Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Photography Questions Answered: Q1: High ISO

When I got my first digital camera, I explored the menus, and I discovered there is a section called ISO. I didn't know what it was, but discovered the highest rated ISO was 1600. Not knowing what is ISO, I set it up as 1600. I got  a lot of grains in the photos I took in low light. I thought my camera wasn't that good. Later I thought there was dust in front of my camera lens. I started hating my camera.

At that time I didn't know one thing. I didn't know what ISO iss.

ISO is comparable with Film Speed in the film cameras. Higher ISO ensures higher shutter speed, ensures reduced image quality, ensures more noise in the photos. You can think of ISO as light multiplication factor. An ISO rating of 200 means that it is twice as bright as the natural light that you could capture using ISO 100. ISO 400 means it is 4 times as bright as the natural light.

If you are shooting landscape, I will recommend you to use ISO 100. In the early morning, or late afternoon, you can try ISO 200. The less ISO, the better image quality. More ISO, worse image quality.

If I could, I would shoot everything in ISO 100. But I cannot. If I am shooting in low light, and the subject is moving too fast, higher ISO will ensure the sharpness of the photo. Otherwise, the image may get blurred.

Canon, Nikon and other camera companies these days support ISO more than 100000. That is meaningless. You may capture the face of your assassin  hiding in your garden with that kind of ISO, but the photos will almost always never be good.

If you are shooting inside your room, keep ISO to 400. At max 800. Use large aperture. If you capturing one face, keep the f-stop in between 1. 8 to 2.8. If you are capturing many faces, use f-stop between 4.5 to 6. If people are moving, use flash.

Forget higher ISO. If you take care of ISO and use it effectively, even with a compact camera you will get stunning quality images.

Check this link. Here, a number of photos were taken by a compact camera. See if you can distinguish them.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Good Photograph Hierarchy

As of 2012,

Photography is 70% capturing, 30% editing.

If you don't capture a good photo, editing won't make it better.

Out of that 30% editing, 60% will go into cropping.

Out of that remaining 40%, 50% will go into proper contrast, 20% into brightness, the remaining 30% varies.

Out of that remaining 30% very often, 60% will go for saturation, 20% for vignette, 20% for unknown things.

Note: I didn't consider if your photo is a colored one or black and white. The figures are not accurate. This is just to give you a rough idea.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Window

The window.

I look out of the bus window. I look out of the room window. I look out of the launch window.

I look out.

Things mostly remain the same. My perspective changes.

The river I cross almost everyday, hasn't changed much in the last thousand years.

Sure, the water has been changing continuously. The landscape around has changed a bit. But, the overall feeling and the reason for which it is called the river hasn't changed.

I don't live in the moment. The moment lives in me.

For, hardly anything changes.

The bus route doesn't change over ten years. The shop from where I drink tea hasn't changed it's location. Only my view, my perspective about them change.

I look out of the window. I look at the sky. Everyday I have seen a different sky, yet the sky is same to me.

Same is a thousand books in my bookshelf, same is 5 pair of shoes in my shoe rack.

Who am I?

Where am I?

What is this earth?

Am I too certain?

How can I know that the things I know as true are true.

How can I know I haven't woken up this morning with the entire past in my dreams?

My (Dad's) old buddy Minolta

My dad had (has) a Minolta SLR camera which fell (has fallen) into insignificance as soon as I bought a digital camera. The reason the camera died is simple. These days no one sees the point in buying a film. There is less film variety now: if you want a film with a speed of 400, you won't find it. Also, after shooting with the film, it is a hard task to develop the film. It wasn't hard years ago, but it is hard now. No photo shop (not Photoshop) wants to turn their machine on just to develop one roll of film.

Recently, I shot with that camera again. I was impressed. My 3 year old Fujifilm digital camera gives a resolution of only 7.2 MP. The Film camera gives at least 25 MP. There is no definite way of confirming it, but that's what the researchers say.

Film is full-frame. 35 mm. It has a large sensor, very good noise performance, deep depth- all the things that are missing in a point and shoot digital camera.

The lens I used is 50 mm and is 30 years old. Still the photos look better than the ones from a point and shoot digital camera that are available today. Cool thing is that I can still mount a large 500 mm lens on the camera and spy on the next building.

The only thing I found hard is the control. A very good knowledge of photography is required to operate the camera. Almost everything in the camera should be operated manually (f-stop, shutter speed, focus). I have taken more than 30000 photos till this date, so I have some experience. I didn't find it that hard. For a novice, taking photos in an average condition would not be tough, but to capture dramatic light would be a tiresome work. 

The other problem with this camera is that it is slow. It takes a long time to perform. You may miss the running dear if you have ruined the first shot already.

Overall, I like the camera very much. It has a antique feel to it. Also, it's metallic and heavy body makes it feel like a pro camera. My Dad still longs for a Canon A1 film SLR. But he somehow knows that a Film A1 is surely not as good as a Canon 5D Mark ii or a Canon 7D. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Road less Travelled

From today onwards, this blog will feature articles which have focus on things other than learning.

It took me time to realize the truth. The truth is “I hate definitions”.

Definition is a clear way to limit things. Define yourself as a vegetarian. Now you have given yourself a proper definition to restrict yourself from some of the finest quality foods in the world (read sushi). You are a customer service employee, so automatically all the great ideas you have for the growth of the company will be rejected, doesn’t matter if the CEO is a dumbass.

A portrait of the artist as a young man.

For a long long time, I read the title of this famous book wrong. I didn’t know how careful James Joyce was with words. I always read “The portrait of an artist as a young man”.

These different choices of words make a huge difference.

“The portrait” is definite. “An artist” seems arbitrary. James Joyce wouldn’t like to declare himself as too qualified to capture the metaphysical truths masterfully. He knew it is often beyond our limits to capture even a little bit of the art. He was certain about “The Artist”. He wasn’t sure of the artist’s work of art. He used “A portrait”- which is arbitrary.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that the previous title of this blog was “The science learner”. Then I figured out the word ‘science’ restrains me from writing on other topics. So I dropped the word “science”.

The reason I started writing on this blog was to encourage people to learn and experience the world with a little more scrupulousness. Writing only on “science” wouldn’t serve that purpose. So wouldn’t only “learning”. Ultimately there is nothing called “learning”. It is all an experience.

I welcome you to encourage me to go with my new found spirit. Let’s explore the world of randomness. Let’s give our autographs to our unique endeavors to bring a collective change in the world.

Thursday, February 09, 2012


Haven't you gone through a phase in your life when you find it hard to pass time?

I had gone through that phase. Now I have gone passed it.

I read somewhere, no one ever feels bad after doing any kind of physical work. I agree.

If I don't have anything to do, I just get up and clean my room. Or I rearrange the room. Or I write in my diary. Or I wash my clothes.

I have been travelling so much lately. Last seven days, I was in one place in the morning, another place in the evening. Another country the next day.

I have seen people from more than 40 different countries. I have talked to people from 5 different countries.

I have tried foods of varied taste. I have eaten to the last limit of my tummy.

I enjoyed every bit of it. I was running out of time. I don't have enough to time to everything I want to do. Still it is fun. Still is more interesting than any other thing in the world. Life is wonderful!!