The Face of Grace




The Face of Grace
I have to tell the story that goes along with this creature, which will explain the Image Title:
It was nearly dusk and it had been raining leopards that day in Yala. but it was an elephant that stole my heart and taught me something valuable.

we had spent the whole day in the park and were exhausted. the normal chirpiness had hushed to an occasional word here and there. the forest road ahead of us was ramrod straight and we were on it at a good clip. suddenly, from a bend very far ahead, loomed an elephant. he was huge, even from a distance.

we kept going, and i was a little taken aback at that. i must have alarmed the driver when i screamed (or was it implored?) at him to stop. i told him to shut off the engine. and we waited.

the elephant sashayed towards us extremely gracefully despite his size, putting one foot right in front of another, almost like he was walking a ramp. when he realized that we were stopped right in the middle of the road, he clearly had to make a decision. i saw him hesitate for a second or two, he took one step back and then continued towards us. stopping a few meters away from us, he sidestepped into the brush and waited there. not eating, nothing. just waiting.

i told the driver to move ahead. when the driver made as if to stop alongside the elephant, i told him no… and to keep moving. the elephant was giving us right of way. we went past the giant pachyderm and stopped down the road. sure enough, the elephant stepped out onto the road and carried on, without a glance back at us.

Politeness, non-confrontation, grace, and dignity, personified. that beautiful creature. i smiled and laughed inwardly for it reaffirmed in me that they are so much bigger than us, in so many ways.
Tue Oct 11, 2011 4:17 pm
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~ Arati Rao ~

AratiRao  Joined CNP On 08 Sep 2011    Total Image posts 118    -   Total Image Comments 504    -   Image Post to Comment Ratio 1:4    -   Image Comment Density 80     -     Total Forum Posts 86

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Commentby Samyak on Tue Oct 11, 2011 4:49 pm

liked the composition and patches of light just in right areas, Arati.
Lovely narration and agree with all what you said about these giants.
A little bit of more sharpening could have brought out the texture and eye details little more in lighted areas.


Commentby AratiRao on Tue Oct 11, 2011 4:56 pm

Thanks Samyak... when i was working on this image, i spent a lot of time thinking about sharpening or going the other direction... i decided to add some noise to the image and go the other direction, giving only a hint of the details... just a choice :) i could easily have done the opposite! And maybe i should and see what develops.


~ Arati Rao ~

Commentby Vijay Mohan Raj on Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:09 pm

If ever there will be an Asian elephant book, this image HAS to be in it, very very unique, I have seen many takes like this but this hits your senses strongly. Excellent play of light and loved reading the story. The silence through which a large animal moves in the forest is something which I have experienced time and again and this image reiterates that character of this giant. To sharpen or not will clearly be a point in this thread, as of now no nits for me.

A creative mind is a restless soul...

Commentby ramesh_adkoli on Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:59 pm

Amazing image, Arati. The story and the image warm up the heart. I like the abstractness in the way you presented the image: it gives an impression of being larger than life yet very much a part of it. TFS.

Commentby Nilanjan Das on Tue Oct 11, 2011 6:07 pm

Arati, how old are you dear ?? :-), No, am serious about this, you take it from me that if you spoil your talent then I would become your worst enemy in life :-). Now let's push our imaginations a bit further. I have completely understood the maturity of the mind which can create an image like that, I envy that at your age, I could not even dream of anything close to it. Let us imagine an elephant in similar conditions again sometime in future. Now what do we look for ? For a long time it has been dream for me that I want to make an elephant image with impressions of the shape of the leaves formed on the head or the trunk in the form of a shadow. The feel of the forest would come from those shadows falling on the elephant you know. Go , make that image one day dear, I really want it to be yours as you deserve it more than I do, I can promise that if I get a chance, I will not make the image anymore as perhaps you will make it much better than I can :-). Now with the kind of people we have in CNP, I can only say , nothing is impossible. Am so very proud of you. God bless you and all the best wishes for now and in the future.....My God, these kids, where will you all stop ??? :-).

Nilanjan Das Photography

Commentby Radha on Tue Oct 11, 2011 6:16 pm

mind blowing image Arati :) it has me mesmerised.. been gaping at it all evening..

Radha Rangarajan
My Blog ~ Flickr

Commentby sriram janak on Tue Oct 11, 2011 6:49 pm

just love it !!

Living with a damaged skull

Commentby Ganesh H Shankar on Tue Oct 11, 2011 7:08 pm

The word 'art' is my critique for images like this. Regarding the discussion on whether to sharpen or not I tend to think it suits as is. This image in my mind has a philosophic note which might get diluted by sharpening. Sharpened image will make our eyes spend more time on the details but as presented eyes get done quite quickly and mind takes over the image. It is that latter phase of the looking through the mind makes this image very strong - at least in my brain. Your description of of the event is very nice too. We become so small in comparison. I had a similar experience in past. Here is a note I wrote long ago.

We are proud to have you all as part of CNP. The kind of quality and originality we see these days is immense. Looks like the vision we had for CNP is indeed achievable !! Thanks for sharing Arati.

Ganesh H. Shankar
Wishing you best light,

Personal Websites Fine Art Nature Photography
Facebook Pages Ganesh H. Shankar | Fine Art Nature Photography | Art Of Life

» Last edited by Ganesh H Shankar on Tue Oct 11, 2011 7:22 pm; edited 2 times in total

Commentby neelu on Tue Oct 11, 2011 7:15 pm

arati....i now see ur art and stories...converging to create the magic..what a delight....all that could be said will be limiting to this image...IMO.

Commentby Debiprakash Dass on Tue Oct 11, 2011 7:32 pm

This is brilliant . . love everything about it.

Commentby Saravana G on Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:12 pm

Wow... Wonderful image! The soft light adds to the softness of the image.. so i prefer it exactly as it is! Just superb!!!

Commentby AratiRao on Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:09 pm

Hi folks,
am totally overwhelmed by your response to this image. i can only say that my emotions towards this particular individual (called Junius and living in Yala, Sri Lanka) has allowed me to make this image.

Vijay, thanks so much for the encouraging words. The silence of Junius as he moved i have captured on video soon after making the stills. it was truly beautiful. Am glad you think this image captures that silence.
Nilanjan-da, i wish i were a kid :) BUT i certainly feel like one and act like one, at most times - Neelu, radha will attest to that! i have also dreamt of that exact same type of image you describe. this is the closest so far, and i will stay awake for more opportunities. am blown away by your kind words and steadfast encouragement - thank you!
Ganesh, i read your note. So you have felt it too. that humbling feeling of awe at these wondrous creatures. inspiring, isnt it? I am so happy that you might consider an image like this, art. i am still trying to find my bearings here - and your comments & guidance always help me a lot. Thank you.
Saravana, Debiprakash, Neelu, Sriram, Radha, and Ramesh, thank you so much :)


~ Arati Rao ~

Commentby Nevil Zaveri on Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:50 am

simply mindboggling portrait, arati. love the way just minimal light render this humble giant. noise 'n little unsharpness pushes deeper in the realm of art. wonderful embedded prose, as usual.

tfs. regards.

Nevil Zaveri

Commentby dinesh.ramarao on Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:55 am

This is a wonderful creation. I have to reiterate Ganesh's word here, these days quality and originality of creations have been expnentially increasing on CNP. Thanks for a joyful creation Arati.

Commentby Sriharsha Ganjam on Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:33 am

The way the elephant comes into being from darkness is what I really love here. This image is playing with our visual senses here and I can almost feel the elephant dissolve into darkness again. Maybe thats why I would go against sharpening this image. Its perfect the way it is. A lovely candidate for a blowup canvas print
Nice seeing and execution