Spin it to win it.

‘This is the story of the ‘spinners’ of Vellore. Spinning tops, also called ‘pambaram’ (Tamil) or ‘Latoo’ (Hindi) is a popular toy for children, all around the world . I was on a walk through the many streets of Vellore, yet unknown to me, when I stumbled upon the construction site where these children were at play with their spinning tops. ย They met me with great enthusiasm and wanted me to shoot them at play. This is a series of images (both color and B&W) from that evening.

This is the group- from the novice to the more experienced.. the toothy one in the center is the novice.. He hasn’t learned the great art yet, but hopes to become a star one day. The ones in the back row are all experienced, particularly the one in the center.

The game of spin top involves winding a thick thread(often colored) over the handle of the top …

and violently flinging it to the ground.

They know quite a few moves, including picking up the rapidly spinning top from the ground with their hand and the thread, and keep it spinning on their hands. One of them even picked it up with the thread and flung it up in between his legs and caught it. The only comparison for that in sport is the ‘between the legs’ shot by Roger Federer.

That is one Kodak moment for him.

They wanted me to show me the champion of the game amongst them and ran to get him. This is the guy who does the ‘between the legs’ top with ease. When he came, everyone just stopped to watch him do his thing.

They showed me a few more moves, this time together .

But unfortunately it was time for me to go back to work. However, they had a final flourish to present.

Hope you enjoyed these images as much as I enjoyed taking them. All your comments and critique is appreciated.


18 thoughts on “Spin it to win it.

  1. Great set and story, Georgie. Thank you for capturing and sharing :-)…
    BTW, you said that there is a champion among them. How they decide who is the champion or the winner? I mean, how do they compete?

    1. forgot to mention it in the blog.. The objective of the game is to throw the other players’ spintops out of the playing field by throwing your spintop onto it. Rrequires aim, focus, dexterity and good force.. The guy with the champion smile (skullcap and red shirt) in the picture is the most skilled among them all (he can do the between-the-legs trick, which no one else in the group can).. Naturally I thought him as champion.. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Georgie boy,I think this is the best you’ve produced till date..enjoyed the series thoroughly especially the last 3 pictures-ESP the very last one.G,send this for some competition-you’ll win hands down,otherwise publish it somewhwere like the ones of the cmc campus etc that you’d taken for the cmc publication that your dad had speed posted to me last year..great to cheer up a depreesed endocrine soul etc etc.keep it up

  3. I like the 7th one best, since it’s very well composed and you see 3 different expressions in the background. The others are ok, but it’s too posed and for me, looks a bit like ordinary snapshots. Maybe you can try to blend in and just capture them candid. But yeah, I’d say the 7th one is a keeper.

    1. thanks for looking through, Danny.. Capturing children candid is a challenge, a rare example I have managed to do so is my submission for Eric Kim’s “The decisive moment” competition..

      I’d give my reasons for them being posed
      1. Those kids actually wanted to pose for me and I couldn’t help it. The moment I paused to look for a candid frame, they’d stop playing.
      2. My gear is now a (borrowed) nikon D3000 with an 18-55mm. These images were shot at around 630 pm on a cloudy day and I had to use flash to get good light. I guess I’d have done better with a good zoom prime , like the 85mm f1.4, but I cant afford it now.

      Hope these don’t sound like excuses. I hope to better my skills with time and as I can afford good gear also.
      I love kids in the streets and there are many other images of candid kids in my blog.
      Thanks again

    1. ๐Ÿ™‚ after that series and the other post “the debate vs color and monochrome” , I started thinking about B&W seriously… any suggestions regarding whether to shoot in camera B&W or convert later.. as I had already mentioned, I shoot JPEG,, Dunno how to work with RAW..

      1. i shoot raw+jpeg and set camera to b&w mode when i want. That way you can get a raw file which is colour and a jpeg file in b&w and the best part is your camera image preview will be b&w so you have an immediate idea of how the shot looks in b&w

      2. that sounds like a good idea.. will try it out and let you know.. thanks a lot!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I have one doubt, what can I do to get my RAW files to look like in-camera jpg. I mean they are less bright, less saturated , etc compared to the in-camera jpg’s.. you have any presets?

  4. The first and the last one are just wonderful. maybe i can take the liberty to answer your question – shoot in camera B&W if you wish to. No harm and more often than not your camera will do the work for you. But if you tend to oscillate between color and B&W like i do , shooting in raw helps. You can always switch either ways. If you havent shifted to raw, maybe time you do. Will allow you greater control over your work. You need to get easy softwares (free) like picassa, or therawtherapee or something. I am sure you can google that.

    1. Thanks for the suggestions, Mayank!! I definitely need some feedback regarding my processing as well.. Actually I had tried RAW for a few days, and frankly speaking, I did not know what to do with these images,
      I use aperture and rarely lightroom, though I don’t know much about either..
      My workflow is pretty simple. I know what settings work for me and I just made it into a preset. Its an edited version of “toy camera” preset in aperture, tweaked to my use.
      Guess my schedule (work hours are highly erratic for a junior doctor here in Vellore) also does not permit large scale editing as well. So I just stick to import images > select good ones and delete the rest > preset edit > publish in blog/flickr.. Done!!

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