Tag Archive: Photography


Setup a Tripod Correctly

Having a tripod helps in capturing sharp & steady photographs. However, it is just as crucial to know how to setup a tripod properly to get the steady photographs in the first place. Even with a tripod, photos can come out shaky/blurry if one does not pays proper attention to its setup.

Proper Leg Position – As you setup a tripod, how many times have you paid attention to its legs? Ensure the next time you setup, the out-stretched leg make a ‘V’ towards you as the third leg goes parallel to the lens ahead. This positioning ensures you can move freely without accidentally tripping or inducing blur due to tripod shake.

Proper Leg Grounding – As you lay your tripod on the ground check if all the legs lay flat on the ground and not on stones, pebbles, greasy land or slope of any kind. If the tripod is not on a proper ground, it will shift during exposure or may even fall off being imbalanced. If you can find three small flat stones, use them below each of the tripod’s legs to ensure a good grounding. A proper grounding helps in a sturdy shooting experience.

Proper Leg Lock – As you extend your tripod’s legs, make sure the leg locks are secured properly. Whatever the type they may be, pull out & lock or twist & tighten – make that they are tight and there is no shift in their position due to the weight.

Proper Bubble Level – This is a no-brainer, yet most ignore it. Ensure the bubble in the bubble meter is centered. This ensures the tripod is properly levelled & there is no tilt. Also check if your camera is properly levelled on the head to ensure straight axis & other lines in your frame. If your camera has electronic level meter, make use of it.

Proper Head Lock – Ensure the head is locked securely in the shooting position. Check if there is any visible change in the head’s angle due to the weight of the camera. This happens when the lock is not secured properly which causes the head to rotate in the axis due to the weight of the camera attached. This is crucial as long exposure magnify even the tiniest of movement.

Proper Camera Plate Lock – The quick release camera mounting plates ensure a peace of mind yet they need to be checked properly. At times, the camera can move if the mounting plate is not properly secured in its mechanism. Check this before you go ahead and shoot. If your camera has a neck strap attached, roll it over the head to prevent it from wind and causing vibrations.

Proper Center Column – Most of the tripod’s allow you to raise the centre column to gain additional shooting height. However, the center column when raised to the extreme tend to get imbalanced as the centre of gravity changes. Even light breeze can induce shake. I recommend not to raise the center column but in case you require it, raise it only to the absolute minimum you can, never above half of its length. Ensure it is tightly locked when raised.

The Good Old Hook – If in-spite the measures you feel the need for additional stability, use the good old hook on the tripod. Attach your bags/sandbags to this hook to keep the tripod secure when shooting in windy conditions.

Now go ahead and capture breath-taking fireworks on the upcoming Independence day or some nice landscapes. Choice is yours. :)

Tablets & big screen mobiles are a common commodity in this age. The amount of processing power these devices pack in have led to rise of increasing use of these devices for purpose of photo editing & even video rendering. There are tons of apps in the Play Store which deal with adding effects(editing) photos on the device without the need of a PC but very few offer to order photo prints from mobile/tablet.

One of the app which offers to send your prints from your digital photos is “Photo Prints” by Zoomin. For the unknown, Zoomin provides an online platform to order printed photo-books, mugs, calendars etc. The Photo Prints app for now works on the Android & Windows platform on mobile devices. A launch offer entitles a user to order twenty five(25) 4”x6” Matte or Glossy prints or 50% off on 8”x10” prints again in Matte or Glossy finish.

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The gifting season is here & if you’ve to gift something to a photographer friend, colleague or better half of yours, things can get bit expensive. Most of the photography gear is expensive & if you have a modest budget things can get sticky. Here I list some gift ideas for photographers which will appeal to the photographers & not even burn hole in the pocket of one who is gifting.

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The boom in high quality camera’s & mobile phone photography has been remarkable than ever. Around the globe, people shoot & upload tons of photographs from their mobile devices. Most like to quickly edit the photos on the device itself before showcasing them over their online portals. However, when it comes to photo-editing apps there are tons of them & choosing the best one can become a challenge. I’ve tried several of them in past but nothing has come close to the user experience & the results provided by Aviary Photo Editor.

Aviary

Aviary Photo Editor is a free download from Google Play store & comes without any ads. To begin with, it has a nice easy to navigate interface which is done beautifully. There is no clutter & the transitions across various screens are buttery smooth. There are even smooth old radio style scroll wheels which give the interface a cool look. As usual, there are quick fixes(filters) which we all have come accustomed to from the onset of Instagram. But there is more to Aviary, one can write text over an image, put stickers, frames etc. The default installation comes with only a handful of these but one can download as per his liking from the Google Play store.

If you’re the one who likes to take control of every aspect of image-editing, then Aviary will surprise you with almost all essential features like cropping, sharpness, contrast, warmth, focus, colour splash, blur, straighten, meme & much more which is plenty for one’s need. There is also a one touch fix, high definition & illuminate effect which work remarkably well. I’m particularly delighted with the High Definition effect which sort of works like clarity & pumps up the contrast a bit which allows one to see even the minutest details captured. For the average camera on my Motorola Defy, this effect has turned many dull photos into one I never thought. I highly recommend you to play with these manual controls instead of presets which will give you total control over the editing process.

Every feature of Aviary screams quality. The selection of tools, the filters, the stickers are all high definition & carefully selected by the team. This has reduced the clutter of filters(often useless) which we have often seen in other applications. The extra filters, frame packs available on Play Store are also bundled with quality in mind as most have only half a dozen filters in a single pack. What’s more, Aviary does not resize the photos as it saves them after editing. This is a huge bonus. To sum up, for anyone who is looking for a easy to use quality photo editor on Android(or even iOS), look no further than Aviary. Actually this is the only photo editor you’ll ever need. I’ve stopped using others since I’ve installed Aviary. No doubt, the team proudly proclaims “The World’s Best Photo Editor”. Accolades to the Aviary team. :)

GIMP is a good free software for photo-editing. It has most of the capabilities you will require of its commercial counterpart Adobe Photoshop. What’s more with the right plugins, you can extend its capabilities. Here I’ll tell you about some GIMP plugins which will primarily be of interest to photographers. They will make your photo work-flow easier & faster.

GIMP-logo

Vignette – As the names suggests, this adds a vignette to your photo. Vignette can be used creatively to allow viewer’s eye to stay within the frame. Most of the photos will benefit from a small amount of vignette. The vignette plugin allows you to choose parameters like vignette colour, softness, darkness etc. It does its job very well.

Lomo – Want to mimic the look of a LOMO camera? This plugin will do it for you. It saturates the colour, adds a vignette(there is also an option for double vignette) & some other parameters for fine-tuning the output. Have fun!

Split Tone – Split toning is another beautiful effect. This plugins lets you select the two colours for split toning(as oppose to just two offered by most other programs) & end up with results beyond your imagination. Give this a try.

Darla Contrast Fix – This plugin aims to normalize the contrast in the photograph. With the right settings, it can make a photograph. However, this plugin requires some practice & knowledge of the parameters before one can get consistent results regularly.

National Geographic – Have you always wondered at the quality of the photos published by Nat Geo? They are sharp, contrasty & look as if edited by professionals. This simple plugin will put the same power in your hands too. This is a great plugin & as Darla Contrast Fix, this too requires practice before you’re able to get consistent results on a regular basis.

G’MIC – Stands for GRECY’s Magic for Image Computing. This is a grand-daddy of plugins. It is so packed with various image manipulation tools that I wonder even if someone will discover all of them in lifetime. Right from the basic sharpening, noise reduction to advanced like soft glow. This covers it all. And did I say, each of the tools come with several more options to fine tune the output? Yes, this is one hell of a plugin.

Off-course, there are many more plugins in the GIMP repository but these are the few I use on a regular basis & find to work properly. If you have your favourite GIMP plugin not listed here, do share it below. Will benefit all. :)

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