It has been more than a year since my last post on this blog. The year has been a series of professional and personal changes. I am back in Bangalore, my favorite city! As a photographer, my experience has expanded across various genres.  I worked for a photo agency for a short duration. The job profile included everything from model portfolio to food photography. 

I traveled across the country shooting Interiors for real estate companies and clients from the hospitality sector.  Architecture Photography is all about the lines. Since I wasn't working with tilt-shift lens, a lot distortion correction was involved in the post processing. Most of the images were shot on a Canon 5D Mark II with a 17-40 L lens. Yes, I shifted to canon for that short period! and it was a pain to unlearn the Nikon habits.  Shooting interiors required a lot of planning as regards to the lighting structure. Using a tripod and a shutter release would not give you satisfactory results, unless you are a fan of blown out windows and lighting fixtures.  Using remote flashes and strobes as fill lights or even main lights, and bracketing the shoots is the technique I usually used while shooting interiors.  I also had to master the art of shooting 360 degree virtual tours using a manfrotto 303SPH Spherical Panorama head.  The amount of curses uttered in the initial stages, when the software would just not stitch the images was unbelievable.  But once you master the equipment, its a great marketing tool that photographers can use as a value add while targeting clients in the hospitality sector. 

Another genre in which I gained experience was event photography.  I am not a big fan of event photography as there are too many variables and I prefer to have control over my shooting environment.  But event photography has its advantages too.  It helps sharpen your instincts and pre visualize your shots.  Shooting in a studio is pretty simple, set your shutter speed to your sync speed and then go creative with the lights and themes you use. However, in an event, you don't control the light, nor do you have much control over your subject.  So being in the right place at the right time, and having the correct exposure settings would mean, you have to be one step ahead of the event all the time. 

 There were quiet a few funny incidents along the way, including shooting a short kollywoodish film with a couple engaged to be married the next week.  I will keep those stories for the subsequent posts.  

Well, I have revamped the website completely, shifting to the other extreme of the color scheme and changing the page elements.  I hate waiting for slideshows to load whenever I visit a photographer's website, so I made it a priority to ensure the slideshow application loads quickly.  I have timed how long the slideshow application takes to load and it starts up in an average of 20 seconds which is fast by most standards.  Btw, I have a paltry 250 kbps connection right now. thanks to BSNL's service, so I assume it would be much faster for others.    

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As we near the end of the year, we tend to look back and say, what the fish!  2009 has been an exciting one, It started with the Gulf Photo Plus event in April 2009.  I got to learn the fundamental of lighting from one of the best in the photography business, Zack Arias. With David Hobby’s Strobist website and Zack’s Onelight workshop, I got the direction I needed.

Getting equipment was a struggle. Photography isn’t cheap and prices are Dubai is inflated beyond logic.  Over the months, I added onto my arsenal bit by bit. For those who are interested in the equipment I have, here goes:

Nikon D80
Nikon 85mm f/1.4  (Christmas addition)
Nikon 50mm f/1.8
Nikon 18-135mm f3.5- 5.6G
Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 AF
Vivitar Tripod
Lumo-Pro LP120 Manual flash
Nissin di622 i-ttl flash
Third party Wireless remote.
Profoto Lightstand x 2
40’ Profoto Umbrellas x 3
CTR-31 Wireless triggers x 2
Reflector boards.

I am leaning more towards beauty portraits now, close up head and shoulder images.  I worked with some amazingly talented and beautiful people.  Each shoot was a learning experience and more importantly a lot of fun! The next year looks promising; I have a couple of projects in the pipeline and a lot of New Year’s resolutions. 
 
Copy cats 08/01/2009
 
As I went through my facebook home page, I came across a message from Zack Arias :  How "creative photographers" teach other photographers - Lesson 01: Rip http://www.ianmitchinsonphotoblog.com/?p=1217

When I accessed the website in the message, I found the details regarding a photography workshop planned in Cape Town by Bryan Traylor and Ian Mitchinson.  The first thing that came to notice is that the logo is a replica of Zack’s Onelight logo. The only difference was that the colors of the logo were inverted in the image.  The comments started pouring in Zack’s facebook profile from all his fans stating their shock and outrage at the blatant misuse of his logo. (including mine). The comments also flowed into the imitator’s website and within a few hours the logo was taken off from the website.

After all that head rush and anger, calmness and objectivity set in. What the pretender did was wrong and his guilt was apparent from the speed at which he removed the logo from the website. But the thought that bothers me is the question whether we are any different from him? On one side, we flame at people stealing other’s creativity and hardwork. Visit any online photography community and you would find discussions about how unscrupulous people steal images, display and sell them as their own.  One thing that artists hate is pretenders. But most of us wouldn’t think twice before buying a fake Nike shoe from Bangkok or downloading the latest version of Lightroom through torrents.  Stealing a creative idea might not be the same as encouraging piracy and imitations, but the underlying moral implications are the same.   It is only when we are victimized that we tend to see the issue from Microsoft’s, Hollywood’s and Gucci’s eyes. We are willing to bend our principles and break some, if the risk is appropriate and society doesn’t frown upon it. A person convicted for downloading a music album would most likely garner public sympathy than anger.   Are we hypocrites? Do we have a moral right to be enraged when someone sells your ideas as their own while we support similarly inclined people and organizations?  

 
 
Hill 07/27/2009
 

David Hill is an amazingly creative photographer. His image have a extreme PP look. But if you observe, you would notice that the lighting on his subjects is excellent. His lighting makes it possible for him to create his unique style.
I tried my hand at it with some old photos. Surprisingly I found a new technique to get intense b/w images.. The images arent polished and profile ready. Its just an example.

 
 

Some of the images taken when I was in India. The shots of the smoke was taken using an external flash with an reflective umberella using incense sticks and cigarettes(but I dont smoke). The shots of the water droplets were taken with a straight-on off camera flash.

 
Onelight 07/21/2009
 

Watching Zack Arias's Onelight DVD. The guy is a master of lighting.... The simplicity of his technique is very appealing. No zone systems, no light meters, all manual.