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  • This is the best body of work in infra-red photography that I have seen in India.
      Shri S. Paul
    Photographer, on the infra red exhibition Ladakh Huess
  • I am proud to know this couple- Shamim and Sasmita. This book reflects the labour of their love. We could reach the place because of the power of his lens.
      Janab Arif Mohammed Khan
    Former state minister, at the inauguration of the book
  • Words fail me; outstanding!
      Mr. Rajiv Lochan
    Director NAGMA, on "One Fine Tuesday"
  • At times Delhi looks beautiful but the kind of flavour Shamim has brought about in black and white is not only very beautiful but after this book we all will see these monuments from a fresh perspective.

    ( while unveiling of the book 'Forgotten Dilli - Portrait of an immortal city')

    Extraordinarily taken pictures. Akhtar is someone we are proud of.

    ( on 'Ladakh Hues " )
      Mrs. Sheila Dixit
    Ex-CM Delhi
  • When stones burst into songs

    Qutub Minar must count among the most sketched, painted and photographed monuments of the world. What the Eiffel Tower is to Parisians, the Big Ben to Londoners, the Brandenburg Gate to Berliners and the Statue of Liberty to New Yorkers, the Qutub Minar is to Dilliwallahs. It is older and more spectacular than all the other monuments.

    I have seen hundreds of photographs of Qutub Minar but none to match the cover of Forgotten Dilli, Portrait of an Immortal City by Sasmita S. Akhtar and Shamim Akhtar. Shamim is a Bihari Muslim, now in the IAS, posted in Delhi. Sasmita is an Oriya Brahmin, a sociologist, who is a product of Jawaharlal Nehru University. Between them, they produced a pictorial album on Lakshadweep and now one on the old monuments of Delhi.

    Sasmita has written the text; Shamim has taken the photographs. They have limited their work to the end of the Mughal dynasty in 1857. They have pictures of baolis (step wells), dargahs (Sufi shrines), forts, mosques, and mausoleums. What arrests the readers attention is the interplay of light and shade on trees and clouds to highlight every monument.

    It is a sheer joy to turn over the pages of the book again and again. It reminded me of an old film song, 'Geet gaaya paththaron ne ' 'The stones burst with songs'.
      Mr. Khuswant Singh
    The Telegraph, 6th March 2010
  • 'A stunning exhibition, highlighting the unique beauty of Ladakh...extremely impressed by the quality of his images.'

    (on the exhibition, Rode to Heaven in 2008)

    'I have great pleasure in commending this book to all those who love mountains. Packed with photographs, there are short descriptive notes which are useful.'

    (In the foreword of the book, Rode to heaven: Ladakh in 2009)

    ...I myself have not been able to go to Kailasa nor will I be able to go to in this life; but after reading this book I feel I have also done half parikarma.'

    (At the inauguration of the book, 'Kailasa: A journey within' , at the Shanti Stupa, on the 30th of Jan. 2011)
      Dr. Karan Singh
    At the inauguration of the book, 'Kailasa: A journey within', at the Shanti Stupa, on the 30th of Jan. 2011

Different Portrait of Ladakh , Deccan Herald

February 13, 2013

Ladakh can be photographed a thousand times, and yet discovered in a new light in every shot. Proving this is Shamim Akhtar – civil servant and prolific lensman with his new photo exhibition ‘Ladakh hues.’ 

In a unique photographic technique called Infrared monochrome, Shamim has captured the natural beauty and spiritual serenity of Ladakh like 
never before.

In his own words, Shamim has a karmic connection with Ladakh and the Himalayas. The current Additional District Magistrate, New Delhi district, has visited the hilly terrain many times and produced many related photo exhibits and coffee books like ‘Ladakh’ and ‘Kailash Mansarovar.’ However, he says, every time he visits the place, something new meets his eyes.

“I first ventured to Ladakh in 1992 while still in college, on my 100 cc bike. Unfortunately, the bike broke down in the middle of the journey. I then made a second attempt in 2006 on my new 350 cc bike and succeeded this time. Ladakh has been calling out to me. 

Whether it is the surreal landscape, the frozen civilization or the just blissful calm, I am yet to find out, but sometimes I feel like I have a relation of past lives with Ladakh.”

In his various visits, and two exhibitions, Shamim has covered almost the length and breadth of Ladakh. He has shot various monuments like the Leh and Stok Palace, monasteries like Tsemo and Thikse and natural features of the region like the Sindhu river, various hill ranges and Karzok village. However, in ‘Ladakh hues,’ he has tweaked his photographic technique.

This time, he has made use of an infrared filter in his camera. This instrument captures the photographic subject over a period of time, unlike in a flash, resulting in long exposures. This leads to the stationary objects in the scene to remain fixed while the moving subjects like the sky and leaves of a tree become hazy. The end result is dramatic, awe-inspiring photographs.

Moreover, he has shot them in black and white giving an ethereal timeless feel to his photographs. Shamim notes that every time he has visited Ladakh, he has seen the volume of tourist generated garbage grow. “Ladakh is soon turning into another Kulu-Manali. There are polybags, food and juice cans strewn everywhere. 

It is a big threat because Ladakh is one place which has managed to preserve its centuries-old natural beauty thanks to its remote location. If it is spoilt once, there is little chance that the environment can be restored.”

“For the same reason, I request people to surely visit Ladakh but make sure to bring their garbage back. In the same spirit, my earlier photo exhibit was taglined ‘Road to heaven.’ This time it is, ‘Are you worthy enough to visit Ladakh?’”


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