Unfortunately, photographing in a zoo has a negative connotation for many photographers. While there is a question of ethics involved (see box), be assured that there is absolutely nothing wrong photographing animals and birds in a zoo. If you take proper care (read on for this) you can get photographs of wild animals and birds which look as if they are in their natural habitat. A zoo is the only place where you can have access to photograph, in relative comfort, a wide variety of animals and yes, exotic birds in one location conveniently. It is also an ideal place to perfect your skills before you embark on that once in a life time photo safari trip to Africa.
Everywhere nature photographers take millions of pictures of birds, animals, insects, flowers, etc., but relatively neglect one of the most fascinating subjects of nature – fish and other marine creatures. Part of the reason could be that you would need expensive and specialized equipment like underwater housings and strobes which are not easily available in our country. Plus of course you need to know snorkeling or scuba diving.
The one good thing about aquarium photography is that it does not depend on weather. So, with summer in full swing soon to be followed by the monsoon, this could be an ideal subject when it is too hot or is rainy to go outdoors for photography!
Important accessories for landscape photography: There are only a few more accessories that you may need. These are neutral density (ND), graduated neutral density (Grad ND) and polarizing filters.
Now that you have seen how easily you can start this genre of photography you should go out and give it a try. You can be sure that you can get images that you can be proud to show off. However, expect to do some hard work before that!
3. Light: Photography means drawing with light and hence as you would expect light has a major impact on all types of photography. Landscape photography is no exception to this. While there will be enough light for quite a few hours during the day, all the times are not ideal for landscape photography. To understand this in depth, consider the fact that light has three important characteristics – direction, quality and color.
In Part III: Filters, problems and solutions in landscape photography, seascapes and cityscapes and more!!
Landscapes are undoubtedly one of the most popular subjects of photography. Very few images have the beauty of a tranquil lake or the grandeur of a soaring mountain range. Probably there is no photographer in the world who has not tried his (or her) hand in landscape photography! Some of the greatest photographers of all time spent their entire life dedicated to this genre of photography.
You can copy the table, laminate it and keep it in your camera bag so that you can have it handy when you need it (provided you are using a D-SLR with APS-C sized sensor).To use this, first get the HFD value from the table, for the aperture and the focal length that you want to use. Now, set this value on the focusing ring of your lens using the distance scale. Then, all subjects from half that distance (HFD) to infinity will be in focus. Unfortunately, many lenses are being manufactured presently without distance scales. If your lens does not have the distance scales, simply point the camera down to at about 1/3 distance into the scene, lock focus, recompose and take the picture. You can follow the same technique with P&S and bridge cameras as they too do not have any distance scales. Fortunately, the problem is not that serious here as these cameras have a great amount of DOF.
File formats: Ok, you have heard this before but here it is again! For best quality, use RAW format. Period. RAW format is “lossless” in the sense that the entire data that has been captured is retained. In case you do not want to use RAW format (as it involves more post processing) or your camera does not support RAW, then you can use the JPEG format
The word photography literally means “drawing with light.” What is seen by your camera lens is “drawn” on the sensor by the light that is reflected from the subject. It is the reflected light gives the form, texture, color, etc. to the subject. Most of the subjects that you come across are opaque. That is, they reflect light but do not allow light to pass through them. Glassware on the other hand is transparent and hence has the unique property of transmitting light through it. This singular ability of glassware to pass through light presents some very interesting possibilities and challenges in photography.
The lighting setup is shown in the diagram. One way to setup is to use a soft-box or a table lamp with a sheet of translucent material like tracing sheet in front. You will need a stand with a platform to keep the glassware in front of the light. The platform can be a sheet of glass or translucent acrylic. This will allow some light to pass through the platform and the base of the glassware brightening it. Another way is to use an acrylic sweep. This will be similar to the sweep used in table top photography (refer to Basics of Photography, Smart Photography, August 2010 issue) but is made of translucent acrylic. Alternatively you can also buy a gadget called light table which gives you this functionality.
Next step is to position your camera at the right place. This is a critical requirement and needs to be done before you keep the subject. After you choose a lens of suitable focal length you need to move the camera front and back so that the (angle of) view as seen through the viewfinder exactly covers the background, which are the edges of the soft-box (or whatever you have used). If this is not properly done then you will not get the desired effect. If the field of view is smaller than the background then you will notice that you will start getting unwanted reflections on the edges of the glassware. This is not what you want since in bright field technique you need to get dark edges. If the field of view is larger, then your camera will start recording an area beyond the background.
Now keep the subject on the platform. You will notice that as the subject is moved away from the light source the edge definition improves as there will less light reflecting from the edges. Find a suitable position for the subject and then focus.
You are now ready to take the photograph. But what is the exposure that you need to set? To understand that remember the metering “mantra” that you read in Basics of photography, Smart Photography, July 2009 issue. The mantra says that metered area is always rendered as medium tone but you can place it at any tone you want with proper exposure compensation!
With the bright line technique you already know that you need to keep the edges dark than the background light. Your exposure will determine how the background will be rendered. Rule of thumb here is that you can keep background around one stop lighter than medium tone to keep contrast with the edges.
If you are using a continuous light source, then switch to spot meter and then select manual exposure mode. Take a measurement of the top portion of the background and set it to 1 to 2 stops lighter than medium tone. You can experiment a bit to arrive at what pleases you most. If you are using a strobe light then you need to use a flash meter or do some trials with the help of histogram shown in your camera to get the right exposure.
Note: If you are keeping the subject on a platform and since the background is lit, there is a chance that the edge of platform will be recorded. This is not aesthetically pleasing. The easiest way to avoid this is use a sweep made of translucent acrylic as it was done here. This will give you a seamless background and will also help you to illuminate the background as well as brighten the glassware from beneath.
To conclude glassware is an exciting but tricky subject. However, it requires only minimum investment in terms of equipment. Subjects are easily available too as every household will have some glassware. Follow the procedures outlined in this article and you can have endless hours of fun. Plus you can get results that you will be proud to show to your friends and family. Good luck.
Telephoto lenses by virtue of their large physical size are sort of “glamour” symbols of the photographic world. Just go to any photographic outing or clubs, those photographers with large telephoto lenses get the most envious glances. Telephoto lenses are indispensible for photographing sports and wildlife. They are also very useful for portraiture. While telephoto lenses (especially those with very long focal lengths) are difficult to handle physically due to their large size and weight, they are somewhat easier to use compositionally as they see a very narrow angle of view excluding a lot of unwanted surrounding elements. This makes composing easier.