Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Travel Photography Tips for Beginners

Traveling and photography are two closely related hobbies. They complement each other like rain to river and vice versa! If you’re already an enthusiastic traveler but a rookie in the field of digital photography this article is just the one you need to go through at this moment. I’ll be brushing you up with ways to be more stable, ready, comfortable and tuned up to your camera while traveling with these easy travel photography tips.

<00> Choosing the right camera has a significant role on your travel photography. If you’re yet to buy your first point and shoot (P&S) camera and contemplating on purchasing one then better give a read through my article on How to choose your first P&S camera. Why I’m telling you to take the extra labor is- 30% of travelers I come across in my trips struggle badly with their gears and 90% of them carry a DSLR. They’re either not accustomed to carry a weight around their neck or too indifferent to change settings/lens as per the requirement of the scene, thus missing good photographic opportunities! Here, the term ‘right camera’ doesn’t point to the camera best suitable for your destination and subject. It simple means a camera that suits your hand-eye-mind coordination the best. Am I making sense to you?

<01> Never risk taking your newly purchased camera unless it’s your one and only photographic gear. Either spend a week before the trip with your new photographic gadget or show some faith on your old camera for one last time. In my last trekking expedition I met an engineer who had turned up with an ‘out of the box’ camera and faced difficulty in finding proper options/settings/functions throughout the trek. Can you really enjoy traveling with half occupied mind?

<02> Inquire from locals about the time of the day when the crowd around a tourist attraction is minimum and target the place with your camera at those heavenly hours. You’ll have more angles and spaces to try your photography. Naturally your composition will be more subject-oriented and free from distractions. You’ll be free to try this only if you’re not in a package tour, otherwise trust on your luck.

<03> For sunrise and sunset shots try to find some steady support like wall, rock, wooden structure etc and then compose your frame keeping the camera over it ensuring that it’s stable enough not to topple down your gear with the knock of moderate wind. After you’re satisfied with the composition abandon the urge of pressing the shutter and let the ‘self timer’ mode do some work. All these efforts will give you crispier images in low light conditions and your friends may pamper with silly questions like “Are you using a DSLR man?”

<04> When you’re inside a moving vehicle avoid temptation of popping your camera out of the window and take shots, primary reason being your safety and not to ignore the harm dust particles can inflict to your camera lens/sensor! If at all you’ve to capture, do it from the level of the window or occupy the co-driver’s seat and exploit the wide windshield view.

<05> Look for ways to conserve your physical energy plus mental zeal for photography. Usually in a trip we end up exhausting ourselves by unplanned activities resulting from hyper-excitatory state of mind or while trying to curtail the budget. Sometimes we hike too fast, eat too much or travel a lot in a single day. We may forget to judge whether it’s value for money in an impulse to save money and opt for inferior transport or lodging. Later we end up like consumed batteries. In such circumstances we lose our enthusiasm for photography and even if we click there’ll be dozen of factors to deteriorate the image quality- shaky hands, loss of patience, creative apathy etc to name a few. Wise planning of itinerary is a huge deciding factor for this, so, better be insightful!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How to choose your First Point and Shoot (P&S) Camera?

Since you’re reading this article I assume you to be a greenhorn in this field of digital photography. Probably you’ve banged your head all over the internet, reading a dozen of point and shoot (P&S) camera reviews to decide on which camera to buy and in this process confused yourself more than before, or, you’ve simply dropped here by the grace of search engines while casually contemplating on getting a new P&S camera. I understand how puzzling this situation can be for a beginner as I’ve gone through all these few years back. Current digital camera market has just too many features to lure you, actually more than what your need. Added to that, shrewd marketing strategy of promoting all least necessary features in a P&S camera like- overflowing resolution (Mega pixels), GPS, touch screen display etc is always there to eat your brain once you step into a camera shop. In this article I’ll explain you in layman’s words exactly what to look for in a P&S camera and how to narrow down your search and decide on a single camera- your first ever point and shoot companion!

<01> Ask yourself- what are you going to do with your new P&S camera? Do you want to shoot natural landscapes, people, animals, small objects, sports, children, documents, indoor parties, night scenes or everything around you? It’ll be more fruitful if you know your field of interest before buying the camera but for most of us it is our first ever P&S camera which helped us to discover this. Perhaps you’re looking for a camera which can shoot everything picture perfect… unfortunately, that won’t be feasible as every model has its strengths and weaknesses and there’ll be no model in the market that can keep up with your expectation of versatility in all shooting conditions. So, even though you’re yet to find your specific interest zone, it’ll be prudent to jot down your preferences of photography in descending order.

<02> Give priority to what you need rather than what you want. This is a purely psychological thing and hence easy to sort out. You may be located near the desert area of Rajasthan, still long to shoot penguins (when you have no means to travel abroad for the sake of photography) by getting attracted to few penguin shots of professional photographers. If you’re a workaholic, chances are less that you’ll leave your desk for photographing birds in a bird sanctuary, simply because in one fine New Year morning bird photos in a fresh calendar attract you! What I’m highlighting is don’t let your P&S camera selection be governed by rare possible uses you’re going to do with that. Find out the real life condition/circumstance that made you feel “I wish I too had a camera” and focus on that utility.

<03> Don’t get carried away by high Mega-pixels! Whenever you spot any P&S ad, first thing you’ll note in their highlights is a lofty mega-pixel value, like 16, 18, 20 MP and so on. Mega-pixel is nothing but resolution. It’s the number of pixels per square inch, i.e. greater the resolution, more details are captured by your camera senor, so, bigger the print you can obtain of your photograph! Here’s a catch, incorporating too many pixels in a small sensor (which is the usual scenario in our P&S camera with a 1/2.3 tiny sensor) is totally wastage of the picture quality and nothing more than a marketing gimmick! Keep it in mind, for your first point and shooter 10 to 12 MP resolution should be more than ideal.

<04> Opt for a wider angle in your P&S. Some company simply highlights it over the camera box as “Wide angle” or “Ultra wide angle”. Don’t rely on those. Check the camera specification chart and lookout for ‘Focal length’ which will be in format like 24-96 cm, 28-112 cm, 30-150 cm etc. Go for the one having the lower limit of range less than or equal to 28. This will help you to take a group shot in a congested indoor situation or capture a huge subject (say, monument) standing closer to it.

<05> Check the Optical Zoom only. P&S camera companies try to tempt you with a magnificent zooming factor by multiplying the optical zoom factor with its digital zoom. Digital zoom is nothing but digitally enlarging the picture while deteriorating the image quality. You got to check out the camera specification and locate your optical zoom. If you’re a casual snapper interested more on photographing family members you won’t need anything more than 4X optical zoom. If you’re into traveling cum casual clicking then 10-12X zoom is good enough. But if you’re into animal/bird photography go beyond 12X. Now a days, many camera companies offer you high optical zoo factors, even as much as 50X at an affordable budget!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Garh Panchkot - historical ruins at the foothil of Panchkot

Garh Panchkot - historical ruins at the foothil of Pachkot
If you remember, my last motorcycle ride was a half day trip to Kalna, when I had blogged about those Terracotta temples. Before the rainy season hung up its boots another monsoon ride was in my photo-hunt wishlist. A brief web research narrowed down my destination options to- Susunia Hill, Maithon Dam and Garh Panchkot. Among these day-trip destinations, only Garh Panchkot could offer everything- a hill (Panchet/ Panchkot Hill), architectural ruins and the renowned Panchet Dam at its vicinity. Of late Google Map acts as my GPS and seldom I need to ask local people for road directions. The 320 kilometers of ride (80% on NH-2) was butter smooth and there was not a drop of rain to halt my zeal! Garh Panchkot is a ruined fort located in the Western part of West Bengal at the southern foothills of Panchkot/Panchet Hill (2100 feet) in the district of Purulia. Ruins of the fort, palace and a group of temples are is still standing as silent witness of the rise and fall of the Singh Deo dynasty and also the Bargi attack during the 18th century.
Garh Panchkot - historical ruins at the foothil of Pachkot
Before arriving at Garh Panchkot I had visited the Panchet Dam which I'll be blogging in my coming post. If you drive via Panchet you'll love the brief transition between the states of West Bengal and Jharkhand and surely you'll be rewarded with many picturesque landscapes. The temples of Garh Panchkot are of different architectural styles- the principal one being a 'Pancharatna' temple accompanied by 'Jor-Bangla' pattern and more than one 'Pirha' type temples made of stone. The Pancharatna Temple still carries some damaged yet extremely beautiful piece of presumably pre-Muslim period terracotta works on its arches and pillars. Right now it looks less photogenic due to ongoing repair works but hopefully it'll be restored to some extent soon. I'll post few close photos of this Pancharatna Temple in a separate post. There is a perennial spring bit uphill from these structural ruins but the scorching overhead sun suppressed my motivation to explore that. Tourism department is making a guest-house near these temples and I can imagine how romantic it'll be for any tourist to spend a full moon night under the thickly forested hill, amidst dilapidated architectures and intermittent historical whiffs.
Garh Panchkot - historical ruins at the foothil of Pachkot

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fotonica Selfie Stick Review

Fotonica Selfie Stick Review
Last month I had reviewed Fotonica's Cell Phone Camera Lens Kit and disappointingly it turned out to be an unworthy buy (Rating= 1.5 / 5 ). Today I'll be reviewing the Selfie Stick from the same brand and let's see if it is worth trying. All due courtesy to rapidly developing mobile phone photography technology and social media networks, I don't think there'll be a single reader who would ask, "What is a selfie?" Whether you are a selfie lover or not, surely you know it what is a selfie, and how it is captured. If your cell phone has a front camera you must have taken a selfie, at least once in your phone's lifetime. Selfies have bigger role than keeping selfie-holics busy. It is definitely a saving grace for solo wanderers to document their wandering. How many times while taking a group-selfie or capturing the beautiful background properly you wished you had longer arms? Yes, the lens of your mobile phone camera is simply not wide enough to capture a lot from such a small distance. Exactly in such situations a selfie stick comes handy! A selfie stick holds the camera few more feet away from your body so that a wider angle is achieved, while leaving the control of picture composition and shutter release in your grip. Fotonica's colorful selfie sticks available in various online stores at a price point of only 400-500 INR (below 10 USD!) are undoubtedly attractive, but question is- Do they really ease up capturing selfies? I've got the answer for you.

The Good: Easy portability due to light weight and small size, Convenient design, Simple operation and an useful wireless remote for shutter release.

The Bad: The mobile holder frame doesn't look assuring enough to clutch heavier mobile phones.

Fotonica Selfie Stick Review
The Monopod, Mobile holder and the Wireless shutter remote (clockwise).

Monday, August 3, 2015

When it gets Windy over the Beach

When it gets Windy over the Beach
Two local girls leaving the windy Tajpur Beach (West Bengal) on their bicycle.
Sea breeze is a common occurrence in coastal places (remember reading sea/land breeze phenomenon in school level geography book?) that makes the beach stay pleasant for us even in a sunny day, unless one is scared to get tanned. Sometimes the offshore wind takes the lead and makes the wind scenario over beach pretty chaotic. Surely, it is fun for a candid photographer to click someone chasing his flying hat but for the rest of the folks it is not that enjoyable. I'm talking of tourists though, as local people including vendors over the beach are quite acclimatized with the windy beach. It's amusing how easily the tea maker can light your cigarette with a single matchstick and hold it strong for half a minute while you gave up struggling with half a dozen of them, all in vain. Unless it culminates into a storm, the wind can not bother coastal people. If you're a photography enthusiast you'll definitely capitalize the windy beachscape. In monsoon days you won't get to capture rich hues of the sky overlooking the sand but when it gets windy over the beach your lens would find enough sources of euphoria.
When it gets Windy over the Beach
The juice-maker's umbrella is confronting the wind while the candy-floss seller is least perturbed 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Happy 1st Birthday to ClickingPhotos.com

On 2nd August, 2014, I finally settled for photo blogging and started this photo blog. Having previously experimented with travel-blogging and creative writing, I was no newbie in this already overpopulated blogosphere. I had realized that the visual aspect of traveling charms me most and that was good enough to amend my blogging niche from travel to photo blogging. This decision favored my nature too, as I'm someone who lacks the patience for long hours of desk job. Travel writing, the way I used to do, mixing pinch of fiction with facts so that my travel posts didn't appear like travel-guide booklets, needed good amount of time. Honestly, I had it both- impatience as well as poverty of time. While being an enthusiastic clicker, I already had multiple gigabytes of photos stored in my portable hard drive. So, selecting a couple of photos, slight editing and writing a paragraph on them, once in a while was something I could easily execute right from my comfort zone. Exactly, that's how ClickingPhotos dot com was born and the very next day (3rd August 2014) I had published my first photo post. As the domain name was registered on 2nd August itself, I selected that day as the date of birth for my website. Today is the 1st Happy Birthday of my adorable baby- ClickingPhotos dot com! I need your blessings and lot of good wishes.

I know these numbers are very ordinary, yet they give me a sense of satisfaction, and every time I see them increasing bit by bit, I get the joy "my baby is growing". Here's few Quick stats for ClickingPhotos.com so far:-

* Page Views: 31,000+ (Ah surely I myself contributed to 10-20% of this number!)

* Facebook page Fans: 505+

* Number of Photo posts: 143

* Number of Photographs posted: 353

* Number of Comments received from visitors: 650+


* Top Traffic source: www.google.co.in

* Present Alexa Rank: 1,269,159 (global rank) and 134,612 (rank in India)

Hope my "Clicking Photos on the Go" sees many more years. Hope our bond strengthens with time and we never get bored of one another. I've renewed this domain name till August 2020 as my token of love cum gratitude towards ClickingPhotos dot com, for giving me a purpose to blog, for keeping me busy in awfully sticky times and for helping me to get acquainted with so many wonderful blog-buddies. Please wish my kid a blissful journey ahead. Keep Clicking Photos on the Go... Cheers!