Saturday, December 4, 2021

My Diwali photos - 2021

Diwali, also known as the festival of lights. A day to celebrate the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. This festival is celebrated all over in India, but especially in North India, which is where I’m from. I love Diwali for two reasons. The first obviously being firecrackers (firecrackers are awesome and that’s that). 

The other reason that I love Diwali is that it presents quite a few opportunities to take beautiful pictures. Diwali is celebrated over two days, but the main festival is celebrated on a new moon night. The pitch-black night with softly glowing diyas, and firecrackers lighting up the sky, is simply *chef’s kiss*. The number of photo opportunities is therefore infinite. I have been trying to learn photography for about a year now. I would love to say that I am good or even decent, but that would be a lie. However, I got out the camera and snapped some shots on both days, hoping to get at least a few nice ones. Let me say that I was not prepared for how good they came out. Usually when I take pictures, maybe 5 out of 30 aren’t completely terrible. This time, almost all of them were so good that I was shocked. Now again, when I say, “so good”, I mean compared to my what I usually produce. They aren’t anything special or world class, but I still like them as this was my first time getting a bunch of decent pictures. Now onto the pictures themselves.

These were taken on the first day of Diwali. They involved me getting up close and personal with the diyas. I’m not even kidding when I say the camera was in very real danger of catching on fire. They were some of the first pictures I took and mainly involved a lot of experimentation as this was the first time I was taking pictures at night. I’m mostly happy with how they came out. I just wished that I had composed them better. Right now, they look a little messy and all over the place. It isn’t clear what exactly I’m trying to show in the first two. 

 These pictures were again taken on the same day as the previous ones. These are all of a really beautiful diya holder which is in the shape of a Ganesha. It was kept on a table and the garland of flowers wrapped around it, provided an opportunity for some really soft, glowing pictures. With these pictures, I knew exactly what I wanted. I’ve noticed that in most of my pictures I really love having a shallow depth of field. That is evident in all of these pictures. The one really bad habit I had while taking these pictures was that I could NEVER hold the camera straight. Therefore, most of them came out wonky and unusable. Even in these you can notice the slant of the pictures towards the left. 

 We are back to me completely invading the personal space of these diyas. These pictures had me lying on the floor with the camera lens an inch away from the flame. They were taken on the next day, that is the main day when Diwali is celebrated. Again, the shallow depth of field is very clear in these pictures. I learnt how to compose my pictures in a better way and therefore I liked these ones a lot more than the first group. These are some of my favorite pictures of the night. 

These pictures are exactly what they look like. I saw some candles on a table and thought they looked pretty. I played around a bit with how to frame them, because the flames looked very cool, especially since the background was completely black. I wanted to show the glow and highlight the pink of the candle. However, trying to show that on camera was HARD and unimaginably painful. What you are seeing are some of my better attempts. 

Now, we come too my favorites aka the firecracker photos. Taking these photos was probably the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever done. Firstly, this was my dad’s camera I was using, so the pressure to keep it in pristine condition was immense. Secondly, although I’m not scared of crackers, the loud bangs startled me enough that I nearly tripped several times, and therefore almost dropped the camera (my DAD’S camera). Thirdly, trying to take the pictures without getting burnt was like trying to take a bath without getting wet. Otherwise known as trying to achieve the impossible. The fact that I actually got some decent pictures is something I will always be proud of, because it was NOT easy. The trick with these pictures was to underexpose all your shots. You couldn’t do too much because otherwise the pictures would come out dull and muted, you also couldn’t do too little as they would then come washed out. You had to focus on the brightest part and then take the picture. The best way is to use a zoom lens, as it’s the only safe way of getting these pictures. 


 Don’t ask me what I was trying to achieve in this picture. The honest to god answer is I DON’T KNOW. I don’t even remember taking this picture. It was only later when I was going through the camera did I find this. I know that I took it since my dad and I were the only ones using the camera and since his hand is in the picture, it had to have been me who took it. I honestly don’t even know where I was standing or what I was doing when I took this picture. This photo will forever remain a mystery to me. 

We finally come to my two most favorite pictures that I took over the course of both days. I again knew what I wanted in both of them, but I was sorely unprepared for how pretty they came out. Like I mentioned, almost all the pictures came out wayyy better than I expected. In the first one, what surprised me was how sharp the image came out. It didn’t appear as sharp through the viewfinder and therefore I was pleasantly surprised by the end result. The second picture is of a flowerpot. Just before and just after it explodes, a small flame comes out of it. I wanted to capture this small flame, when the flowerpot had just started to spark. I took the picture and got what I wanted. The unexpected element in this, were the small softly glowing embers floating all around it. They just added an extra something to the picture and I loved it.

All the Diwali pictures you see, involved a lot of experimentation and a TON of completely unusable pictures as well. Some of these pictures were complete accidents. However, I’m happy with them as I’m still learning, and these are honestly not bad for a beginner. 

  © 2021, Anika Agarwal. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

One of Us Is Lying, by Karen McManus - Review


(Amazon, Kindle, Flipkart)

First line. Think of a book that literally has all the ingredients to be the perfect murder mystery. A murder that is most mysterious, a victim with quite a few enemies, four suspects, all of them with something to hide, and an amazing plot twist. Imagine, then, that the author just blindly threw all these elements into a blender, crossed their fingers and hoped for the best. That is precisely what happened in this book. The author could have honestly made this book into an amazing novel, but she instead managed to create a concoction blander than a bowl of mashed potatoes.

Murder on the Orient Express - Review


Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie

'The Murder on the Orient Express' is yet another spectacular Agatha Christie book. It was the first Agatha Christie book I’d ever read and from the first chapter, I was hooked. I had initially read it in 4th grade and probably skimmed the entire book, but I still understood enough to be amazed. However, when I re-read it yesterday, I understood for the first time why it’s so popular. Among all of her books, this one has one of the most unique endings and plot twists. While reading a murder mystery, people generally form their own opinions and ideas about who the murderer might be, but in this book, it is next to impossible to guess the identity of the killer. 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Learning to write with my left hand

The title makes it pretty obvious that I learnt how to write with my left hand, aka my non-dominant hand. Yes, this does bring a couple of questions to mind, such as why? Why? and oh yeah, Why? Well, to answer these questions, I need to rewind this story to about a year ago.

On June 18th, 2020, there was a young girl completely bored out of her mind. Online classes had barely started and she already wanted to bang her head against something. REPEATEDLY. In order to relieve the boredom, she did what every single teenager did during online classes - SWITCH TABS. As she was scrolling through YouTube, she spotted a particular video about a girl learning to write with her non-dominant hand. She clicked on that video and the rest was history. That single click started her year-long journey of learning how to write with her left hand.
Day 1 - June 11, 2020

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Hardest Challenge - A poem

Freaked out over the final exams
Reading and revising and trying to cram
Panic and pressure were in the air
When something happened that was definitely rare.

A deadly virus was sweeping the world
Everywhere fear was starting to unfurl
Each day brought news of death
The virus was snuffing out countless a breath.

Schools shut down, exams cancelled
People forced inside, jobs abandoned
Restless children, worried many an adult
All of them forced to adjust.

Harry Potter series - review

Harry Potter, by JK Rowling

‘Harry Potter’, quite literally two of the most famous words in the world of books. 

At my age, most kids have read the books, or at least seen the movies. It's quite unusual to come across someone who doesn’t know about this series. Therefore, considering how famous it is, it might seem strange that I have never mentioned it until now. Well, there is a reason for it. Reviewing a book series like Harry Potter is a huge task. There are so many plots and layers to it that trying to explain it without giving away anything crucial is almost impossible. But, considering the fact that this series is legendary, I am going to try to review it, as it would almost be a crime not to do so. 

(Minor spoilers ahead)
All his life, Harry Potter had known nothing other than being bullied and getting pushed around, courtesy of his aunt, uncle and cousin. With both his parents dead, they were his only family. Then comes his 11th birthday, the day that changed his life forever. He discovers that he is actually a wizard and that all the unexplainable things that seemed to happen around him was magic. The delighted boy gets shipped off to Hogwarts, a school of witchcraft and wizardry. What happens next can only be described as mayhem. The series follows Harry and his two best friends Ron and Hermione as they navigate life at Hogwarts and face the impossible challenges thrown at them.