Photography workshop: Live Blogging

Sanjukta Basu Live Blogging: the best in India

2.51pm

I am at this photography workshop which is being organinsed by Flickr based group Bangalore Weekend Shoots at BreawHaHa Kormangala. I was the first one to reach and we are some 8 of us right now. Vinayak Das (one of the moderators of BWS) and Dr. Vivek (the founder of BWS) are the two the resource persons of this workshop.

Coffee is being ordered.

2.59

Round of introduction. the participant count right now is 13. People from various walk of life are pursuing photography more seriously than their original profession. We have Vinayak who is an engineer and a techie but is looking forward to be a professional photographer, then we have Vivek, a doctor, who is pursuing this hobby from photo journalistic point of view. Most of the people here are in this hobby since 3-4 years.

3.10 pm

Vinayak is taking the basic quetions everybody wants to ask and then they’ll respond to them one by one.

1) What are the thumb rules for taking pictures with a basic point and shoot camera.

10.50 pm

I am now sitting with Vinayak and taking recap of the points I missed.

Framing and Composition

Using the Rule of thirds. Divide the frame in 9 equal parts and place your subject in one of these parts. If you are shooting a scene with land and sky you can place the land in the bottom one third of the frame and sky in the rest of the frame. This is for the alignment of the objects. The following pic of mine fits the rule.

The lights are in the lower portion of the frame

Using of leading lines in an image to create depth and also draw attention towards the subject. Following is an example of the same (photo by Vinayak)

Use of leading lines or patterns.

Usage of frame within a frame: Some times to enhance the photo, some times photographer use a natural frame within the photo to create more effect. This natural frame could be anything which is around the main subject of the photo, like a door or a window. For example the photo below (by Vinayak) where the doors are being the natural frames.

2) What are SLR cameras, difference between point and shoot and SRL cameras.

The difference is the same as one between a Black and white TV and a color TV. SLR cameras are high end cameras. The question you need to ask is what kinds of pictures you want to take. If you are just taking day to day pics, your friends pics etc. then a point and shoot is good enough. One can start with a Point and shoot and move to SLR or DSLR. Or even better is to get a high end point and shoot like Panasonic Lumix FZ7.

3) How can I make good black and white pics out of colored ones.

4.43

– Vinayak explains – Techniques of post processingNikon capture, I convert it to grey scale, then I fiddle around with the red blue and green channels and see which look good and I keep in mind that it doesnt look very different from what I have seen. Post processing is an attempt to get to what I had captured and not to make something very different from what originally was.

Dr. Vivek explains – In Adobe photoshop there are techniques like dodge and burn for giving good effect in black and white. Dodging is to give it details, and burn is to make it sharper. Black and white image is itself a manipulation because the mind doesn’t see anything in BnW so you burn the background and then bring details by dodging. Another good tool is adobe lightroom.

4) How can I take good portraits by my point and shoot camera

5) Some thumb rules to decide the right settings

Dr. Vivek talking about point and shoot cameras. I cannot hear anything except that he just said, what your lense see is not the same that your mind sees.

3.20 pm

Point and shoot and SLRs there is a difference in sensor. (I might not be getting it right i can’t hear anything. Will gather all the info later from vinayak)

3.30

This is very sad, first I can’t hear anything because next to me is a group of rowdy girls who are yelling their asses off, must be girls from the JNC. If at all I can hear anything I cannot understand what is being discussed.

3.45

The workshop is virtually stalled. Thanks to the noise at brew haha. to be honest I have never seen such loud crowd in a public place since college days. They should know this is not their college canteen. Anyway may be I shouldn’t complaint, freedom to talk and yell et all.

Vinayak is considering an alternative venue.

4.45

We are moving to the nearby Cafe Coffee Day.

5.00

Workshop resumed now. Dr. Vivek talking about a composition. If you are clicking a moving object say a bird flying from the L to R if the bird is placed more towards the right it is better. So instead of your subject entering the frame if you show it exiting the frame you have a sense of the speed of movement. If you are taking a portrait don’t always keep the face in the center rather put it in a corner that would give a space for hte viewers mind to play with thoughts. You shooting a landscape, say a mountain and sky, keep a proportion to the frame. Vinayak added, you should mentally divide the frame and then place your object.

Direction of light?

Your background shouldn’t be too cluttered in a portrait. Vinayak saying, “for me the most important thing is where the light falls. You need to be careful of which way the light is coming from otherwise you’ll not get the proper effect. Make sure your subject is properly lit. If you are shooting a subject which is back lit you might consider using a flash or some other method of illuminating the subject otherwise your subject will appear as a silhouette.” You learn by taking more photograph. For example the following of Vinayak’s photo.

I asked Vinayak about two of my photographers where this silhouette effect has come but that is what I intended to do which he said is fine. If I intended to capture people’s expression then I must put light on the face. The following are two of my pics where I deliberately kept the faces dark. The first one is perfect according to Vinayak but the second one he would have preferred some light on the face.

Pic 1

Pic 2

Talking about symmetry in nature photography it is not always a good idea to keep the horizon at the center.

If you taking the pic of an animal a pet, don’t take it from a high level, take it from the level of the eye level of the pet. Vivek added, in photo-journalism, if you are shooting some pics in human rights documentaires, you should come down to the level of your subject rather than stand away or above coz that gives a disconnected look.

5.29

An example of converging lines. A photo of a tunnel and a man standing at the end of a tunnel taken by Vinayak.

For landscape photography you have to be very careful of the light. Try to shoot early morning or after sunrise. Use tripods if you planning to shoot landscapes.

Usage of a frame within a frame.

Depth of field – A photo where a potters hand is in highlight. Question if these kinds of photography is possible with a point and shoot camera.

4.52

How important is technology in being a good photographer? This was a question made by me.
Vinayak, well there are some photos I was not able to capture in my point and shoot. I now use a DSLR. For eg. a low light image grainy ness is a big problem. secondly, precise focussing is very difficult with PnShoot. To answer the question the most important thing no doubt is to have the eye to capture a great moment but a high end camera comes into play to make you able to capture exactly what you wanted to capture.

5.00

I had a quick chat with vivek on the usefulness of cropping a picture. He said, “there are 2 school of thoughts some don’t like cropping much, I belong to that school, I think you should prepare your mind and your frame as much as possible while taking the photo itself instead of doing too much of processing.” So does that gives the photographer some sort of satisfaction for being able to have a great pic without doing the post processing. To certain extent it does, but at the end of the day when a photo is on exhibition no one wants to know if it has been post processed or if its pure. If its a good photo its a good photo.

5.20

Photography at nights – You definitely need a very steady tripod. How do you chose a good tripod. You expand it totally and check how much it vibrates, heavier ones are better, Manfoto is one good name.

So what is a good photograph

Vivek saying we once had an big idea of a photo exhibition where we thought a few of us would sit and judge some great photos for it. but i think these kinds of photo meets and workshops are more important than an exhibitions. You should retrospect what you think is a good photograph what appeals to your eyes. While some pictures can be out of focus for some one but could be telling a story to the artist. Therefore these days there are exhibitions where photos are also coupled with multimedia presentation about the background story of each photos.

National Portrait Gallery, a London based magazine. Vinayak said he learnt a lot by subscribing to this magazine. “I learned portrait is not just about taking the persons face, you have to go beyond the face and capture the person’s story. Some of the frames that were submitted in a competition by this mag which were not great if I look at them without the story, but with the story it becomes much meaningful”

Vivek gave some food for thought on the role of Flickr in photographer’s pursuit. “Many of us take Flickr to be a very serious thing. Even I used to post the best of my pics in flickr. What I am trying to say is a lot of great photography happening outside flickr. So if you are serious about photography go out pick books some grt guys out there dont even hav a website.

So how many of us are taking Flickr too seriously. Personally I think Flickr is like a mutual admiration society, where everybody mostly say good things about your pics, and the number of comments are a major criteria to judge. I also think flickr made a lot of us amateur photographers take interest in photography to begin with because we could share our work with others and get feedback. 5 years back I myself probably wouldn’t have been taking interesting in learning about photography had it not been for flickr. Because I clicked some and shared and got nice feedback that’s when I realise may be if I learn more I can become better.

But Vivek’s point is that while Flickr is a great place to learn photography techniques from seeing each other’s photostream and by the comments and suggestion that users leave for you, one shouldn’t take it all too seriously and not let those me the only deciding factor to judge one’s photography skills. One should not end there but take it one step ahead of Flickr in the real world. Some discussion were also done on few other sharing sites like Trek Earth which is a bit more serious forum.

I had a great learning experience with this workshop. Good work done by BWS and thanks to Snigdha for coming up with the idea of this even. It was a great way to give more meaning to this hobby that we are pursuing. Let us have more of such workshops, may be on a monthly basis.

10 thoughts on “Photography workshop: Live Blogging

  1. U got the dodge and burn part wrong.. dodge is for making areas of a photo brighter while burn darkens it.. Itr should be blur, sharpen and smudge tools (shortcut key R)

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  2. Apart from the last three paragraphs, everything else is blasphemy :D

    Now you’ll have to spend years systematically forgetting what you learnt in a few hours, lest you join that dreaded breed I call “flickr photographers” :)

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  3. Hmm interesting ,i must say you are very honest in your blogs.Beleive me not many ppl like straight talk,have exp it

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  4. it was in deed very informative…. thank U! i’ll make sure i’m not going to miss out any further workshops by BWS.

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