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CM YK

various filters for great B&W photography • HOW TO VISUALISE A SCENE IN B&W

us pl

BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY

www.betterphotography.in

t en hy em ap pl gr up to e s ho ag l p -p ve 16 tra on

August 2010 • Rs. 100

BLACK & WHITE SPECIAL • SEEING & SHOOTING IN B&W • GREAT MASTERS: PRABUDDHA DASGUPTA

B&W Special Getting creative with grains, contrast and HDR capturing our WORLD IN

WHITE Easy ways to shoot stunning pictures using basic & advanced techniques

Vol. 14 • No. 3 • AUGUST 2010

WIN!

Exclusive tests Prizes w Samsung NX10 orth Rs. 1,00,0 Olympus Tough 8010 0 0 See Pag e No. 4 Adobe Lightroom 3 9 Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 VR II On Assignment

A unique interpretation of rivers and rocky landscapes

PHOTOFEATURE

The story of people who are affected by unemployment

GREAT MASTERS

The opinions of the legendary Prabuddha Dasgupta

CM YK

PROFILE

A chat with visually-impaired photographer Kurt Weston


InFocus

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76 100 ShowCase

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ON ASSIGNMENT

Mystical Rockscapes A unique interpretation of rocky landscapes

100 Kurt Weston Profile

An inspirational story of a visually-impaired photographer

PhotoFinish

189 The Senselessness of DIFFERENT STROKES

Black and White

190 Lensless Cameras History

Unravelling the story behind pinhole cameras

192 Chaplin’s Tragedy Story Behind the Picture

82 86 92

Fun With Cyanotypes Experiments at home DIGITAL TECHNIQUE

Recreate the Pinhole Effect In Photoshop and Lightroom

106 Mukesh Parpiani 108 Prabuddha Dasgupta MY BEST SHOT

Celebrating 125 years of film leadership

GREAT MASTERS

The opinions of this legendary photographer

GOLDEN ROLL c on t e s t

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An award for those of you who love to shoot with film For the first time in India See page no. 49 for details

TIPS & TRICKS

Different ways to shoot portraits and your kitchen in black and white

Regulars

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PHOTOFEATURE

India: The Land of a Thousand Struggles Documentating the lives of people affected by unemployment

Feedback.............................................................12 PHOTOCRITIQUE................................................... 88 Q & A................................................................... 96 1000 WORDS........................................................ 114 Your Pictures...................................................120 BP Buyer’s Guide............................................... 174


August 2010

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SnapShots

GearGuide

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Software Review Exposure Plot

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Website Review fineartphotoblog.com

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Look Who’s Shooting Anusha Yadav

ON THE COVER

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test

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Olympus TOUGH-8010 Does it deliver quality?

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SHOOTING TECHNIQUE

Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 VRII A flawless performer?

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It’s a Grainy World Introduce grain to make stunning B&W images

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Lightroom 3 The latest Adobe RAW workflow software

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A Study of Contrasts Demistifying a misunderstood concept

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Alien Skin Exposure 3 A plug-in that simulates the look of film

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Drobo A storage device that just cannot fail!

7 Facts You Must Know About HDR Photography ... to improve black and white images

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FEATURE

CM YK

various filters for great B&W photography • hoW to visualise a sCene in B&W

us pl

Better photography

www.betterphotography.in

t en hy em ap pl gr up to e s ho ag l p -p ve 16 tra on

august 2010 • rs. 100

BLACK & WHITE SPECIAL • SEEING & SHOOTING IN B&W • GREAT MASTERS: PRABUDDHA DASGUPTA

B&W SPECIAL Getting creative with grains, contrast and HDR capturing our WorLD in

White Easy ways to shoot stunning pictures using basic & advanced techniques

VOL. 14 • NO. 3 • AUGUST 2010

Win!

prizes Wo

ExCLUSIVE TESTS Samsung Nx10 Olympus TOUGH 8010 Adobe Lightroom 3 Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 VR II

rs. 1,00,0rth 00 SEE pagE no.

on assignment

A unique interpretation of rivers and rocky landscapes

photofeature

The story of people who are affected by unemployment

great masters

The opinions of the legendary Prabuddha Dasgupta

49

profile

A chat with visually-impaired photographer Kurt Weston

photograph: Camil Tulcan Design: pradeep kumar B nambiar CM YK

BetterPictures

Samsung NX10 First mirrorless camera from Samsung

Filters for B&W Photography Explore the magic of coloured filters

Secrets of Visualisinig in B&W Previsualise and shoot perfect B&W images


Sony Cyber-shot Cameras

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Sony has announced three new compact cameras—the WX5, TX9 and T99. The WX5 and T99 have a 12.2MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor, while the T99 has a 14.1MP CCD sensor. They also have the 3D Sweep Panorama mode, which allows you to create a three-dimensional rendition when the images are viewed on a Sony Bravia screen, a feature that was first introduced in the Sony NEX cameras. Thus, in effect, the WX5, TX9 and T99 become the smallest (and least expensive) cameras that can produce 3-D images. In addition to this, these cameras have a new Sweep Multi Angle mode, which shoots a high-speed burst of 15 frames, creating a photograph in which the subject can be viewed from multiple angles. Both the WX5 and TX9 have a new Superior Auto mode that shoots bursts of 2 to 6 shots and then combines those images to enhance dynamic range, reduce noise and increase sharpness. These two cameras also shoot Full HD video and are equipped with a touchscreen. Of the three new cameras, the WX5 has a 24–120mm lens, while the TX9 and T99 have a 25–100mm lens.

Samyang 8mm, 14mm and 85mm for Samsung NX Mount In addition to producing lenses for Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax, Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds, Samyang will now produce lenses for the Samsung NX Mount too. The company has announced that it will release three of its manual focus lenses for the NX mount—the 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye lens, the 14mm f/2.8 lens and the 85mm f/1.4 lens. The lenses will be available at the end of September 2010.

Toshiba Wireless SDHC Card Toshiba Corporation along with Singapore based Trek 2000 announced the launch of their first wireless SDHC Memory cards. The 8GB WiFi-enabled card can transfer both JPEG and RAW files wirelessly, that is, without needing a memory card reader or USB connection. The two companies have also invited camera companies to create an industry standard for Wi-Fi technology.

Magnum Archive Now Open for Public Viewing T

Steve McCurry/Magnum Photos

what ’ s n e w

The Magnum photo collection includes some of the most famous images of the last century, including Steve McCurry’s Afghan Girl.

he Magnum Photo Archive, widely considered to be one of the greatest photography collections in the world, is now open to the public. These images include some of the most iconic photojournalistic images of the twentieth century, including Robert Capa’s image of a soldier falling on being shot, Steve McCurry’s haunting image of an Afghan refugee in Pakistan and Elliot Erwitt’s photo of a veiled Jacqueline Kennedy at her husband, John F Kennedy’s funeral in 1963. Significantly, the opening of the collection marks the end of decades of tight control around the photographs. They will be available for viewing by the public for the next five years at USA’s University of Texas at Austin’s Ransom Center. Any member of the public can access the original prints of these photographs, as long as they have a valid photo ID. Magnum Photos is a photographic cooperative organisation that is owned by its photographer members.

Photography Banned in S C Railway Stations T he South Central Railway (SCR), India, authorities have banned photography in railway stations, saying that this will put a check on terrorist attacks. While photographers have always not been allowed to shoot in any government buildings (including railway stations), the law has been applied differently in different states. Anyone eager to take photographs at SCR stations such as Hyderabad, Secunderabad and so on will

now need to submit a written application to the Chief Public Relations Officer and take permission prior to shooting. The RPF personnel, however, did not publicise the new rule before implementing it. There have been incidents in which passengers have protested about their cameras being confiscated, saying that they had no idea about the ban. Meanwhile, a debate has been brewing on whether banning photography is the answer to preventing terrorism.

A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.” Ansel Adams (February 20 1902—April 22 1984) Ansel Adams was an American photographer, best known for his work in black and white landscape photography. Adams developed the ‘Zone System’ alongwith Fred Archer. The Zone System was a way to determine proper exposure and adjust the contrast of the final print, accordingly. Adams preferred large format cameras since the high resolution provided by them, ensured sharpness in his images. Also, he was the founding member of the photographic club, ‘Group f/64’, which later went on to create a Photography Wing in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA. Adams’ timeless and visually stunning photographs have inspired leagues of photographers, making him one of the most respected masters of photography.

Better Photography

Image source: www.wikipedia.com

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HDR Expose Unified Color Technologies has unveiled HDR Expose, a 32-bit dedicated software for High Dynamic Range imagery. The software replaces the company’s proprietary HDR PhotoStudio software, but incorporates similar features and technology. It also has new features like de-ghosting algorithms to minimise halos, and a Brightness histogram that helps maintain adequate shadow and highlight detail even after converting the image to a lower bit-depth. Besides this, the software has a completely redesigned user interface and can directly export files to Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture. It also has an improved RAW processing engine and a new Local Contrast tool. The software is available as a free upgrade for present users of HDR PhotoStudio or for an introductory price of USD 99 for new users. For more details, log on to www.unifiedcolor.com

Indian Photographers Win International Awards T he results of the International Colors Awards 2010 have been announced and a number of Indian photographers have earned distinctions. Fashion photographer Vikram Bawa achieved the first place in the Nude - Professional category. Colors Awards are a prestigious international competition, organised annually for professional and amateur photographers. Chandan Dey won the second prize in the People - Amateur category, while Parvin Dabas won the third prize in the Fashion - Amateur category. In addition to this, photographers like Dilip Bhatia, Rajat Kumar Das, Sandipan Majumdar, Kushal Gangopadhyay and Joydeep Mukherjee were amongst the honourable mentions. The jury for the awards included experts from National Geographic Channel, Christies in New York, Saatchi and Saatchi- Singapore and others.

Vikram Bawa

Bawa’s winning image titled Freedom.

SanDisk 1GB WORM SanDisk has started shipping its 1GB Write Once Read Many (WORM) SD cards. As the name suggests, data can be recorded on the card only once and lasts for over 100 years. Once this data is written, it can neither be altered nor deleted. The SanDisk WORM card has been designed to meet the stringent demands of the forensic industry, in which sensitive data needs to be safeguarded for a number of years. It also meets archival demands for portability, storage life and ease of use. The aim of the card is to target industries where the security of unaltered data is important, like the military and the police. It also targets industries like audio recording and long-term archiving of legal and medical documents. The card is available worldwide, though the cost depends on the quantity of cards ordered.

Oloneo PhotoEngine Beta Oloneo, a Paris based software company has launched the Beta version of its image-processing software PhotoEngine. The software includes the ability for RAW processing and HDR tone mapping. It is based on a 32-bit per channel wide colour gamut, which gives you greater control over the tonal range and colours in your photograph. It also allows you to control individual light sources in the image, and also recover a large amount of detail from both shadows and highlights. Moreover, it also claims to create several effects, such as setting the WB of different light sources separately and converting daytime scenes into night scenes. The software is available as a free download from www.oloneo.com. Better Photography

Nurse in Iconic World War II Photographs Dies E dith Shain, a retired teacher who is widely reported to be the nurse in Alfred Einsentaedt’s iconic photography V-J day in Times Square, died on 20 June 2010. She died of liver cancer and was 91 years old. The picture, which is one of the most significant images of the twentieth

Alfred Einsentaedt/LIFE • Image Source: www.wikipedia.com

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century, depicts a navy officer kissing a nurse as part of the celebration in Times Square, New York after the announcement of Japan’s unconditional surrender in World War II. The photograph was shot by Einsentaedt for LIFE magazine. Until the late 1970’s, the name of the nurse was not known until Shain wrote a letter to Einsentaedt claiming to be the woman in the picture. On the day the image was shot, she had been working at the Doctor’s Hospital, New York when the news of the victory came through. She claimed she had just reached Times Square when a sailor grabbed her and kissed her. She said, “There was no way to know who he was, but I did not mind because he was someone who had fought for me. As for the picture, it says so many things—hope, love, peace and tomorrow. The end of the war was a wonderful experience, and that photo represents all those feelings.” Curiously, two other women—Greta Friedman and Barbara Sokol had also claimed to be the nurse in the image, but Shain was widely accepted as the woman in the picture. The identity of the sailor has not been confirmed to date. Au g u st 2 0 1 0


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GearGuide

How We Test Product Categorisation We first segregate products into categories for the purpose of equitability in testing. The DSLR is divided into entrylevel, semi-professional and professional categories. For compacts, we distinguish between advanced and basic compact cameras. Similarly, we also test consumer and pro lenses, flashguns, printers, and other photographic accessories and gear.

The Process We primarily test for features, performance, build, ergonomics, warranty and support. While this remains constant, the weightage we give to these parameter differs from category to category, because different types of consumers have diverse expectations from products.

Final Ratings Under each main parameter, we 32 list out hundreds of individual variables (for eg. colour accuracy for individual colours in different lighting, individual features, dynamic range, center-to-edge definition, light fall-off, etc.) against which we either give points or simply mark ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Thus, we arrive at a score for that parameter, and then, the final score, denoted as a percentage. Additionally, based on the current pricing of a product, a star rating for ‘Value for Money’ is considered. Value for Money does not affect the final percentage, because prices for products change constantly.

Samsung NX10

Entering the Arena Samsung has launched their first mirrorless camera, the NX10. Shridhar Kunte puts it on the bench to see how it stands in this competitive market.

Our Seals of Approval Any product that scores 80% or higher in individual tests gets Weightage of ‘BP Recommended’—a seal parameters of approval from our team. In comparison tests, we also tag products as ‘BP Best Performer’ 5% and ‘BP Best Value 15%for Money’.

30%

BP Excellence Awards

20% At the end of the calendar year, 30% the five highest rated products in each category automatically gets nominated for the ‘Better Features Photography Excellence Awards’. Performance A panel of experts then decide the Build Quality winners. This is BP’s recognition of Ergonomics the very best products launched Warranty & in the course of the year, and the Support companies that made them. Better Photography

Weightage of parameters

15% 20%

5% 30%

30%

Features Performance Build Quality Ergonomics Warranty & Support

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hen Panasonic launched the first mirrorless camera in 2008, most manufacturers preferred to adopt the waiting game and see whether the trend catches on. But after observing the success story from the sidelines, almost everyone wants to be in the fray now. Last year, Korean giant Samsung, announced the NX system and early this year, introduced their first mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera, the NX10. This time, Samsung has decided to target the Indian market strongly, and thus the NX10 has entered the Indian market only recently.

Features The Samsung NX10 is built around a 14.6MP APS-C sized sensor, which is similar to the sensor manufactured by Samsung for the Pentax K-7. This means that the sensor is larger than those found in the mirrorless cameras of Panasonic and Olympus, and this gives a theoretical advantage to the NX10, in terms of image quality. Of course, the main downside to using an APS-C sized sensor in a mirrorless camera is the need for larger lenses—the kit zoom lens of the NX10 is not as compact as the Micro Four Thirds kit lenses. As a standard package, the camera comes with two kit options—one with an 18–55mm au g u st 2 0 1 0


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Olympus TOUGH-8010

A Tough Metal Box

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Neha Mutreja tests the Olympus µ TOUGH-8010 to see how this waterproof camera copes with rough, extreme conditions.

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Features Performance Build Quality Ergonomics Warranty & Support Better Photography

lympus were pioneers of waterproof and shock proof cameras and with the µ TOUGH series, they have created a niche in the market. The Olympus µ TOUGH-8010, the latest camera in this series, is a successor of TOUGH 8000. This new camera incorporates newer technology and better features than its predecessor. But do these advancements translate into better on-field performance and quality was a question that I was looking to answer, as I took the camera and used it in a variety of tough conditions.

Features At first sight, this camera gives an impression of being a metal box. It gives a reassuring feeling even while using it in extreme outdoor activities like swimming, snorkelling, climbing, trekking and others.

The TOUGH-8010 is designed to work underwater, up to a depth of 10m and is freezeproof up to temperatures as low as -10°C. It can also be dropped onto a hard surface from a height of 2m. Additionally the camera is crushproof—it can even withstand a weight of 100kg on it! The camera also has a Manometer that calculates altitude and water depth. This is especially helpful for hikers or divers who wish to record the atmospheric or hydraulic pressure. The TOUGH-8010 is a 14-megapixel camera that has a lens of 28–140mm (35mm equivalent) focal length. It also has features like Dual Image Stabilisation and HD movie recording at 720p.

Handling The TOUGH-8010 is made of anodised aluminium plating and also sports a dual sealing to protect it from the elements. A

What’s in the box • Olympus TOUGH8010 camera • USB Charger au g u st 2 0 1 0


test

Nikkor AF-S 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II

Get Set Action!

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Raj Lalwani tests the Nikkor AF-S 300mm f/2.8G ED II, a high-end telephoto lens for sports and wildlife photography professionals.

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Weightage of parameters 10% 15% 15% 25%

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Features Performance Build Quality Ergonomics Warranty & Support Better Photography

hen you see any match of the recently concluded football world cup, you are sure to notice a large number of photographers using extremely high-end equipment. Merely a few months before the tournament, camera companies had introduced many high-speed camera bodies and lenses aimed especially at sports photographers. One such lens is the Nikkor AF-S 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II.

Features The 300mm f/2.8 VR II lens is actually quite similar to its older version, at least in terms of its optical design. It retains the Nano Crystal Coating that its previous version had. Amongst all the lenses that we have tested recently, we have seen that Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coating technology stands out, and the few Nikkor lenses that are equipped with it do an incredible job of shooting high-quality images without any

flare or aberrations even while shooting against the light. The focal length, maximum aperture and VR technology of the lens make it an ideal companion for sports, wildlife and news photographers who shoot in varying levels of light. When combined with a DX body, it gives a field of view equivalent to a 450mm lens, thus making it a useful tool for bird photography too. A minimum focusing distance of 2.3m also helps you shoot extremely tight close-ups of people, while maintaining a comfortable working distance. This also makes the lens useful to capture candid portraits on the streets.

Handling We received the lens towards the end of June, at a time when it was raining continuously in Mumbai. However, that did not stop us from testing the lens to its limits—we used it on the full-frame D700 body in a variety of conditions, to shoot different subjects like street portraits,

P lu s • Excellent optics • Great build and ergonomics • VR performs well Minus • Bokeh not so pleasing • Price au g u st 2 0 1 0


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A Dream Upgrade After two beta versions, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 is finally here. Chandni Gajria finds out how this pro workflow software compares to the other options in the market. Better Photography

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Imaging: Santosh D Kamble

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3


fe atu r e

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A Guide to B&W Filters Ambarin Afsar explains how various coloured filters can help you create magical black and white images with a wonderful range of tones.

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ften, we say that photography simply means capturing light. But, there is more to photography than that—we can merely record a scene or use various camera settings, filters and postprocessing to interpret the scene uniquely. Sometimes, however, you might have found that the scene you wanted to capture differs from the scene actually recorded on the camera. The human eye is far superior to the film or the sensor in a camera—though you may see the details in a backlit bridge as well as details in the clouds, the photograph may completely lack shadow detail or the clouds may end up looking like washed-out grey areas. You may want certain reds and oranges to have deep hues in the frame, but they may not turn out as envisioned. In the case of B&W photography, each colour translates differently on the camera. So, how do you affect a particular set of colours and make them look like your Better Photography

desired shade of grey, black or even white? How do you capture a range of tones and create wonderful tonal contrast? Worry not. This is exactly where filters come into the picture. They can help the camera see a frame as seen by the human eye and can enhance or alter the tones in a scene.

Lightening and Darkening Tones Filters affect the way various colours translate to different tones by either lightening or darkening them. This allows you to manipulate the tonal balance of a photograph while you are shooting. Since this also affects contrast, the mood of a B&W photograph can be greatly enhanced. Primarily, filters used in black and white photography come in six colours—red, orange, yellow, yellow/green, green and blue. Each filter’s primary role is to lighten its own colour and darken its complementary colour. Therefore, a red filter will lighten the reds in an image while Au g u st 2 0 1 0


f e at u re

Playing with Yellows Once you understand how filters affect different tones, you can use them to your advantage. The yellow filter produces the least dramatic effect, so it is handy as a general-use filter in frames where contrast is already quite high. For instance, you can use it for outdoor portraits against the sky. It will slightly darken blue skies to emphasise white clouds and reduce the effects of haze. Similarly, the yellow/green filter gives you slightly more contrast between the sky and the ground, as it lightens the green tones in an image.

Keying Up the Greens

A red filter allows only red wavelengths of light and blocks other colours. Au g u st 2 0 1 0

On the other hand, a green filter steps up the contrast between the sky and foliage. The principal effect of this filter is to darken reds and lighten greens. It works especially well when the frame has important elements in these two colours, such as a red vehicle against a green landscape.

Drama with Orange and Red Orange and red filters achieve similar effects, but to different degrees. You can use the orange filter if you want bold skies with clouds that stand out. The filter makes light-

toned features even lighter—this makes them contrast with elements with dark hues. However, the most dramatic of all B&W filters is the red filter. It can turn blue skies almost black with stark white clouds. Green hues and shadow areas also darken dramatically, giving the image a dark, brooding feel. Interestingly, the red filter also makes deep blue waters look black.

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Doing the Math Using filters involves more than just placing them in front of the camera. You also need to calculate the filter factor of the filter being used. Some amount of light entering the lens is blocked when a filter is used and so, exposure needs to be increased. This increase in exposure is known as the ‘filter factor’. Every manufacturer mentions the filter factor in the literature. Once you know

See Colour in Black and White A good way to learn how colours translate to black and white is by photographing the same subjects in both B&W and colour. This will help you compare the images and note how certain colours record as grey tones. Ideally, you should set up a shot or look for a scene that consists of a wide range of colours-reds, yellows, oranges, greens and blues. This exercise will help you visualise whether a particular frame will work well in B&W. It will also help you identify what you can do while shooting, to enhance the photograph. For instance, if you shoot red and green objects that are placed next to each other, in colour, you will get nicely contrasting tones. However, red and green record as similar grey tones in B&W and so, you might end up with a dull image. Better Photography

Photograph: Ambarin Afsar Imaging: Pradeep Kumar B Nambiar

complementary colours like greens and blues will be darkened.


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Secrets of Visualising in B&W The magic of black & white photography is a certain puritarian starkness that lends itself to deeper meaning and emotion. Shobhan shares some of the secrets of seeing in B&W. Better Photography

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SHOOTING TECHNIQUE

ON ASSIGNMENT

DIGITAL TECHNIQUE

AStudyofContrasts Demystifying a misunderstood concept

Mystical Rockscapes Interpret mundane objects uniquely

The Pinhole Effect Sho o t ing Create your own pinhole image s

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hotography in its earliest form was monochromatic. Even today, both hobbyists and professionals love to shoot in black and white. Very often, it is applied to specific genres of photography like social documentary and classic portraiture, with the idea that certain subjects look better in au g u st 2 0 1 0

B&W. The first step is to visualise how the final print should appear even before you take the picture. This act of ‘previsualising’ your frame helps you to become more aware of your subjects’ potential to form an expressive image. It also helps you achieve greater control over your camera and its functions.

This frame shows how you can experiment with space. Though the human element forms the smallest part in the frame, it is what makes the photograph more impactful. Better Photography

Chhandak Pradhan

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Sho ot ing T echniq ue

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It’s a Grainy World Raj Lalwani tells you how to use grain as an effective tool to create stunning black and white compositions.

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ost modern-day DSLRs do a remarkable job at keeping noise to a minimum even at ISO 3200. Compact cameras, too, give decent results up till ISO 800. A camera that fails to live up to this is considered outdated and almost worthless. Noise has become a bad word that we run away from. But then, what if we were to tell you that the same grain or noise that you usually try to avoid, can actually be used to your advantage for black and white photography? Adding a grainy look Better Photography

to your photographs is actually quite simple. And there are several innovative ways in which you can use it.

Celebrate the Medium Modern-day technology tries to eliminate digital noise because it is intrusive and not aesthetically pleasing. However, the whole idea of a grainy rendition of a scene is something you can achieve only through photography! After all, grain is a property that is unique to the medium—even our eyes do not see a grainy world. The use of au g u st 2 0 1 0


Sho o t ing T echnique

Shooting at the highest ISO setting of the camera helped give an edgy look to this lowlight portrait. Exposure: 1/100sec at f/1.8 (ISO 3200)

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Raj Lalwani

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Sho ot ing T echnique

Sho ot ing T echnique

A Study of Contrasts We usually like high contrast pictures in B&W. But is that all there is to contrast? Chandni Gajria demystifies this often misunderstood concept.

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id you know that newborn babies are attracted to high contrast because it is easier to focus the eyes on anything with high contrast? As time passes, tones and shades become increasingly recognisable. While this possibly explains

our fascination with high contrast, a deeper understanding of the concept reveals that an image can also be of low levels of contrast and still look absolutely stunning. But before we begin playing with contrast, the first step is to understand what it is and how it works.

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The image exhibits a perfect balance between blacks, whites and greys. Exposure: 1/250 at f/10 (ISO 200) Better Photography

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Kaushik Majumder

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Sho ot ing T echnique

Sho ot ing T echnique

A Study of Contrasts We usually like high contrast pictures in B&W. But is that all there is to contrast? Chandni Gajria demystifies this often misunderstood concept.

D

id you know that newborn babies are attracted to high contrast because it is easier to focus the eyes on anything with high contrast? As time passes, tones and shades become increasingly recognisable. While this possibly explains

our fascination with high contrast, a deeper understanding of the concept reveals that an image can also be of low levels of contrast and still look absolutely stunning. But before we begin playing with contrast, the first step is to understand what it is and how it works.

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The image exhibits a perfect balance between blacks, whites and greys. Exposure: 1/250 at f/10 (ISO 200) Better Photography

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Kaushik Majumder

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Mystical Rockscapes Avani Rao Gandra shares her vision of rocky landscapes-flowing lines of rocks and crevices against a gushing river that transform into concrete compositions.

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ersonally, I think sensing a story before aiming the lens is vital to any genre of photography. One can reach the road to making a great original tale out of the ordinary and the mundane—even though it can be challenging for one’s aptitude .

My Assignment Description To capture the flowing river against rock formations.

Duration Over two hours

Notes

My Perspective I got lucky one morning, in Hampi, Karnataka. Amongst the uneven rock

Creative photography is more about developing your own way of looking at things. Advancing a feel for your subject should override technical expertise.

This is a tight frame of the folds of textured rock as they move in towards a tiny cesspool of water.

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The rocks recede diagonally like a jigsaw puzzle with light highlighting the textures. Au g u st 2 0 1 0

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This collage of 25 photograms represents different trees, made using leaves, seeds and ink.

Fun With Cyanotypes Shilpa Gavane creates photograms and explores the cyanotype technique to create unique, graphical images

Better Photography

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o n a s s i g nm e n t

Alternative photographic techniques and chemistries may not be as tough as they seem, but they need patience.

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he concept of creating graphical images without a camera is quite liberating! In their time, world renowned photographers like Man Ray, László Moholy-Nagy and Christian Schad went against conventional rules and created photograms—photographic images made of an object’s shadow on a photosensitive paper, without the use of a camera. The result is a negative shadow image varying in tone, depending on the transparency of the objects used. Making my first few photograms in the darkroom was exciting and fun. In the course of experimentation, I also came across some famous cyanotypes. This started my journey of creating my own cyanotype photographs and photograms.

My Assignment Description Exploring photograms and cyanotypes to create fine-art work.

Duration I experimented with this technique while studying at National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. It took me almost a year to get satisfying results.

This is a triptych of three abstract photograms made of rice, eggs, forks, and other objects.

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Notes Working with alternative techniques like cyanotype requires patience, and a lot of trial and error. Keep going and experiment as much as possible.

My Perspective We hardly look around and observe what all beautiful things nature has given us. I took great joy in exploring the intricately detailed patterns and forms of nature. I took my time to evocatively capture what I saw and experienced, so that I could share them with others. After this stage, I decided to print my photographs as cyanotypes. Unlike the silver based emulsions of modern photographic processes, cyanotypes use ferric based chemistries that need UV light, found abundantly in sunlight, to expose the print. For my cyanotypes, apart from creating photograms of objects found around the house or in nature, my final set includes photographs of trees and branches that seemingly dance against the backdrop of a plain sky.

I found this scene poetic as well as thoughtful. The leaves fluttering in the wind looked like fingers, the curving branches like arms—as though about to dance.

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Prof i l e

ShowCase

The Witness Ambarin Afsar speaks with Kurt Weston in an attempt to decode a visually impaired photographer’s life and to record his testimony.

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Kurt Weston

• Kurt feels that he would have been a writer, if not a photographer. He says he might just write his autobiography someday. • When he finds some spare time, he goes camping in the wilderness to explore landscapes. • He likes to pick out phrases from songs, performances and contemporary dances to title his work.

orn in Chicago, Illinois, USA, in 1957, Kurt Weston has spent nearly two decades of his life battling with a deadly virus and the disabilities caused by it. “In 1991, I was diagnosed with AIDS and in 1996, I became legally blind due to a related condition called Cytomegalovirus Retinitis.” He informs that he is completely blind in his left eye and has limited peripheral vision with no central vision in his right eye. However, turning his disability into a unique way of witnessing the world, Kurt notes, “My limited visual acuity permits me to see the world much like it appears in an impressionist painting.” Due to the AIDS virus, Kurt experienced a condition called Kaposi’s Sarcoma, which produced purplish-red lesions all over his face and body. This condition made it evident that he was suffering from AIDS. and consequently, caused him to experience the stigma associated with the disease at that time. Interestingly, Kurt believes that these scars, this inscription of his illness and the resulting disability has become a driving force behind much of his photographic work.

life, at various points in time. My life is intense and has pushed boundaries, so I want my images to do the same.” This theme of loss and self-discovery is evident in most of his photo-series—Blind Vision, a series of self-portraits, is on Kurt’s inner journey and his fears about becoming completely blind; while Silhouettes and

Self-Exploration and Expression Kurt wishes to create images that express the world of the visually impaired. His personal struggle transforms into selfportraits and the struggles of the disabled are voiced in strong, conceptual images. “My images stem from my own experiences and the people I have come across in my Better Photography

Can You See Me Now, 2007: Kurt says that he uses the experience of being blind to expand his conceptual expression within the visual realm.

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Great masters

1000 words

Photofeature

Prabuddha Dasgupta A master of the black & white medium

A selection of the best images from the mainstream media

Sohrab Hura Profile Documenting the effect of NREGA

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The Vision Machine, 2007: This self-portrait is symbolic of Kurt’s belief that one can form a unique vision beyond the realm of sight. Au g u st 2 0 1 0

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Prabuddha Dasgupta In conversation with Raj Lalwani, Prabuddha Dasgupta talks about the special place that he has carved for himself in the photographic world.

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A photograph from the series Longing

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evving up the motorbike, I made my way towards the sleepy village of Arpora. I was in Goa—with the intention to photograph the state’s lovely monsoon and also to interview one of the biggest names in Indian photography. It must be said that it is rare to find an internationally renowned photographer who prefers to stay away from the hustle and bustle of city life. But then, Prabuddha Dasgupta is just like that. For a photographer whose images are exercises in simplicity, it is not surprising that he chooses to stay away from the crowds, in a quiet Goan village.

Rising Above the Herd When I first met Prabuddha Dasgupta at a workshop a few months ago, he had said that in the digital universe, the craft of photography is almost redundant. “It has not happened yet, but if I leave my camera lying around and my dog puts his paw on the shutter release, chances are that the image will be perfectly exposed, sharp and in focus,” he said. “For all you know, it may be more interesting than what I would shoot, considering that his point of view would be unique.” As I entered his bungalow, I saw his dog resting lazily in the verandah, and could not help starting our conversation

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This picture is from Dasgupta’s latest body of work titled Longing Au g u st 2 0 1 0

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History

Ewan McGregor

This is a 20-minutelong exposure made using a Holga WPC pinhole camera.

Lensless Cameras

Ambarin Afsar unravels the story behind pinhole cameras and their magical way of trapping the world in a box.

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hink of a closed box with a tiny hole. Imagine light passing through the hole and forming an upside-down image at the other end of the box. This is how a pinhole camera works, except it has film on the side opposite to the pinhole. Imagine capturing the world in this small box! The lack of a viewfinder makes the camera a great learning experience—it helps you understand how to frame a photograph. The simplicity of holding a camera that does not have any gears whirring inside it, makes the camera a simple way of storing the world in a homemade box.

Early Mentions of Lensless Wonders The first recorded mention of the pinhole was made in 5th Century BC by a Chinese Philosopher, Mo Ti, who studied the formation of an inverted image with a pinhole. However, this was an old phenomenon known thousands of years ago to the Greeks. Aristotle, the famed philosopher, , and Euclid, an iconic mathematician, studied the naturally occurring pinhole cameras in 4th Century BC. They said that the circular spots of light formed on the ground in a forest, were actually images of the sun, cast through the pinholes of leaves.

Interesting Types of Pinhole Cameras Disposable Pinhole

Matchbox Pinhole

Roll Film Conversions

Medium Format Pinhole

This is the first disposable camera with a pinhole, called the Ready Fotographer, made in the 1900s.

Made with two film canisters, a matchbox and some duct tape, this camera can easily be made at home.

Film cameras can be converted into pinhole cameras by fitting plates with pinholes over lens mounts.

The Holga 120PC is a medium pinhole camera with toy plastic optics and 120 film.

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History

4000 pinhole cameras called Photomnibuses were sold in London alone, in 1892. Sadly, none of these cameras were preserved for posterity.

However, it was only in 10th Century BC that an Arabian physicist, Alhazen, actually experimented with a pinhole. He first found that pinhole was useful for viewing a solar eclipse without any risk to eyesight. This discovery led to the invention of the ‘camera obscura’—a dark room with a tiny hole, which would let light in and assisted in the formation of images. However, at this point, there was no way to capture and preserve these images.

Drawing Aids and Solar Observations Initially, the pinhole was primarily used by optical scientists to study the sun and other principles of solar science. Later, during the Renaissance period, it was chiefly used in the field of astronomy. However, around the same time, artists and amateur painters fitted a lens on the pinhole box and started using it as a drawing aid.

The Origins of the Term ‘Pin-hole’ It took centuries for photographic technology to record images on a surface sensitive to light. Much later, in the 1850s, inventors and enthusiasts felt the need to compress the size of the camera obscura. This is when the design of an actual pinhole camera came about. Around the same time that Sir David Brewster, an English scientist, coined the word ‘pin-hole’, in his book, The Stereoscope.

An Artistic Twist Strangely enough, artists have been responsible for each time that the pinhole camera became popular. In the 1880s, the impressionist movement in the painting world exerted a certain

influence on photography. The old school of thought believed in sharp focus and good lenses, while new artists tried achieving the beauty of paintings through photography. This interest sparked off an increase in the commercial production of pinhole cameras. In another twist, mass production of SLR cameras and the concept of having realistic photos in left little space for surreal pinhole photography. However, in the mid-1960s several artists, unaware of each other, began experimenting with pinhole techniques. Their diverse approaches led to the revival of interest in pinhole cameras.

A Scientific Bent The field of astronomy had always used the pinhole principle to make celestial observations. However, in the 1940s, pinhole cameras found their way into nuclear physics as well. It was discovered that pinhole cameras could be used to photograph X-rays and gamma rays from the sun. Today, multiple pinhole cameras are used in space vehicles and have numerous applications, including the NASA-funded New Worlds Project, which aims to find new exoplanets. The use of pinhole cameras through the ages has been very fascinating. From applications in astronomy and making artistic pictures to experiments in nuclear physics—the pinhole principle has enthralled the world. Who would have thought that a simple box with a pinhole would be capable of capturing so much? Thus, the pinhole camera is a wonderful example of how a simple idea can be the best one. 

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The First Published Image A drawing in Gemma Frisius’ De Radio Astronomica et Geometrica was published in 1545. Gemma Frisius, an astronomer, had used the pinhole in his darkened room to study the solar eclipse of 1544.

Ultrawide Pinhole

Likea Pinhole

Multi Pinhole

Mini Pinhole

The Holga 120 WPC captures ultrawide panoramic images instead of shooting regular square frames.

This is a tongue-in-cheek cardstock replica of the famous Leica cameras, which is actually a pinhole camera.

A multi-pinhole setup made by Tokihiro Sato, a Japanese photographer, has many pinhole cameras.

Made by Francesco Capponi, this amazingly small pinhole camera can fit on your thumbnail.

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Better Photograhy August 2010 Issue Preview  

A preview of Better Photography magazine, August 2010

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