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This Photographer Shoots Sun-sational Optical Illusions


Visual artist Sulabh Lamba has a passion for sunsets and photography. He has created a body of work over the last 6 years that consists of hilarious illusions showing silhouettes of people interacting with the setting sun.

Warning: If this article inspires you to take photos of the sun through a telephoto lens, do not look at the sun even briefly through an optical viewfinder (like what’s found in a DSLR) as it can cause injury to the eye even with brief exposures and even with ND filters. And, even if you are not looking through the viewfinder, long exposures can possibly damage the sensor.

“In 2014, I saw an announcement of a National Geographic photo contest,” Lamba tells PetaPixel. “So, for that, I made an Instagram account and posted my images for that particular hashtag.”

“Imagine…No knowledge of photography, only some interest in it made me enter…” recollects Lamba. “I laugh at these images. They don’t even make any sense.”

Lamba, who turned 22 last November, lives in the small village of Golia located about 60 miles southwest of New Delhi, India’s capital. He holds a BS in zoology from the University of Delhi, and photography is a passion and a hobby.

Lamba’s foray into photography started half a decade ago when he first picked up a 2-megapixel smartphone.

“I struggled a lot as there was nobody in my circle who could help me,” he says.

Much later, he acquired a Nikon D5300 with a 70-300mm lens for his sun photos. He also uses Xiaomi Mi 10T and Poco X2 smartphones.

Most of the photos are shot between f/6.3 to f/10 depending on sunlight conditions. In action shots, he keeps the shutter speed above 1/500s.

The sun is always a focal point in Lamba’s visual drama. He likes do things like carry the sun on his back, play leapfrog with the sun, feed the sun to a bird with its beak open, kick the sun anime style into an opponent, shovel the sun away as though he is farming, carry the sun over a ledge with help from a friend, and do a high wire walk with the sun looming in the background.

His favorite series shot so far shows him pushing the sun over a cliff and walking away with a job-well-done attitude.

“Initially, I didn’t make [the sun] my target,” Lamba explains. “I love sunsets, more than sunrises, plus I saw many images on social media as well. They really inspired me, and I started creating that content. With time I got to know that I love images with backlight, silhouettes. So, I used my creative skills and made interesting images.”

His friends are always willing models for his sun photography as he poses them in silhouette to take on their exact place in these photo drama canvases.

“Because of COVID-19, I have not met any of my friends recently, and since then, my brothers have helped out,” the photographer says.

Lamba now has over 25,000 followers on Instagram.

“It feels great to have this much audience,” he reflects. “I never thought this many people would ever join me in my journey. I am very thankful for all the love people shower on my work. With big numbers come big responsibilities. I have to make more amazing content for my audience now. I am getting love from foreign countries and my own people as well, and I feel really blessed.”

Snapseed and Lightroom are his go-to programs.

“If a photograph is already up to the mark or the colors are already pleasant, then there are fewer requirements of post-processing,” he says. “I use the phone only for editing and post-processing.”

Are the photos made by double exposure in post?

“Yes, but partially,” Lamba says. “My images are edited and real [in camera] as well. I use PicsArt for manipulation purposes. But not all the images are double exposure; only some of them are. Some images are the result of more than two images. And all that is done based on the idea and concept behind the shots. That way, I can create what I really thought. Either it’s reality or just my imagination. If I can think it, I can create it.”

When people ask Lamba if he is a professional photographer, his quick response is, “I would choose ‘passionate photographer’.” However, he is a “professional” as well — he is currently a content creator for Xiaomi India.

You can find more of Lamba’s photography and follow along through his Instagram.

About the author: Phil Mistry is a photographer and teacher based in Atlanta, GA. He started one of the first digital camera classes in New York City at The International Center of Photography in the 90s. He was the director and teacher for Sony/Popular Photography magazine’s Digital Days Workshops. You can reach him via email here.

Image credits: All photos by Sulabh Lamba and used with permission