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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Y Lightroom.

In a broad perspective,

 No layers – This is purely for people who are not good with the layers concept.

Non –linear editing – Which means you do any correction at any time, there is no order. Non-destructive – Yes, you do any correction you want, your original file is undisturbed. All the corrections are written as complex instruction files and applied over the originals.

Outstanding Image management – You can manage tens of thousands of your images in an unimaginable easy way via keywords, folders, color rating, star rating, flagging, unflagging, smart collections, quick collections and location tags.

Camera profiles – All the latest camera and lens profiles are preloaded and gets updated for the latest arrivals in the market periodically. Which means in one click you are fixing all the profile corrections. (Distortion, Vignette, Infringement etc, sometimes you have to fine tune manually because software are not smart enough as you are)

Presets – Any settings which you might be using repeatedly from importing photographs, local corrections, develop settings (global corrections), exporting images, can be saved as one single instruction called presets.

Plug ins – You can install external plug ins for further enhancement as well for exporting, HDR processing, backups etc., (Nik Efex, Enfuse, Mogrify, TPG Back up and many more)

Virtual copies – You make some standard corrections than you wish to make some experimental processing, you would love this virtual copies. Lr creates a small DNG file of exactly where you are now and you can do all your experiment there. I just love this.

No Layers

Whatever the enhancement you do to an image in Lr, it won’t make a layer and you don’t even know what exactly Lr does. What you see is the image gets adjusted according to the sliders movement. I just do not like the layers concept and this is purely personal, and I seen some of my friends who says Lr is confusing, it is because they might be started with Ps and they feel difficult to switch, it is also personal. On the above all this is not a post about which one is superior or inferior, you work in any of the one both goes to “adobe” and adobe is not the only one who makes layer based editing software. Or people who started photography before Lr are forced to use Ps, those all are difficult to change now the way they work, but as of now they might be having a huge collection which might require an outstanding organizing. Both has got its own uniqueness, thing is you don’t have to work on a pixel based editing software (Ps) for photography now (least processing).

Non-linear editing

It is a term derived from film editing world. To understand this properly we should know first what is linear editing. Linear editing is something you can do on a pre laid path you should start from the very first point and finish it at end only. You cannot do it otherwise. Non linear editing is you do anything at any point, no harm made to the originals. That is the reason it is non-destructive.

Outstanding Image management

In order to feel the power of this portion you should use this software. Few think that Lr is basically image management software but Lr got some outstanding image editing capabilities as well, way beyond. The filter options are highly customable from star ratings, flagging’s etc, it is very easy to find the very picture you want within seconds provided you also organized Lr well in a proper folder hierarchy, keywords, shoot name etc,

Presets

Whatever you do in Lr repeatedly you can create a preset and apply it whenever and wherever you want.  Like when you import your files you can apply the presets like the metadata presets which will be applying the copyright details, author name and all the metadata details. When you import you can actually apply develop presets as well like camera, lens profiling, standard sharpening (you can fine tune while working on the very image), White balance correction for a particular shoot, Camera sensor dust cleaning, Standard crops (aspect ratio corrections) if any, Tonal value adjustments these all you can do it while importing itself. Local corrections presets like skin smoothening, teeth whitening, eyebrow darkening, few are now pre loaded in the latest versions of Lr. When you work on your image you find some interesting process outcome save it and share it with friends. Make more virtual copies and try a lot. When it comes to Export presets you can configure the presets for different requirements, like image in Adobe RGB gamut for Prints, sRGB gamut for screen version, file sizes, different watermarks, and file output sizes.

Plug-ins

You can install external plug-ins for further enhancement of image or where Lr lacks that particular facility. I use Nik Silver Efex  for Black & white images and it is one of the smartest plug-in out there, that is why google has acquired Nik recently. I use Mogrify for borders and further sharpening which is a pretty decent plug-in and most importantly you do not have to go to Ps for borers. Enfuse is to make HDR images, very straight forward one, and there are lot of plug-ins now in the market.

The above are not an exhaustive list of what library & Develop module can do for you, it is more powerful that what you may think. I did not utter a word about Split toning section in develop module where you can add two colours in the form of Highlights and Shadows interestingly, Effects panel where you can add vignetting and grains to make the image more compelling. Before and after effects of an image in a click, before and after effects of a particular panel in a click. Detail panel where you do all the noise correction and sharpening (noise correction is one of the industry’s best apart from special softwares), Color panel where you can affect the individual colors by its Hue, saturation and luminescence values and an another tool called TAT (Target adjustment tool).

There are so many other features apart from Library and develop module like Map, Slideshow, Print, Book, and Web. I will write about it once I am well versed about that particular module.

Finally Lr would be loved by photographers who do not want to sit in front of computer for a long time.

If you are looking for to buy Lr, buy  good books to learn Lr, buy Nik, buy plug-ins click respectively.

Do grab this free ebook from Victoria Bambton, an ebook spreaded for 76 pages with a pretty decent intro into every module and every panels of Lr.

 

Thanks for reading, do share after you like this.

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