09 Sep 2012
Gosh, does time fly. It’s been months since my last blog post, owing quite a bit to 10th grade and other activities. However, I’m back with a new, special post on what makes me tick behind the lens!
Take this as my guide to hobbyist digital photography. I hope you enjoy it!
Find something interesting to photograph: While this might sound obvious, this is probably one of the most difficult things to accomplish in photography. A photo is a work of art: it needs to convey feelings, emotions, and beauty. If you don’t have anything which can capture any of those three important guidelines, chances are you will end up with a dull photo. Photography isn’t all about luscious landscapes or crafted close-ups. If you have a good degree of imagination, you can make anything look like a professional grade photograph, which brings me to my second point.
Be imaginative: It’s good to have a hard drive worth of photos shot at landmarks all over the world, but to be honest, you don’t need that to be a good photographer. Imagination is probably the best thing that can change a common photo into a modern masterpiece. Just look outside your window. If you look closely and carefully for long enough, you’ll definitely find something that can make an excellent photograph. Mess around with perspectives and your camera’s settings and shutter times, and see what you get!
You don’t need the best camera to take good photos: Don’t get me wrong here, you’re never going to get a high-grade photo from your 5-year old smartphone’s camera. However, while it is no myth that a Canon 5D Mark III will consistently outperform your handy digital point-and-shoot camera, there’s so much more to photography than just the camera and lens. Photographers need to have a good eye for detail and if you’re not blessed with that, you can say farewell to all the awesome photos you thought you were going to shoot with your new DSLR. Having an eye for detail results in some wonderful photographs even with the most mediocre of cameras. I wouldn’t call my Canon SX1-IS PowerShot (the camera which I’ve used to photograph all the photos posted on this blog) mediocre: it’s actually a pretty good digital prosumer, but it’s true that there are a huge bunch of DSLRs which exceed it in image quality.
However, if you are fortunate enough to own a high-end camera and you have a passion for photography, chances are that you will be shooting like a pro in no time. A lower end camera won’t offer you all the advanced features a prosumer/DSLR offers, but it’ll do just fine for capturing most photos. Don’t forget to keep lighting in mind, lighting conditions are very detrimental to taking good photos.
- Learn about your camera: This is very important. You might say, “Hey, my camera’s got a brilliant Automatic mode, I don’t need to learn about nerdy photography terms!” While it is true to an extent that camera nowadays are getting smarter and are able to deliver quality pictures even with minimal adjustment, you should learn about photography lingo right after you get comfortable with your camera. Why do you need to get comfortable first? That’s because getting swamped with all the things you need to know to photograph with reasonable quality, isn’t really the best way to start off your career in photography.
Just to give you a quick example, learn about terms such as: f-stops for Aperture, Shutter Speed (both are very important), ISO Film, digital noise, chromatic aberration, focal lengths, light metering, and the golden combination of all these things that make a good photo! A good photographer needs to thoroughly understand and know all these things to figure out how each one affects one another. Although it may seem daunting at first, I can tell you from personal experience that all it needs is just a few rounds of taking photos for one hour and a little bit of reading.
- Get out there!: Photos are never going to shoot themselves You need to be behind the camera and you need to be ready to experiment a lot to have a collection of quality photographs. It can seem impossible to take a good photo at times, but not everything can be photographed just the way you might want it to be. Learn from your own experiences and read up on how you can improve. I can safely bet with you that your experience will teach you more about photography than I, or any book can!
If you’ve been patient enough to read all this, I wish you the best of luck in diving into the wonderful world of digital photography!
Comments are much appreciated Thanks for reading!
08 May 2012
This is probably the shortest duration between two meaningful posts on this blog: just eight days! Today also represents the 1st anniversary of this blog, and hence, I present my new photography album.
Most of you would have already seen Volume 2 and Volume 1, so you probably have an idea of my photography skills. I can only say that my skills have improved since then, as you will see in these photos.
All of these photos were shot in either Aperture Priority (Av) or Shutter Speed Priority (Tv) modes, a step forward from shooting in Program (P) mode. I like exercising full control over the camera, though the camera does a better job than me in choosing shutter speeds for apertures, so Av is the mode of choice.
Technical chatter aside; the photos (click to enlarge):
Let’s start off with this. A rare shot with two animals. I can’t offer any opinion as to why the squirrel didn’t run away from there or why the bird landed there in the first place, but using a wide aperture and high zoom did wonders here.
Another squirrel? Well, actually it’s the same one as in the previous picture. I’m at the risk of repeating photos over here, but this shot was way too good to pass up. The dark area which you see to the right of the image actually gives this photo a subtle effect and the squirrel’s pose is fantastic. Using a digital camera gave me a wide choice of focal lengths without much adjustment. This one is 929 mm equivalent on a 35 mm film. Used f-stop 5.7 here, because wider apertures are beyond the camera’s potential at these focal lengths.
Pretty nice shot here as well. It looks like a macro shot, but this one was shot from afar. The sunflower looks great here, and the tiny ladybug on the petals is the icing on the cake (or should I say flower?). The background was perfectly suited for this shot, and gives a nice empty space for this photo.
I won’t lie to you by saying that this picture was taken at a different location from the previous one. I like the bee’s placement in the flower and the flower itself. The flies and the varieties of insects that adorn the flower also look good over here. The background is one of my favourite parts of this photo, with details blurred to put emphasis on the main flower, but visible at the same time. It’s a hard balance to maintain, but I’m glad that it worked over here.
Nothing special about the photography techniques over here, but photographing another creature, and a reptile at that was too good to pass up.
I suppose the colour over here is the main part of the photo. Clarity and contrast are also impressive. The flower itself looks exotic enough, though I have no idea what it is. Flowers are probably the best subjects in photography. They are quite beautiful, move very little and you can try a hundred different exposures to get the right shot.
While I’ll be mean to call this an ugly butterfly (I’m sure it’s not a moth!), I think it looks magnificent over here. Although eye-pleasing colours are practically non-existent in this photo, you should look at the contrast of the ground to the insect. It looks pretty good, and the other insects around the butterfly provide a level of detail, without which, this photo would look much plainer.
Probably one of the best shots I took on that day. The coconut as a subject may make you raise eyebrows, but it’s totally unlike anything else I’ve shot. The focusing was perfect here, giving the photo a very small depth of field. Less can be more and this shot exemplifies it.
You might’ve seen that I’ve only done close-up shots. This is one of the very few landscape shots I’ve taken. Excellent scenery and I really don’t have much more to say about this.
The mynah had a nice stance and perching position for this. The background is suitably blurred over here and the foreground falls into focus nicely. The background is great for this and the bird’s details are captured with some success.
It might look odd to photograph only the head of a peacock without its resplendent body. But the head itself actually has fantastic detail. The blue colour stands out superbly and there is a generous amount of empty space in the photo which is essential for greater emphasis on the bird. An unorthodox, but great shot.
That’s it folks! (I have no idea why I quoted that)
Comment, criticize, and praise at your own will.
30 Apr 2012
I confess that I haven’t been able to tend to this blog as much as I would’ve liked. It’s not about time (or the lack of it), it’s just laziness. Well, a lot of stuff has happened this month (and a lot of pics have been taken), which I simply can’t do justice to by putting it in words.
I suppose, I’ve found a new love as well, some people are going to hate this…
…well actually it’s not a new love, this dates back to 2004, so I’ll narrate my history with this incredible video-game.
Back in 2004 when I was only 6 years-old, I was everything one could describe as a Pokemon fan. I used to watch the anime a lot, watched all the released movies, and even had Pokemon drawing and colouring books. In 2005, I was introduced to the world of Pokemon video-games, which I never knew existed. I remember how popular Pokemon used to be in my apartment complex, it was as if a GameBoy Advance and a Pokemon cartridge was like a piece of clothing, which you could not not have when going outside. The rage was infectious, and I soon caught on. I got my first Pokemon game as a birthday gift - Pokemon Sapphire.
So, with great exuberance, I got my first Gym badge, saved my game and went to bed. The next day when I woke up, and loaded the game, I was greeted with this message:
Serious disappointment. I tried saving again, but got the same message. I thought my Pokemaster career had come to a standstill, which it actually had. So, for the next few months, all I could do was gaze in envy at my friends’ games which actually saved. Why only for a few months? Because, in February 2006, I got an original FireRed. With the same anxiousness, I tried saving, and obviously (but to my surprise), it actually worked! Joy. What followed was me getting an original Emerald as well, so I knew my career was well on its way. It was a lot of fun, when we were allowed to bring our GameBoys to school, and see whose Level 100 Mewtwo was better. I must clocked at least a total of 600 hours on both games, but in the middle of 2007, I was hit by a GameBoy ban, which didn’t end till summer 2008. By then, I totally lost interest, and the GameBoy took its place as being a convenient paperweight and dust collector. Never touched it again for three years.
Then, in 2011, some of my friends came over with their GameBoys to ask me some Pokemon questions and how to get to Navel Rock without a GameShark. Of course, I had lost most of my expertise on the subject, and we never got to Navel Rock. But then, it brought back to me the fond memories of playing Pokemon, and thinking “Hey, this is fun!”. The very next day, I downloaded an emulator and Emerald ROM, just to relive those moments.
It was brilliant, playing Pokemon on that queer low-resolution and basic pseudo-2.5D models. I couldn’t care less about the life-like graphics in other games. This was for me. I frantically hunted for my FireRed and Emerald cartridges, but both of them were lost. Lost forever. It was a heart-breaking moment.
Soon after, I began trawling sites like Bulbapedia and Serebii, to catch up on what I missed.
It was an awful lot. But, looking closer, I saw a very sharp competitive edge to the game. I was amazed, and soon after, I swallowed the concept of EVs, IVs, and natures.
I downloaded Pokemon Platinum and DS emulator for fun. I never thought I would actually play it. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I played the whole game and beat the Battle Frontier with all my newly-gained knowledge.
But soon, I realised, there’s no way of playing with a real person like this. So, I (nervously) asked my parents for a DS + Pokemon Black (I would’ve never asked, if I hadn’t got scholarship). But that was easily the best things I could ever buy. A Cosmo Black 3DS and Pokemon Black. All I could’ve ever wanted. I’ve played around 70 Wi-Fi battles, and won like 30 of them. I turned to sites like Smogon. It was incredible, a whole community of smart, competitive Pokemon players. It was just the place for me. A few months ago, I became a member, and my Pokemon journey continues to advance.
That’s my story. Hope you guys liked it. No Poke-Haters please!
20 Mar 2012
Pulling out my camera, adjusting the exposure, quietly waiting for the perfect shot, I present to you, my viewers, my new photography album. The old collection can be found here.
Note: not all my photos here are “new, new” photos. Some of them are exceptional shots I took before publishing my last post, but I didn’t want to post two pics of the same thing.
Moving on….(click to enlarge)
A really neat pose of that squirrel. I didn’t expect the sunlight and the ground to merge so well together.
Looks like it’s been pulled out of a rainforest. The truth is, i found these little birds in my backyard. I love the way the birds sit linearly, almost like a family picture.
This was a bit of an experiment, with very impressive results. Shot it under low lighting with flash at a certain angle, so you can see all the layers of petals in the flower.
Slimy snail; and although the picture doesn’t exhibit too many photography techniques, it looks pretty decent.
The grasshopper/mantis (I’m no entomologist) strikes an excellent pose for this photo. The raised forearms and the spread out legs give it a great stance.
A really simple pic, but that’s what makes it look detailed and elegant.
Cute little birdie. That sounds really stupid. Anyway, I like the perching position of the bird, and the contrast of its black head to its yellow body (sorry if that sounds racist). Birds and insects seem to love posing for me.
Wow, this picture was an absolute stunner for me. I heard the cat screeching in pain before I found it (probably “cat”fighting). The way its body is silhouetted and the light gleaming off the feline’s eyes make it an amazing and thoughtful picture.
Kind of a filler pic. The flower looks pretty, and I can’t say much about this.
Perfect pose + perfect clarity + cool insect = awesomeness. The macro worked exceptionally well here.
An example of good timing, this picture was taken early in the morning. The bees seemed to be rising with me and the sharpness in front and the blurred out background, make it another sweet shot.
I don’t have enough words to describe how much I love this one. At a first glance, you might not see much, but look at the thing looming over the moth’s (yes it is a moth) body. Do you count four legs a side? Yup, a spider was ingesting its prey in this one, and seeing it in real life was eerie. Although I can’t bring out all the life or death in this photo, I hope you get the message.
I know you’ll enjoy these photos, no need to hope.
Comment, criticize and praise as you wish.
03 Feb 2012
The Indian education system has been one with many ups and downs. Viewing from not an expert’s position, not from a parent’s position, not from a teacher’s position, but from a high school, bored student’s perspective, this post is just a rant about our muddled education system.
CCE: This was supposed to be the next big thing to do away with exams. However, the government’s magic wand failed to do much on these counts, and instead of doing away with exams, it succeeded to give us a cornucopia of projects and assignments, to keep us busy in our already syncopated free time. It probably could’ve done a lot more if they had revised their assessment, but…..
Emphasis on exams: What the education board has largely taught the majority of Indian students is that failure in exams is tantamount to failure in life. It screams to say that exams are the most important thing that could have happened since the Big Bang, and that failing could just as well result in the destruction of the universe itself. It would be an understatement to say that “10th graders in India suicide”, because the existence threatening virus has got to almost all age groups. For the sake of lives, try to change these stereotypes, CBSE.
Lack of thinking problems: OK, I know what my fellow students are thinking on these counts in math (no pun intended), but problems like these are reserved for “higher classes”. It’s like slowly walking on a long path and then being forced to run a marathon. Yeah, these problems can’t be left out early for the benefit of the “average student”. Sure, it is tough going early, but it will pay off in the end. The bar of the “average student” needs to be raised a notch higher on the metaphoric ladder.
If you want more evidence, just look at India’s IMO (International Mathematics Olympiad) rating of 72nd out of 73 countries. An average South Korea’s 3rd grader is astonishingly just as good as an average Indian 8th grader at mathematical/mental ability.
Hindi: As if the subject wasn’t terrifying enough, some wise guy decided to give kids 15 chapters of boredom and then ask arbitrary questions in exams. With themes ranging from dirt, mud and random biographies, the Hindi syllabus clearly wasn’t reviewed by a person brought up in a ubiquitous English community. If CBSE can reduce the bar so nonchalantly for sciences, why was this treatment skipped for Hindi?
Uniformed board: This probably saves a lot of confusion, but it means that it needs to cater to all types of society for what the board considers “relevant”. Things like forestry and agriculture are hardly needed in urban areas, but then again, this is according to me, not them.
Policies: Read plural of policy and not law enforcing officers. RTE plans to give education to everyone, which sounds like a nice idea, but in reality is far-fetched. With most 3rd graders failing to pass basic English reading tests (94% to be exact), something seems to be wrong. Even if they somehow do get everyone educated, not everyone can get a job in this country, leaving lots of wasted talent.
On a more positive note, literacy rates have jumped by over 12% since 2001’s census. Great news, but these shortcomings give one some food for thought.
Comment, criticise and praise at your own will.