Thursday, February 26, 2009

The colours

‘Colour’ in photography is an important information. But to me, colours in photography are not just information but elements that communicate something more . This is because colours an really change your mood. They have few interesting inherent feelings connected to our heart and soul.
Will you not experience the feel of freshness when you enter in to a virgin land of greens? Won’t the calm blue ocean and the huge sky wrapped in blue give us peace of mind? Even from birth, humans are connected to colours knowingly or unknowingly. Like tastes, colours are so personal and everyone likes different colours.
Infact colours have very strong cultural and moral values in our lives. In one of my recent south Indian wedding assignments in India, the bride and family were from Vietnam, and ‘white’ was totally avoided in every aspect of the auspicious events, decorations, dresses and so on. In the above picture, you could see the sister of the Bride expressing unhappiness about a bit of white flowers forming the part of a garland!
I always wondered from my childhood about how beautifully colours are blend with nature. Look at flowers, plants, animals, birds, flies, insects for example, I really get to envy the way natures get the combination of colours. Sometimes nature camouflages colours and some other times it makes them standout. Well, there is a strong purpose behind the choice of these colours in nature. We also try to imitate nature in our choice of colour themes.
If you start observing the world around us, then, colours could teach you beautiful lessons. When our science teacher in the school told us that some animals cannot see colours, I understood the blessings of our vision in colour! Imagine our world in Black & will understand the power of colour vision!
As a photographer, learn to first love colours and observe them in everyday life. Let us try to find the meaning and purpose of colours and use them in our photographs.
Photography is an immediate action; drawing a meditation For me photography is to place head heart and eye along the same line of sight. It is a way of life. - Henri Cartier-Bresson

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Black & White

Way back in the early 80's, colour photography was introduced to India. I still cannot forget the excitement and demand it created among the photographers and the public. Studios in India added ‘Colour’ in front of their existing name like - ‘Raja Colour Photo Studio’. Photographers waited for months to get their rolls developed and printed. I still remember that I used to send my rolls to Kodak, Bombay (now it is Mumbai) and wait for at least a fortnight. The development in the colour imaging technology has now reached a different level.

Despite the ‘information and details’ given by colour photography, there is always something missing in it. It is undoubtedly the ‘feel or the emotion’, which is the power of ‘Black & White photography forever. Don’t you think that whenever you wanted to communicate emotions in a subject, colour really takes it away by its power of attraction?

Though not in most other subjects, people and portrait shots are deserved to be done in B & W. as they are truly powerful in expressing the emotional content of the subject. 

But for me, B & W photos are very special because they are not true to life. The reason being their 'default creativity.' When you are trying to express something that is not true to life then, you have a lot of scope for imagination and creativity. May be that is what the ace photographer Ansel Adams had tried several black & white land scape shots. How can a B & W landscape shot be true to life? But, they were truly beautiful and undoubtedly artistic. That is one of the reasons why B & W pictures take the lion’s share in the photo exhibitions, competitions and art galleries.

Enjoy artistic photography….! Learn to see the world in a different way…. the B & W way! 

A photographer does not operate a camera to merely take pictures. Photographic work is always personal. A photograph reveals the photographer.

‘Photography knows how to authenticate its misrepresentations’- Manson Cooley

The Reflections

Like shadows, reflections also communicate a lot about the subject. But unlike shadows, reflections, many times reveal the details of the subject. Reflections are exciting. You can understand this feeling, when you observe the reactions of a child or a pet dog looking through the reflected image in the mirror. I cannot still forget my first water reflection shot of my friend standing on a very small canal bridge.
The clear reflection of a glass table top gives you tremendous still life pictures. A semi reflective acrylic sheet or mica or any metallic surface provides you reflections of variable strengths. The distorted reflections on the uneven surface provide you a great feel of abstract. If handled carefully these reflections create an immense feel of aesthetics in our pictures. These magical reflections are powerful emotional strength for photography.
There is something called unwanted reflections in photography. These reflections could de-saturate the colours and take away the contrast in a photograph. These reflections could be removed to the desirable extent by using a polarizing filter.
But to me, reflections are natural and they are true to life.
For example, have you ever looked at the reflection of the world around in small dew drop hanging from the tip of a leaf? Have you ever seen and enjoyed the reflection of a tall building in the tinted wind shield of a car as it is approaching the building? Have you ever seen and enjoyed the reflection of your entire new house in the sun glasses of your wife? Have you ever seen and enjoyed the reflection of the automobile lights as they move on a wet road after the rains? Have you ever seen and enjoyed the reflection of your wine glass on the black granite table of your bar counter? Have you ever noticed the distorted and elongated reflections of your entire family on the stainless steel glossy water mug when all of you are dining..?
If you have not seen such beautiful things in life then, there is very little you could do with your camera. Because, reflections prompt you an instinct to photograph even the ordinary things to make it look extra-ordinary.

The Sharpness

When I was studying sixth standard I found it difficult to see the text written by my class teacher on the black board (those days we had only black boards and chalks to write, unlike the present days digital boards..!) but copied the same from my classmate sitting next to me. I was even punished for a couple of times for not reading the text on the blackboard correctly before realizing that I had a problem in my eye sight..! Yes, the text on the black board was looking little fuzzy and less sharp for my eyes. Here, the lack of sharpness leads to lack of details. Of course the problem was solved by adding a lens called ‘spectacles’ on my little face. Well, I still carry one on my face for more than 40 years.

Technically, sharpness may be understood as the distinct separation of identifiable shapes through clear demarcation of lines and curves. Above all, human eye always tend to see things sharp and there is a greater level of discomfort when you cannot see things sharp. We know photography is all about details. Sharpness of the image is one of the factors contributing for ‘details’.

But for me ‘sharpness’ is near to heart. It is a way and means to understand anything you see or photograph. Well, it doesn’t mean that everything in a subject needs to be completely sharp. In fact, selective sharpness achieved through intelligent use of depth of field control is far more powerful in details . They are a bit more artistic too. When your attention is about a small honey bee that sits on a flower, then a selective sharpness laid on the bee will be far more powerful enough to highlight the finer details.

The ‘laser sharpness’ is dangerous sometimes when you shoot portraits. Otherwise, look for really sharp images that touches the heart of the viewer and take careful control of the ‘challenges of sharpness..!’

Every time someone tells me how sharp my photos are, I assume that it isn't a very interesting photograph. If it was, they would have more to say. - Anonymous

Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.
- Henri Cartier-Bresson