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Monday, January 22, 2007

Behind the Lens...

I usually write about my pictures in my posts, but this time i decided to write a bit about photography as an art. A friend of mine who is interested in photography asked me how i manage to find interesting subjects for my pictures. In the same breath, he also wanted me to tell him how to take "good pictures" and help him buy a good camera for taking "good pictures". I tried to explain this to him but i'm not sure if i made sense. Hope this post explains it more clearly.

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Photography is an art and a photographer is like an artist. An artist starts with a blank canvas and adds what he thinks should be shown in his painting. This can be from a view in front of him, or something from the depths of his creative imagination. If the painting is of something real (e.g. a landscape), objects are added or removed based on the artist's choice. No one ever walks up to the artist and says: "Hey, how come you didn't include that tree in your painting"?

The photographer, on the other hand, starts with what is available in front of him. His job as an artist is to remove all that which is not a part of his imagination by trying different methods of composing the picture. Thus the photographer creates by removing whereas the artist creates by adding. The photographer has to wait for certain conditions to be met and needs to make a few decisions before the picture is taken. The conditions seeked are usually the available light quality, atmospheric conditions and the subject. The decisions to be made involve f-stops, ISO, shutter speed, depth of field, focal length and choice of lenses.

Producing excellent pictures has to do more with the photographer and less with the equipment. Beginners often wonder why they don't automatically get excellent photographs despite having just obtained excellent equipment. This is equivalent to assuming that if you own a Ferrari, you can drive like Michael Schumacher. A good equipment makes it easier to get good pictures by expanding your possibilities but it is the photographer who ultimately decides when and how to take the picture. Timing is really important, so is skill and experience of the photographer.

68 comments:

  1. Water, colour, sky, eyes, flowers, roads... All is here!
    Fantastic!
    Thank!

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  2. Ari: Each and every picture is unique and stands special. Love it all and just beautiful.

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  3. Ari..You have an eye for photography.I love the pictures.I think I am a sleeper. Thanks for all those tips, I think they will come in handy once I start travelling which I hope to do soon.

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  4. OMG Ari these pics r just AMAZING! I love love love the Water Lily ones!

    How have ya been? Im ur absence, I have already fallen in love with a certain Mr.Darcy, broke up with him and now trying to glue the pieces of my heart :)

    TC!
    Keshi.

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  5. Read every word and loved every picture in your behind the lens essay. A lot of thought went into it and you are right on. Thanks for sharing.I think I'm an explorer or am trying to be.

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  6. WOW! These pictures are so wonderful Ari...it is late here, and I'm ready for bed, so I'll have to come back tomoorrow to read all you have written!
    I love this one...beautiful!
    Thank you!
    Hope all is well!

    Take care!
    Margie

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  7. Hi Ari
    All your pictures are wonderful. I especially love the tiger's picture. Thanks for the eyes in general. And thanks for your visit to my little blog too.
    U can come when u want.
    A big hello from France
    Take care

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  8. hi Ari! lovely pictures. love all of it :P

    im the explorer photographer!! yes I am and so proud to announce it to the world...

    >> Here are some tips for successful photography

    Carry a camera with you everywhere you go. check
    Know your camera well, especially its limitations. so-so

    Take as many pictures as possible. check

    Interesting subjects are all around us, all the time. Look for them carefully. nay

    Don't fear taking bad photographs. This is how you learn not to repeat mistakes. check

    Don't care what people think of your pictures. It's cool as long as you like them. check

    Be your own critic. Analayze the pictures you take. where got time for all these

    Observe pictures taken by other photographers and compare yours with theirs.i pass this one

    Don't take pictures of your kids or your cats. Too easy. Take photographs of other things that fascinate you. their spontaneous act that fascinated me

    Many camera stores let you rent professional cameras and lenses. Try them out.it costs more to rent

    Read books on photography when you can. pass

    Remember... a camera only takes a photograph... but a photographer makes a photograph!?

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  9. Amazing photos Ari....each one of them!

    Thanks for the links, sure will check them out.

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  10. Hi Ari,
    great new pictures !
    You are a true specialist in birds!

    Thank you for havin visited my photoblog.

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  11. Great series of photos here..

    Thanks for the drop and see you around sometimes... cheers

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  12. Hi mate,
    First of all thanks very much for your gracious observations & presenting my site in your blogroll, which I have also done for yours. You have a great sense of observation & a eye for detail!

    As for the shot on my site goes, actually I wanted the picture to have a soft feeling to it b'cos as if, the message behind it is very powerful with the gun, so you can also see the sharpness is also a bit low to give a feeling of 'retirement' after the entire day.

    Anyway have a good time & hope to see more of your excellent shots & also see you again there...Cheers:-)

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  13. the tiger picture is marvelous. One of the best photography on blogs today.

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  14. Your photos are beautiful, stunning and magical!

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  15. Awesome images and commentary.

    I like your music playlist. I was jamming to "Secada"!

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  16. Hey Ari,
    Great pictures and great advice this post. Wow some of the shots are stunning - amazing.
    I am loving the 17-40L I still use the IS lens when I need the stabilization or the zoom - usually comes in handy indoors (which is where I'm at most of the time in the winter)
    Keep up the great work - can't wait to see more.
    Joel

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  17. Such a great collection! I love the birds with their reflection. Like you, I've been incredibly busy at work and not enough time to catch up on blogging!

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  18. Ari,
    It has been a while! This reading is VERY helpful. I will continure to refrence back to it.
    I, myself have a VERY basic digital camera, I shoot EVERY day..and out of 500 shots I will have that ONE that I am truly plaesed with. I have several blogs on here,maybe four, that I frequent, that encourage me, and inspire me..Yours is one of them. I have always loved to "create" drawing well art used to be my one true love then I began to write and now I think photography is taking the lead. I sometimes cop out I say "ahh if only my camera was better there is so much more I could do , my shots would be so much better". However, look at the earlier greats their equipment was not "as I would like" so ..point proven once again. It is as you have said 90 percent comes from within you ability to "see" that's not something you can buy.
    Well, now that I have rattled on my point was, THANKS for the informative words and the inspiring shots!
    You capture such beauty..

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  19. WOW...what wonderful images.

    I really enjoyed looking over every one. It is my first visit here and I am sure that I will return for tips and just to have a treat for my eyes!

    Thanks for sharing your gift!

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  20. I am not entirely sure what is meant by “eye” for photography, but if it is what I think it is (in my head. lol), then I think I have it... constantly practice, analyze and self-criticize? yep. doing that. only, time is a constraint... can’t do it constantly, sadly...

    “The most fun and difficult part of photography is composing the image. It has to do with how you "see" things from a different perspective. The more creative you are, the more expressive and pretty your photo will be. Unfortunately, learning how to "see" is as difficult as it is to teach. Learning how to "see" must come from within and no one can teach that. The best way to learn how to see, is to practice seeing.” – hah. Without meaning to sound big-headed, I knew all that! Very pleased with myself, considering I am a “beginner”... and I know exactly what you mean about it being the most fun AND the difficult part... for me, the comparison lies in dance choreography – it is so frustrating trying to express what you visualise in your head, into body movements... and yet it is so much fun. The fun lies in the challenge... and the feeling when you have found that perfect move – brilliant! I feel it is the same with photography? I wouldn’t know for sure, being a “beginner”... :)

    Hah. One of these days, in my life sometime, I want to go on a holiday just for the sake of taking photographs... time and money remain pests right now... but one day, maybe one day, I can be Miss Sniper for a week or two (or three or four)... but right now, I think I am an explorer... I am glad you said that everyone who is interested in photography starts off from here... :D (makes me feel I’m on the right tracks, lol...)

    As for the three Ls, ‘light’ I knew... especially that bit about mornings and evenings... I was given a wonderful photographs book (of US of A, by Peter Lik, called “Spirit of America”... you know it?) as a present from family, and I couldn’t help but notice most of the photographs were at ‘awkward’ times of the day... I also know from my own experience of what I “see” (as you say) – the world seems so much more beautiful (through my ‘camera eyes’ LOL) at sunrise/sunset, etc... I ain’t called Sunrise for nothing! ;) The other two... location and luck, I did not know.

    And of the three Ps of photography – perception I knew... the other two, nope. All helpful information for me – thank you!

    Heyyyy – LOL! I am guilty of asking people these questions haha... am sure I said some of these things to you too... they sound familiar enough, from an ‘asker’s’ point of view!

    Carry a camera with you everywhere you go – I try to... even to shopping centres (to the annoyance of my friends and family...)
    Take as many pictures as possible – I hate using time as an excuse (which you might well know from my blog post on it), but – urgh – it really is a factor... :(

    Interesting subjects are all around us, all the time. Look for them carefully. – so true. So, so true... if only there could be a ‘mental camera’ that could capture all those beautiful things you see...! lol

    Don't fear taking bad photographs. This is how you learn not to repeat mistakes. – you bet I don’t, lol. I have too many of them... :|

    Be your own critic. Analayze the pictures you take. – yep... I analyse almost everything... lost in thoughts... (rolls eyes)

    Don't take pictures of your kids or your cats. Too easy. Take photographs of other things that fascinate you. – sometimes humans make brilliant photographs... capturing emotions on human faces itself is a task... so says the amateur lol... but I get what you mean (I think?) – cheesy pictures of one’s kids grinning and standing in front of their grandmother’s best china is hardly... um... fascinating? I guess, then again, any photograph that touches you in some way is a “good” photograph... whether it is for universal appeal or not is a different question...

    Remember... a camera only takes a photograph... but a photographer makes a photograph! – nahhh... I prefer to blame it on the camera... ;) :P

    (Could not resist mentioning – the pebbles one is BEAUTIFUL! you almost feel as though you’re there... the pebbles are that close to you... sigh!)

    You know, I was taking some photographs the other day, and I thought of your post! Very neat stuff here – thank you (yet again)... lol... sorry to make it such a long comment, I really wanted to say something in detail on this post! :)

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  21. Le Mosquito.. Thanks! Yeah, the elements of nature make a pretty picture :)

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  22. Priya, thank you. Hope everything is okay with you.

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  23. Starry, is that you? I tried to access your link via the posted username (Lalitha), but it did not work.

    How are things with you?

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  24. Keshi... :) thanks!
    I have been mad busy. Hope things are okay with you now. Mr Darcy? heartbroken? Naw... i think you will get over it faster than it lasted. :) I will stop by your blog soon.

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  25. photowannabe... thank you! I learnt it the hard way :) These tips are partly from my experience and partly from articles i read in journals and other websites.

    You have some cool pictures on your blog. I love them. Good luck with your photography...

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  26. Margie, hope everything is okay with you. Be strong. Things will be fine.
    huggssss...

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  27. Laurent, good to see you here...
    I liked the tiger pic, it was very playful. Probably it is still a kid.

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  28. Thanks for this amazing selection of images, each one is excellent, amazing!

    And yes, I aldo understand, we can be busy and there are things of priority. My very best wishes to you.

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  29. Div@
    Thanks for the detailed comment. These are not the hardlines you must follow in order to become a good photoghrapher. Similar to any hobby or profession, you need constant practice, dedication and certain principles in order to convert the vision in your head into your pictures.

    Like most of the people here, I too am in the learning phase. I love being an explorer and i think it gets me the best of all worlds. I try my hands at all kinds of photography and this is my hobby. Time is the only thing that comes in between me and my camera... :(

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  30. Franco, thank you! Naw, i dont think i am a specialist in birds. I just try ;)

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  31. Shazeen, thanks for stopping by. Loved the picturs on your site.

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  32. Kalyan, thanks for the explanation. Very well thought of...

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  33. Nabeel... thanks! you always have kind words for me.

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  34. Karen, thanks for stopping by. Thanks for the comments too! :)

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  35. Chad... thanks!
    music and pictures... dont they set a good mood when used together? Yeah, Secada was my fav when i was in schoool.. (that was... ummm.... maybe 15 years ago) and i still love that song.

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  36. Joel, thanks!
    good luck with your 17-40L. Cant wait to see how that baby does!

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  37. Corinne, thanks! yeah, i wish i had more time on my hands...

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  38. Kimberley,
    thanks for the detailed comment! Very much appreciated. You are right. Its not the camera, it is the person behind it who can take beautiful pictures.

    I made the same mistake too. I spent a couple of G's on my equipment hoping to dramatically improve my picture quality. Though the resolution and the sharpness increased, but my pictures siill looked like ones i could have taken with my tiny point and shoot. I hit a wall at that point and realized that i was wrong. An expensive and sophisticated camera cannot help change my composition skills. That started my journey into research, observation, reading, analysis and experimenting with my camera and composition. I am still learning everyday. Looking at different pictures on the net gives me ideas on how my next shot could be.

    Thanks for your comments. They inspire me.
    Take care
    -ari

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  39. Anna, thanks for stopping by. You are welcome anytime! C'Ya around.
    -ari

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  40. Sunrise,
    thanks for the detailed comment. appreciate that.

    An eye for photography is similar to the grace and rhythm needed for dancing. If you dont have the grace and rhythm, it wont be called a dance. Similarly, without an eye for photography, pictures wont look any different from what you see in daily life.

    Yea... you are right when you compare it to dance choreography. It is the moment of self gratification you have when you see the picture you just shot. It was in your head all along, and you just captured it in your camera.

    Being in the explorer mode works best for people who wish to have a hobby in photography while keeping a focus on their career at the same time.

    I have not come across that book. I will try to find it in the library. I had some good pictures at sunrise or sunset... especially when the sun casts its golden glow and creates long shadows.

    You are right again. A good picture is one which touches you in some way, either by bringing back memories or by mentally transporting you to a different world.

    Nice observation with the pebble beach picture. The camera was positioned close to the ground. So it looks like a view from the eyes of the pebble :)

    Thank you once again for your interesting comments. Very much appreciated :)

    Good luck with your photography.

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  41. Reflex, thank you. Good to see you here! :)

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  42. I just noticed this mp3 played in the side bar...and since I was not playing anything suddenly your player started playing all songs in the list.

    Everything I do - got so many memories back...had to download all Bryan Adam Albums and am hoooked to it since then....hehehehe

    Cheers!!!!

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  43. a mind boggling array of images! wow!!

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  44. Wow, that was a wonderful writeup on photography. I have read a couple of books on photography but I can't say they have helped much....my pics r still pathetic. :( This was much better than those books cos, you have put the most important things so precisely and simply. Thanx a lot. Will try to keep them in mind.

    And as for the pics.....I am totally fida over ur pics. :)

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  45. Finally I got myself a "photo" blog (linked)... I will need all the good luck I can get lol... thank you :)

    Just out of curiosity, what is behind the name "ari4u"? It always (haha. sorry!!) reminds me of Ariel from the Little Mermaid... hence my confusion as to your gender... :)

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  46. Haha... here is the link, it was actually the link for my name in the comment above... but nevermind... hehe!

    http://reflecti0ns.wordpress.com/

    Feel free to criticise (constructively, of course)... lol

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  47. love the wreck diving photo, I love wreckdiving also but dónt have a underwater cam, to bad...really nice pictures you make.

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  48. Hey...Awesome pics...
    Although i dont get much time to visit blogs but whenever i visit yours, I am complete fan of ur pics...!!!
    And how have u been??
    Take care
    Saira

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  49. Hellooo again... long time no see... need more photos sir!!

    Wordpress was too complicated for me to use, and the pictures were being cropped out... :( SO, I have created another account in blogspot - I'm not going to use the wordpress one any more...

    Here's the new link - I'm going to post some "photos" I have taken soon enough!

    http://reflect1ons.blogspot.com/

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  50. I enjoyed your photos and your incite into becoming a good photographer. I especially enjoyed your responses to the "Wow, your camera takes good pictures" kind of comments. I see a lot of the opposite-- people getting a great camera and thinking that now they're going to take great pictures.

    I'm shooting with a Canon powershot S2is. It has been a good camera with a good amount of controls, but it is prone to bad noise any time I use an ISO above 100. I am now feeling the need to expand my horizons and get a DSLR. Maybe soon.

    I enjoy looking at your photographs because they give me something to aspire to.

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  51. OMG such gorgeous pictures Aamir,
    perfect picture post cards.
    Not able to read the text, too dark for me

    i think you are giving instructions ? they will be useful to those intersted in serious photography

    its a medium of expression Aamir, it should be left to the individual
    to choose what and how to express his or her ideas.

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  52. Arz000n. I love those songs too. Grew up with them.

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  53. Suji, im glad this post helped you. fida.. lol :)

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  54. Sunrise... im heading over to your photo blog right now :)

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  55. Zeekat, thanks for stopping by and thanks for the comments. I love to dive someday :)

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  56. Saira, thanks. I have been good, but mad busy. Hope everything is okay with you.

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  57. Hi Natalie, thanks for the comment! Im glad you enjoyed it. I love your weekly puzzle, makes me keep coming back every week. :)
    Your comments are much appreciated. They mean a lot to me

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  58. Rauf, thank you :)
    I made a lot of mistakes and i assumed the same when i started with photography. These tips helped me change my style and attitude towards photography. I am still in the learners category and will be an explorer. Take care

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  59. aww Ari my heart's broken beyond plastic surgery :)

    HUGGGGGGGZ! Twas good to hear from u after a very long time. Hope all is well with ya...

    And then I go and spoil it all by sayin somethin stupid like I LOVE U....

    ;-)
    Keshi.

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  60. Ari..it was nice to hear from you.I have to wish you a belated Happy valentine's day.I hope your day went well.Yes I am lalitha(starry nights) don't know why sometimes the blogger name comes lalitha.I think it is because of the sign in name.I am doing a lot better.had my 3 month check everything is healing and fusing as planned so will be starting physical therapy soon.Maybe now i can go out and take some pictures.Cannot hold a candle next to yours.I love all the pictures you post.thanks.

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  61. Ari Im so blue again..:(

    Keshi.

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  62. first time here ari! i love ur blog and the pics more so.

    i met an industrial photographer a few days back who briefed me on the subject and said that a real photographer is one who takes pics with the film camera. a digital camera operator is just a graphic artist. is that really correct? i hav been interested in photography, but hav been making use of a digi-cam...

    will come back for more! :)

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  63. i looked at that stained glass and thought..so many different colored jelly fish..ouch! ouch! :)

    but that flower the many petalled one is so so beautiful.

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  64. Welcome back ... Your photography is outstanding ... I love photography ... being creative. Well I try. Now a days one can do a lot with digital ... and colours are so amazing. I shall return to read more on tips. Do you have any of your photographs in Flickr?
    see you soon :o)

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