Friday, September 11, 2009

Angles to give creativity to your pictures

Now that some of you have learned the lighting, composition, ‘DOF’and ‘POI’, it is time to give your pictures a creative touch. Usually while photographing one always stand looking face-on to their subject when they press the shutter button. Well there is nothing wrong at with it. But if one needs a different picture they have to start virtually start exercising while photographing.

The eye level picture (top left), the overhead picture (top right) and the low angle picture (left). See the varing angles which gives creativity to the pictures. - Model Pankaj Advani. - Professional Billiards Champion, 2009. Photo courtesy A Veeramani. DNA

This can be done only if you start moving from one position to another to get a better perspective to your images. For eg: look at you coffee cup from the position you are sitting while reading this, then gradually stand up and see the change in the angle, better still stand up on the chair and look directly at the cup, looks different right. Now get down and crouch on your knee, so that the table top and cup’s bottom is at you eye level, doesn’t it have a different perspective again. Now put this use to practical photography and one will get the static subject in different perspective with every angle you change.

Friday, September 4, 2009

‘Center of Interest’ a must to keep the viewer focused

After one has mastered the art of lighting, composition and depth of field one needs to look for the ‘Center of Interest’ or “Point of Interest’, in their images they are going to picture. Each picture should have only one principal idea, topic, or center of interest to which the viewer's eyes are attracted. Subordinate elements within the picture must support and focus attention on the principal feature. A picture without a dominant center of interest or one with more than one dominant center of interest is puzzling to a viewer which will confuse the viewer. A photographer usually has at his or her disposal many factors or elements that can be used and arranged within the picture area to direct attention to the primary idea of the picture. Some of these elements are lines, shapes, human figures, tone, and texture.

Human figures attract attention more strongly than almost any other subject matter, unless they are the main object of the photograph. When people are subordinate elements within the picture and they are looking in a direction other than at the camera, the viewer’s attention is directed from the people to what they are looking at, which should be the center of interest; for example, when people are grouped around a piece of machinery that is the center of interest of the picture, have them look at the machine, rather than the camera. When people look at the camera and therefore at the viewer of the picture, the viewer tends to return their gaze by looking directly back into their eyes. When they are not the intended point of interest, we miss the statement and purpose of the picture.

Photograph Courtesy - Anantha Subramanyam K. DNA

Friday, August 28, 2009

‘Depth of Field’ – Form Virtual Reality Pictures

After the lighting and composition which was explained in the last two weeks, the third most important point is ‘Depth of Field’ (DoF) which gives pictures the virtual reality look. One needs to use the lens values that is the (focal length and the aperture) intelligently to get a better depth of perspective to one’s pictures.

The variables for the DoF is different as in when one gets closer to the subject frame the greater the DoF, or even when one lessens the diaphragm of the lens opening one gets a greater DoF. So to put it in lay man’s language you need to get closer or use a variable lens to get the subject closer to you to get a better DoF.
This DoF does not abruptly change from sharp to unsharp, but instead occurs as a gradual transition. In fact, everything immediately in front of or in back of the focusing distance begins to lose sharpness-- even if this is not perceived by our eyes or by the resolution of the camera.
This transition of sharpness from point A to point B and then to point C gives the viewer of your
pictures a virtual reality feel. Better way to put it is that this is the ‘Circle of Confusion’ (CoC).
This CoC becomes perceptible to our eyes, and this region is said to be outside the depth of field and thus no longer "acceptably sharp." So how do you get a good DoF for your picture? Just ensure that you get close to the subject’s focal point area to get the CoC.

Focal Length mm DoF- Front DoF –Rear

1. 10 mm 30 % 70 %
2. 20 mm 40 % 60 %
3. 50 mm 46 % 54 %
4. 100 mm 48 % 52 %

*** Picture of Bike Mirror and Lady Photographer - Courtesy Selvaprakash L.

Friday, August 21, 2009

‘Composition’ the main stay for pictures

After mastering the art of lighting for taking good pictures the next step is to ensure that you compose your picture well. In general, good pictures result from careful attention to some basic elements of composition, together with appropriate lighting and an interesting subject. Three photographers recording the same scene may create equally appealing photographs with entirely different composition.

So always play by ‘The Rule of Thirds’ which is based on the fact that the human eye is naturally drawn to a point about two-thirds up a page. Crop your photo so that the main subjects are located around one of the intersection points
rather than in the center of the image. Your landscapes will be optimally pleasing to the eye if you apply the Rule of Thirds when you place your horizon line. If the area of interest is land or water, the horizon line will usually be two-thirds up from the bottom.

Alternately, if the sky is the area of emphasis, the horizon line may be one-third up from the bottom, leaving the sky to take up the top two-thirds of the picture. Identify a
primary point of interest before taking the picture. When you’ve determined which area is the most important to you, you can compose to emphasize it.

So take your camera out and shoot with the mode you like to use the best.
But if you are planning to use the all manual mode for a 400 ISO, you can
set the Aperture at f -11 and the Shutter speed at 250 per sec. When you’ve determined which area is the most important to you, you can compose to emphasize it. So take your camera out and shoot with the mode you like to use the best.
But if you are planning to use the all manual mode for a 400 ISO, you can set the Aperture at f -11 and the Shutter speed at 250 per sec.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

OP Sharma's gift to photographers across the globe

Today, the world celebrates World Photography Day, but few actually know where the seeds of the day were sown. In fact, it was an Indian photographer based in New Delhi, OP Sharma (fondly known as OP) who was the man instrumental in getting over 150 photography clubs and associations across the globe to celebrate August 19, as the birthday of photography.

All through the year, all over the world, holidays and birthdays are celebrated. However, no one ever designated a day for photography; until OP came along.
From research work and entertainment, to documentation and art, photography is everywhere. World Photography Day was launched in 1991 by the Indian International Photographic Council (IIPC) of which OP Sharma is the founder member. Later, in 2002-03 the Photographic Society of America (PSA) with its multitude of members, across the world, joined in and also started to observe August 19 as Photography Day.

The first official photograph ever taken was on August 19, 1839. Photography was arguably one of the most important inventions of the 19th Century. Had this unique medium not been invented, our world would have been much darker than it is today. Let us not forget this fact and let World Photography Day see the light!
As for the news photographers working in modern day newspapers, their task is often tedious, sometimes life-threatening (as in covering a war zone, or tracking a flu pandemic), but it is also always rewarding.

The photographer stakes his life on every image; especially the one that you, the reader, see every morning.
Photography as grown manifold over the past 170 years, and today every family in the world has a picture adorning a wall or a shelf in their home. The medium is such that everyone can become professional, thanks to the advent of the digital camera.

The future will see further enhancements in photographic technology and technique, but whatever it may bring, one thing will remain unchanged: The emotions one feels when one looks at a photograph. So this World Photography Day, sit back, take out an old family album and let your mind wander through its memories. After all that’s what photography is all about: Capturing history as it happens.
On a footnote it is important to stress that photography is an art, and as such, it’s high time the government of India recognized it as a fine art. After all, capturing emotions, takes a level of skill.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Master the art of ‘lighting’

Speaking of light as your main source to make great pictures this is a lighting study undertaken by me during my Reuters Foundation Fellowship Programme at the Missouri University in the Mid West town of Columbia, 1997.
The trick to mastering the art of lighting to make great images is very simple. Follow the instruction below and at the end of your practical session you will know when to get the best picture for your portfolio.
*The Gateway Arch at St Louis (top).

Morning 6 am (left), Late Morning 11 am (right).

Afternoon 1 pm (left), Evening 5 pm (right).

(Please notice the different shades of the light source on the leafs at different times of the day).

Set up your camera on a tripod stand with a normal lens, with a fixed focus subject. For example: Tree, Lamp Post or statue. Set the ISO at a fixed rate of 400 ASA. Set the shutter speed and aperture as required for a balanced picture. (Do not move the tripod let it remain static in the same position for 12 hours- from 6 am to 6 pm). Picture the subject once every hour from the same position and composition. Then compare the 12 pictures taken by you closely and you will see the change in light on your subject. You will get to learn the transition of light from one position to another and the different shades of shadows your pictures would have. On the right are four of the images taken during my study on lighting.

The Morning scene (left) and the evening scene (right) of Carthage town in the Missouri State of USA.

The Afternoon Scene of 'Some Place Eles' (Left), and a early evening scene of the 'Route 66' (right).

The Late evening scene of the Missouri University campus.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Importance of ‘Lighting’ for a Good Picture

All the text given below are based on my practical study over the past 22 years of working experience and not theatrical.

The importance of light as the main source of element in any kind of landscape be it urban or rural can’t be stressed enough. What is Photography? Photography literally means “writing with light.” One actually photographs light reflected from the objects rather than the object itself. A good landscape picture reflects the use of natural light skillfully and imaginatively.
While shooting any type of landscape be it urban or rural avoid the midday sun. As seen in the picture the use of late evening light is very essential for a good landscape picture.
If you need to experiment try and use the late afternoon light which can provide you the back light conditions. This condition can help your picture with an added value of long, deep shadows with sparkling highlights.
Try several exposures and aperture combination once in 5 minutes, keep a note of them and compare them frame by frame after your shoot, you will notice the difference in the lighting conditions.

This picture of the Upper Lake in Bhopal was pictured after I had spend a 24 hour study on the change of lighting from atop an hill overlooking the lake. This picture was finally taken at 4.55 am in the morning and was used as a half page spread on the first day of the HT Bhopal live launch in May, 2000.

This picture was taken the previous night while I was trying to study the lighting conditions for my final shoot at the Upper lake in Bhopal.

This picture of Lamayuru in Ladakh was taken at around 5:40 pm in the evening when I was trekking up to the guest house near the army camp in June,1997. You get to the play of light with dark shadows and and the blue skyline which adds value to an otherwise straight picture.

This picture is also of Lamayuru with the Himalayan ranges in the backdrop which was taken the second day of my stay at the abode. This picture was around 4.45 pm in the evening with direct sunlight on the ladies side.

This skyline was taken in Bhopal when I my wife S Jayalakshmi called to inform me that the sky above was very attractive and worth being pictured at around 6.30 pm in July 2000. I went atop the office terrace and got this image. This image was pictured in a analog Single Reflex Lens (SLR) Camera body. The fun to work with analog is done to death with the advent of digital SLR coming in.

This picture of the Vidhan Soudha which houses the Karnataka State Assembly (Political Power Seat) was taken during my job with the Bangalore Mirror in 2007. I had climbed a high raised building to picture the fully lit up cricket stadium which you see below, and in the bargain got two more good pictures of the silicon city skyline with 'feel great colour combination'.

This picture of the fully lit up chinnaswamy cricket stadium was taken around 6 pm in October 2007, after I had gone to inspect the view during the mid afternoon light. This picture was taken from this angle since my friend and design head of Bangalore Mirror, Shyam Sunder Singh wanted a absolute stunning picture for the cover page on the eve of the One day International between Australia and India in 2007.

This picture also was taken on the same day when I had gone to photograph the stadium.

This picture was taken in 2007, when the Madaras Sappers were celebrating their annual regatta at the Ulsoor lake in Bangalore.

This picture of the Bengaluru International Airport was taken on the inaugural day at around 6.45 pm. I forced the reporter to leave the office by 4.30 pm so that I could catch the lighting which I needed to make the picture look stunning and different from the other newspapers the next morning.