A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed, and is, thereby, a true manifestation of what one feels about life in it's entirety. . . I believe in photography as one means of achieving an ultimate happiness and faith! - Ansel Adams

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Window shooting (Part 1) and photography tips for shooting sunsets & moons

"I enjoy travelling and recording far-away places and people with my camera. But I also find it wonderfully rewarding to see what I can discover outside my own window. You only need to study the scene with the eyes of a photographer."
- Alfred Eisenstaed
A Bat flies across the setting sun in Mulund
Sunset over Mulund hills
In the page 'About My Bioscope', the blog description ends with the above quote and it is only fitting that I reproduce it over here - because today's post depicts some of the pictures I have captured from the cosy confines of my house by merely peeping out of the window and having the camera at hand (and also in part because nobody would have read the blog description!).

Photography is a subject which can be practiced literally anywhere, even in your bathroom (more about it some other day) and that is why I love it (not to be mistaken for spending time in the bathroom). As I have said in some of my earlier posts also, photography is all about perspective and a brilliant composition is just waiting to be captured right close to from where you are reading this.

It is not always possible to travel - due to time constraints, budget constraints and of course sheer laziness! In order to keep the creative juices flowing one is hence compelled to look around for subjects. And how very rewarding it can be, gee!

Birds heading home

People who have been following my blog (and I know there aren't many) would have seen in the previous posts the various colours and aspects of the sky that I have captured (see these posts here - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) from my home. This post takes the series forward by depicting some more enchanting skies. Additionally there is the picture of the bird, Oriental Magpie Robin, that I spotted this Saturday perched on a cable few feet away from my window (previous similar home shots - 1, 2). Apart from these, there is an entire world waiting to be captured from one's window - street life - which we will see in another post.

Sunset over Mulund hills

The hills that you see in these pictures are part of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. There was a time when I could get a sweeping panoramic view of these hills. But the real estate boom of the past few years has slowly blocked most of this view and it won't be long before I won't be able to see the sunset from my window and on that day this series would also come to an end, sigh!

Oriental Magpie Robin (OMR)

This bird was whistling its melodious tune and I knew the moment I heard the sound that it was the OMR (they are quite regular around my house) and I dashed to the window with my camera - in the process startling my father, who was enjoying his morning breakfast beside the window!

I am giving some photography tips below (free! free! free!) based on what works for me (disclaimer)!

Birds heading home
Photography tip for shooting stunning sunsets: For that ideal sunset picture it is important to ensure that you get the exposure right else the picture may turnout either too dark or washed out. Also the subject that you want to show as silhouette (hill, bat, buildings, birds and transmission towers in the these pictures) may not turn out as intended. For people using point and shoot cameras, use the in-built 'sunset' option. More often than not it works. For people with SLR and prosumers, set the camera to 'aperture priority' mode (aperture value of 8.0), meter the camera from the sun and stop down the EV by 1/3 - 2/3 - this will ensure that the camera compensates for the sun's brightness, adds warmth and produces the silhouette effect (should you need to quickly switch to 'manual mode', in case the sun becomes dull at the time of sunset, preset it to a shutter speed of 1/160 - 1/200). Lock the exposure and now compose your frame, click! Depending upon the scene, you could also use evaluative metering, but ensure that you stop down the EV.

While some of these aspects can also be controlled during post-processing, I believe in the Japanese management concept of 'Do it right the first time'. Most important thing is to take test shots before the actual moment - lest you miss out on a great shot because the settings were not right! And of course practice a lot!

In case you do not want the silhouette effect, such as in the pictures below, then meter from an area next to the sun (which will be less intense) else use evaluative metering. Rest of the procedure remains the same.


Sun about to set over Mulund

For some more of my sunset and evening shots, click here.

The crescent moon

Photography tip for those beautiful moon shots: For people who want to photograph the moon, remember that the moon is bright and can also have a halo around it. In order to compensate for this, meter your camera from the moon using spot metering and stop down the EV by 2/3. Use the 'manual mode' and set the aperture value to 8. The precise shutter speed to use would depend upon the phase of the moon you are trying to shoot as well as its position in the sky (closer to the horizon they are a lot bigger but may not be as bright). For the above shot I have used a shutter speed of 1/15 (crescent moons are not as bright as full moons and require longer exposure), while for capturing Maghi Poornima I have used a shutter speed of 1/640 - in other words do some test shots - using 'aperture priority' mode would also work just as fine on most occasions (saving the headache of deciding the right shutter speed). These settings will ensure that your picture has the right exposure and captures the moon accurately, with craters, spots, et al!

In terms terms of gear, you need to have a camera with "atleast" 12-15X zoom or a 200-300mm lens to produce a picture of any meaningful size. Also use a lens hood in case there are external light sources nearby to prevent flares. If you do not have a steady hand, rest your elbow on a firm object else use a tripod (and if you don't have a tripod then boost the ISO and correspondingly increase the shutter speed, but this will make the picture grainy - for point & shoots use the 'auto-ISO' option). Of course practice and try out various settings depending upon the scene. Pictures of the moon come in handy for merging with other pictures - say for example when you want to show a moon shining above a monument!

In case you have any queries regarding the techniques, please feel free to contact me.


magiceye said...

lovely images and helpful commentary

The Legend Returns said...

Thanks so much Deepak!

Rajesh said...

Fantastic captures. The tips will be definitely useful.

The Legend Returns said...

Thanks so much Rajesh...I am glad you found it useful :)

Nalini Hebbar said...

Useful is a word I would not use to describe this post! Cardinal is better!
For a person who knows nothing about photography but goes ga-ga over a great photo...this post is WOW
Loved the photos and the tips...:)

The Legend Returns said...

Thanks so much Nalini for visiting my blog. I am pleased that you liked the post :)

Shrinath Vashishtha said...

Some truly picturesque shots up here, dear Maneesh! You have a comely blog with pretty interesting posts and, of course, stunning pictures are the USP of your blog. Thanks for your kind visit and comment on my recent post about the SENTINELESE TRIBE -


Keep blogging and sharing and do stay in touch. Cheers! :-)

The Legend Returns said...

Thank you so much Sir for visiting my blog. The pleasure was entirely mine

joshi daniel said...

perfect timing and nice colors!

The Legend Returns said...

Thanks so much Daniel!

Kevin said...

Great sunset shot !
Congrats for your photoblog, very impressive photoblog, well done and my vote for you on coolphotoblog !

The Legend Returns said...

@Kevin: Thanks so much for the visit and for your wonderful comment :) I owe you a beer should we ever meet :)

The Legend Returns said...

@Lindasy: I am glad you liked the blog! Thanks so much :)

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