Handicap is just a word.

Don’t do what you do not like – Period

Why one need to do what they cannot hold upon? In my case, it is photography. The answer is really simple. You don’t know what you are really capable of unless you try doing it. But your instincts or inner gut have somehow already know it.

Life Quote

Last week, I have attended one of my friend’s wedding. She is friendly, well matured and a good communicator. When I was working, we both were working together in a project where she would be able to make friends wherever she just walks in. But to me, it was her the only one friend. During that time, I was losing interest in the project and the work itself  for many reasons –  one reason was my immediate superior being a highly incompetent person. It was a sin to work under an incompetent person. Despite having many personal reasons to continue my work there, I started thinking about pursuing photography which I am doing it often then and now. And it was a call from my heart  – I should mention it here, some gut feeling, often my mind stays in photography.

 

I placed my resignation letter, the formalities were completed and I started pursuing photography as I wished. Similar to any startups or any creative person’s initial days, I have also faced turbulence in running it for living. Now have extended my photography to all commercial avenues, including candid Weddings, Industrial shoots, Facilities, Fashion, Fine art and I have also started conducting Photography workshops, Lightroom workshops etc. Now planning to open my own studio soon, waiting for the funds to flow in. More importantly, I can fix a routine to my work.

 

Now coming back to the friend’s wedding, I met another friend who was working on the other project then. She was interested in music & singing and had performed on stages at small level. Her mind was always in music, not in the excel sheets. In the wedding she came to me and said – “I also quit my job, got a scholarship in music course, going to full time music class to upgrade myself and you are the inspiration for me to quit my job”. I felt like I had no words to say anything to her. As it was a wedding hall, I kept myself quite with all my energies, and just said “All the very best for your future”. Though I had not achieved much except few wonderful photographs and really worth friends,  I am not doing what I do not like. I think not doing what you do not like is more important than doing what you like to do. Because you might not have come across the thing which might blow your head yet, so stop doing what you don’t like. Start exploring. After all, it’s your life. 🙂

When I was driving back home, I told my wife “I have inspired one and I am proud of it”.

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Ebook review – Essential guide to B & W Photography

If you are a person who wants to make wonderful Black and White Photographs and many of your attempts proved to be futile, this book is a must for you. Of course – who does not wish to make great Black and white photographs? This book starts with a clear understanding about Black and White images.

As Scott Kelby once said – “The simplest black and white conversion is to remove saturation and boost contrast”. Yes, he said it is the simplest way. However, not all the conversion is going to be good at its first attempt. You may not aware what is happening to the colours. Possibilities are there you will end up making a dull, normal black and white photograph!

The book’s author David J. Nightingale, an experienced photographer, nailed down all the fundamentals of photography from Tonal ranges to Contrast, RAW files to ETTR, EV to Metering.

After the fundamental sections namely – The Aesthetics of Black & White photography, Equipment and shooting Black & White, David states about the conversion methods, why you should not use the default conversion method given in the software and what it does exactly to your image while converting. The software just takes the brightness level of a given pixel and converts it to a gray scale equivalent. In the next chapter, David explains about few other ways of making black and white photographs in Photoshop Channel mixing, Calculation method and Blending methods. In the end of this section, he talks about different plugins available for Black and white conversion from Silver Efex pro, Topaz and DxO lab in detail from its interface and what one offers. Also the author mentioned his personal favourite methods as well.

In the next section – Adjusting tonal range, Balance and Contrast, he explains about the single most powerful tool in Photoshop “Curves”. Adjusting the tonal range means shifting the original tonal range to what you desire via the curve tool. With the curves tool in place, you can adjust all the tonal ranges to its extreme without losing detail aka clipping. He further explains about the Basic S-curves, the baseline, altering the mid tones and how to do selective adjustments to a particular portion of the image using “Selective adjustments using Curves and Masks”.

Later, he explained about Creative vignettes aka Selective Vignettes – Vignettes been explained in detail here, starting from how it affects the viewer’s perception and the way it leads the eye and ends with how to make specific vignettes according to your photograph.

David made a separate section to cover Black and White Portraiture – Whoa; it is an interesting decision to add one dedicated section for portraiture alone. A section you would most probably love very much, since who does not want to make a striking portrait! David starts with the difference and importance between colour and B & W portraits, what kind of portraits would work with B & W and what won’t?

He clearly classifies the difference between different methods of converting one image into B & W and its drawbacks. For instance, why applying of red filter generically to all images will not work, or with Channel mixer or with Black and White conversion tool for that matter. He also clearly mentioned on how to bring out the details of the face and to brighten the eyes in the portrait. Why eyes are important in a portrait? He mentioned “Not only are the eyes the window to the soul, they can also be key to a successful portrait, but unless they are well lit they can often detract from an otherwise successful image – normally because they appear too dark in relation to the rest of the person’s features.”

The final section – “Monochromatic toning techniques” where David explains about the different methods of adding tone to your B & W images. He starts from the Black and White tool, Hue/Saturation tool, using Photo filters; using Selective colour tool, using Curves tool, and using Gradient Map tool. All of them explained in detail so that you can precisely tone your image as you might have envisaged to either your Whites alone or Blacks alone or to the mid tones alone or to the whole of your image. The important question is why you want to apply a tone to your beautiful striking B & W photograph. It is only to further enhance your image, as the sepia can bring a nostalgic feel about that image, a light blue tone will bring out a warm and industrial feel and so on.

The conclusion part is so striking and interesting that David made all the facts clear, I agree with all of his words. Hope you too will find this e-book helpful, in not only making striking Black and White Photographs, a better photographer as too.

This e-book is filled up all the way with necessary screenshots, interesting tips and tricks in a toned box, which will save you many time and energy. And more importantly this e-book comes with a separate recipe book which explains 10 different type of photographs and how exactly David converted it into a powerful Black and white photograph with all necessary illustrations and screenshots. He added both the original image and the final image after all the processing steps executed.

A word of caution – If you are using Photoshop as your primary editing software, you would love this book, but if you have recently switched to Lightroom as your primary editing software, this book helps you a little. Just thought of reminding you, but nevertheless there are some fundamentals about the filters, plugins, curves which I found very worthy. I hope that you might also feel the same, who knows. Grab one here and don’t forget to comment below how did you feel after reading the book.

Cheers and Happy Photographing.

Loving Landscapes – A review

Are you new to photography? Do you roam around everywhere with your camera equipment to get that one amazing looking landscape photo? Are you disappointed about the fact that your photos aren’t that compelling enough? Well, to begin with, watch this TED talk video by Angela Lee Duckworth. She clearly states the fact that the key to success is not in the IQ or good looks or talents. It is the grit, the perseverance, the passion for long term goals and the willingness to start over again upon a probable failure. Before going ahead, please watch the video.

 A few weeks ago, while browsing through dPS, I bumped into this e-book which was dedicated to Landscape photography. It was quite intriguing to find a book which focussed only on one particular genre. I went on to read the book with a notion that the photographic idea in the book can be applied according to one’s perception on one’s style of photography. The contents page of the book clearly stated that the book is strictly for landscape photography but with a good understanding, one can apply the concepts to other genres of photography.

The book starts with a clear introduction and it speaks about what is covered in the book and what is not too. The entire book is divided into 12 chapters. The first chapter covers the basics of image capturing and attributes which play an important role in getting the right exposure in a given situation and in attaining an optimum sharpness for a decent landscape photograph. It also touches upon the negatives of a higher ISO, White Balance, Histograms and Focusing. The above attributes have been touched upon in a simple way, in a way not to confuse the readers with extremely technical terminologies.

 The second chapter is “Computers and backups” and this chapter deals with techniques that Sarah and Todd follow in their studios and is pretty straight forward. This topic is by far the most discussed on the internet and one of the most important in this era of digital photography. The next chapter talks about the power of RAW and why it is important to shoot in RAW format, every time! I have covered this topic in an earlier blog and you can check that out here!

 The fourth covers File management and using Lightroom to organize images. This chapter is very useful for those who would like to keep tab on their huge collection of images with ease. The uses of key wording are dealt with in detail along with the advanced search techniques in Lightroom which enables searching of images using the multiple filters. This chapter also explains about the collections and smart collections in Library module and how it works to help you finding the image you are looking for.

Todd

The sixth and seventh chapters explain about the export option in Lightroom which lets you export your image to different social media platforms like flickr or your own website. This chapters emphasize on the develop module’s functions and on how the sliders can be used to enhance your photograph by adjusting the exposure, opening up the shadows, bringing out the colours, enhancing the colours from the raw data your camera has recorded on field.

In the next chapter Sarah explains her work flow in detail. She starts with explaining the crop tool, goes on to the dust removal, applying sharpness, removing Chromatic aberration and also touches upon the basic panel adjustments. The importance of following the mentioned order during post production is explained clearly in the book. All the necessary tools in the develop module are touched upon in this chapter.

Chapter nine talks about the other tools in develop module. The noise corrections panel, HSL panel, Split toning panel, Effects panel and a few other local correction tools in develop module are explained in detail. The uses of these tools and they can be used to enhance the photograph is explained clearly.

Chapter ten touches upon some camera techniques which can be used in creating some effects, namely Photo impressionism, Camera spin and techniques on how to photograph the Milky Way in detail. The next chapter goes on to explain the use of Photoshop for landscape photography. All the important panels and necessary basic tools are explained clearly. Lightroom and photoshop has been explained in such ways that even a first timer (I mean it) can follow and get the results as in the book. The last chapter talks about the Multi exposure workflow in Photoshop, explaining the tools which are required for taking multi exposure photographs, like star trails, light paintings and HDR.

Overall, the book is neatly presented with appropriate screen shots wherever necessary. The photographs used in the books are available along with the book and lets you try what’s being explained while reading, this makes the book a practical guide. Open the e-book along with Lightroom and Photoshop to make this a worthwhile exercise. If you want to enhance your skills in landscape photography you might have to get this book immediately.

Cheers, Happy Photographing. 🙂

 

Inevitable personalities

Sally Mann

Why I like her, because of one photograph she made, the most erotic I have ever seen. None of the nude photographs can come close to this photograph in sense of erotic feeling it creates in a male human’s mind.

Sally mann

The wet cloth, the stickiness of the cloth with the body, a hand with three fingers in the frame which holds the body on the right top of the photograph (obviously male hand), the cleavage, the shrinkage in the cloth due to wetness, the tight crop of the photograph – if you look again there are no space left around the body in the frame, everything made this particular photograph as an outstanding one. Though she made many nude kid photographs and she is controversial too in that regard, this one stands out in her portfolio and one of my favorite.

Steve Mc Curry

One of the well-known personality in photography and without talking about him, compositional topics would never get complete (leave Henri-Cartier at this moment). The below image is one of my most favorite in his gallery.

Steve Mc curry

Two bullock carts parked adjacent to a wall and an another bullock cart about to be parked, the bull shall be untied from the cart in few moments and the bull appears like it is watching the elder woman who is appears to be having a hump as his. The elder woman is walking away from the frame with the help of her walking stick, her left leg stepping forward and her whole weight have been supported by her right leg. All the three legs are visible to the viewer, if you watch again these three legs matches with the three legs of the bull (deliberately avoided the other leg of the bull inside the frame, either while capturing or post capture) is simply sheer brilliance.

Talking about the other features of the photograph would be colour and the overall mood. The green colour door has been complimented by the red colour interior finish inside the right side cart, may be perfect coincidence but it adds value to the photograph. The mood here is slightly esoteric, because of the noise – due to low light ISO boost or deliberate post capture addition, either way it adds value to the photograph. If you look again the photograph,it is underexposed by almost a stop, which again perfect combo with the mood here.

And some interesting things about the master, Steve knows India better than an average Indian knows India, yes he travelled to India 82 times till date and an another interesting thing is he did not locked himself in Black & White images which people tend to give lot of explanations. He took very few photographs in B&W.

 

Michael Freeman.

Couple of months back, I accidentally found his work in internet and are highly impressive. He wrote several books including The Photographer’s eye, The photographer’s mind and I happen to go through those books in a book fair here in Chennai, I have never come across such kind of books, which talks about composition, how a small point/line/spot/anything in any photograph is perceived by human brain with diagrammatic explanations.

Micahel Freeman

The above photograph have been etched in my mind from his work. The first bull from the viewer is looking down and the next one watching straight, but both their horns have placed in such a way that it forms a continuous vertical wavy pattern. If you look at the first bull’s neck where it ends and reaches the hump, from there on the herdsman’s hand takes the curve up and completes itself by keeping his hand on his head. This is the interesting part; the herdsman’s hand and the second bull’s horn bend are somehow parallel to each other and create a balance in the photograph. And the photograph being in Black & White makes all sense together, the first bull’s neck in black colour and herdsman’s shirt being in white colour creates this as a compelling photograph.

After watching different photographs from several masters and reading different books about photography, my conclusion towards a good photograph would be “There cannot be a set of exhaustive compositional rules to make a good photograph, since a unique and good photograph will come with its own rules which may or may not exist before”.

Kindly note all the above three photographs have taken from their websites.

The Visual Story Teller

An e book from ODED WAGENSTEIN via Craft & Vision.

The book starts with the line “Understanding visual story telling is a craft and not a talent will help you put to use right away all the practical advice and creative exercises in this eBook”.  This line itself made me complete this book in one sitting. I rarely complete books in one sitting, either the book stops fascinating me in middle or my bad brain jumps in to something dominantly.

Every good story deals with universal emotions, every good story must have a leading character and this part is further explained by an image from history, yes if you hide that particular portion of the photograph and the photograph had failed to make any connection with the viewer, than the portion you hide is the leading character in the photograph. Every good story is about relationships, this portion is further explained by few of the author’s photographs by explaining the relationship it makes with the viewer, or the relationship between the characters within the photograph or the relationship between the leading character and the surroundings within the photograph. Every good story is about highlighting; the author now brings in master “Henri Cartier-Bresson” for storytelling, the decisive moment, and modern photo journalism. He is undoubtedly the master of composition, geometrical shapes, and people, decisive moment. – It is only once, the moment has gone, the chance for photographing is gone forever.  Do check out Henri’s works if you have a strong passion about streets and in general photography, even if you are doing fashion or food photography his work will help you improve your composition.

Author now takes us to the world of colours, how colour unknowingly impacts the viewer and how to play with colours, complimentary, vivid, bright colours. Off course when it comes to colour in photography nobody is afford to not talking about the painters from the past world. The author talks now about Vincent van Gogh’s works and the way he used complimentary colours. Like Gaugin said “Colour! What a deep mysterious language, the language of dreams”.

The importance of preparation prior to the shoot is the difference between the professional and the amateur author says. A professional starts working before leaving home, an amateur waits for the things to happen. ! Professionals will do their research, quickly gathering all the information needed to allow them enough time to create strong photographs.  The importance of pre visualization and the importance of being in a place at the right time or most of the times have to wait for that right time for the right things to happen.

Without talking about light, photography topics will not get complete, in this chapter author talks about the light and its effects on the photograph and usage of Flash and soft boxes. Portraits, shooting with passion, if there is no passion in what you do than there is no point in the doing itself. For the author it took six years to find his path, working with Magazines. Finally he talks about the equipments he uses, from camera, lenses, filter, flash, tripod, soft box etc, The book concludes with publishing your work online, offcourse he talks about fb and other online mediums to publish your work.

Overall a good quality of book and every passionate young photographer’s must read one and at a meager price, you are good to go. Check here and use the code STORY4 for a dollar discount. The author’s work are here. By the way David duChemin’s Craft & Vision is delivering good quality books from the very first.

When it comes to light there is a very good and simple free eBook here from Anne McKinnel.

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