Jeremiah Rogers

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Dhaka, Bangladesh with a Ricoh GR

A man on a small boat in a light rain storm as oil spills into the Buriganga River through Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Two weeks ago I spent five days in Dhaka, Bangladesh. On my second day in the city proper I made my way down to Shadurghat port by rickshaw. Shadurghat is a fantastically busy port with over 1.5 million people arriving every day by boat.

The almost one hour long ride to Shadurghat cost such a small amount of money, only 100 taka (about $1.28) that I felt badly for the rickshaw driver. He was happy to get the money and my small tip, but it shows just how poor some of the people in Bangladesh are.

At Shadurghat port I was quickly mobbed by curious locals, repeatedly asking me “What country?”, asking me if I had cigarettes for them, and men in blue shirts with red sleeve markers asking me if I wanted them to show me around.

Men on a ferry boat in Dhaka, Bangladesh look on as oil spills into the Buriganga, River.

One man stood out from the crowd, a man who’s name I would later learn is Juwul. Juwul asked me if I’d just like to accompany him into the port and look at a few of the boats — a hard offer to turn down — but then he led me on a kind of magical two hour tour through the boats, across the Buriganga River in a small dinghy, and through the ship destruction yards and propeller manufacturing plants of South Dhaka.

Juwul opening an umbrella as storms gathered and showing me where we were headed, the yards in South Dhaka.

This wasn’t a reporting project. I had no specific goals in mind except seeing what was in the city that I may find interesting to come back and photograph later.

This was the beginning of what I’d hoped was a one month long road journey between Dhaka, Bangladesh and Chennai, India. I ended up cutting that journey short because of illness.

My primary lesson from this trip, which I think was incredibly valuable, is that I want to be operating from a home base going forward. I love travel, I love the open road, but the fortitude needed to push into more and more remote areas comes more easily to me when I know that there’s a home and friends to return to. Being sick in Bangladesh and wanting to go home and not knowing where home is was tough.

Left: Man working to destruct a ship in a South Dhaka, shipyard. Right: Oil spilling into the Buriganga River.

Workers banging on ships with small hammers in South Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Welding propellers in South Dhaka, Bangladesh.

On the technical side, all of these images were captured with a pocketable Ricoh GR camera. In this series they’re all shot at 28mm and uncropped. The Ricoh GR is a marvelous camera for something that fits in your pocket. I’m stunned at the image reproduction it creates. I’m also in love with the mechanics of the camera.

Operating the Ricoh GR:

  • For me I generally keep the Ricoh in shutter priority (TV) mode with snap focus set to 1.5 meters. In daylight I often set exposure compensation to -13 stops so that it will retain detail in the sky.
  • I use the Fn1 button (left on the D-pad) to switch quickly between snap focus and autofocus. The effect button is set to snap focus distance, and the Fn2 button is set to ISO.
  • On this trip I didn’t have a laptop so I created JPEGs in camera for Instagram and Facebook. Generally those JPEGs were created after the image was captured using Raw Development mode, which does a good job at letting me change exposure up or down one stop.
  • In Lightroom or Capture One the Ricoh GR raw files, which are standard DNG, have a lot of latitude. I’m able to get up or down 2.5 stops without substantial noise in the shadows or errors recovering highlights.
  • For such a small package camera I think that the lens is remarkable. As with all cameras this really depends on getting the exposure right. Once the exposure is nailed, and especially in good light, the Ricoh GR shines to make some amazing photographs.

Left: Young men destroying a mould of a ship propeller in South Dhaka. Right: Men casting a new ship propeller in sand on the ground.

Looking north at Dhaka city from a ship yard in South Dhaka, Bangladesh.