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.”
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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.

Scratch. Mix. Burn.

You may have watched the DJs on the dance floor enthuse even those with two left feet to dance. Maybe you have even tried to imitate a DJ in your bedroom. But have you ever thought about becoming a DJ, if not professionally, at least for a group of friends having a party at home or in the office?

To get you the low-down on how you can become a DJ, Buxsa.com spoke to DJ Ivan, who has been a DJ of repute since the early 90s. Ivan became a DJ because he grew up with music around him all the time. “I grew up in a place where the record player was on from morning to evening,” he recalled. This, he said, is also the case with his two children, aged 12 and 10.

Even if you haven’t grown up with music, you can become what is called a “bedroom DJ”–somebody who DJs for friends. Contrasting the skills required for a bedroom DJ with a professional DJ, Ivan said that while professional DJs don’t think too much about crowd profiles, a bedroom DJ does. “Ten people at a party will want ten different songs, so they just have to queue it–no mixing is involved,” he said.

DJ Ivan

DJ Ivan is one of India’s foremost DJs, having played in the world’s top party cities and alongside the best DJ’s. Armed with a passion for music and individuality, DJ Ivan plunged into India’s then nascent party music scene nearly 2 decades ago and pioneered a musical revolution in the clubs of Bangalore.

In effect, such a person, though playing to a live audience like a club DJ, is closer to a radio jockey or a video jockey–he merely introduces the songs, he doesn’t mix them. A club DJ, on the other hand, will have to learn how to mix songs seamlessly so that there is harmony on the dance floor. Some of the popular DJ equipments and mixers like Behringer and Numark are now available in India. Browse now.

Just as every journalist wants to become an author, every bedroom DJ may want to become a professional DJ, and today, you have software helping you. “When I started 22 years ago, a DJ had to do it manually. Now, you have software,” said Ivan. He said that there are two top software products for DJs, called Traktor and Serato, which work on PCs and the Mac. “I personally use Traktor. Beginners can experiment with Virtual DJ, which is free,” he said.

How easy does DJing get with the help of software? “Just press the sync button and the beats will match,” said Ivan. The downside? “Since everybody can do it, you have to ask yourself how you can create an experience that is unique. That will separate the skilful from the non skilful guys.”

And here, according to Ivan, passion plays a crucial role. “You have to know and love your music. The crowd is interested in knowing this–is the DJ loving what he is playing?” Ivan said that you must know the whole background of the track you are presenting. “If your passion doesn’t come across, it is not good,” he concluded.

5 tips for buying a telescope

Philosophers tell us that you can find heaven on earth–and even if you don’t believe this, you can still gaze at the heavens from your own balcony if you have a good telescope.

Why should you look at astronomy as a hobby? For one thing, in this IT-enabled software-driven always-connected era, it provides a moment of solitude for you to do your own thing. It also teaches you about the might of the universe, unfolding mystery after mystery among those neutron stars, magnetars, pulsars and black holes. And finally, while a star-lit night is beautiful, it pales in comparison to the majesty of the Universe – none of which is visible to the naked eye.

But to achieve any of the above, you need a good telescope. Here are some pointers on choosing the right one:

  1. Software: We know that two paragraphs ago we criticised software, but hey, we didn’t say that you shouldn’t use software to be disconnected, did we? Gone are the days when you just peered at the sky. Today, plenty of free and paid software products are available and they can make your hobby more scientific and significantly improve your experience. So head to the app store of your choice and download the right software for your iPhone or Android.
  2. Selection: What do you want to see? If all you want to do is watch the rings of Saturn, maybe you are better off buying binoculars. If, however, you want to see far-off constellations, you may want to buy something a lot more complicated.
  3. Tech stuff: In a beginners’ guide, we don’t want to get technical, so we will make this point as simply as possible–you can buy reflector telescopes which use mirrors, or refractor telescopes that use lenses. Both have their advantages and disadvantages–while refractor telescopes produce a rainbow effect, reflector telescopes lose light and need mirrors to be realigned once in a while. You should also think about the aperture, which is the size of the mirror or the lens- and in this case, the bigger the better.
  4. Budget: how much are you willing to spend? If you can spend thousands of dollars and are really passionate, you can buy advanced telescopes that have a database of over a lakh celestial objects and a remote control. These telescopes can actually speak to you and explain what you are seeing–about as thrilling as it gets. If your budget is limited, don’t worry–you may have to use a normal telescope and some software to decipher the night sky, but you will learn more in the process.
  5. Portability: This is an odd thing to contemplate, but cities suffer from light pollution from the presence of too many street lights. That’s why you may find fewer stars in cities as compared to villages. If you travel a lot, you could buy a telescope that can be easily transported so that you can carry it around and see how the night sky varies in different parts of the country or the world.

Starting a new hobby is always daunting because you don’t know how long you will be passionate about it. It is always better to take baby steps–buy a simple telescope, explore a bit of the universe, and then upgrade your equipment if you still love the hobby one year later. Watching the sky may not, at first brush, seem as thrilling as sky diving, but it is enthralling when you know that the light you see from the telescope probably left the stars when dinosaurs still roamed the earth.