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Photography Tips, Workshops,

Smartphone Photography Workshop by Shweta Malhotra

As photographers, we are always capturing moments we encounter in our everyday loves, particularly through the lenses of our cameras. 

With the rise of apps like Instagram, we see that everyone loves to document their lives on the go. That’s where our smartphones come in super handy. 

We use our smartphone cameras almost daily, capturing travel moments we ordinarily wouldn’t on our DSLR’s. We’ve grown fond of the wonders that phones photography brings and their ability to snap the spontaneous, instead of the planned. 

To propagate this emerging style of photography, Chiiz conducted a Smartphone Photography Workshop with ace artist and photographer Shweta Malhotra.

This workshop was conducted in the National Crafts Museum, a beautiful site filled with amazing visual elements waitinh to be turned into beautiful photographs.

The workshop started with a photowalk around the premises of the Museum with Shweta leading the walk, instructing the participants throughout the walk.

Photography is bound by a few set of rules; understand these few simple photography composition basics and you’ll have your mobile photography game nailed in no time. Shweta introduced the participants to the basic techniques of phone photography. She rehashed the rules of photography and talked a lot about framing and composition.

Getting your focus right is very important important in photography. Usually, phones pick up where they ‘think’ the focal point is, but you should tap the object of your focus on your screen and the camera will do the rest. Often, this will also help you to manage which part of your photo you’d like ‘exposed’, which will help you to stop your shot from being too dark or blown out. The participants were made aware about such nuances of focusing through their phone cameras. This opened a new door to experiment with the lens focus on their phones. Techniques likes slow motion and time lapse videos were also taught.

Phones aren’t very well-equipped to deal with low light which means night photography can be tricky – but not impossible. Night mode along with panorama, portrait mode, and HDR were discussed and practised in the workshop. The Crafts Museum provided for ample opportunities to experiment with each mode.

Cameras have come a long way since they first appeared on phones, but unfortunately, they still offer almost no control over settings like shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. On your phone, these settings are normally controlled automatically, but downloading a camera app allows you to adjust each frame manually and capture mobile shots to rival any DSLR! We discussed the best smartphones to invest in and the mobile photography apps that are best for photography and photoediting.

Behind just about every epic photo you see in your Instagram feed today is an epic editing process. Editing your photo makes your photo stand out from the crowd, and breathes new life into an ‘okay’ photo.  These photo editing apps allow you to improve your photo with ease, through the click of a button and a few minor tweaks. We worked on some of these apps to better acquaint ourselves with them.

Smartphone photography is becoming increasingly popular for consumers, bloggers, creatives, and even professional photographers. Shooting photos with your smartphone’s camera can be much more efficient because of its mobility, quick editing apps, and sharing capability. Plus, many newer smartphone cameras are developed with specs compatible to expensive DSLR cameras. Therefore, all of the perks of smartphone cameras allow you to be a photographer at anytime and anyplace. What are you waiting for? Get going!

astrophotography
Workshops,

Astrophotography Workshop- Sky Photo Trip

Humankind has always been curious about the mysteries of the Universe and of what lies beyond. The need to see and capture the night sky with its resplendent elements has given rise to astrophotography.  Chiiz hosted an astrophotography workshop in the quaint hills of Majkhali. This astrophotography workshop called ‘Sky Photo Trip’ was exactly that- a trip to the night sky. Ajay Talwar mentored the workshop which aimed at capturing the deep sky photos.  A cosmic experience of 3 days of mapping and photographing the night skies in the realms of the lofty Himalayas. 

Equipment

The participants used extremely fast ~f/2 optical instruments to shoot the deep sky. Apart from the deep sky, we also photographed Jupiter and Saturn in high resolution. The following equipment was made available for participants who wanted to shoot night landscapes.

  1. Hyper Star on 14-inch CGE Pro mount
  2. 400mm f/2.8 lens, guided on EQ6 mount
  3. Meade 12 inch telescope for planet photography.
  4. Wide-angle lenses and tripods for landscapes.

astrophotography

Witness Unique Cosmic Elements

The participants witnessed some of the best galaxies in the evening spring sky like the Sombrero Hat Galaxy, Pinwheel Galaxy, Sunflower Galaxy, Whirlpool Galaxy, Black Eye Galaxy, M106, Needle Galaxy, etc. The planetary nebulae like the Owl Nebula, Ring Nebula, and Dumbbell Nebula stirred curiosity in participants.

 

Veil Nebula captured by the participants of the workshop.

 

Pre-Workshop Preparation for Astrophotography

The participants received online tutorials and discussions to discuss the method of astrophotography and familiarize themselves with the equipment. The groups remain active after the workshop for review of work or any assistance that the participants might need.

Introduction to Deep Sky Photography

Dumbbell captured by participants of the workshop

Expert Astrophotographer Ajay Talwar introduced the participants to the wonders of deep-sky photography. He taught them to set up an automated set-up which would capture images of the deep sky. Working with telescopes and high-end lenses with cameras gets complicated real quick. Ajay Talwar made it seem like child’s play.

Terrestrial Astrophotography

While the workshop primarily aimed at deep-sky photography, we could not help taking a few terrestrial Astro shots. Our mentor was more than ready to help the participants with capturing the Starry Nights.

On Astrophotography

The mentors introduced the participants to a host of skills like managing storage, batteries, managing a sequence of images, shooting panoramas, star trails, and managing histogram. The participants learned to manage productive sessions on cold nights and much more. 

Post-Processing

While processing simple images is an art in itself, the post-processing of astrophotographs is an altogether different ball game. The participants were familiarized with post-processing of raw images, batch processing, stacking, stretch, sharpen, smoothen, astrophotography actions, software filters for astrophotography.

 

Three Days and two nights in the beautiful setting of Majkhali paired with informative sessions on astrophotography culminated in a huge repository of astounding astrophotographs for the photographers and participants to take home. This, along with new techniques to capture the night sky marked the real success of the Sky Photo Trip.

Chiiz Photographers, Photographer's Talk, Photography Inspiration, Workshops,

Photographing Star Trails: Part 3

Method of Star Trail Photography

Star trails are mesmerising. It is as if the spirals made of bright stars are trapping people’s eyes. You’re showing something remarkable to the world. Something that’s happening out there, in the universe, but no one can see with the naked eye:
In your endeavour to shoot star trails, you are on a beautiful location, stars are shining and the landscape is unique, the site is secluded, no one around to disturb you with torches and lights.Here’s how you start off your star trails.

Checklist

  •  Before starting, check camera battery (& extra battery) are fully charged; memory card and spare empty.
  •  Setup your tripod on firm ground and hang the weight laden cloth bag under the tripod. The hanging weight should not sway with wind. Whenever possible, keep the tripod low.
  •  Set camera to manual mode, set ISO speed, set aperture. Turn off Long Exposure Noise Reduction. Set image quality to RAW, set exposure, set autofocus to manual, on the lens. Display Image after shooting – off, camera auto sleep – off, Camera to single shot, timer – off, set flash – off.
  •  Attach the camera to the tripod, and check any movement. Attach the desired lens, attach the hood and set the correct focal length if you are using a zoom lens.
  •  Focus accurately with live view, on a bright star. Use maximum zoom. Don’t touch the focusing ring, hood or change zoom after focusing. You can focus on a very bright star in one direction and then frame your picture in any other direction. Just take care that you do not move the focusing ring while framing. Take care also that the focus is kept in MF before shooting.
  •  Frame your night landscape, you can only frame nicely after you click and see. Check that the horizon is horizontal. Whenever you shift the tripod for a better frame, check the bubble level of the tripod. Follow the Rule of Thirds of photography; walk your eye on the perimeter off the frame. Check your framing by shooting a quick and dirty shot. Remember the small screen behind the camera is a poor indicator of framing and exposure. Zoom in and check entire image by scrolling. You may like to use a tab for checking the frame (larger screen will beneficial). If you are using a zoom lens, and you need to change the focal length while framing, you will need to focus again.
  •  Take a test shot for checking exposure, check the histogram, increase exposure till histogram hill is separated from the left side off the histogram graph. Is the earth portion exposed properly as desired? Correct or less exposure will give star colours; overexposure will render all the stars white.
  •  Programme the intervalometer carefully; gap between exposures should be bare minimum (1-3 sec). Hang the intervalometer at a convenient place, so you can reach it when you want to shut off the sequence, and is visible from far.
  •  Can your memory card accommodate the number of planned exposures? After how long will you have to change the card?
  •  Start your light frame sequence. Tripod should not move at all during the sequence. More frames the better. Watch out for dew formation around you.
  •  Protect your memory card; back up your images as soon as possible.

 

The main process of Star Trail photography consists of four parts:

  •  Focus
  •  Frame
  •  Test Exposure
  •  Start Exposure Sequence

Step 1 – Focusing is important and needs to be done slowly and accurately. You may like to connect the camera to your laptop or a tab to get a bigger picture, so as to focus sharply. You could also carry a magnifying glass to check accurate focus. Start live view and point to a bright star to focus. Once the camera is focused, you can change the direction of the camera to frame.

Step 2 – Framing the sky is one part, but getting some interesting part of the Earth is the artistic touch that the photographer provides. Take care not to have direct bright lights in the frame as well as halos from the light just outside the frame. The tripod & camera setup must not move at all during the entire sequence. You could tie the tripod down to some rigid structure.

Step3 – Test exposure is clicking an image and checking its histogram to see if the exposure is right. You do not want to keep the ISO at its maximum, you will certainly get more stars, but they all will be saturated, lose their natural colours and become white. You could try an ISO of 200 or 400. The length of the exposure will determine the length of the star trail on the sensor, longer the exposure, longer the star trail. But you need not increase the exposure just to get a very long star trail, there is a trick with digital cameras.

Once you have decided the optimum exposure, then you need to shoot the same exposure over and over, with a minimum gap in between exposures. Later these individual shots would be blended together for the final star trail image.

Step 4 – Exposure Sequence is the main process of star trail photography. Program the intervalometer carefully. Sometimes astrophotographers shoot a star trail sequence for the entire night! In such case you need to ascertain if the storage card and battery would last for the entire duration of the sequence. You can either use multiple batteries in a grip, or use an AC adapter.
For the images, you could connect a laptop so that all images are downloaded to the computer and there is no limitation of the storage card.

Avoiding common mistakes while shooting star trails:

  •  Level the camera properly.
  • You should include a good amount of terrestrial object in the frame, many a times you have only top half of a tree in the field; that looks bad, you should frame in such a manner that full tree or the base of any structure should be captured in the frame.
  •  Exclude power cables, telephone cables, towers and water tanks wires in the field of view. These look very bad in the final image.
  •  A lot of people want too many stars in their star trail, to this end they use higher ISO setting, and in the process they saturate the star colour. Actually you want the opposite – less number of stars in the star trail, so that it does not become like a bright background -with no details. A star trail image looks good with less stars and when the star colour is retained.
  •  Many a times you have gaps in trails, that’s because you did not programme the intervalometer properly, and the gap in between exposures was long or you shot the exposures manually.
  •  You need to setup your camera where no interference from vehicle lights, avoid other observers who will be shining lights in the periphery of your field of view during your entire sequence.
  •  You should plan for minimum 2 hours of continuous shooting, minimum. Towards that end you need to have sufficient storage space, empty your card before starting, also the battery needs to last for the full time you have planned. While you are testing – focusing, framing etc. use one battery, but just before you start the sequence you should change to a fully charged battery.

Shooting star trails from the city:

Normally an astrophotographer would not think of shooting star trails inside a city claiming it to be too bright and that stars not visible, but it is very much possible. Here you can see two examples of star trail shot from middle of New Delhi & Lucknow.

Shooting star trails from the city would certainly be a challenging situation. Although you will never be able to photograph the number of stars you catch from dark location, nevertheless shooting star trails would be nice from the confines of a bright city. Keep the following points in mind while shooting star trails from the city:

  •  You need to keep exposures really short, the histogram is your guide to correct exposure. As soon as the histogram separates from the left side, that is your correct exposure. Single exposure could be as short as 5 seconds. Do take care that the histogram does not touch the right side at all, i.e. there are no bright saturated spots.
  •  Since you are shooting short exposures you will need to shoot many more images, you should have enough spare storage space in your card. If your exposure is 5 seconds, then you will gather 720 exposures in one hour!
  •  Focusing is very important for shooting star trails in the city. If the focus is slightly off even by a millimetre, light from fainter stars will spread out, and consequently these fainter stars will get lost in the bright city background.
  •  You need to keep a lookout for clear transparent nights in your city. The best seasons are in the monsoons, when clear nights come un-announced. You should be ready with a fully charged battery! Winter months are also likely to be clear and transparent.
  •  Plan to shoot late at night when the city has switched off most of its lights.
  •  Look out for bright constellations. Winter Hexagon is a large part of the sky which contains really bright stars like Sirius, Betelgeuse, Rigel, Castor… Plan to shoot when the winter hexagon is rising or setting on the horizon. Other areas of bright stars in the sky are Sagittarius, Scorpius, Cassiopeia etc.
  •  Keep a lookout for planets and their conjunctions. Like the conjunction of bright Venus and Jupiter. Trails of planets are easy to shoot from the city.

 

For more info, you can join the Star Trails Photography Workshop

Ajay Talwar is one of the most prolific transient sky events photographers in India. Ajay travels with all his astrophotography gear to all across India, especially the Himalayas, places like high altitude Indian Astronomical Observatory at Hanle, Ladakh, high peaks in Himachal Pradesh. His interest in dark skies also takes him to the white desert in northwestern India. Ajay Talwar regularly holds astrophotography workshops, including practical programs in the Himalayas where participants are provided the necessary equipment to photograph the sky. Through his TWAN contribution, Ajay hopes to photograph many of India’s heritage under the starry sky. 
filmmaking
Workshops,

DSLR Filmmaking Workshop by Harshit Walia

Delhi is fast becoming a filmmaker’s hub. A large number of visual artists, interested in filmmaking and photography are emerging from the capital city and we could not be more enthused. Since the world is going digital, especially technology related to photography and filmmaking is becoming more compact. We are moving towards an ecosystem where heavy equipment is becoming redundant and compact equipment like the DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are taking the center-stage. To this end, Chiiz, with filmmaker and academician Harshit Walia, organized a DSLR Filmmaking Workshop in Delhi.

Introduction to DSLR Filmmaking

The mentor introduced the participants to the art of filmmaking. This was done through a screening of a few short films, one of which was made by the mentor himself. This was followed by a presentation of what filmmaking constitutes and the elements of filmmaking.

 

filmmaking

Participants in the workshop

Ideation and Scriptwriting

Ideation stage marks the birth of a film. The central idea of a film is its driving force. The central idea, supported by sub-ideas, is what drives a good film forward. As the idea is finalized, scripting starts. The art of translating an idea into a script is one that needs mastering. Harshit Walia lent some tricks to the participants to do just that.

filmmaking

Session in full swing

Handling the DSLR

The DSLR is a compact tool that allows us to capture still images and is also a great utility tool in filmmaking. In the DSLR filmmaking workshop, the mentor taught the participants to handle a DSLR efficiently. Good know-how of handling your DSLR is imperative while making a film.

filmmaking

Handling the DSLR

Composition and Camera Movements in Filmmaking

Needless to say, composition and camera movements are the grammar of good visual communication in filmmaking. Harshit Walia taught the camera movements and camera angles efficiently at the DSLR Filmmaking workshop. He also highlighted the convenience of the DSLR in this segment. It is comparatively easier to maneuver the DSLR for different camera movements rather than the heavy filmmaking equipment.

Light

Light is the most important element in both filmmaking and photography. It has the ability to both enhance and destroy your footage. The participants learned the importance of lighting and the various techniques pertaining to lighting in filmmaking.

filmmaking

Lights, Camera, Action

 Post-Processing and Editing

The sequencing of shots and stitching them into a moving story is a meticulous craft. Editing a film requires a huge amount of skill teamed with a lot of practice. Harshit touched on the basics of editing on Adobe Premiere Pro for the participants.

filmmaking

Learning Post-Processing and Editing

Filmmaking and Review Session

The participants were divided into groups and made short films on the spot. The mentor had the films screened and reviewed them with extensive feedback. A hands-on approach to filmmaking was an important tool in putting the theory of the workshop into practice.

Filmmaking

Participants working on their short films

You can register in more of these workshops here.

fashion, Make up Artist, Studio Lighting, Workshops,

Lumix Fashion Photography Workshop by Abhishek Singh

The morning of April 14, 2019 saw a large turnout of photographers at NewDelhi. The reason for this turnout was none other than Travel & Lifestyle photographer and Panasonic Lumix Luminary and Ambassador, Abhishek Singh. This Fashion Photography Workshop was conducted by Abhishek Singh in collaboration with Chiiz and Panasonic Lumix.

Why Fashion Photography?

With the increasing craze for fashion, brands and businesses are in need of good fashion photographers. Now, these photographers should not just be good photographers but should also be able to come up with creative ideas that sell. The aim of this workshop was not only to train photographers for a fashion shoot but also to think creatively. The end goal was to teach photographers to pitch those ideas and make photography a lucrative profession along with a creative one.

The Fashion Photography Shoot

The Fashion Photography Shoot

Importance of Lighting

Lighting in Fashion Photography is one of the defining factors of a good photograph. The participants were taught the different lighting practices for different effects. Flat, soft, rim, butterfly, loop, etc were all taught and practiced in the fashion photography workshop. The use of strobes and reflectors were also told to the photographers at the workshop.

Lighting in Fashion Photography

Lighting equipment by Elinchrom

Presentation by the Mentor

Abhishek Singh is as good a mentor as he is a photographer. He not only teaches the nuances of photography but also motivates us think of creative ideas that sell. Many photographers find it difficult to do well . He inspires you to do better and make a successful career out of photography. His presentation on fashion photography and a special screening of his latest fashion shoot with Panasonic Lumix  in Ladakh was all the inspiration the photographers needed.

Fahion Photography Shoot

Abhishek Singh screening his Lumix Fahion Photography Shoot in Ladakh

Model-MUA Conversation

The Fashion Photography Workshop

Talk on how to brief models and makeup artists

In a Fashion Photography Shoot, it is very important for a photographer to communicate well with the model and the Makeup Artist. If you can communicate your idea to them, half your work is finished. We had Makeup Artist Manisha Sharma and Model, Shubhda Malhotra talk to the photographers as to how to brief the models and makeup artists.

Fashion Shoot

After the talk and tutorials, it was now time to put theories into practice. The participants all photographed the model under the mentor’s guidance . They had a hands on experience with the lights, instructing the model, etc. It was a fun practice that everyone enjoyed the most.

One-on-One Session with the Mentor

This is the most important part of any workshop. While group lectures are informative, true knowledge is achieved only when all the doubts are resolved. One-on-one sessions with the mentor helps to clear any doubts which a photographer may have. It might even lead to a much enlightening discourse which happened in this workshop.

Abhishek SIngh on a one-on-one session with a participant at the workshop.

“LEARNING IS NOT ATTAINED BY CHANCE, IT MUST BE SOUGHT FOR WITH ARDOR AND ATTENDED TO WITH DILIGENCE.” ―ABIGAIL ADAMS

Following the words of Abigail Adams, we at Chiiz, are always working to provide the best to the photographer’s community. We have a range of photography workshops and photography tours lined up for the learning of both amateur and professional photographers. Click here to register!

 

 

 

 

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