Thursday, October 13, 2016

Filterless Framing

It was lovely indulging in a few days of celebration, food, festivities, dolling up, laughter. banter and of course the most important for the aspiring or claiming to be photographer, the photo opportunity. Yes, you guessed right. Lets evaluate the Do’s and Don’ts of such opportunities.
1.       First rule of photography, don’t let anything come between you and your shot. The Shot you have got to frame, and hence if you claim to be a photographer, claim your space and don’t budge. Yes and I am unscrupulous about this one. Of course I do tone it down with a “Oops, so sorry. Didn’t know I was in your way”. Sulking away in a corner won’t help the cause of your album later ;)
2.       Out there to photograph an event for a cultural capture, it is of utmost importance that you get the celebratory essence in your pictures. Yes hence colour and balancing of colour are a very important deal here. Settings matter, please go back to your manual.
3.       Bad exposure shots, when converted to black and white will reveal lack of skills. For example, ashen faces. Photoshop is a ready tool to a certain extent. Use it :D
4.       Holding a big camera and lens is not enough; you must have the ability to capture the best in it. As a photographer and one who is trying to take portrait shots, it is very important to have flattering shots of your “free model”. If you haven’t managed to do that, scrap the idea of making it available on social media as it only shows you have no idea how to angle your shots.
5.       Study the environment and also your models, even a candid shot has to be done in a way that it brings the essence of being candid and yet tells a story. Framing a candid is fun and permissible, but make sure it is then telling a beautiful story. Learn the art of bokeh, it makes your shots look like photography.

I guess it is important to be seen with a camera in hand than actually pay attention to what is being clicked. For these novices I suggest a phone camera is good enough a tool. Personally, photography is a very important tool of expression. It must be given its due respect as a form of art.

You might argue that it’s the photographer’s perspective to show the worst angels of these happy campers. Well a slight deviation in posture would get a much better shot, and lack of expertise is what makes me cringe in these. While I was in those group shots, my eyes were constantly roving to see what I could click next. In fact it is more fun being behind the lens than in front. I love observing the world from there. It’s a beautiful space to be in, and my personal favourite was shooting the little Kumari’s. Their blissful ignorance to the camera and the rituals, made for such lovely memories; not just for the parents but for everybody who views them. That is what covering of a cultural scenario means, people should be happy to be captured in them and proudly display them. If they have hidden them from their wall, or worse still untagged themselves, you have failed as a photographer. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Filtering my Thoughts

While doing the solar eclipse shoot a few days ago, the thought struck me and I just felt the need to discuss it. It so happens that like art, photography too is something that runs in my veins. However I am a product of the digital age of photography.
My father and even my life partner (Rony) were/are photographers from the analog age. Even my teacher belongs to the non digital age of photographers. There is a great advantage being from there. They don’t rely on the LCD screens to tell them what their shots look like. They know it, because they learnt it the hard way, having to go through their negatives, selecting and then printing them. Yes my father was a person who needed to work on his own images. He had his own little dark room created for processing.
 I got into photography a few years ago and yes it’s very recent that I picked up the camera and very soon it was professionally and for artistic reasons. In fact the need to photograph and catalogue my own work plus the need to experiment between mediums ended up in me getting my first Nikon as a Mother’s day present. Have to tell you that has been the best Mothers day present so far. Rony, has known me, for almost 22 years and been married for 19 ½ of those. He has learnt that jewellery and bags do not get me half as excited as letting me go crazy in a Utrecht in Portland, Oregon or buying me a fancy lens as an anniversary present.
Soon after that I went for my first photography workshop, with my art and photography mentor. That’s a whole other story on its own. So without digressing anymore I will come to the point now. It was after this that my sister handed over my Dad’s camera and some of his photography equipment. Thanks to her, while I was using some of these during the solar eclipse shoot the whole thought about editing and how much, if at all and how little do we need to do, should be discussed on a photography blog.
If you are wondering why, let me tell you that photo editing is not something that just sprung up with the digital age. No, on the contrary photo editing is as old as photography itself. Much of this happened during processing in the dark room. This was done with tinting, toning and cropping to get the image of perfection. This of course was left to professionals and enthusiasts who did have a lot of time on their hand. While looking at my Dad’s hand held filters I just had to think that the digital computerised age has made it so simple for us. Almost every one has a digital camera and almost everyone has some basic photo editing tool.
Now this is where the focus of my discussion lies. Is it absolutely necessary to edit a shot? I say no. Yet with that comes the basic other question is it a “picture” in the first place. Sorry to say with the advent of the digital camera you do see a lot of photographers who still don’t know their settings. They have not bothered to get acquainted with their equipment. They buy a camera and leave it in its box and then come for the first photography workshop expecting you teach them how to unwrap the camera from the box and put on the straps for it too. It’s not rocket science. You do have a manual and even a disk that will educate you on your equipment and you can avail of the world wide web. These I still indulge as like me they have not been born to and surrounded with photographers on every side. I take them through and they even have my phone number to ask me questions sometimes from their overseas trips.
It is the so called Photographer that I see shooting in auto mode that I have a complete eye rolling moment. Some don’t know how to shoot in manual and can’t even differentiate between the aperture and their speed. Some will try to go full on into the ISO settings without ever exploring other options. Then some others will take my camera and take a shot and say see I did good didn’t I. I have to nod thinking well pressing the button on the top doesn’t define the word “photographer”. Actually its knowing your settings, using them to full and of course most importantly cropping and knowing what to shoot and how much to shoot. The easiest way especially since you have the screen is clicking till you have your right shot. Don’t give up so easily. Why correct when you can perfect it in the “Now”. Yes you have to know how to shoot before you know how to edit. Some take great pride in not using any editing in their shots. I wish I could see what they see in their shots. Once again learn the basic: good cropping differentiates between an average shot and a super shot.
For those hoping to learn about photo editing tools there are loads of free options in the market. Some of these allow you to do some extended magic with skin tone etc which full suites of professional software don’t have. I have my certification to use Adobe software way in the 90’s. I used to help edit and work on visual creations then. Hence I have been a Adobe Photoshop user for the longest time. While a lot of semi professionals use Light room I can tell the difference in the post edits. There is a sense of exaggeration in these free tools and over dramatization in some others. Again this differs from person to person. My personal preference is Photoshop if at all. I love its design elements as well as I use it for my artistic productions sometimes on my digital paintings.
There are some photographs that a little tweaking of the exposure will give it the right amount of magic needed. For some shots you know that black and white would be the best and even that added sepia touch. It’s knowing how to use and how much to use again that you can make the best use of your photo editing tools. You owe it to yourself and the software to not exaggerate.
Recently, had the pleasure of meeting a super creative mind. He has been purchasing these old analog cameras and has been getting some awesome results. A brilliant mind, he does not restrict himself to just canvases but explores between film and photography. He does his commercial ad films to make the money to indulge in his expensive passions. He is quite an inspiration and although we were supposed to, we missed shooting together due to an unfortunate incident. Looking forward, to doing that in the recent future. His website is under construction but once it’s done would love to share it here.

 I will end with this little tip, do take the time do de-saturate and see your photo in black and white. If it stands the test of looking spectacular sans colour you know you have nailed it. Happy shooting. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Making a Picture

At a historic place you can see the tourist, the serious historian, the casual browser who forgot his guide book in the hotel room, the artist sketching away under a pillar and hoards of other people. The common thread, they are all going to make memories of this visit. How is the question? Thanks to technology, everyone owns a camera now. Take out your phone, flip, there clicked.

So, what actually sets apart a clickster from a photographer or more importantly what defines "making of a picture", as opposed to "taking of photographs" (to quote Robert Kincaid, in The bridges of Madison County, I refer to the book and not the movie).

Yes, the two are very different. The former sees everything and wants to freeze them as a diary that he can later look through and remember. These visual diaries will float again and again, now thanks to social media websites which will also give you reminders, "on this day" years ago.

The latter looks at a scene a moment and designs in their head what they want to shoot. This the primary difference. The framing, the planning, the fleeting moment and the speed at which this composition happens is fast paced, spontaneous, the result invariably being remarkable. Of course there are many a photographers who actually will prepare the space to their need, lighting, angle, all precise, with subject, background, foreground, and then the right moment, Click! That too is making a picture, however that one has a rehearsed result in mind.

My interest or should I say my personal favorite be it on the street, at a venue, in the gardens, at a historical site or even shooting a beautiful landscape, is waiting for that right drama to unfold. When that sudden moment presents itself, and within seconds you have to decide, where you position yourself, to gain that edge over that perfect shot. It happens so fast. The magic happens, and is gone in a fleeting few seconds. You either nailed it or you did not. Hence people photography and street photography, give me ample joy and satisfaction. The action, the drama one can expect from them is  visually stimulating and soul satisfying.

That having been said I do admire macro shot designers. And yes that's what I like to call them. They design a certain element of abstraction and revel in the cleverness, of their result. Skill here being the ability to  get a good lens and getting very close to the subject. There is a sense of neatness in this method which cannot appeal to the madness, I feel, when I am behind the lens. I have my share of macro and when it comes to sharing my nikon moments I do so with my best sudden moment shots. Macro shots are for my iphone moments when I left the Nikon home and need to capture it bad.

Like everything else I approach my work spiritually and I am constantly reminded, like life, I am not in control of my surroundings and the situation and the place I am in. Its a chance, like everything else, that I am here, now and the only thing I have control over, is my settings. Hell ya, better get them right as the moment is here now, soon gone.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Dance Shots

When I picked my camera seriously, we started without training wheels....yes manual from day 1....my teachers are the best and they taught me the way they did it. Soon after which I became the official photographer for Chowk. Following the dance form for a few years now, I soon understood that photographing dance was all about timing. Even then some particular faces and their movements become subjects repetitively in my personal body of work. Increase in work load allows me less time to photograph Odissi as a dance form. I love this dance form and my daughter learns it too. In these photographs you will see the capturing of Abhinaya, and this was best done in multiple exposure only because I wanted to capture the facial expressions in a single frame.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

50 Greatest Photographs

Time flies, time stands still, too. A photograph is a way to remind us that time does stand still in the frame, timeless forever. Time flew, between the time, I, first heard about the National Geographic exhibition on the Fifty Greatest Photographs and when it was also coming to a close on the 27th of October. Made a run for it on the 26th of October and loved every second of it. While I have a more abridged form of the exhibition in the National Geographic, Collector’s issue, which is also 125th anniversary issue, seeing them in this well curetted manner definitely was a treat to the photographer in me. Yes, I wanted to just spend some key moments with these art shots which not only have helped the causes that they were photographing through the donations that poured in, I also wanted to do it without my own camera. I did have my phone with me and I just had to take this one shot which is timeless in any every sense of the word.  The lighting especially the back light, on each print was what dramatized, the show. A treat it was. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Young Talent

Some shoots leave you extremely Joy-ous. This one did. The subject was a young talent who needed portfolio shots for documenting. A bright confident young lady at only 14, not only am I completely bowled over by her capabilities, but it’s her love, passion and perseverance that I marvel at. The child who is yet to realize that the mirror does hold a charm other than a casual glance, was a sheer natural once we let her sit on the piano. Her music books and singing made her so at ease that she sang for her pleasure and for mine and we had a lovely shoot....Sharing with you here some special shots from that shoot.