Wow… its food photography…!

soup

Food a most essential thing for all is something we see and taste on every day basis. We also see a lot of food pictures in advertisements, menu cards, websites, indoor displays etc.  But how many of us have really visualized as how the food is shot for commercial purposes?  Well, what is so special about shooting food as a table top set-up? It’s about showing food appetising and fresh in the photo.

orange-juice

Is that simple? It is not that simple as we think. We need to understand every single food with respect to its colour, texture, form, shape and arrange them aesthetically beautiful so that it catches the eyes. Well, can we shoot the food that is served to eat? Many times the answer is ‘No’. You cannot shoot the food that you eat and cannot eat the food that you shoot.

salad

Interestingly, many food set-ups contain uncooked or half cooked food or ingredients and dummies to make them look fresh and retain the colour, texture, form and shape. Most of food contents degenerate or undergo a lot amount of physical and chemical changes when cooked.

beverage

We all know that food has a strong cultural value and background. The presentation of food in front of the camera needs to carry the cultural feel. Well, you need to use the appropriate table top, background and the plates, cutlery, accomplishments, properties, garnishing, and arrangements to match the cultural value or background of the food. For example, while shooting a Chinese dish, we can include a pair of chopsticks…!

melon-balls

Choose to work with a competent food stylist and culinary artist. This will add a lot of value for food photography. In the recent Food Photography workshop conducted by me, I had got a perfect assistance from the Chef Uma Sankar, an Olympics bronze medallist in culinary art, assisted by Bindhu Hepzibah an artist. Uma Sankar’s contribution as a chef and culinary artist went a long way in making the food fresh and appetizing.

pasta

A professional high resolution digital camera with optically perfect lenses and studio lights could make the food photography complete. Choose to shoot food in the studio for a better control or create a setup near the kitchen of the restaurant. A lot of training on lighting and composition is required to get the shot right. Use of multiple, small, pointed light sources apart form an overall lighting from a soft box is needed to get the highlights in the desired portion of the food.

milk-and-cookies

Love food.., in the sense of feel and visual aspects. This is a most important eligibility to become a food photographer.

Proud to be a Professional Photographer…

 

vietnam-nick-ut-40th-anniversary

Vietnam-war-napalm-girl-photo by Nick Ut

19th August – the World Photography Day…!

“Remembering the awesome contributions of many individuals, groups and companies towards development of the art, science and technology of photography…..

Bowing down my head to all great masters of photography who taught us thorough their great masterpieces and changed the faith and beliefs of the world……

Respecting all the great mentors whom I know directly and indirectly for imparting the knowledge and the power of photography in me….

Accepting my ignorance for unknown and feeling proud about the little known facts of photography….

Taking an oath to spread the message of photography to the society of enthusiastic young photographers…..

Believing in observation, imagination, creativity, confidence, hard work, patience, sharing, caring and learning which are more important than supporting gadgets and technology.

Accepting that I am insignificant and surrender to the great art, photography which is larger than the universe…..

Living and dreaming only photography…..

This is what it means for me on this ‘World Photography Day’ ”

– KL.Raja Ponsing

image courtesy: http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/04/vietnam-war-napalm-girl-photo-today

Just in about half an hour…!

Many times when we go out for travel photography and try shooting heritages, temples, landmarks, we may not get a shot as required/visualized. This is mostly because the light is not perfect or we reach the place at the wrong time of the day. But sometimes to our surprise the light is not only fantastic but also changes fast to get a lot of variation in the shots.

One such magic happened to me recently on my trip with my students of Ambitions4 Photography Academy to the UNESCO world heritage site, famous tourist spot – Shore temple, Mamallapuram about 50km from Chennai (a most popular place for all kinds of photographers). It was on a sunny day after gentle rains in the previous day; the sky was clearly blue contrasting with buddle of beautiful bright clouds. The crispy bright and fresh Sunlight on the ancient shore temple (a marvel of temple architecture built by Narashimavarman of the great Pallava Dynasty in 8th century AD) made it look terrific.

Most other earlier times I visited this place was truly disappointing. I just come with few record shots only. But this time, I was excited like a child… took my DSLR with a circular polarizer on my lens and shot about 50 images in less than half an hour from different angles and compositions. I got my shots for the day even before 7.30 in the morning…!

May be this is what people say “You have to be on the right place at the right time to get most of your shots right in photography”!

Portraits using extra wide-angle lenses…!

It was an exiting conceptual photo shoot. I was demonstrating our BTEC learners few ideas to show the slap shot / stand up entertainers of ‘EVAM’ funny in the photos. The whole day entertaining, I tried using few unusual lenses normally used for location shoot, for this session to shoot people.

My student, Sameer Singh who is also a stage performer, developed the concept of the shoot. I decided to introduce a lot of intentional distortions to show the expressions funny. As a break through idea, I decided to use 16mm and 20mm lenses for this concept. Though some of the images are really scary, it established the concept of promoting entertaining comedians.  The extended depth of field and lens distortions are the highlights of the concept.

The performing artists, Arvind, Bargav and Alex delivered a lot of actions to establish visual impact through funny body and face expressions. The lighting tried was also very unusual (some times hard bottom lights) to match the theme and purpose. I tried including a ‘microphone’ in most of the shots to justify that the people involved in the pictures are connected to stage performances.

The Diploma in Photography learners of Ambitions 4 Photography Academy understood that it is not always necessary to use soft lights, long tele-zoom lenses and maintain shallow depth of field to shoot portraits. It was a real-time learning for the budding professional photographers.

My 136th photography workshop to remember…!

honoring the mentor

Receiving a momento from the members of the Thirupur District Video &Photographers Association

It was an enchanting experience to share some of my views about ‘Candid wedding photography, (an artificially stimulated business trend in current wedding photography market) with professional wedding photographers of Tirupur District Video and Photographers Association. I had shown more than 250 artistic wedding images to explain about candid shots.

interactive session

Interactive session

Thirupur photography workshop

All about contemporary wedding photography

The event had lots of highlights as,

  1. How to see and visualize a candid shot?
  2. How to make the candid shots meaning full & story telling?
  3. How to use the professional studio flashes in the wedding events?
  4. How to use the professional portable camera mounted flashes?
  5. How to use the available lights and video lights as sources?
  6. How to mix the above lights in a wedding/event scenario?
  7. How to use Elinchrom Ranger flashes for outdoor couple portraits?
  8. How to use monopods in wedding shoots for lowlight photography/top angle/low angle photography?
  9. How to control depth of field effectively to tell stories through photos?
  10. How to use fast prime lenses like, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.2 and zoom lenses 16-35mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses for shooting candid shots?
  11. How to motivate the couple in a pre/post wedding shots?
  12. More than 90 fully charged photographers participated the event with core interest in my delivery
  13. The event was so lively and entertaining for me and the participants
couple portrait demo

Outdoor couple portrait demo

couple portrait demo shot

At the end of the Workshop participants understood that,

  1. Candid photography is not just about shooting close-ups with a long lens
  2. There is no specific equipment for candid shots, for candid shots can be done with all lenses and cameras
  3. Candid photography by it self is not a ‘separate branch’ of wedding photography but a ‘style of working’, which is also practiced in all other branches of photography
practice session (2)

Indoor couple portraits demo session

a few pictures shot during the demo practical session…

The learning out comes of the workshop are,

  1. The participated photographers developed better confidence in shooting candid shots in weddings
  2. They came out of the myth that only certain camera models and lenses can give candid pictures
  3. They are convinced that there is no need for separate candid photographers in a wedding, because all the wedding shots need to be approached in the candid style.
  4. They also realized that they won’t be able to make a complete wedding photo book just with candid and couple shots alone.
certificate distribution

Awarding Certificates to the participants

Thirupur workshop by KL Raja

Mr. KL Raja Ponsing – photography mentor, founder and director of Ambitions 4 Photography Academy with the members of the Thirupur District Video &Photographers Association during the two days Candid Wedding Photography workshop @ Thirupur on 1st July 2015

The camel connections…

Though it was a real challenge to shoot the camel fair field without getting fellow photographers in the frame, I managed to do a bit of photography showing the connection between the camels and men in particular. I could hardly spot women in this area where camels are traded. There were a lot of women in the Pushkar town making rotis on the street side food joints. They make authenticated local meal for all the tourists during this season. I did enjoy some good native food.

The connection between the camels and the men in the field was a visual treat and very much emotional.  I could see them cooking their meal, milking the camel, grooming, speaking and some times shouting at their favorite camels also. Some of them even make a signature designs on the camels. Their expressions on the mobile phone, smoking cigars/tobacco, checking the camels before buying, feeding and watering them and ofcourse waiting for a prospective buyer, negotiations, transactions are something a photographer cannot offered to miss to shoot.

Most of these men are in their native attire, but few of the younger generations are in pants and even in jeans and other fashion costumes. May be down the line after few years from now we could hardly get to see them in their native attire. I have carefully avoided the men in pants and jeans just to give the feel of nativity in my photos.

Pushkar and photographers….

Camels and photographers

The photographers (people with cameras) outnumber the camels…is not an exaggerated statement. Wherever I point my camera, there will be some photographers in my frame. It is almost impossible to get a shot without a person with a camera in it.

Photographers on the mound

Pushker this year had a lot of such visitors.  Many of them are beginners, hobbyists and random shooters. They are from some photography clubs; groups, institutes, colleges and of course there are many from abroad. Many of them are with not less than a Canon 5D MkIIIs & ‘L’ lenses or with Nikon D800s and professional lenses. Some of the camera manufacturers even bring a bunch of people with their cameras, bright logo printed jackets like in a road show.

tourist

I interacted with some of them and even saw few of their shots. Most of them are pretty much vague even in identifying a subject for photography. When one identifies a subject (it may be camels or people), you can find atleast fifteen others shoot from the back of that one person (sometimes in front of the person also to block his point of view..!). Surprisingly Pushar is a ‘drive-in-studio’ where the subjects, [particularly people] not only comes in front but also remain in front of the person with the camera posing for long till the person tries a technically good shot…!

street-photographers

painted human gods

Most of these subjects – women, kids or the owners of camels or shops demand a lot of money from camerapersons. They don’t let them leave without paying after shooting. Sometimes the camera groups pay a lump sum and enjoy clicking few random shots. There were groups of camerapersons, setting up shots with the men and women dressed and made up in the native costumes for a shot.

child-god

dad and daughter

I just heard a local boy asking these camerapersons as what they do with these pictures? Most of them do not have an answer…!

End of the day, its more of fun and time pass.

Camels are beautiful and graceful…!

I heard people saying camels are ugly animals. But when I went around the camel fair in Pushkar, I find them as elegant as other animals. When I Iooked through my camera, I find the graceful body language in its every movement. The way it turns around the neck and head, the way it sits on the ground, the way it stretches on the ground, the way it walks, the way it runs, the way it drinks water, the way it shares the love and affection, the way it responds for its calf, the way it closes the nostrils against the sand storm, the way it greets the owner/boss, the way it obeys the command…. Everything has a beauty in it.

I just had an opportunity to be with these lovely animals for about eight hours in total to capture various gestures of them. Like other animals camels are also very unique and beautiful. More than all they are photographer friendly….!

Elephant’s perspective

elephant ride

The Elephant is always an animal I wonder and observe. I used to dream about riding on an elephant’s back from my child hood. The day came when I went with our bunch of BTEC level 5 students for a photography tour to Wayanad, Kerala. Though I love to be on the elephant’s back, there was an inner fear mixed with excitement when my students insisted me to go for a ride.

With my professional DSLR on my shoulders, I sat on the huge animal with the pride of a King. The point of view from the top was something I saw for the first time in my life. As the elephant moved in action, the jerk on all sides reminded me to be careful. The idea to take few shots from the top of the elephant became secondary. I could feel the huge shoulder bones of the animal moving below my thighs. Before I could realize what is happening, the elephant swiftly negotiated into several narrow paths surrounded by giant trees. I could see the tall trees below my eye level and in the foreground I see the head with a couple of contours and stiff, spiny hair. I attempted few shots carefully holding the camera in one hand (thanks to the auto focus technology and automatic exposure…. And many other automatic feature of my DSLR). It was all a lot of fun throughout the short journey filled with thrill and excitement. I became a child for a while. This life time experience is something one shouldn’t miss.

At the same time, when I stepped down from the elephant, I had a small feeling of guilt as if I had exploited the animal. Of course we fed the elephant with few bunch of bananas and left the place with a mixed feeling.

Click for the Album of BTEC batch 2013