ins for Photoshop from Nik, RadLab, and Topaz.
At first I felt a little intrusive following them around, snapping so many photos and shooting so much video, but then I realized that was silly when it was obvious the entire point of this procession was to engage in public celebration. In fact, people all along the route were stopping, shooting video, talking to wedding guests who were following along but standing on the edges of the festivities. I saw a lot of people explaining to the non-Indians in the crowd what was happening, there was a lot of mixing and mingling even though the onlookers kept a respectful distance, and everywhere people were bobbing along to the music and smiling. I was struck by what an awesome and generous tradition this is, to share in the happiness of a special day with any and everyone who might be passing by outside. The joy was infectious – so if you have two minutes to spare, please watch the video at the bottom of this post, and I think you’ll see what I mean.
Anyway, here was my favorite photo from the day:
I knew when these two lined up in front of me and put their arms around each other that I had something special, and I was so pleased with how this turned out. Most of my photos were blurry and grainy and not very clear, but this one worked out perfectly. In front of them you can see the horse-drawn carriage, carrying I’m not sure who, quite honestly. In a traditional punjabi baraat it should be the groom riding a white horse, not sitting in a carriage, and he would be by himself. There is another ceremony for after the wedding which involves a bride and groom in a carriage, but this was clearly taking place before the wedding, so I’m just not sure what’s going on here. It really appeared to me to be the bride and her family in there, but I couldn’t find any information about Indian weddings where this would be the case. So, who knows. Still, picture so yay.
I am thinking I’m going to check this Marriott for future weddings, and be sure to head over there with a camera next time one occurs. I know no one will mind if I’m shooting photos, and I could have gotten some amazing stuff had I had the capability with me today to do so. I think you can see what I mean from watching this little video I put together of the event. I shot video at each stop along the route, from its beginning to when it reconvened back at the starting point – in fact, I took about nine minutes of video total so be glad I edited it down to less than two (in reality, the whole procession took about 40 minutes). And yes, I know, I still can’t remember to hold my phone correctly when shooting video so everything’s vertical again. One day I’ll get that right, dammit!
Oh, and look closely at the section of video here where the entire procession is lined up on the steps of city hall for a group picture, and you’ll see the drone they had following them around all over the square, hovering above them. Yes, a wedding photo drone! Welcome to 2014, people.