Expert view: Travelling photography

While travelling do you often halt and take pictures of something that you find interesting? Buxsa.com  spoke to fashion and travel photographer Pranav Sharma, who started his career by assisting European fashion photographer Martin Machaj. Pranav, whose work has been featured in Zinc, Glamor, Vogue-Italy and Esquire among others, shares his tips on how you can shoot stunning travel pictures. Read on to find more!

“Usually, I use a point and shoot prosumer camera and my Nikon SLR lenses with D3X body. My usual assignment gear includes Nikon D3X 24.5MP FX CMOS Digital SLR, Canon Powershot G15 and Dynalite MK16-1222V Roadmax series,” said Pranav.

Pranav Sharma Photography

Prague, Czech Republic – Pranav Sharma Photography

Camera phones are not to be relied upon because, while they are good for “capture a moment” kind of shots, they don’t give high quality shots. “The biggest myth in the industry is that mega pixels make better images. Mega pixels don’t define quality of the image produced–they just tell you how big the image file is. Smart thinking would be not to fall for mega pixel myth but just check the size of the camera sensor in the phone,” he pointed out.

One advantage of using Digital SLR cameras is that you can choose lenses–Pranav’s favourites are the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II and the Nikon AF-S Zoom Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF. “These two lenses and the Canon G15 are usually all that I require.”

Once your equipment is in order, you should focus on the place. “Each place is unique and has its own character. Lakes, mountains, flowers–photographs of all these can trigger our memories and communicate how we felt about the moment to others.” The pitfall to avoid is being stuck into a rut with all the technology and jargon. “With digital cameras people tend to be lax with composition,” said Pranav, who pointed out that many people with digital cameras just take a 100 pictures and then pick the best one at their convenience and edit them later. “To me this defeats the whole purpose of discovering the place. You are spending more time wondering about camera settings and composition instead of enjoying the place.”

Palais Garnier Opera House Paris - Pranav Sharma Photography

Palais Garnier Opera House Paris – Pranav Sharma Photography

The other issue is lighting. Pranav said that he prefers to shoot in the evening or night or between 6 am to 10 am and avoid shooting at noon unless it is cloudy. If you are travelling, it is usually good to use a weather app to find out conditions before you travel. “Each one has his own style and it’s important to control the composition based on light conditions. Knowing how to adapt to given conditions differentiates artists from amateurs.”
To view a range of options, click here.


Flash: I have SB900 camera flash and Dynalite Roadmax gear, but for travel related work, flashes pose a distance limit.

Tripod: I use a Mefoto travel tripod kit. It is very light (less than 1.36 kg) and sturdy.

Storage: Travel with a portable hard drive and keep backups weekly if not daily. Use several smaller memory cards instead of one big card–for example, if you have two 8 GB cards instead of one 16 GB card, you have some safety from data errors.

Format: I always shoot RAW format. You never know when some client sees an image and requests it for publishing only to realize that JPEG wouldn’t fit the print profile.

Getting Started With A Guitar

Insofar as candid confessions go, you can’t get better than Barefaced Liars’ Sumant Balakrishnan’s take on why he chose a guitar though he was initially keen on drums—“My parents’ tolerance would have had to be much higher because drums have no volume knobs!”

A lawyer by training, Sumant grew up in a really good era for rock music (the 90’s), “All my favourite musicians were invariably guitar players or singers,” which probably explains why he also handles the vocals for the band.

Sumant Balakrishnan

Sumant Balakrishnan: Singer, Song-writer, Lead guitarist for Barefaced Liar (BFL)

Experts often ask you to go for the best equipment you can get, but Sumant’s idea on buying a guitar comes as a surprise: “The most important thing for me to consider is comfort and functionality. It is important to view your first guitar as a sort of stepping stone into the world of music, and not a permanent investment.”

Beyond the investment comes the practice and Sumant said that a budding musician should concentrate on practicing solo as well as with his band. Explaining, he said, “A budding musician has to reach a certain proficiency at his instrument before he decides to venture out into the world of live music. Playing with other people enables a quick exchange of ideas and techniques between musicians.”

Most new hobbies can be a pain in the neck, but a guitar can be a pain in the fingers as well. Recalling his early days, Sumant said, “When I was 16 and started learning the guitar, the pain that I felt in my fingers was outmatched by my eagerness to learn my favourite songs. The pain you get will only go away once calluses have formed on your finger tips, and there is no way to get those but to keep playing. Since this pain is unavoidable, try and ignore it, power through it, and definitely never let it get the better of you.”

Click here to browse through a wide range of guitars and other musical instruments from Buxsa.com.

Sumant’s tips:

What brand?

  • Fender or Gibson: If you want an entry-level product from a big name
  • ESP, Schecter or Cort: If you want a high quality product at a much more reasonable price. *Sumant’s Pick*
Barefaced Liar

Barefaced Liar is a Delhi based band which was formed in 2002.The band has a distinct blues rock driven guitar style that has developed over the years,influenced by the musical tastes of its members.

In Five Easy Steps

You can’t do everything at once. Sumant’s tips:

  1. Beginners should get the cheapest, most comfortable acoustic guitar they can afford and work their way up from there
  2. First, concentrate on training your fingers to navigate the fret-board
  3. Once you know your way around the fret-board, buy an entry-level electric guitar with a small amp
  4. Want to increase your speed on the fret-board? Buy a metronome. This will also help you when you’re playing with more experienced musicians
  5. FX pedals are important if your music requires a large array of sounds. To begin with, use digital effects processors or amps with included digital effects

Using binoculars effectively for bird watching

If at first you don’t succeed, sky diving is not for you–and if you believe that bird watching is strictly for the birds, then binoculars aren’t for you either!

True, bird watching is getting harder as our parks disappear, but it has its joys. It puts you closer to the wilderness, something we city dwelling office goers sorely miss. It also teaches you patience and observation, which can improve your work in the office too (we hope that your boss is reading this and agrees to use office money to fund a trip for you to the Western Ghats so that you can observe a lot of birds!)

Many people believe that you just need to press a pair of binoculars to your eyes to spot birds, but this is far from the truth. While the equipment you use plays a role, your ability to use it effectively matters too. Prashanth Hebbar , an avid bird watcher who has been practicing his passion for several decades, says that the way you use your binoculars can make all the difference.

It is ideal if you can afford binoculars that use prisms rather than lenses. A bigger lens lets in more light, but is heavier. On the other hand, if you’re off trekking long distances, you might want something more compact. A pair of binoculars with a field vision of 10/50 is ideal–such a pair can zoom in on objects 10 metres away by 50 times, which is cool for bird watching. As with everything in life, what’s right for you depends on what you want! To view a range of options, click here.

You have a choice between a wide FOV (field of vision) or a narrow FOV. You can alter this by moving the two halves of the binocular closer together to get a narrow FOV or further apart to increase the FOV. While different bird watchers have their own preferences, Prashanth said that he prefers a narrow FOV. “That way, you see only the bird,” he said.

Talking about mistakes made by beginners, Prashanth said that many people use the binoculars to locate birds, which is wrong. You should first spot the bird, identify the area where the bird is present, and only then–without changing your position–bring the binocular to your eye. “The binocular is used to magnify objects that you have already spotted. It is not an instrument for spotting objects.”

Once you have learnt how to use your binoculars, you also need to learn how to protect them. The biggest danger is moisture–if it settles on the prism, your investment is gone because fungus can grow on it. You can use some anti-moisture gels for protection against moisture.

Many binoculars come with lens caps. Always use them when you are not using the binoculars. Use a cloth, preferably a woolen one, to wipe the body. Special care has to be used while cleaning lenses. Never wipe them just like that–dust on a lens can scratch the glass and render it ineffective. It is better to use a blower to remove dust.

Sounds complicated? Well, think of how birds build their elaborate nests with no hands. We have hands, but we can’t build anything even remotely similar to such nests. The least we can do is get binoculars and observe those birds hard work!