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The Yakshagana Portraits | by Anoop Negi
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The Yakshagana Portraits

Yakshagana is a dance form that is not so very well known.In India, it is confined mostly to the coastal part of Karnataka and is a highly stylised medium, and for its dance dramas enacts stories from the great Hindu epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata.


The dancers are also from Karnataka and the dressing up is a major ritual associated with Yakshagana as it is in Theyyam from Kerala. Elaborate paint work on the faces, fancy dresses and huge headgear are the norm for the ritual.


Shri Idagunji Mahaganapati Yakshagana Mandali, Keremane is based in Honnavar in Karnataka and this and the other photos in this series are of the performers from that acclaimed group.


The performance that I was witness to had them doing a story out of the Mahabharata with the 5 Pandava brothers taking on the might of the brave Duryodhana of the Kauravas played by the leader of the group Shri Keremane Shivanand Hegde.


One of the Pandava brothers expresses the enactment with his eyes and a bit with his hands.


Thanks V Saudamani from SPIC MAcay for the lead in.

Notes on Photography


This is a portrait shot at 900 ISO and hand held. The place was lit up for the make up with two large lamps. The framing here is like a deck of cards and maybe I could do a series of all te performers in that mode. This is a slightly different framing to give the photo more dynamic feel. Please check out the original framing in the comments below


The shallow DOF was a function of trying to get a steady shot at a reasonable shutter speed (1/60). Thus the ISO of 900. Would have loved to have the aperture at about 3 or 4 to take care of the entire body of the performer. No time to even change any setting, this just happened in the twinkle of an eye.



Taken on January 30, 2011 at 5.58pm IST (edit)

Posted to Flickr July 14, 2012 at 8.49AM IST (edit)

Exif data

Camera Nikon D300

Exposure 0.017 sec (1/60)

Aperture f/1.8

Focal Length 50 mm

ISO Speed 900

Exposure Bias 0 EV

Flash No Flash


_DSC9316 nef retweaked non sharp rfm

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Taken on January 30, 2011