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.

Advertisements

Y Photography.

Have you wondered why there is a sudden spurt of cameras and equipments with almost everyone! And there is nothing harm in that, rather it is a good sign at large.

Digital revolution is though reason behind it, but there is another side which is lack of creative drainage exists in the society for most. Now it is being filled by photography.

In digital photography you can take a picture and show it to the world almost instantly, you can get critics instantly, appreciations instantly – Instant gratification. Is this the only reason? – Yes, No, partially Yes, Whatever. On the other side photography makes you a better person; makes sense towards the societal complexes. Makes sense towards the inner of you. It makes you connect with nature, connect with more no. of different people, connect with the other creatures on this planet, makes sense of your being.

Stay Amateur

Why? The moment you turn in to a professional you are not a photographer alone you are a business man too, ultimately you have to compromise on your uniqueness, which might be the only thing you possess which is directly related to your own creative mind.  Compromising includes bringing down the price you quoted, comparison of your work, forced to do something which you may not wish to etc.,

Being amateur you have the liberty to shoot what you want and wish, you never going to be in a pressure to run a business and its sustainability. You are at your liberty to do which genre you want to choose, what you want to shoot, where you want to travel and whom with you want to travel etc.,

Being amateur is being happy all the times when there is a camera in your hand. It is a lovely thing to have a camera with you, learn about its functionalities, how it functions in a given situation, how you can make a photograph interestingly. Learning is fun, learn it from a senior makes you spend less time on learning, which means you think of making a good photograph alone.

When professional ?

When you cannot afford to go the routine 9 – 5 jobs, the job is not satisfying enough; the job is not stretching your learning curve. The one reason which cannot be is to earn money; rather money can be the side effect of your photography enthusiasm. And most importantly prepare yourself to play a business man role (and I mean it 100%) and a handful of investment for your gears, travel & studio equipment at the initial stage.

Three things

  1. Remember “Composition is the one thing which you will learn till your last photograph” it is a never-ending learning.
  2. Keep on raising your bar, Look at the master’s works. It is beautiful.

         Steve Mc Curry, Henri cartier, Saleh mann, Michael freeman, Ho fan, Nathan wirth,

3.Once the photography bites you, there is less possibility that you can go away from it. So learn, talk with related people. Have fun.  Make meaningful photographs, stay amateur.

Y Processing.

As a photographer, it is not uncommon to come across these questions quite often; “Is post processing necessary?” “Why do you shoot in RAW and then convert it?” “Should I shoot in RAW or JPEG?” This blog post is trying to answer these questions about processing.

“A photograph is made in the camera, not in the computer”; while this statement remains true, in this digital era, a computer and camera go hand in hand. Processing (Computer) is all about bringing out the best from the RAW data (Picture in RAW format) your camera recorded. This is literally impossible with JPEG.

Before getting into the real subject, a basic knowledge of how your camera captures images in RAW and jpg, will make things easier.  Firstly, RAW is not an Image format; it is the data that is seen by the camera sensor which is recorded into the memory medium. jpg, however, is altogether different. The sensor sends all the RAW data to the processor and the processor converts it into jpg format with the preloaded instructions based on the time the image was captured and exposure value. The important part to be noted here is that the processor discards the rest of the data after converting it to jpg. Remember, the instructions preloaded by the manufacturers are not specific to the images; it is generic and every correction made by the processor on the image like sharpening and contrast, such as, are global and not local. And the reason you get a fairly neat image is because the instructions are based on 10000+ images shot by the various top photographers then across the globe.

This is the very first reason capturing a picture in RAW and post processing is important to bring out the best of the camera.

The second reason is the ability to process the image. Processing here includes White balance correction, exposure adjustment, contrast correction or boosting, correct to the true colors, sharpening, color cast correction etc. The extent to which one has to process the picture is entirely a personal choice. It is your picture, so you should define how it looks, and tweaking around with the above given parameters is acceptable, in all contexts.

It is very important to note that post processing and image manipulation are altogether different. I don’t consider manipulation as a part of photography processing. By manipulation I mean the inclusion or exclusion of some or more parts of the image. The reason one should not manipulate the image is that, I feel that he/she is an expert photoshoper but not a photographer.

Photography is an art form and processing is also part of that very art. Learn it; there are lots of websites out there. I use Light room for my all processing requirements with few plug-ins like Nik collection, Enfuse, Mogrify, The Fader etc. I strongly say that photography and processing is equally important task by its very nature.

I can very strongly vouch that Photography and post processing are equally important tasks, especially in today’s digital era of photography.

Again, all this is a personal choice. Kenrockwell, a very technically sound photographer takes his images in JPEG only. So the choice is entirely yours.

Keep clicking,

Cheers.

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.

Image

Histogram

Why histogram is inevitable?

Before that what is Histogram?

“The horizontal axis of the graph represents the tonal variations, while the vertical axis represents the number of pixels in that particular tone. The left side of the horizontal axis represents the black and dark areas, the middle represents medium grey and the right hand side represents light and pure white areas. The vertical axis represents the size of the area that is captured in each one of these zones. Thus, the histogram for a very dark image will have the majority of its data points on the left side and centre of the graph. Conversely, the histogram for a very bright image with few dark areas and/or shadows will have most of its data points on the right side and centre of the graph.”

Histogram is the one and only tool to show the image’s exposure details, after you do all your composition, lights, metering, shutter speed, aperture, optics etc., you have only histogram to get checked. Even if you lack one stop of light in your image, assuming you going to fix it later in processing you are going to boost noise by pushing the histogram towards the right. Do it on field not via screens (Real good photographers do not want to process their image, they want to fix it in fewer clicks,and that too because of digital, if that cannot be done in few clicks they will throw the image, get out and get a another satisfying shot). And that one stop of light has the most details, more than the details than the rest of the 4 stops (A digital camera’s dynamic range is 5 stops and some more, but for better understanding I have taken 5 stops).

Here you go, divide your histogram in to 5 equal vertical parts (one stop each); the right most one got 50 % of the data in the image, and the next one got 25%, and the further next one got some 13% (middle one), and the next one 6 % and the last one stop at the left most got 3%. Next time when you check your histograms in field, if you are one stop down than you have lost already 50% of the data. When you push your histogram towards right, possibilities are there to clip the highlights, never do it as there are no software can recover those details and there cannot be one. It is not possible to bring back the detail where there is nothing; yes that is what will happen when you push right much.  Next time look at your camera’s LCD to check the histogram not the shot you just took, though looking at the image is helpful to check your composition and composition only.

For aesthetic purpose one might want to bring down the exposure sometimes even up to 2 stops selectively while processing, but no worry you are not going to bring noise by bringing down the exposure slider and that is why you have to push your histogram towards right when you are at field. There is no guarantee that you will be having a stunning photograph or even a moderate one, if you have exposed your image towards the right without clipping. A perfect exposure does mean that the image is well exposed, nothing more and nothing less. Photography is not about technical expertise, it is about your sensibility on the things in this universe.

There are two types of histograms, one is luminosity histogram and the other one is RGB histogram. I have talked about luminosity histogram; I will talk about the RGB histogram at a later point in time.

For further reading about Histograms and pushing towards the right here. Read about photography here.

RAW image capturing in 12 bit mode is assumed here.