They say one of the best advices in photography is to ‘slow down’. I somehow feel it is an advice that I would do well to heed in life as well. It is one of those days when everything feels just like a mad rush. But then I will restrict myself to photography thoughts only.
I understand the merit of the advice. That is why I like walking so much. That way if I like something, I often have an option to stop and click it. On the other hand it makes me incredibly slow. On a trek I take 8 hours to reach from one village to another whereas if I took a flight within the same time I would reach London!
When expert photographers say slow down they mean really slow down. I remember seeing a picture for which the photographer said it took him one month to get the sky right. I remember reading a comment by Steve Winter that it took him 23 days on elephant back to capture this shot. Now that kind of slow a lot of us cannot afford, I certainly cannot afford.
So for me slow had to be defined in my own context. If I get to travel for 5 nights that is a big trip for me! I might cover two destinations within those five days! But still I believe there is a chance for going slow for everyone.
I am usually in a terrible hurry when I click pictures, I don’t know why. I always feel I am in someone or other’s way and I should take my shot quickly and get out of the way. Phew I said it. This when I would have been invited to attend that event! So for me the first step towards slowing down would be get rid of the feeling that I am in the way!
For me slowing down would also mean chimping, as that too takes some time and more importantly ‘thought’ on what I see on the screen.
For me slowing down would mean researching my destination a little more. That would mean I would know what type of pictures to be on a look out for. But as of now evening packing happens so last minute! Researching has just not been on my list anywhere.
But I think for me the biggest change would be to get rid of that feeling of being in someone’s way! That way I would stand peacefully and take those extra seconds to click my pictures. That is how small a start I wish to make.
About a year ago I was not even aware what chimping was. Hence whether I did it or not was irrelevant. But now that I know, I also know that I am not a big offender. In fact I am probably on the other side of the equation, I hardly chimp. But if you have not heard of the term chimping before, you might stop reading any further and declare me under the influence! And that is a risk I cannot take.
Chimping is the habit of reviewing each picture that you take on the LCD of your camera immediately after you take it. Experts say that if done to extreme it can be dreadfully distracting. I would not know for two reasons, first that I am not an expert and second that as I said before, I do not do excessive chimping. If anything I fall into the other category.
Since I do not chimp much, I am on the other side of the equation. I can surely tell what are some of the drawbacks of not chimping. Recently I was in Mumbai to attend the 2015 Discover Thainess event. I went about shooting quite a few pictures without chimping. And then due to some reason I chimped. To my horror I realized that all my treasured pictures had the wrong white balance. All my pictures had a strong yellow tinge.
And I had already clicked about 25 pictures. I scampered to correct the white balance (basically moved it away from shade) and got better shots.
And then I had to go back and click most of those 25 shots again. Had I not chimped, I would end up all the shots having poor white balance and I would realize it after the event. You may turn back and say I should have paid attention to the white balance at the beginning but then I am no pro and I do make mistakes, as silly as this one.
And even though white balance could be more associated with a DSLR but chimping can happen on any device, any camera. So what do you say? Do you indulge in chimping? Does it distract you? Has it saved your day sometimes, like it did mine?
It is time to get back to the simple photography tips in 2015. So here are three more for you to consider, critique and play around with. Once again I am focusing on tips that can be used with any camera.
1. Altering the Perspective
Most of shoot a picture standing straight at the eye level. Since almost everyone does that, it leads to a very similar perspective in our photographs. So it pays to change the perspective. I took this picture on the Redang Island in Malaysia where I was traveling with a bunch of 100 media people from all over Asia. And I saw people going great lengths for getting a different perspective!
Now I will be truthful, I have not gone on my elbows and knees but I have gone on my knees. It is easier to bend and put my cell phone really down towards the ground! I will happily climb up to get a better picture or a different view. So next time give it a try! And if you are curious as to what he was clicking he was clicking baby turtles released on the beach.
2. Slowing Down
Most of us have a limited amount of time to spend at any location. There have been countless trips where I would like to spend more time at a particular location to get a feel of it. Alas it doesn’t happen for various reasons. We are in a hurry, we are part of a group or we have a restless child with us. I am sure you have many more to add too.
I clicked the picture above while I was standing on a hillock in Batal. I had all the time in the world. I could see my nephew and others walking back. I wanted to include them as dots against the mountain to show the scale. Now if this was a hurried climb to the hill with a big group I am not sure I would even notice them walking on the road. Maybe that is why I like walking so much, that way if I see something interesting, I can always stop and click a picture!
3. Shooting in All Light
I love golden hours. However, as I realized that are a lot more hours of light other than golden hours and I am usually out visiting interesting places at all time of the day. I still sulk a lot when I am someplace interesting in harsh light. I sulk equally when it is all mist and clouds.
But I am slowly getting around to taking pictures irrespective of the weather. I took this one on a foggy day in Gulmarg.
Let me know how do you find this set of tips!
Keeping the Horizon Straight
I was not even aware that I used to mess up my horizons till a friend from Egypt on Twitter pointed it out to me. After that I guard my horizons with zeal. I am using a tilted one as an example in this picture. You can see that I have tilted the horizon to the left in this seascape from Maldives.
How to correct this? Thankfully most of the editing software provide a simple option of ‘straighten’ and I use it. While clicking I try to align my camera straight with any horizontal line that I can find in the scene. This is a simple mistake to correct as long as we are aware of it.
What is Your Subject?
Every photograph is usually about something, some subject. It need not be a single person or thing. But it is our job as a photographer to make the focus clear, what we wish to draw the attention to.
Whereas look at the picture above. I was standing by the Jordan River on the Jordan side and a ceremony was taking place on Israel side which we could see. The gentleman in the center is a priest and the guy to his left was drenched in water. And everyone else is clicking a picture of ceremony. But can the picture tell this? No, it just looks like a bunch of people with no clear subject if you just look at the picture! I click a lot of these but I simply don’t post them online.
Keep the Background Clean
Backgrounds matter, they matter a lot. So whenever I can, I try to find a clean background. It usually happens by moving around. For this shot there were other plants nearby but I moved a little till I could get the flowers and the grass and nothing else in the frame.
So how did you find the tips for this week?