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Thursday, August 19, 2004

Why Black and White

Have you done any black and white photography yet? Or the idea of no-colors reminds you of nothing but your dad's old TV ?

Well believe me, it can be very interesting. In fact it can help you a lot on mastering the very basic skill of capturing lights and shadows. Recently there was some discussion at dslreports.com on black and white vs. color photography which made me think why should a beginner take interest in Black and White Photography? The world is so colorful and it's so wonderful to take some instant gratification about your photography simply by capturing colors with your new Digicam (see: "Colors with G5" ) . Why bother to go to Black and White ? Well, here is my take on Black and White clicking.

If we think of color photography as the generalization and black and white as a specialization of color photography where colors are toned down, then in general, the skill of photograpy has following elements

  1. Identifying the subject
  2. Composing the frame
  3. Emphasizing the subject
  4. Capturing the colors
  5. Capturing lights, shadows, contrasts
  6. Creating an overall pleasing (not disgusting) photograph

( I am considering technical skills like selecting proper Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO, Depth of Field etc. as implicit to skills above )

With no offence to people who use filters to get the colors right, capturing colors is the easiest in the list for a digital photographer. In fact it is pretty much simplified to having a good camera and selecting proper white balance option on your Digicam.

The colors are there whether you take the picture or no. You are capturing them as it is, while the rest of the elements, you have to learn and master. Lights and shadows are also there even if you dont take the picture, but they may vary a lot by varying angle.

Also, Eventhough they are the easiest to capture, colors contributes a lot to the overall good feeling of a photograph according to human brain/eye. So a very simple picture of a flower may look so pleasing to a human brian/eye - simply because it is colorful - a very biological or genetic reason I guess.

Now, imagine if this easiest element is taken away from you ! Without color, a lot of emphasis will shift on lights and shadows, proper subject identification etc rest of the elements of the skill ! It will require you to be much better in rest of the elements of the skill to make a picture that can compete with a colorful pic!

I think B&W is a lot more demending in terms of photography skills and that is what attracts me. I believe every beginner should do some fun B&W photography to sharpen the rest of the skills. Without being 'distracted' by colors, you can focus a lot on lights and shadows, because that's all you've got!

I don't mean to say, a black and white picture is better or more artistic compared to color. The vibrant colors and their pleasing effect on our genetically hard coded brain can not be easily competed by a BW pic. But BW pic has to try very hard on rest of the elements of the picture to be able to compete with a colorful pic. Kinda like, if you are not the best dressed person in the party, then you better be very good at Tap Dancing or Singing or have a great sense of humour to be the center of attraction :-)

Some of my BW attempts below.

Three is company

Singapore Airport

Labor Transportation, INDIA

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Sunday, August 15, 2004

Profile of a Photography Enthusiast

After posting "Get Out There", I was wondering, what do other photography enthusiasts do ? If not a full time photographer or art student, they must be having some other Day Job like I do. How do they maintain their hobby? Where and when do they take most of their pictures?

So I simply asked these questions to them... at Digital Imaging forum on www.DSLReports.com and got answers from about 50 different fellow hobbiests ! Take a look at this thread.

Looks like Digital Photography is making a lot of folks interested in Photography for more than simply Point and Shoot. Add your own comments too to this thread if you feel like.

Also, here is some very interesting reading on "How to be Creative", where one of the important advice given is "Keep your day Job!" :-)
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Thursday, August 12, 2004

Don't turn the knob...

I took this picture while fooling around in the kitchen. This is another example of Macro capability of G5. Also note that the depth of field is very narrow (F2.0). Other thing I kept in mind was that the camera is not visible and the water-filter head is centered in the frame. No cropping required.

Don't turn the knob...

F2.0, 1/13 sec, ISO 50


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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

A Candid Portrait

The old and shy gentleman in the picture below is my grandpa's barber in a small town in western India. I just told him that I was about to take a picture of him and clicked! He did not get a chance to say Yes or No, and I think I captured a genuine moment of Surprize!

A Candid Portrait
F3.2, 1/50 sec, ISO Auto

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Sunday, August 08, 2004

I dropped my G5 !

Guess What! Today, for the first time, I dropped my G5 on the ground, from waist height! No not on carpet, but on dirt road at a construction site. It slipped out of my camcorder bag - which was not closed properly - when I lifted the bag by its straps!

Well, all is well and it has survived the Crash! I even took some snaps right after the incident wihout a problem. Althought I am less concerned now, but the sight of a $500+ digital camera dropping and tumbling on a construction site was REALLY SCARRY!

Gotta be more careful now.


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Friday, August 06, 2004

Get out there

If you are a photohead with a lot of time to click around everyday, feel Good for yourself, because the rest of us are trapped in our cubicles at our day jobs. Here is an attempt to satisfy the photohead inside me during lunch hour today.

Get out there

Canon G5, Av Mode, F6.3, 1/40 sec, ISO 50