Expert view: Travelling photography

While travelling do you often halt and take pictures of something that you find interesting?  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

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

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.

6 tips to take better photographs in poor light

Normal is boring – true in life, but even more so in photography. If you have a studio where models pose for you, you can shoot with any type of light you need. However, if you have to take photos in poor light conditions, you’ll need a few tricks.

The standard way is to use a flash, but a flash is distracting and you may not want to use such a harsh glaring light at all times. Here are some tips on how to get good pictures without using a flash:

1.    Use a high quality camera: This may sound like a “duh!” suggestion, but many cameras that take good pictures in good light tend to produce grainy images when the light is poor.

2.    Use a tripod: You may have to wait for the right time—for instance, you may want to wait for the exact moment that the sun is setting to shoot a picture. You may find it hard to hold a camera for a long duration, so a tripod will usually improve your shoot.

Tamron SP AF 90mm F-2.8 Di 1-1 Macro for Nikon Digital SLR Lens.1

The Tamron SP AF 90mm featured here is designed for Nikon Digital SLRs. It comes with an f/2.8 Di 1:1 Macro Lens, which is ideal for dim light photography

3.    Use a fast lens: What works for Western gunslingers works for you too. While most consumer zoom lenses are rated at f/3.5 for maximum aperture, you can get better results by using an f/2.8 lens. The smaller this number, the longer the exposure time—and this gives you more depth of field.

4.    Mind your ISO: No, not the certification. ISO here refers to the sensor sensitivity and increasing this makes the sensor collect light faster. As a rule of thumb, if you double ISO, you double shutter speed.

5.    Use a shutter release cable: This goes well with tripods because it prevents shaky images. It can also help you keep the shutter open for longer—just take some time to release the cable. Be warned that keeping the shutter open for too long may increase noise.

6.    Remember Bruce and the spider: Shooting in poor light—especially during a sunset—is tough because you can’t always replicate available conditions—one day it is cloudy and another day is sunny, so your mileage will vary. Keep at it and you will master this dark (pun intended) art!

Try out these tips and keep us posted on how things pan out. We will keep giving you more tips in the future, so keep clicking on often and we will help you to keep your camera clicking!