NIGHT IS NOW DAY FOR THE FIRST TIME!!
March 9, 1996.Chinnaswamy Stadium.
We just got our new floodlights.
And guess who’s playing?
Just as today…India and Pakistan!
55,000 people had gathered in the Chinnaswamy stadium to experience the unfolding of one of the greatest drama in modern times.
It was the 1996 cricket World Cup, also called the Wills World Cup.
I was among the many photographers covering this exciting event with an exclusive platform for my shoot.
Read how I shot it with a Sinar here
The lights were important as I felt we were celebrating the possibility of a day-night match for the first time because the lights enabled it. So why not cover the scene with a ‘view camera’ so that the lights are rendered perspective corrected!
But then I would like a very wide view. And in a wide view the players will become insignificant. So why not use the biggest weapon of the day ‘the 8×10 in Sinar?! The equipment was the most sophisticated of its time anywhere in the world and we employed it. For sports photography! How does one arrest action on the field as the shutters of the field cameras were slow. So I used the 155mm Grandagon that had a built in leaf shutter giving me the ability to freeze anything I wanted! The 155mm also gave me the perfect angle-of-view to frame the super-wide arena. I am going a bit technical here as most learners ask me to explain how do I take the picture making decisions.
And so it went on, thinking of the purpose and prioritizing the possibilities. Looking for the pain-points and coming up with killer solutions.
2 important aspects were now left. The most important is obviously the toughest question of the image-making creative process – “ where do I place the camera- what is my viewpoint – at which spot will I be able to tell my story best?
The perspective had to be right so that the final viewer should be able to see the scene, the players and the entire stadium as well as the right perspective of the lights with the grounds and the WILLS logo. We selected a viewpoint and built our camera positions on it. That day I had all my Hasselblad’s and a back up large format 4×5 Sinar and Nikons! One cant be too careful!
The second and equally important aspect is the emotional content. Here it is the light. Waiting for the curve of light on the field , waiting for the players to be within a certain composition of the light and allowing the light to divide the WILLS logo meant waiting till the sky reached just that twilight magical hour to make the artificial lights a bit more powerful than the natural light so that impact of the artificial lights just begins to be felt.
The evening swath that divides the field places attention in the right places and the lights received just the right awareness status without loosing details of the match and the stadium which is what my client, the cricket authorities wanted me to visually display.
The catch , the moment that got all the layers unidirectionally looking at the shadow area took place at the paler strip of land at the far end.
When the eminent photographer and dear friend, Mahesh Bhat so kindly send me a picture of me with the Big Bertha – the 8×10 Sinar Camera, that he had captured 2 decades ago, I realized how fortunate I was that I had a talented guy who saw the irony of a mad photographer choosing to shoot a sports photograph with a huge lumbering giant of a camera! I had a classic, both his fab picture and the 8×10 transparency that I had shot that day! And all this on a grand tussle of the never-ending rivalry between the greatest cricketing rivals of our times – India and Pakistan.
Incidentally for those who are curious, Waqar Younis was dangerous that day especially at Tendulkar. It was Navjot Singh Sidhu who blasted the opposition and eventually become the Man of the Match. Ajay Jadeja, the second hero created a winning rate by 22 runs from Waqar’s ninth over with 3 consecutive fours and a six! He scored 45 that day.
And then Pakistan came on. The normally calm Venkatesh Prasad bowled out the dangerous Aamir Soheil with a fiery “eyes blazing” spell. When Salim Malik was trapped leg-before by Bangalore’s own Kumble and Miandad was a ghost of his normal self, it was all over. India had won with 39 runs to spare! And we left the stadium with one of the greatest experiences of this grand game etched in our hearts forever.
I had buried this memory! as I did with several others of my blessed exciting life – if it were not for the picture shared by Mahesh Bhat that has stirred all those memories and the wonderful times we had.