Knowledge Center

A place for beginners & pros!!!

  • A Foray Into Educated Photography With The Use Of Reflectors

    REFLECTORS

    Reflectors are used to direct light onto a subject, to eliminate undesirable harsh shadows on their face. I say harsh shadows, because a complete lack of highlights and shadows can again make your image very flat.

    So whether you are using lights or the sun to shoot your subject indoors or outdoors, need almost always arises for a secondary and softer light source.

     

    Situation: indoors or studio

    When you are shooting indoors with a built-in or portable flash or natural window light, you can find that some part of the subject’s face or body is abruptly underexposed. To correct this, you can either use a secondary light, which can eliminate all shadows and give a flat image, or use a reflector, which adds light without taking away all dimension.

    Many people believe that reflectors are always supplementary to artificial light sources. They are mostly right, because to get rid of bad shadows and the focus of flash or strobes, you need to redirect light onto the subject. What most people do not realize, however, is that reflectors find use in outdoor situations too.

     

    Situation: outdoor portrait session on a sunny day

    Regardless of the time of day, the sun on a hot, cloudless day is too strong and direct. When your subject faces the sun, you get a very harsh shadow on their face. Not to mention the squinting and watery eyes from direct sunlight. As a photographer, what do you do to solve this problem? You position the subject with their back to the sun. This eliminates any choppy highlights or shadows on their face and adds a nice halo effect to their hair and body outline.

    But you now have a new problem - your model is too underexposed. If you try to adjust your exposure, you end up with a well lit model with an overexposed background and a lot of flat light!

    This is where reflectors find their use. You can redirect the light from the sun onto the subject from literally any angle, because you control the positioning of the reflector. The reflector essentially becomes another light source! It’s a light source with a natural colour and tone, much unlike artificial light.

     

    Types of reflectors

    Reflectors come made of many different types of materials, but hard surface reflectors and fabric reflectors or scrims, are used most often. Scrims have an advantage over other varieties - they are easy to fold, store and travel with & come in many different colours sold together as sets.

    In any typical 5-in-one set of scrims you will find the following.

     

    White reflector

    This is a matte reflector, and casts a soft light on the subject. Since its reflecting power is not very high, it needs to be positioned closer to the subject.

     

    Silver reflector

    This colour is a metallic silver. The light from it is cool and creates harder highlights. It works very well in black and white photography, because it creates a good contrast (black and white photographs need contrast, since they don’t have contrasting colours to create definitions).

     

    Silver-gold or white-gold or soft-gold reflector

    This is basically a colour between silver and gold. The light redirected by it is warmer than silver light, and also stronger than white light, so you can stand some distance away from the subject and still light them up.

     

    Gold reflector

    Gold reflectors reflect a strong and warm light. These can be very resourceful on cloudy days with cold light. They do, however, tend to overpower subjects placed in hard light, so use them from some distance away to get a nice rich look.

     

    White Diffusion Panel

    This is not a reflector but a diffuser - it diffuses light to make it softer and duller.

     

    Make your own reflectors

    Broke but crafty photographers have been known to fashion reflectors out of tin or aluminium foil, hula hoops or pizza boxes. You can do the same thing, because while reflectors are an indispensable part of serious photography, but you don’t really need to spend a fortune for them.

    Just try to find metallic foils in gold and silver and wrap their shiny side around two dimensional things with large surface areas. To make a white one, use chart paper. To make diffused reflectors that cast softer light, just use crinkled foil.

  • A Basic Guide to Portrait Photography

    What are portraits?

    Actress and Dancer Ginger Rogers ca. 1935 A classic portrait of actress and dancer Gina Rogers, uploaded by danceonair1986.

    First and foremost, portraits exist to capture the personality, soul or emotions of a subject. They have been around for a long time, even before photography was born, in the form of painted portraits. The subject, in portraits, is of the utmost importance, their most prominent features (most often the face) being the gravitational centre of the image. Most portraits are headshots or focus on the subject’s face and upper body. The art is definitely not limited to traditional portraits – environmental and lifestyle portraits take into account the subject’s background and environment to reveal details about the subject’s personality.

     

    A  Good Portrait

    A good portrait represents a properly lit and composed subject, at the very least. Sometimes, like in instances of corporate photography, these two check-points are enough. In other cases, a more creative approach may be required. Following are some tips on lighting, composition, posing and gear to make a good portrait.

     

    Gear

    Very often, in portraiture, the need to isolate the subject can arise. Wide aperture lenses work best for this purpose, since they isolate the subject and keep distracting elements in the background out of focus. Wide apertures also help with lack of light in most indoor situations.

    Apart from large aperture, lenses with long focal length should be used, which produce a flattering effect by compressing the subject’s features. Wide angle lenses should be avoided as they distort lines and features.

    12536661264_4958a20c87_z The Canon EF 85mm f1.2 L II, with its long focal length and wide aperture, is considered a good portrait lens. Image by The Parasite
    13692268553_265d8f7921_z Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8 is also considered to good for portrait photography. Image by The Parasite

    Remote shutter releases may be used to reduce camera shake in low light situations. Strobes and light boxes can be used for adequate lighting.

     

    Making the portrait

    It’s a universal thought that the subject should be well-lit and properly placed in the frame. This makes for a very basic portrait, but learning lighting, framing and posing techniques can always help in the long run of taking creative portraits.

     

    Lighting

    In a studio

    5594741878_f0a260da79_z High key portrait by Mikhail Chekmezov
    8699956877_63d6e606fd_z Low key portrait by Gary Randall

    The subject’s face should be well-lit, with the eyes in focus. There are a number of lighting setups, like Rembrandt, split, butterfly, loop, broad, low-key and high-key. They involve the use of strobes, soft boxes, light stands, loops, reflectors, etc. to highlight facial features of the subject. It is important to remember that all types of setups may not work for everyone, and that it is your job, the photographer’s job, to find the best fit for the subject.

    Outdoors

    11271157324_8f0edec3a6_z Outdoor portraits do not require extensive knowledge of light, but some amount practical knowledge is always needed. Image by Alva Chien

    Taking a portrait outdoors on in natural light is a lot less challenging than working in a studio. There are no daunting lighting setups to le learnt; lighting gear is most often not required. But the above mentioned points are still valid: the subject should be well-lit, the closest eye should be in focus and the photo should look balanced.

    Different times of the day have different type and colour of light. For example, early morning light is cool, midday light is yellow, golden hour light is warm and orange. Front, back and side-lit portraits can be taken during these times.

    The location and background can matter when shooting outdoors by adding to the mood and personality of the photograph.

     

    Composition

    The rule of thirds can be followed in portraiture, especially when dealing with top half/full body portraits. Place the subject on one of the two lines dividing the frame into thirds. It draws more attention to the person in the photograph and looks balanced to the eye.

    7058899789_603aa8af13_z Following the rule of thirds. Image by Ivana

    If there is little room to move the subject in the frame, like in headshots, just place the subject slightly off-centre. This will help in a manner similar to the rule of thirds.

    Portrait or landscape orientation: usually, when headshots and formal portraits are taken, the portrait orientation is preferred, which allows for the subject to fill the frame. Environmental portraits are taken in landscape orientation, which allows the surroundings to come into the picture too. However, these norms can always be changed to suit your purpose.

     

    Posing

    Posing the subject can draw attention to the important, flattering features, and away from the unwanted features.
    Posing the subject with shoulders at an angle to the frame can help make them look smaller. This way, the subject’s head will also be at an angle, creating a slimmer profile.
    Also ask the subject to lower their head instead of holding it up high. The angle of the head produced in this way looks unattractive in a photograph.

     

    Creative Portraits

    As a photographer, your artistic needs may prompt you to step away from traditional, repetitive photography and try a different approach to portraits. Creative portraits give you more control as a storyteller and allow you to carve a niche for your unique style of photography.

     

    Environmental Portraits

    Sometimes, the subject’s activities and surroundings add more to their portrait than any facial expression could. A portrait with the subject and their environment both in focus is called an environmental portrait.

    There is room to get very creative in environmental portraits. They can also be taken in formal settings for clients willing to stray from the traditional path, as shown below.

    21082841260_77e1551024_z Avionics by Blake Lewis. This photo is staged in a professional setting, and is yet a very good environmental portrait.
    14295598261_947e0aaa68_z Image by Gvahim. Another example of an environmental portrait in a formal setting.
    2961909958_1cf13e9e1b_z Image by Jochen Siegle/TechShowNetwork. This image is yet another example of how an environmental portrait reveals details about the subject's life.

     

    Artistic Portraits

    9184519631_1241457ae9_z Artistic self portrait by martinak15

    For creative portraits, there is only one rule to abide by: follow the above mentioned rules if they suit your purpose, otherwise don’t. It’s possible to fire blinding flash at a subject placed in the dead centre of the frame, and still get a fantastic portrait.

    8673552779_fa203bd9e1_z Image by Chris Becker
  • Underwater Photography - An Introduction To A World Unexplored

    Underwater photography is an exciting, challenging and widely unexplored field unlike anything else. Marine wildlife and archaeological photography and exploration form a large part of it, but fashion, lifestyle and sports are also catching up.

    There are many aspects of underwater photography you would want to consider. For example, photography in deep water where swimming or snorkeling is not possible requires diving expertise and certification. There is also the question of what gear to use, where and what to shoot. This is a guide to help you find answers and tips on underwater photography.

    Kaubalaeva_-E._Russ-_vrakk "Kaubalaeva "E. Russ" vrakk" by Juha Flinkman

     

    Where to shoot

    Underwater photography can be done in any water body, from your backyard swimming pool to rivers, lakes and oceans. As long as you are shooting things immersed partially or fully in water, the general category in underwater photography.

    It can be a great opportunity to get unusual shots of your family and friends playing around in water, pro surfers defying gravity and life undiscovered by majority of humanity teeming away.

    Keep an eye open for opportunities in your everyday life, like local swimming competitions and summer pool parties. You can always plan snorkeling/diving expeditions in the ocean; the Andaman & Nicobar Islands give access to an enriched marine life.

    9659616705_4836537013_z Opportunity is everywhere! Image by ron.aguilar@gmail.com

     

    Diving certification

    Scuba diving certification is good investment, considering it opens doors to the Earth’s unexplored seventy percent. Unsurprisingly, it is challenging and risky, as a number of difficulties can crop up, and requires extensive training in proper techniques and safety. Especially for photography, you need to learn how to be buoyant and still to get up close to the fish. It is mandatory to have Scuba qualification documents before registering for any diving-related activities after completion of your Scuba course of choice.

    Some popular institutions that provide professional grade training and certification for diving are PADI (short for Professional Association of Diving Instructors), SSI (Scuba Schools International) and NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors). Many organisations operate in Havelock, a part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The certificates obtained from reputed organisations are accepted worldwide.

     

    Light, physics and the need for strobes

    If you studied physics in school, you’d know that light refracts at the interface of two different mediums. This phenomenon is absolutely unavoidable underwater, where light refracts, gets absorbed, scatters and dances around. Cue two of the biggest deals in submerged photography, i.e. blue colour of water and absence of light in deep waters.

    Surface photography and snorkeling do not require strobes, because there is usually enough light to shoot in the few feet near the surface. However, as you go deeper, the intensity of light decreases drastically to the point of needing support from external lights and strobes.

    Addressing the problem of blue colouration of all underwater objects, it can be corrected by fixing a red filter on the lens and using the most suitable white balance setting. Albeit, filters cannot be used to take close-ups or macro shots because close proximity to the subject turns it a shade of crimson.

    14874916488_57e693eeda_z Image by Alan Duncan. A filter was used here to correct the blue cast in underwater photos.

     

    Underwater Gear

     

    Cameras, housed DSLR rigs and other options

    Most DSLRs are unsuitable for use in rough weather, let alone underwater, and submerging them  can (and does) effectively damage them for good. To avoid that, underwater housings can be used. They protect the camera well and allow you reach much deeper than snorkeling and surface limits.Some well-known manufacturers or housings are Aquatica, Sea & Sea, Nauticam and Ikelite, Equinox and Olympus, often preferred over Canon and Nikon’s casings.

    As for lenses, you want to use wide-angle or macro to capture landscapes and telephoto for elusive fish (like sharks). These can be attached to the camera rig via ports.

    19580424483_d7c1cc738e_z Image by Francesca LaSala. It's not safe to be close to some wildlife, like sharks. Using a telephoto lens keeps you at an appropriate distance for observation.

     

    Other options

    Compact cameras are cheap, easy to use and they also produce very good images underwater. They are much less hassle-free than DSLRs and also have housing, detachable lens and external light options. Using a DSLR with a fortune-worth of water-proofing and accessories in water for the first few times can be very  daunting, which is why beginners are actually better off with compacts!

    9674397791_ba35ed2a47_z Image by Via Tsuji. This photograph was taken with Canon Powershot D10, a compact camera. It's good to know that consumer cameras too can work brilliantly underwater.

    The GoPro, as a consumer camera, has proved to be a game-changer in sports and adventure photography. GoPro Hero 4 is suitable for underwater photography, at a fraction of the cost required for high-end DSLR equipment. Notwithstanding, it is more adept at taking high-quality videos than stills due to a lack of shutter speed control.

     

    Accessories

    Along with a camera, housing system and one or two strobes, myriads of other accessories like filters, ports, o-rings, are required for underwater photography. These, along with the above mentioned gear, can be found online.

     

  • The Single-Legged Support: Monopods

    Photographers across the World agree that a tripod is a very important accessory and they heavily rely on it to get those great shots. But there are certain places or situations when using a tripod can be more of a problem than help. It is in such conditions where a monopod comes in handy. 

    What are monopods? A monopod can be simply considered as a tripod with one leg (and that is why it is called a ‘monopod’). They are also known as “Unipods”. It is a long metallic stick that which can collapse to a smaller size, and allows you to attach your camera on the top. The basic function of a monopod is to provide vertical support to the camera. They are light, sturdy, and portable. Monopods are somewhat underrated, but can be immensely useful in special circumstances. People think of a monopod as a single-legged alternative to a tripod, but it is actually very special equipment that is useful in situations where a tripod is not. A tripod and monopod are very different pieces of equipment (even though they may seem very similar), and one cannot be substituted for the other. The use of a monopod depends on the type of photograph a person wants to take.

    When to use Monopods? Monopods are useful when a photographer wants some extra stability, but also wants the freedom of movement and flexibility that is not possible with a tripod. Continue reading

  • The Exposure Triangle: ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed

    Almost all of the new cameras come with advanced auto modes that basically does all the work for you. It will set the aperture, shutter speed and ISO for the shot, and all you have to do is point and click. However, using the auto mode puts many limitations on what you can achieve with your camera. So, moving out of the auto mode should be a good idea!

    What is this Exposure Triangle? The ‘Exposure Triangle’ may sound like a sci-fi movie, but it actually is a term used to collectively refer to the three fundamental variables that determine the exposure of a photo: ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture. They are also known as the ‘Three Pillars of Photography’ since they not only affect the exposure, but also other factors on which the overall appearance of the photo depends. Having a good understanding of the exposure triangle will allow you to take control over your images, instead of the camera controlling them. Continue reading

  • DSLR V/S SLR CAMERAS - A galore of options

    Planning to buy a camera? Don't know anything about it? Confused between DSLR and SLR? Fret not, today our markets are over flooded with cameras, and they are all so good that we get confused as it which one to buy and which one to leave. Most of the people, before buying a camera aren't aware about the difference between DSLR and SLR. Coming to the features is another point.

    DSLR is digital single lense reflex and SLR is single lens reflex.There is not much difference between both the cameras except that the (D)SLR is the cousin brother of the SLR cameras. SLR or Single Lens Reflex camera are a class of cameras that allowed for much better photographs due to an innovative solution to an old problem. Most cameras have two light paths from the target, one leading to the lens itself while the other to the viewfinder. This leads to the final photo being slightly different from what you see on the viewfinder. SLR cameras fixed this by using a certain mechanism that lets you see through the lens. After you push the button to take the picture, the mechanism then moves to let the light hit the film behind it.

    Most SLR’s are used in professional photography, where the need for utmost quality is very high. It would not be surprising that most of the advanced features also appear on SLRs.  Continue reading

  • Why Are Photography Workshops Awesome?

    To call yourself a photographer (either amateur or professional), you must be well-versed with lighting composition and post-processing techniques and tricks. You must also be able to employ your technical knowledge creatively in your photographs. Learning the technical and creative aspects of photography is like learning to play the guitar (well). There are plenty of books and online resources available on the subject but to become better, you need a mentor to offer constructive criticism and give you some insider tips. So let's learn why photography workshops are a great place to start!  Continue reading

  • Testing Out Your Skills: A Photo Walk at Old Fort, New Delhi with Kabeer Lal & Shilpi Choudhuri

    Photography Junction is organising a photo walk to Old Fort, New Delhi on 27th September. This is the third leg of a series of workshops on Travel Photography and Stepping Out of Auto, that will be held this month.

    Please make sure to REGISTER here

    The purpose of this workshop is to give all participants an opportunity to apply the knowledge they have gained in the previous workshops, in the real world. This is a fun filled learning experience where you will go out and attempt to capture the beauty of the Old Fort, interact and share your work with other people, and also be continuously guided by expert photographers who will accompany us on the trip.

    Photography Junction is a community and a store for photographers passionate about-well you guessed it- PHOTOGRAPHY. In keeping with our goal to empower you with the art and science of taking brilliant photos,

    TIMING:
    5:00 PM
    Sunday, September 27, 2015

    MUST CARRY:
    • Your camera
    • Your love for photography

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  • Capture the World: A Free Workshop on Travel Photography

    Planning that perfect vacation? How about planning to take some awesome photos during that vacation!! Get ready as Photography Junction brings to you a 2 hour workshop on Travel Photography, where we teach you how to combine your passion for travel and your passion for taking photos.

    This is a FREE WORKSHOP, brought to you by Photography Junction, along with 91Springboard. You can access the live workshop even if you’re not in the Delhi NCR region, by going to www.PhotographyJunction.com on the day of the event, where live access details will be shared 1 hour before the event begins.

    Wherever you are joining from, please make sure to REGISTER here.

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  • Free Workshop-Step Out of Auto: An Introduction to Manual Photography with Kabeer Lal & Shilpi Choudhuri

     

    Join us live in our studio audience, or join us virtually (if you're outside Delhi/NCR)

    Bring out the best in your photographs by learning how to step out of the Auto Mode. Get ready to take absolute control of your images, as Photography Junction empowers you with the basics of photography in this 3 hour workshop with Kabeer Lal and Shilpi Choudhuri.

    This is a FREE WORKSHOP, brought to you by Photography Junction, along with 91Springboard. You can access the live workshop even if you’re not in the Delhi NCR region, by going to www.PhotographyJunction.com on the day of the event, where live access details will be shared 1 hour before the event begins.

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    Continue reading

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