Happy Diwali! (Now, Explain This Photo)

I found the following photo on Flickr, using a search for the “Diwali” tag (most recent):

diwali photo 2008.jpg

The caption on Flickr is “Behold Srivathsan, the Magician of Fire.” If you click on the image and login to Flickr, you can see a larger version of the photo. Is it just your usual fireworks, or is something unuusal going on? What is up with the horizontal streak of light across the frame?

Whatever the case, I think it’s safe to say that this is the kind of thing that is pretty much “only in India.”

34 thoughts on “Happy Diwali! (Now, Explain This Photo)

  1. He’s lighting the rocket with a phooljhari ( feels good using the word) and it’s been photographed with a slow shutter speed which is why the image has captured the movement of light.

  2. The force is his ally

    ha. i got it. i havent seen the prequels/sequels but remember the old one where this old wrinkled guy woud be throwing out sparklers from his hands. wonder what mr. srivathsan would make of old wrinkeld dude and his sparklers from his hands. reminds me of the time when i tried writing a ‘scifi’ story for a school assignment and, very proud of my effort, brought it to dad for his review.

    ‘what’s a dimension?’, he asked. ‘it’s like another world’ ‘why is it fourth dimension. is it time?’ ‘what time’ ‘time is a dimension’ ‘hunh’ ‘hunh’ -silence- ‘and why did he fall through the hole into another dimension’.

    …and we stared blankly at each other. the wonderful man he is, he gamely tried – as he always did – and wanted to help but it was a lost cause. anyway, he was right of course. it was a crappy story and one of my lesser efforts. i got no higher than a B+ in that assignment.

    anyhow, mr srivathsan reminds me to call in. whether you celebrate divali or not, call in and thank dad. these are precious days :-)

    Happy Divali folks.

  3. Uncleji wants to stick his roti in the cracker to give it a LIGHTNINGY* flavor

    *(ratatouille)

  4. He is lighting a rocket with a sparkler or similar. The exposure is long, but in the middle of the exposure, just when Mr. Srivathsan is lighting the rocket, a flash has been fired, probably manually or with a remote trigger. The flash freezes him and lights up the background.

  5. Damn, I seriously, seriously thought that was a picture of my grandfather for like 5 seconds

  6. He’s lighting the rocket with a phooljhari ( feels good using the word) and it’s been photographed with a slow shutter speed which is why the image has captured the movement of light.

    That’s what I thought – but the slow shutter speed must mean that his hands(at least) must be fuzzy due to movement. They’re not. So either uncle’s steady as steel or there’s something else behind this.

    M. Nam

  7. Let us hope uncle Shrivathsan’s loongi is tight at the bottom. I remeber from my childhood days in Ahmedabad when an uncle although standing on a high perched balcony had a rocket landed straight into his loongi, the rest is history. HAPPY DIWALI to all and wish you all better times with lots of LAKSHMI.

  8. That’s what I thought – but the slow shutter speed must mean that his hands(at least) must be fuzzy due to movement. They’re not. So either uncle’s steady as steel or there’s something else behind this.

    No, his hand would not show up on the trail due to being immediately behind a very bright sparkler, which would hog the attention more than the reflected light off his hand. The only time his hand would be visible is when the flash went off. JM@11 has reverse-engineered the process spot-on.

    Also, nice picture.

  9. The flash creates the effect of a double exposure. It illuminates the man while the shutter stays open long enough to capture to rocket taking off.

  10. Pakistan launches response to Chandrayaan, immediately plunges into bankruptcy.

    HAHA speaking for Chandrayaan, read this Time for Abhi to head home.

  11. It seems Srivathsan uncle’s garb seems to have caught more attention than his pyrotechnics with a few people. The comments are from folks of presumably North Indian origin because they refer to a DHOTI as a LUNGI (or Looongi because they think a misspelling makes it funny). ‘You people’ need to be schooled on the distinction between the two. The Dhoti is always white with an optional border to befit the occasion. It has to be draped around the waist. The Lungi on the other hand (waist?) is multicolored and worn more like a skirt.

    The Dhoti, or Vaeshti as it is called in Tamilnadu, has always been different and people like me take umbrage when the two are confused. Take a look at this article for how sensitive this confusion is to some: http://forums.sulekha.com/forums/coffeehouse/Why-Not-Lungi-862674.htm

  12. Does look like a slow shutter speed pic. But then how come the guy is stationary and not fuzzy. Maybe there is some photoshop effects on top of a slow shutter exposure.

  13. The guy appears sharp because the flash fired and exposed him. Once the flash cut off, he was in the dark — but the shutter was still open, allowing the sparks to be picked up. Thus, the “double” exposure — first, the flash illuminating the guy and then the slow shutter speed collecting the ambient light.

  14. 25 · Preston said

    The guy appears sharp because the flash fired and exposed him. Once the flash cut off, he was in the dark — but the shutter was still open, allowing the sparks to be picked up. Thus, the “double” exposure — first, the flash illuminating the guy and then the slow shutter speed collecting the ambient light.

    Isn’t that referred to as a “Drag Shutter Exposure” rather than a “double” exposure?

  15. Isn’t that referred to as a “Drag Shutter Exposure” rather than a “double” exposure?

    Yes, it’s not actually a double exposure; hence, my square quotes. But the effect is of two exposures. Dragging the shutter does refer to using a really slow shutter speed, which is more accurate since you can’t do actual double exposures with digital.

  16. Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak to all SM folk.

    I was hoping this was india’s new spin bowler.

  17. @14 – You are right. If you look closely, the sparkler is also clearly visible. That this photograph was not shot at slow shutter speeds can also be proven by looking at the EXIF info (if available on Flickr – too lazy to check it outmyself). The streak of light is just a stray spark which has been sent flying across by the rocket. It looks great on camera, but in real life, it was probably a teensy-weensy spark.

  18. Yeah. Flickr EXIF says Flash fired, exposure 4 seconds. Just about the same thing about 20 comments have already said. There’s no mystery left in the world :( Damn You, EXIF Info!

  19. You guys have pretty much figured it out. It’s a 4 seconds-long exposure, using my fist as a tripod. The flash goes off at the beginning of the exposure, at the moment when Dr. Srivathsan lights the wick of the rocket with the sparkler. The horizontal white trace is from Srivathsan stepping away from the rocket with the sparkler in his hand. Since there was almost no light in the parking spot, during that motion he is as invisible to the camera as a stage ninja is invisible to their audience.

    Oh, and it was pretty great in real life too!