December 14, 2015

Crystal Waters and Jewel-Hued Skies: Just Vizag by Navin Bahirwani

by Pratika Yashaswi

photos by Navin Bahirwani

Navin Bahirwani says it’s the beauty of Visakhapatnam – nuzzled between green mountains on the southeastern edge of the subcontinent and the cerulean Bay of Bengal – that turned him into a photographer.

Referred to as Vizag, the Headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command is a cosmopolitan city. It’s got the bustle without the hustle: you can get from one end of the city to another in under an hour in peak traffic and a small but heterogenous residential population.

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Aside from the repetitive mountain-view-of-seaside shots, many existing Vizag-based photography projects fall prey to the fact that in spite of her natural treasures, it is really any other tier-II city, crowded on weekends at the beach, humid and dusty. In the heat and the humdrum, it is easy to accidentally forget you live in a place that looks like a desktop screensaver, mercifully unseized by excessive tourism.

But on most days, in its quieter hours, the treasures of its coast replenish weary eyes: and this is the Vizag captured in Navin Bahirwani’s lens. One sees the city polished into a radiant and jewel-hued version of itself: the Vizag one visits on an impulsive evening drive to the beach to get some time off at the end of a tiring weekday.

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“You never realise the beauty of your native place until you live away from it,” says Navin.

 An accounts and administration career in the Caribbean kept him away from his hometown for almost a decade. After he returned, his desire to share the beauty of the city he grew up in, got him started in photography. Painstakingly captured at precise hours of dawn and dusk, he commenced Just Vizag, a continuously updated collection of photographs taken since 2010.

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For over six months, he’d be out and about at 4.30 in the morning to capture the perfect lighting in various locations featured in his album. Many of them are panoramic landscape shots that capture Vizag’s natural beauty, its docks, fisherfolk, and well-known urban landmarks.

“I see photography as an art, painting with light,” he says. And indeed the images he captures of Visakhapatnam, while being pristine have a personal touch: the photographer’s efforts to perfect the colours and tones of his vision- what he sees while squinting into the salty air and tropical sun.

“Many a time, what I see and what the camera captures is different. I mostly adjust contrast and hues, to match my vision.”  He relies heavily on HDR and NDR techniques to accomplish this.

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He now runs the Vizag’s Photographer’s Club, a community of Vizag-based photographers, and is trying to turn his hobby into a full-time profession.

To see the rest of his work, visit his facebook page.

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