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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rasha Yousif: The Vedic School

Rasha Yousif is a photographer from the island nation of Bahrain, and is only the second Middle Eastern participant in my photo expeditions-workshops since I started them 10 years or so ago. She is a portfolio manager, and has a Masters in Finance from DePaul University.

During my The Oracles Of Kerala Photo Expedition-Workshop, Rasha worked on a number of multimedia photo projects and is one of the first to publish her very first attempt at Soundslides with her Five Hundred Years Vedic School.

In most of her projects, Rasha has easily connected with people and used this ability to add personal voice clips to her sound tracks. You'll hear such a clip in her Vedic School project.

She is quite adept in using her iPhone for on-the-fly photography, and to record the progress of her work during the two weeks in Kerala.

Photo © Rasha Yousif- All Rights Reserved

I had arranged for a photo shoot at an ancient Vedic (or training/boarding school very similar to the Buddhist monasteries for novitiates, or a Muslim madrasa in Thrissur, where we were treated to a demonstration of this way of teaching the sacred Vedic scriptures.

POV: Is May 10 The Day For Leica?

Photo Courtesy GIZMODO

May 10th.

That's when Leica will announce a "whole range of product launches" in Berlin. Am I waiting with bated breath for these new products? Not at all. But having a M9 and very much aware of its strong points and shortcomings, I'm interested in seeing what will Leica come up with. It's more from a business side than from a photographic one since the German company is under assault from Fuji and others that are treading on its turf.

I was recently sent a heads up by Zeyad Gohary on a new all-white $31,770 M9-P model with a Noctilux f/0.95 50mm lens. Ridiculous of course, but perhaps it will sell well amongst the moneyed elites, celebrities and collectors. I had a chuckle imagining it in my grubby hands had I had one and used it during the recent festivals I was at in India. It would have turned black (with yellow turmeric and red stains) very quickly. Maybe the Kardashian sisters and their ilk would buy it, but Leica must've done its market research and concluded that it'll make money peddling this all-white model.

That said, I wonder what a "whole range of product launches" will mean. It's reported that the Fuji X-100 clobbered Leica's X1 model, and I predict that Fuji X-Pro 1 will become a favored tool for photographers who won't shell out $8000 or so to buy a M9 (or more in case of a successor). Leica is run by hard headed businessmen who look at the bottom line, and hopefully look into the future...and the future is for cameras that look, smell, cost and work like the Fuji X-Pro 1. Leica's investors know the future as well, and making white M9-P is a cute gimmick, but will not bring in the kind of cash inflow that satisfies these investors.

The range of new products may mean a successor to the M9, lenses and -if my gut feel is right- a new line of mirrorless cameras to directly compete with the Japanese products. A new M10 (improved focus, better LCD, better ISO, etc) and/or a new range of EVIL-like cameras.

That's my call.

Update: The Oracles Of Kerala

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
As I always do on completion of a trip, I shall be writing a comprehensive 'post-mortem' on The Oracles of Kerala Photo Expedition/Workshop™...what worked, what didn't, comparing my expectations to what was the reality, etc. in a few days. And for the Leica crowd, whether it was a good idea to take my M9 along with me.

In the meantime, I can very comfortably say that this two weeks expedition was, in many ways, one the best I ever led.

Whilst I generally preferred northern India to its south, this trip changed this view.