Steve – A living legend.

People who know about Steve McCurry, please do not read further as you might have read this earlier. What you are going to read further is an attempt of myself to understand few of his works, as I highly admire his work. Though there are/were many legends in this world, I admire him because of the following reasons. The first being that he has visited India 82 times so far in his life which eventually made him know about India better than any average Indian.  The second being the no. of photographs he included human elements in his photographs, the percentage is more or almost all of them. After all we are humans, we better perceive things if it is related to any human form.

Most of his photographs are highly evocative, in general his processing is a bit of boosting saturation, tonal curve adjustment to give the slight faded look and careful usage of vignette and most importantly his photographs are around half stop underexposed which are his trademarks. Another important thing is he doesn’t convert his photographs in to Monochromes often, very few images have had this transition. Many of his popular photographs have been discussed in many places and umpteen times, I have selected few of his less discussed photographs, at least relatively. His other interesting work is here in his blog.

Look at the harmony and the perfect balance in this photograph, two humans & two ships, two poles near by the persons & two poles where the net tied, everything is two except the umbrella and the net. Importantly the horizon is not at the dead center and his view point is bit off center, may be in order to not interfering the ships by the poles.. Could have been a late evening and drizzling too, careful selection of high f no, he must have boosted ISO for obvious reasons and the grains too are obvious to support in this photograph. Even if these two persons were motionless this photograph could have been a very good one, but he let some action happening between the persons, so that the viewer expands his thoughts. And most importantly Steve chose not to convert it in to a Monochrome which we often choose to do and give a lot of explanation to that. If you look at it in a layer based visualisation, firstly two persons – the distance between them is little. Second the poles, in relation with the persons it is wider. Next in relation with the poles the ships are slightly wider. Who knows? Steve might have different idea altogether and that is what is all about photography or for that matter any form of art. Isn’t it.?
The Tailor
You might have seen this photograph earlier, but let me tell you why this photograph is important. After this photograph published in National Geographic magazine, the sewing machine company found this old man in India all the way from USA and gave him a new sewing machine.! Have a look at this man, he is under crisis, his home must have been devastated by the floods. But he holds a smile with his toothless mouth (may be Steve cracked a joke!). No wonder Steve categorised this photograph under Universal language.
The boy and the foot ball
Sheer power of simple composition – If the kid stands upright, this photograph would be a normal one. The staircase balustrade line, the staircase slab line and the human body inclined with somewhat parallel to the above two lines makes this photograph an interesting one. The ball above his head is adding value and makes sense to his inclination.
Soldiers
Correlation – The soldiers on the wall painting, people inside the bus. Soldiers have gun in their hand, all those people’s hands are either supporting or holding, in other words all the hands are visible to the viewer. And the two ladies on the wall and the two persons outside the bus. The red colour patch on the wall and the red colour band on the bus.
Few of his other works, which I find difficult to write an insight kind of.
Prayer
Hunger

 

All of the above photographs has been taken from his website. If you have an opinion/insight about his above works do share in the comments section. I have made an earlier attempt here. An interesting article here about how digital photographers have fetishized sharpness and detail.
Cheers.
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“R” in Lr.

♦  The moment you Press ‘R’ from whichever the module you may be in Lightroom, you will be taken to develop module with crop tool activated, and the “rule of thirds” overlaid on your image. Check the screenshot Fig – 01 below.

ImageFig – 01 Crop tool activated and Rule of thirds overlaid on your image.

♦  Now it is your turn to select an aspect ratio and give a try. Select an aspect ratio from the drop down menu in the crop tool bar (the tool bar works on demand based, you can’t see unless you activate the crop tool), once you selected the aspect ratio the size of overlay will change on the image. Now drag the overlay as you wish – towards your right, left, up or down – literally recompose your shot by placing the overlay in relation with the prime subject in the photograph. Press enter or click close or press ‘R’ once you are done. Check the screenshot Fig – 02 below.

ImageFig – 02 Aspect ratio selected as 1 × 1 and encircled in red.

And note the remaining portion apart from the potential image area is dim already, which makes decision-making as an easy one.

♦  How about adjusting your image to perfect horizon or to perfect vertical.! There are two options to do it in Lr, either by clicking the spirit level symbol in the tool bar, click the spirit level (encircled in the screenshot Fig – 03) and draw a straight line on the horizon or when the crop tool is active, keep the cursor out from the image area and drag up and down, there will be more grid lines overlaid (which will act as reference lines) as you move the cursor and you will be in a better position to evaluate your image to make it perfectly horizontal or vertical.

Image

Fig – 03 Spirit level tool encircled in red.

♦  Want to make a free form crop, with your own aspect ratio !. Click the lock symbol to unlock and to make it free form, drag your cursor inside the image area from one top corner to another diagonally opposite corner to make your own crop. Check screenshot Fig – 04

Image Fig – 04 Lock symbol encircled.

♦  When you make lens profile corrections, possibilities are there to include the corrected portion (the edges mostly). To avoid that click constrain to warp, as in the screenshot. Once you make constrain to warp on, the image will be cropped after the correction or it can be applied alternatively in the lens correction panel also. Check screenshot Fig – 05

ImageFig – 05 with Constrain to Warp check box encircled.

Here is the most interesting part in this tool.
♦  Want to see how your image will look according to different compositional rules, Lightroom comes very handy here. Your crop tool is activated by pressing “R” and the rule of thirds is overlaid, at this juncture press “O” and watch the image area, the different compositional rules will be overlaid as you press “O” repeatedly. These options are in Lr to make your photograph a much better than you thought while clicking the shutter. Look at the screenshots below.

ImageFig – 06 Screenshot with diagonal rule of composition overlaid

ImageFig – 07 Screenshot with Rule of triangle overlaid.

Image

Fig 7-a. Screenshot with Rule of triangle applied in a reverse manner (read further below on how to activate that).

ImageFig – 08 Screenshot with Golden rule overlaid

ImageFig – 09 Golden spiral rule overlaid.

There are total five no. of rules can be displayed and applied to your photograph in Lightroom.

a. Rule of thirds

b. Diagonal rule of composition

c. The golden triangle

d. Golden ratio

e. Golden spiral

Out of these five rules “The golden triangle” and “Golden spiral” can have a different versions like in Fig – 7.a, which can be activated by pressing and holding Shift along with press “O”. You can do the same for Golden spiral rule too, it has more versions. Check out and comment below, what do you feel about that.

I wish Adobe Lightroom add “Rebatment of rectangle” too in to the rules list in their further releases, it is also interesting one. The light intensity of the rule lines can be controlled by pressing and holding “Ctrl” key. Apply the rules together with different aspect ratios, the options are too many to make a better photograph.

Cheers. Hope you enjoyed this article. If so share it with your friends, they might also like as you did.

Aside

What is photography?

 

I think this is high time that the above question needs to be answered.

Answering straight to the question

  1. If you are able to tell a story /make the viewer to stare at the image for a while / frame an idea, show something really beautiful (Street,Travel)
  2. If you are documenting something (Wildlife, Poverty, Illegal acts, War)
  3. If you are making a concept  (Conceptual , Creative Ads)
  4. If you are showing off something which is not possible to see by the general naked eyes (Macro, Aerial, Underwater)
  5. If you are making something really beautiful (Landscapes, Events, Portfolios,Fashion, Products, etc.,)

1. And why street is on the top

Nothing is in your control; you and your camera only, yet you put an idea, piece of intelligence there between the four lines. Not lighting, not the subjects, nothing is in your control.

2. Here is why Wildlife, War, Poverty – Humanity

You have less control, much more risk in shooting wildlife, sometimes fatal, compromising on your comfort level staying in some remote places where there are no humans, no food, no water yet you loved your camera and went for it, recording the wildlife’s unseen actions and unseen lives.

Likewise you have risked your life for documenting Poverty, Illegal acts, War to bring attention of the common people and governments, activists.

*It is really difficult to classify these two titles in to first & second position, yet I have taken a stand and given importance to photographical point of view.  Do not be very sympathetic, ideas have made us evolved from the invention of stone wheel till cryogenic engines.

3. Conceptual Ads, Creative awareness ad Photography

Everything is under your control, but you have put your intelligence there.

4. Macro, Under water, Aerial Photography

You use so many equipments to capture that outstanding shot, much more planning, taking risk etc.,

5. Landscapes, Events, portfolios

Photographing landscapes is nothing than to take a very beautiful photograph, purely personal satisfaction. Events, portfolios, products all are commercial. Hence last.

Just because you bought an inexpensive or expensive camera, it does not mean that you have to take snapshots. Start respect the master piece of engineering, it will start giving you photographs. Believe me. Start learning, Photography is fun, it is happiness.

Here are few links where either you will learn something or you would be astonished by the masters.

Few iconic images been analyzed by experts here (Check out all the four parts)

Check this master’s images here (Outstanding photographs can be in colour as well)

The above two links are just sample, there are so many masters, start searching.

By writing this article I am not trying to establishing myself as a great photographer or master but I am trying to be one by each time I press the shutter button and most importantly I am learning by day by day. I have taken for granted to write this article assuming that, I am a photographer because one of my photographs went to 2 stories height of printing and one other image is being displayed in an international creative online gallery. Even when these two images are not selected for any display, I would be writing this because I understand what photography is. I am doing wedding photography as my profession.