Monthly Archives: October 2012

Telling Stories

copyright Shivani Shah

Photographs are great for capturing a variety of things, and by putting the right photographs together you can sometimes tell a story. Take, for example, the collage above from Sri Lanka. I’ve kept my friends out of it, but it encapsulates our trip entirely –  a lot of time spent on the beach, and a lot of shots.

copyright Shivani Shah

You can also use a collage, diptych, or triptych to create a series of photos around a theme. The triptych above is of prominent landmarks in Hong Kong – (from left to right) Man Mo Temple in Sheung Wan, Murray House in Stanley, and the Bank of China Tower and Cheung Kong Center in Central. By putting them together, I’ve shown three different styles of architecture, and been able to show the diversity of Hong Kong, in the same frame.

If you could create a collage to tell a story, what event in your life would you pick to showcase?


David Alan Harvey for Galería 64

When you’re starting out as a photographer, it’s very important to study the works of the masters. Whether it’s Henri Cartier-Bresson or Diane Arbus, there’s something to be learned from everybody.

With the modern marvels that are video and the internet, it has become possible to go one step closer – you can now watch and listen to these great photographers themselves. Galería 64 in Santiago, Chile, has made this fantastic video of a short interview with Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey, who talks about his life, photography (of course), and technology.

If you have 10 minutes to spare, do yourself a favour and watch the video. If you don’t, make 10 minutes and watch the video.

Straight Out Of Camera

copyright Shivani Shah

Processing your digital photographs is the norm these days. What software you use is irrelevant; it’s safe to say that every photograph is processed to some degree. They could be minor adjustments – contrast, saturation, brightness, small crops etc. – or they could be more drastic and involve manipulating the photograph. But every once in a while, you take a photograph that you think needs no editing whatsoever – the photograph looks good straight out of camera.

The SOOC photographs are rare (for me, at least). The only one from my collection that comes to mind straight away is the photograph above at Pottinger Street in Hong Kong. I couldn’t tell you how I took it, because I don’t remember. We had spent the evening looking for Halloween costumes and were tired from the flight and walking about so much. At some point I think I stopped even thinking about what I was shooting – as long as the exposure reading through the viewfinder looked alright and the crop wasn’t too badly off, I was happy to take the photograph.

When I started processing the photos from my vacation, I made some adjustments to this one too. But I realised that I was undoing every single adjustment and going back to the photo SOOC. So I decided to just leave it this way. And I’m happy to say that I love it.

Black And White And Shades Of Grey, Vol. 2

copyright Shivani Shah

In July 2011, a new monthly concert series called Live From The Console began at Mumbai’s Mehboob Studios. I attended a few of the shows, camera in hand, and thus began my first concert-shooting experience.

copyright Shivani Shah

One of the first things I learned at these concerts was that, with all the coloured lights on stage, focusing was very difficult. To counter this, I switched to the monochrome setting on my camera and started shooting in black and white. As I shot more concerts, I realised I liked how the photos turned out far better in black and white than in colour.

copyright Shivani Shah

I love the play of shadows in black and white concert photographs. Funnily enough, despite shows being dimly lit there are lights all over the stage that are constantly moving, which can be frustrating at times but can also result in some great photos.

I’d love to do an entire series of black and white concert photos. Hopefully, over time, I’ll be able to add some big names to the list.

Wedding Fever

copyright Shivani Shah

Wedding season is nearly upon us in Mumbai, and almost everyone probably has at least one (I’m being overly cautious here) wedding to attend. I take my camera to almost every wedding I attend as a guest and document as much as I can. While I lean toward taking candid photographs of the couple, their families, and the guests, I also make it a point to look around and take photographs of the details. Let’s face it, Indian weddings are elaborate. Right from the outfits and jewellery to the flowers and decor, there are no little details.

copyright Shivani Shah

Someone has obviously gone through a lot of trouble to make sure that the venue looks just perfect and nothing is out of place. Wouldn’t it be nice to capture the effort that goes into making the wedding look beautiful?

Five Reasons Why You Need A 50mm Lens from DigitalRev TV

When I started learning photography, I used the standard 18 to 55 mm kit lens for a year and a half. It was a good lens for a beginner, but when I upgraded my camera I purchased the new one with a 50mm f/1.8 lens instead. In hindsight, it was most certainly a good decision.

The nifty fifty is my go-to lens for most occasions. I do use a zoom for when I specifically need a wide angle lens and the ease of using varying focal lengths (like when I’m shooting interiors), but using the 50mm has really changed how I take photographs. The biggest challenge with a fixed lens is that it really makes you think about your framing and composition, while the biggest advantage is the wide aperture that lets you shoot in low light and get some great bokeh.

In this video, Kai from DigitalRev TV gives five reasons why you need a 50mm lens in your camera bag. The one I most identify with is, as aforementioned, that it forces you to pay attention to what you’re shooting instead of shooting without giving it a second thought. “With a prime like the 50 you’re spending a lot of time thinking about what’s in the frame,” says Kai. “You pick things that look right in that 3×2 box . Zooming makes it all to easy to just point and shoot without making sure the bits in the frame look right.”

I’ve used the 50mm to shoot two weddings, an engagement, a vacation, a baby shower, an art gallery preview, a dance class, and a concert series, in addition to general shots when I’m out and about. I’m not saying I will forever use only the 50mm and no other prime lens (I currently covet the 24mm f/2.8 that I can’t seem to locate anywhere in Mumbai). I’m saying that when you’re building your collection of lenses, the 50mm is one that you absolutely must have.

Swimming Pools Make Me Happy

copyright Shivani Shah

I was just a kid when I first learned how to swim, and I’ve always loved it. Now don’t be mistaken – I’m not very good at it. I’m a SLOW swimmer. So slow that sometimes old people can overtake me. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that I still love to be in the water. Whether it’s doing laps and getting an actual workout or just floating on my back and gazing at the clouds, it’s probably my favourite way to spend the summer.

The scorching October heat in Mumbai is just summer v2.0 and the perfect excuse to spend all day by the pool. You know where to find me!