Contests

Photography Contests – What a participant is expecting?

As a participant – a photography contest is expected to be a fairly judged place where the very same act must enable all the participants (including the winners) to excel further in their chosen hobby/passion/profession.

But in the recent contest I have participated, I have been selected for portfolio review (supposed to be the pre-final level) where they were supposed to look at the best images from all the participants. The judging panel consists of two local photographers who happened to be photographing for long time (decades!). The reason is that they are holding some senior positions in a local photography community or they are senior photographers! The chief judge is the highlight of the judging panel, he is a technical consultant for that optics company. He is a technically loaded person, he can talk about anything from white balance, sensors, pixels, RGB values, Colours, Colour theory, CMYK, Printing nuances, anything inside the camera and anything on the photograph technically. The other side of this gentleman is he take/took no decent photograph.

Even if he (or for that matter the whole judging panel) would have shot excellent photographs, it was not anywhere in the public medium, not in social media, not in any websites, nowhere.  It is better if the judges were known proven photographers so that the meaning for the contest is intact. If a contest has been conducted as ritual formalities, there is no point in it.

The whole day review was a nightmare, where every photograph from all the participants were analysed/checked for technical qualities, tonal values, checked with the crop tool (I do agree with the crop tool that it is a second opportunity to recompose your decent photograph, check this article I have wrote a year back!) and checked for horizon tilt (If there was a blunder, it should not have been selected in the earlier round itself). They also talked about Histogram, ETTR, colour spaces etc., all technicals. Portfolio reviews are not supposed to discuss about crop, horizon tool. These tools were supposed to be discussed at an amateur level and less than that. It is a place where a good photograph should be selected which could easily be agreed by almost all of the participants. No participant comes with a mindset that his/her’s is the best work. But all the participants needs to be convinced that the selected photograph is better than his/her’s.

I have following questions pertain to the contest.

  1. Why the contests have been highly aligned towards technical stuffs? This photographical world is already been dodged with lots of technical stuffs. Why a contest needs to be aligned in that way?
  2. Why the judging panel is not having a decent/known photographer? Or the contest is not been intended to bring out the talented people out there? The objective is not clear or it is just a formality.
  3. If a contest been conducted in a fair manner, why the judges profile have not been revealed? – if he/she is not much known to the outer world.


In an other earlier event organised by Behance, few photographs of mine were chosen by the judging panel, taken printout and the hardcopies were about to be reviewed by “Yannick cormier”. Yannick did reviewed, but unfortunately for that particular event, I was not able to participate. I had made some earlier commitments on those dates and I was unable to dodge those commitments or postpone them. I literally missed an opportunity to meet the great photographer.

Honestly speaking, this article is not meant to hurt anyone or to offend anyone. The only intention is to make better competitions, healthy discussions, cultivate better talents and teach people. Make the competition healthier, hygienic – a more better planet to live altogether.

Finally a fair and nice article about participating in photographic competitions.

A quick update here

There was one gentle man in the judging panel, during my portfolio review he said – This photograph is an excellent composition. I don’t know whether this words have been heard by the chief judge! but just wanted to put it in this post that he did talked about composition and photography. Atleast one man was there to talk about photography.

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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”.

Ansel Adams

The most favourite quotes of mine about Photography.

“…how you build a picture, what a picture consists of,

how shapes are related to each other, how spaces are

filled, how the whole thing must have a kind of unity.” – Paul strand.

“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs”. – Ansel Adams

“The pictures are there, and you just take them.” – Robert capa

Universal language

“It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter because you can invent things. But in photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary.” – David Bailey

“Always seeing something, never seeing nothing, being photographer.” – Walter de mulder

“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.” – George Eastman.

 

“Every viewer is going to get a different thing. That’s the thing about painting, photography, cinema.” – David Lynch.

 

“Once photography enters your bloodstream, it is like a disease.” – Anonymous

When I photograph, what I’m really doing is seeking answers to things.” – Wynn Bullock

photoquote

“I went into photography because it seemed like the perfect vehicle for commenting on the madness of today’s existence.” – Robert Mapplethorpe

 

“Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.” – Peter Adams

 

“My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.” – Steve McCurry

“When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph.” – Annie Leibovitz

 

“I never have taken a picture I’ve intended. They’re always better or worse.” – Diane Arbus

 

“The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.” – Elliott Erwitt

 

“Essentially what photography is is life lit up.”- Sam Abell

Quotes about Photography

“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.” – Alfred Stieglitz

 

“Photography is the story I fail to put into words.”- Destin Sparks

 

“To consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk.” – Edward Weston

 

“The painter constructs, the photographer discloses.” – Susan Sontag

 

“In the context of photography , there was a luck.But the luck will come, when the photographer is ready.” – Adithya Zen

 

“Would you hang it on your wall? Then it’s a good photograph.” ― Leslie Dean Brown

 

What’s your favourite quote? Post it as comments.

© 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.

 

 

My five.

a. Print is the ultimate quality checker.

b. Carrying a tripod is not an arduous job; make a habit of carrying one.

c. Make it as a habit to use the crop tool while processing, it is your second compositional tool.

d. Learn to delete images pitilessly.

e. Clean your gears by yourself.  

PRINT – Given the situation today that our life is filled with screens everywhere, from Smartphone, tablet, laptop and to your workstation, Print appears to be not a required one. But remember print is your ultimate quality checker, what you see in your screen is not the same when you try to make one, to print what you see on your screen, itself is a great job and remember, to see your work on a paper will give you a sense of yours  feeling. Which no screen will give you. And most importantly photographs not just made to see via screens, they are meant to be printed framed and hung.

TRIPOD – It is not difficult to carry a tripod then to find a situation on your travel where you need a tripod or a tripod would improve significantly. Better carry one tripod regardless of where you travel either on a family outing or paid trip or friends outing. You never know what kind of situation you might face.  

CROP tool – Not everyone’s tool or it is required to use one. But try to use it on every image will bring out your compositional power. Next time you will be more conscious about composition when you head out with your camera. Try it differently try new aspect ratios, you don’t have to stick with the one comes with your camera. Exclude some portion of the image, try out 1 * 1, it is interesting one.  

DELETE – Yeah, one difficult thing probably and this is the one I have learnt recently. Delete images pitilessly, you have to learn which one to keep and which one delete. Review it immediately once you take or when you come back from the shoot sit back on the couch and delete what you don’t want and second refinement probably on the computer screen before you push it in to your editing software. Another important reason is being digital, you tend to take more images because you have got the flexibility to delete it. Thanks to digital, This doesn’t let you to keep all the Okay okay images, you don’t have to keep those images.

CLEAN – This one may not be possible all the time particularly when you are busy with your shoots and deliverables. But when you have got some little time clean your optics, camera, tripod etc.,will give you a sense of satisfaction and a feeling which nothing else can give you.

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.