Ian Lockwood


Monsoon Vignettes: An Appreciation in Black & White

with 5 comments

IIC Quarterly opening page of photo-essay.

In recent years my explorations in South Asia have brought me into close contact with the meteorological and metaphorical super-phenomenon of the monsoon. My focus areas of the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka are both dramatically impacted by the South West (summer) and North East (winter) monsoons. The significance of these seasonal rains on the landscapes, ecosystems and cultures cannot be overstated. Water is at the heart of the issue. The connection between healthy natural forests in the hills, water and the wellbeing of human communities is a critical link. It is a theme that has been highlighted by conservationists in the Western Ghats for the past three decades.

"Monsoon Vignettes" photo essay pages 63-75.

I had an opportunity to visually explore these themes in the summer publication of the India International Centre’s IIC Quarterly. The twelve images are from my work in the Western Ghats between 1992 and 2010. A few of the pictures have been exhibited and published but there were several unpublished images in the photo-essay. The images emphasize natural landscapes and human elements have mostly been left out in this selection. The Quarterly carried essays by Jairam Ramesh, India’s Minister of the Environment and a range of other notable writers and thinkers. I wrote a short essay on the monsoon to accompany the photographs. Here is a short excerpt from the beginning:

…In the summer months, as the earth’s axial tilt and trade winds shift, India impatiently awaits news of the arrival of the season of rain. Its timing, the predictions of its strength and how much water it will grant to farmers make the monsoon a rare geographic gem of interest to a wide segment of South Asia’s population.  The heroes making these predictions are the atmospheric scientists and meteorologists of the Indian Meteorology Department. One imagines them pacing up and down the shores of Kovalam beach looking into the heavens for signs of the shift in weather patterns, though it is more likely that they are staring at computer monitors filled with satellite imagery and mathematical models in their offices in Pune. When it arrives, the monsoon comes after a long period of intense heat, paucity of food crops and general unhappiness amongst people living with the elements. The monsoon’s arrival is often dramatic bringing an explosive rush of gushing rainfall, cool relief and a revival of life to the region. It is metaphorically projected through the exuberant release of passion and erotic energy that are popularly choreographed in innumerable Bollywood dance sequences….


Written by ianlockwood

2010-10-27 at 3:07 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Amazing stuff. Anyway to access this photo-essay as PDF form ?

    Kalyan Varma

    2010-10-27 at 3:10 pm

    • Many thanks for the prompt feedback Kalyan. I need to get the go-ahead from the editors and then I’ll upload the PDF on my http://www.highrangephotogrpahy.com published work page. Sorry to have missed you in the Anaimalais earlier this year… any interesting work happening at the moment?


      2010-10-27 at 3:33 pm

      • Will look forward to it 🙂

        Currently working with Anand here. Doing a small education documentary on elephants and how people can live with them. Not much photography stuff lately, just some photo workshops that I have been doing and work here with Anand.

        I’m doing a brief trip to sri lanka in dec. Are you there these days ?

        Kalyan Varma

        2010-10-27 at 5:47 pm

  2. Superb shots!


    2010-10-29 at 3:08 pm

  3. dear Ian,

    wonderful amazing pics from my favourite former EVS-teacher. Looking forward to the PDF pics, they are awesome and make me feel nostalgic about classes, hikes and more… I’d really like to download them. They just ooze your love for nature. I’m still a fan, following your work from a distance. all the best!


    2010-11-19 at 4:23 pm

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