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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© Copyright

Plagiarism has been common throughout the world since time immemorial, and more so in today’s digital era and even more so in the field of photography. There have been instances of image theft and usage of images without credit to the photographer. The magnanimity of this issue is the reason for my writing about this in detail. Though I’m no expert in the field of copyright etc, have spent some quality time researching about this before writing this.

Best coffee

Watermarking is the first step towards owning a piece of art you have created. In visual terms, how effectively you place the watermark is what matters most of the times. Having said that putting a standard watermark is not advisable, since one colour, size & position may not fit all of your images. Customizing the watermarks to match a particular image is the solution to this and this can be done using Lightroom quite easily. I’ll talk about the “how’s” in a later topic.

Watermarking & copyrighting ensures certain minimum safeguards of the rights of authors over their creations, thereby protecting and rewarding creativity. A detailed article from dPs on how to handle image theft can be read here.

The definition of Copyright is a right given by the law to creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and producers of films and sound recordings. In fact, it is a bundle of rights including, inter alia, rights of reproduction, communication to the public, adaptation and translation of the work. There could be slight variations in the composition of the rights depending on the work.

Shringeri, Divinity

a. The primary thing in watermarking your image with copyright symbol is that you do not have to register for putting the copyright symbol.  If the work is created by you, you have the full rights (automatically) to put your watermark with the Copyright symbol on your work. The work here refers to any form of art viz., a piece of music you have created, a small video you have took, a painting that you made or a photograph.

b. Copyright protects the rights of the author i.e., creator.

c. Copyright can be assigned to anyone by the author.

d. Registering your copyrights has some advantage. Check with your country’s copyright law to get some clarity. In general, however, certificate of registration of copyright and the entries made therein serve as prima facie evidence in a court of law with reference to dispute relating to ownership of copyright.

e. If you want to register your work, each and every work needs to be registered separately.

f. Copyright generally has time limits.

g. There is no such thing as “International copyright” that can protect the author’s work throughout the world. However most countries do offer protection to foreign works under certain conditions, and these conditions have been greatly simplified by international copyright treaties and conventions.

The above points are generalized, check with your country’s copyright law for specific details. The bottom-line is to watermark all your images. A good story for you to read here.

If you have a story to share about copyright issues or you have a good idea about copyrights do share in the comments section.

Cheers and happy photographing.

A place called Agumbe.

Agumbe

Golden rays

We were a bunch of 22 people from CTC, thought of going to a research centre, even though it is a bit of contradicting to usual treks and trips. Where a man does research about King cobras (Ophiophagus hannah). You know Gowrisankar just loves kings.

Agumbe

The research centre is located in mid of forest with basic facilities (Mobile phone, Electricity and Internet are not yet basic facilities) with a decently sized hut with a desk and timber bench on both the sides. On one adjacent side there are two timber almirah with books inside which are related to snakes and wildlife. Behind the almirah there is a small sink cum wash basin for obvious reasons. Now you may conclude that the desk cum bench arrangement is for reading, dining and sleeping at times.  🙂

Agumbe

Do not disturb. !

At the morning you woke up from the tent by hearing the melodious sound of Malabar whistling thrush. During the day time you roam around inside the jungle under the thick tree canopy, trying to understand the bio-diversity prevailing there. Insects, Reptiles, Amphibians, Mammals, Birds and Ferns, Flora all in one place.

Fern

Fern

 

Once you woke up in the morning either you go for a small hike cum trek to the near by mountain or explore the bio-diversity. Before I forget to mention the restrooms are really neat and clean. Important one, isn’t it. 😉

Agumbe

Life everywhere.

If you go there with an agenda it will be good for you and the agenda too, you study / learn / research or what you are intended to do to. I have a plan to go there again probably with my best buddy to chat, read books and to star-gazing also.

Agumbe

Food will be prepared by the local cook and you will be getting a yummy and tasty Malanad dishes, you don’t need multi cuisine food to learn or study the nature. Isn’t it?

There is a stream in the premises where you can have a dip and enjoy the natural water. Since we visited the place in the initial time of summer the water was slow moving. During monsoon it must be wild and non-swimmers must stay away.

Colours of the Spring.

Colours of the Spring.

During the nights you can have a night walk with the volunteer from the centre. You will have an opportunity to sight the nocturnal life inside the jungle snakes, frogs, insects etc.,

You will be asked to switch off the small light in the hut at 10:00 PM which is been powered by a small UPS, to not to disturb the wildlife. After that you may go to your tent or you may watch the stars for sometime in between the areca nut trees. It’s a wonderful sight.

Agumbe trip-004-2

If Gowri is around, you can extract as many information from him about the Kings. I suggest not to ask many questions to him, he will share everything he knows in the workshops. 🙂 Simply putting, those three days were beautiful days.

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.

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.

Constraints

 

 

  • Human eyes do not have f no.

 

  • Human eyes can see more light than camera

 

  • Human eyes can’t freeze and store pic’s

 

  • Human eyes do not see in a regular shape

 

  • Human eye’s see in a particular angle, 3 degree at a time.

 

  • Colours

 

 

  • You got it, right. You can’t blur a particular part in front of you and see the remaining things in front of you (you can’t see both at a time). Your eyes see in HDR, you have no control over it. Whereas you can make an image with your camera in such a way that it makes interesting by focus on one simple area and blur the remaining part and the results would be mostly interesting, since your eyes can’t see that image in real life.

 

  • Human eyes can see almost double the amount of light than your camera sees. Yes, you remember you see something really beautiful and when you take it in camera and see it, it is not what you just saw.  If you want to see what you seen via your naked eye, you have to take HDR shot by exposing for different lights in the scene and combining into one image to match the eye’s performance, than it looks like the one you seen. (careful processing is must one) You might have seen the hollowness in few images.

 

  • You can see a very fast-moving object and able to follow as well but then your eyes can’t store and reproduce it (for that matter none of the image can be reproduced exactly in the eye). We have high-end cameras to freeze motions.

 

  •  Our eyes do not see in a regular shape, whereas your camera sees in a regular rectangular shape. When you take a picture and put a border in general, pictures will look good, (and that is why one of the rules in contests are no borders).

 

  • You got it; our eyes can see only 3 degrees in a given time, which is why you have to take the eyes all over the frame, keeping things in potential places inside, so that you can take the eyes all over the frame interestingly (at the same time you should not complicate by including more objects inside the frame).

 

  • Colours itself a very large area to discuss. Sometimes you might have noticed a very simple frame can be compelling, if the image is well composed of colours, even when the frame has nothing much to show. Learn colours, it is interesting.

 

Conclusion

Though the above all things are neither a mind-blowing discoveries nor an exhaustive list to make meaningful photographs, but understanding them well can lead you to take better photographs for sure. David du Chemin says as Vision driven workflow and common terminology people uses is Pre-visualize. Both are asking one simple question – what you going to do after pressing the shutter button, which reveal an another  question, why do you need to take this image, what do you going to do with this image. If you have pretty decent answers for the above questions probably you are right. Go ahead click and share as well.

Photography is a craft; dare to learn it by day by day. People have achieved things after their continuous hard work towards their love.

A book about composition by Richard Zakia & David page. Click here.

Michael freeman’s books talks a lot about composition and how to make interesting photographs.

If you agree comment it and let me know or if you don’t agree than explain me how.

 

 

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

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.