Creative cropping – Techniques on how cropping can improve photography

We have all heard this from pro photographers that cropping should always be done before “moment of capture”. That, it is a bad practice to crop photos later on.

                  “We should always scan the four corners of our frame before we actually take a picture.”

To some extent it is absolutely true, that we should in fact try not to crop in post. But the reality is as people come into photography, they hardly know what the rules/guidelines of a good photograph is. They just want to take pictures with their new dslr or cameras. It is only after they view their images on a computer screen, that they feel their picture lacks that appeal, that eye grabbing factor.
The next obvious step would be to crop and then make a better composition via cropping. Agreed that you loose pixels but hey what the hell, with dslr’s providing so high resolution pictures, it would not harm that much to crop a little and learn from it. Let me give you an example of what i want to illustrate.

 

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This is a nice little image i made when i went to Darjeeling. But the reality is this was not the actual image i had taken. This was in fact the original image.

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For me we are all on a learning process and on the way if we come across some issues which we can crop and get a better pleasing photo, then why not. In the image above, the buildings in the forefront did not help much, and thus i decided to crop the image and make a 16:9 composition. Even though we might not be able to print the picture as the original picture would have allowed us, but even then, we would learn from our compositional mistakes and rectify ourselves. So that in the future we may indeed crop in camera, and print the photographs as large as we might want them.Although one should always remember a bad photo cannot be rectified by any amount of cropping. Cropping can sometime bring out the photograph, out, which was lying inside the frame you captured, but it had also many other unwanted elements. Cropping might help one in that situation. After a point in your photographic career you will understand where exactly to put your subject and what to include in your frame, so that you do not have to crop in post, but till then, crop till you are satisfied with the final image.

mighty nature giving us a sense of scale

 

Nowadays, i almost never crop my images, its become second nature to me scan all the corners of the frame, and only then press the shutter button.

Tell me if these tips helped you in learning to crop in a more creative way, and helping you create better photographs. Share your views on cropping, do you crop in post? Share your views in the comments below.

 

Why do we travel

Why do you travel? Do you travel only when you get commissioned work This is  one question i get asked often. Well here goes the answer.

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I love to travel around the because that is what i enjoy, that is what drives me to go out and make compelling photos, that is what i dream of doing after waking up every day in the morning. I don’t need to travel only when i am on commission work or on assignment. Would i stop travelling, if i stop getting commissioned work? Absolutely not. I travel because i like travelling and let that be the “be all and end all”. I like it, if and when i am on assignment, and that helps, but that is always not the case. In a way the quote in my photograph i inserted explains a lot why all of us like travelling.  We travel to get back with ourselves, to re-claim life. To move away from the networked world and just enjoy the sunset, along a beach. After all that is what life is all about, the simple life :)  

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I hope i got to give the answer as straight as possible.  Share your thoughts on why do you travel?  Where would you be heading to this weekend. Love to hear them from you. Have a happy weekend guys :)

Great Men in the Making

I am not much of a street photographer, rather i would restrain myself from calling one. Though we all, as photographers have one thing in common, we chase light. I like to call it chasing light, because we just do not accidentally bump into good light; we happen to look for it and we might just get rewarded. I was on a project of portraying the old streets of Calcutta, when i was roaming around the narrow lanes of Kumartuli. Kumartuli is a traditionally potters’ quarter in northern Calcutta. Here artisans make idols from clay. One one such narrow lane, i saw an artist weaving his magic and creating busts of famous personalities. The light was falling nicely onto the idols head, but what i really wanted was the light to hit the man’s face too. I waited for a minute or so, and when he stood up straight i got the perfect light on his face. I felt that one such obscure individual making busts of famous personalities, there was irony in itself.

Great men in the MakingThe bust on the left is of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and the one on the right is of Swami Vivekananda. I really liked the way the light played its part in this picture, for me not one of my best pictures by any stretch of the imagination, but a picture very close to my heart. Hope you guys like it. Cheers :)

 

Hide and Seek

I am always intrigued  how the clouds and fog always play hide and seek every time I take a vacation to the mountains. We take a right turn and we just go right through them, and just at the next turn we see the clouds covering the mountain tops. From my first visit to the mountains, it has been one of my fantasies to capture a unique cloud photograph in which we can visually experience what we actually feel.

Hide and seek

Hide and seek

The way the clouds just open up to give way to the sun to shine through is just mind blowing. In my last trip to Assam I got what i think, till date one of my best cloud and fog shot. I was walking down this small village road, leading to this tower, and the late evening light gave a nice warm look to it, and i ended up making this picture.

The Tower

It was only when i had completed a 30 minutes hike, searching for a better angle to photograph this tower that i realised how god plays his magic. The scene looked absolutely wonderful. Exposing for the white fog that had descended inside the gap of the two hills, gave me one of the most pleasing images i have ever made

Foggy DiagonalI thought black and white emphasized the rich dense fog, and i love black and white. The different shades of grey amazes me more than color.Then i created this vertorama

The Tower of Cloudsthe two layers of white fog and the mountains in between, i literally was amazed at the sight. Mother nature has so many ways to surprise and enchant us. It becomes our responsibility to protect it, and we never know, we turn round the corner of a road and there it is, an amazing landscape waiting for us.

Man and his family

There are times that we go on a photo shoot thinking of making a photograph, but end up getting a completely different picture which might just turn out to be better than the image that was pre visualized.
Recently on my last visit to Assam, there came such an unexpected picture. I had been staying up in Assam for the past three days shooting for a documentary. The sun was at its magical best, it constantly played hide and seek with the clouds. One afternoon I decided to shoot the sun beam falling on the lush green mountain slopes. Waited till late evening to get some good light and made this photograph.

Hide and seek of Sun

Hide and seek of Sun

I was literally chimping and looking at the back of my LCD when this man, came up with his two children and just stood there looking at me.
I had hardly noticed him, when suddenly I realized that it was even a better picture in the making. Changed to setting of the camera as fast as I could, and ended up getting this shot.

Man and his Family

Man and his Family

To me, this is a much pleasing image and the way the man was carrying his younger child is so unique. His whole attire, and the feeling of togetherness just made the picture for me. Their expressions are truly priceless.

Here’s to a happy and prosperous new year. Have a good one people.

Part 2: Rules of Composition :- Rule of Thirds

This post has been due, since a long time i guess. Was really busy figuring out a few things in life. Thankfully, now i am back, doing what I love doing, photography.
This past week i just came from a photo assignment from Assam, covering some wildlife. More on the assignment later. First up the continuation of the tutorial series I started. This time around it would be a short and crisp one, where I would be mentioning the importance of rule of thirds.
What the rule states, is that, if the image is divided in 3 equal parts horizontally and vertically (as shown in figure below) we would want to put our subject, or the point of interest on one of the intersecting points.

the rule of third grid

The grid show’s what i want to say in a better way.  These intersecting points are called golden points, and our eyes go directly to something which is placed on those points.

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This picture was taken at sunrise in Assam, when the dense fog was just clearing up, and had settled within two mountains.

Grid

As we can clearly see in the picture, the tower is placed in one third of the picture. The negetive space created also helps the eye to get to the Tower. Here are another few examples which i present where, the Rule of Thirds has been used.

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mighty nature giving us a sense of scale

As we see from the photograph, the horizon line is on one of the thirds or near to it.

But like any rules, it can be broken, and if broken in a judicious way, it gives way to some wonderful photographs. This photograph taken at sunset, has the horizon line, right dab in the center. But even then, in my opinion, it produces a pleasing image.

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Know the rules, break the rules. That works for me i guess.

Untill next time. Ciao ;p Happy taking photographs :)

 

Rules of Composition: Leading Lines

Hi there everybody, today onwards I will be starting a series, called Rules of Composition.
This past week I was thinking about new ideas of what i can write in my blog. When suddenly i stumbled upon the topic of Composition, and how essential it is for a photograph to be compositionally strong.

First up some announcements, i think i will be doing a couple of composition based posts in the few days.I would try to make it a tutorial type, but will try and keep it fairly simple, for everybody to understand quite easily. So stay tuned.

Here i want to make a disclaimer, that it is my own take on composition and others may disagree to it. No hard feelings.

So, Leading Lines! What exactly do i mean by Leading Lines Before i explain what that is, let us look at this picture that i took at the Chinsura Imambari.

Imambari

Well its an okay picture, not world class by any stretch of the imagination, but nonetheless an engaging picture. When we are looking at the picture, our eyes inevitably start travelling from the front of the picture(foreground) and follows the pillars, till it reaches that area in the distant with light. Even if you try not to follow the path, your eyes cannot help but follow. This is what a leading line is, a line which helps in drawing one’s attention. Let us break down this image and see where the leading lines are.

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As we can see we have leading lines (marked with yellow arrows) all dragging our eye along its path.

Now this technique can be used to draw attention to our subject. As we see in the picture below, there are lines of sand created on a beach. Whenever we look at the picture, our eye travels along those curves and lines and lead us on to the subject (here the flip-flops).

sandals gplus

Here are a few more examples of how leading lines are used to make a composition stronger and in bringing the eye to the subject.

sandals gplus

Here i would like to mention that the more curves there are in the path, the better it is, as it holds the eyes for even a longer period of time, the eye following the curves rather than one straight line to go directly to the subject.

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We as photographers try and make compelling images so that the viewer spends time viewing it, looking at it. The leading lines aid the eyes to follow a pathway, and in turn engages the viewer.

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What’s your take on leading lines as a compositional aid? have you found them in youe pictures? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Untill next time!! Ciao! :D

A short Night Drive to Nowhere!

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Sometimes to get your mind out of the hustle and bustle of the city life, we need a little break from it. It does not have to be a grand vacation or something, but a short and crisp early morning (pre dawn) drive is just as well refreshing.

It was precisely what i experienced when i went on one such drive.  A few of the lads had stayed over at my place. We were having a sought of a  farewell party, as one of our friends were going out of town to persuade his future studies. We were having fun indeed when one of us suggested that we should hit the road before daybreak, have fun on the road. It was a fun idea indeed and nobody had to think over it. In no time we were on the National Highway and cruising ;D

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I specially love it when Nature starts painting on its own canvas. Got a fantastic view of the sunrise. This shot was taken with the Kit lens and i was lying on the ground to get all of the sky along with the car.

After going quite a long distance we crossed a bridge, and decided to go see the banks of the river underneath the bridge. Took some pictures, but it was not long after that our tummies started yearning for food.

 

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Started our return journey and on our way stopped over at a roadside eatery (known as Dhaba) and filled ourselves to the brim.

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I always love the bright colors of the Indian Kitchen. Here as we can see from the yellow turmeric, to the red chilly powder, to the salt. The flame in the background gives it a sense of place too, along with the utensil.

 It was around 8.30 am when we came home, dead tired and the most sort after thing at that point of time was the comfortable bed. But all in all it was a rejuvinating experience and we bid farewell to Saurav (the friend who was going to Pune to pursue his further studies) .

Have a goodday you’al :P

 

Waiting For the Right Moment

Walking All Alone

           I had come across the term “Decisive Moment”,  as every other photographer might have come across. This term was famously coined by the famous street photographer and the father of modern photojournalism Henri Cartier-BressonThough I was always aware of the coined word, i had never practically implemented it, to understand its full potential. That was until I got to make this picture. I was on my way to Darjeeling Railway Station, when suddenly my eyes caught on to an interesting frame. Just as i made a turn I observed this nice cobbled road, with a good old fashioned fence which acted perfectly as a leading line, dragging my eyes towards the mountains. It was in the wee hours of morning, and i had set up my tripod and camera, and i took the picture. Right of the bat the picture looked okay at max. I could feel there was something missing in the frame, a human presence may be, a foreground element to enhance the depth of the picture.

          Photography is the art of taking something which is 3D, making it into a 2D print, but trying to get the feel of a 3D world. Thus having a foreground element helps immensely in creating the sense of depth. So I decided that I would wait for somebody to enter the frame, and gladly so a person jogging did and BAM! I shot him ;p . Sadly much to my dismay, even then the picture did not fill my inner soul, the right side of my brain wanted to create a picture which was much more compelling. Having decided that I am going to create something which is visually more attractive, i suddenly noticed the small creek of light that was peering through the fence and on to the cobbled road. That was it, all i had to do, was to wait for that “Decisive Moment” when someone would be walking past that creek of light. After waiting for around 15 mins, an old lady did come walking by and thus i had my shot. From that moment onward i understood the value of taking a picture just at the right moment. On the processing side of it, I had envisioned of making the picture in monochrome, to add a little more to the drama of the overall scene. I will remember this shot for a very long time to come as it showed me the importance of how taking a picture at the right moment changes the picture from “good” to “woooow”.

           That’s it for today, hoping all my photographer friends out there get the hold of the decisive moment and shoot their way to glory. Have a good day :)