Around three years ago, a new photography app hit the App Store. Called VSCo Cam, the app came from Visual Supply Company, makers of film emulation presets for Lightroom, ACR, Aperture etc. It was never meant to compete against Instagram, but that is how a lot of people saw it. (Some probably still call it the anti–Instagram.)
Today, with the recently released 4.4.1 version and renamed simply VSCO, the app stands as arguably the best filter for iPhone, but is really a full–powered editing suite and manual camera. Most use it in conjunction with all their mobile photography needs, not merely as an Instagram competitor. And with nearly a hundred million uses, #vscocam is Instagram’s most popular hashtag today. Competitor Snapseed has four million, Afterlight has three. Continue reading
I somehow came across an article by Connor McClure where he talked about how far too many people blindly use VSCO filters to process their photographs and call it a day. What he said about VSCO is true (and is something I strongly believe in myself) — they are a convenience, and not much more than trends; and trends pass on. McClure says it best: “They are trendsetters, and I don’t believe in latching too tightly on to trends.”
In addition to filters in general (not to target VSCO, whose filters I use rarely, but do use nonetheless) there is another misdirection I feel we ought to address in today’s photography scene: mindless obsession over sharpness. Continue reading
Earlier this month I wrote about my new photo book, a simple 7″x7″ paperback featuring a collection of 25 carefully handpicked black and white photographs, revolving around the theme of mountains.
I do not quite remember where I read this, but someone advocated printing out your photographs — at least select ones — even in the digital era, because printed photographs have their own charm and heightened value (even if the latter is only in our minds). Continue reading
Having travelled a bit earlier this month, I have been spending the past couple of weeks wading through a few hundred photographs, picking, flagging, editing and storing away safely. In the process, an interesting idea struck me.
When I first began photography I had a deep love for black and white pictures. (One of my first serious photographs was black and white.) I still do, but having understood the complexity and weight of colours, I make many more colour photographs nowadays. Continue reading
I’ve always believed that all photographs are unique. (In fact, one of my short films addressed this ideology.) And that means you cannot draw a common boundary that applies to all photographs, which is why, for the last tens of photographs on my Instagram, I’ve been posting full dimensions instead of square cropping my pictures.
I have always been strict that photographs must be seen the way the photographer intended, and when was the last time you intended a hundred of your photographs straight to all be seen as squares? Continue reading
Recently I decided it was time (after three years) to backup my mobile phone photographs. I only started taking mobile photography seriously after getting my Note 3 and that enthusiasm swelled with my iPhone 6 Plus. In all I had about 1,300 photographs made since I got my iPhone — just the photographs I wanted to save, the total number of photographs is greater. And I looked around for an ideal backup and storage solution with which I could maintain my photographs.
The first option a lot of people suggested to me was Loom, but that is not available where I live. (Loom happens to be US-only.) And then there was Everpix — was — which was free and shut down as fast as it became popular. In all honesty, Everpix was an excellent solution, but faced the biggest problem with cloud storage solutions: they shut down, mostly because they run out of money trying to give storage free. Lesson: never opt for free cloud storage.
Then I tried Picturelife about three months ago and still love it for a lot of reasons. Some readers asked me to talk about my experience with the product and how I went about moving my photographs to the cloud, so this is it.
Update: After this article was published and discussed around the web, Picturelife got in touch with me and offered a generous 20GB of additional free storage for life. Thank you. And here’s to Picturelife for being one of the top cloud storage solutions for all of us.
Haze is a common problem those of us who make landscape photographs often face: a blurry, foggy… hazy, blanket covering vast tracts of land, intensifying as you move towards the horizon. Photograph a mountain and you will almost always notice haze blocking it.
Bumping up the contrast alone almost certainly does little to better such a photograph, and as it happens — unfortunately — there is no straightforward manner of removing haze in a photograph. For this demonstration, I will be using Lightroom, my go-to digital darkroom software, but the process should be similar in any alternative with equal capabilities (Photoshop, Aperture, Elements etc.)
To make things interesting, let us work with an example photograph — one I made a long time back, with our ever-present enemy, haze. Continue reading
Around this time last year I had presented to you my 50-point blogging manifesto. It signaled a change in my approach to blogging and almost a year later now, I am convinced it helped me and I am happy I followed it.
However, I have increasingly come to feel that my photography needs such a set of beliefs in black-and-white — hence this piece. But this is nowhere near as long as my blogging manifesto, but whether you are a photographer yourself or not — so long as art appeals to you — you might find this an interesting read. Continue reading
Colours are a wonderful thing of nature, but only so far as our own eyes are concerned. When it comes to electronic devices, colours are only a range of binary digits, so a scale of some sort is required for, say, a computer, to interpret these colours.
In effect, what an International Colour Consortium (ICC) profile does is help your computer understand what colour you mean when you pass a certain electronic pulse signal.
Incompatible ICC profiles this can have a terrible effect on the work of visual artists — photographers, videographers, designers and the like — to such an effect that they may start looking like different photos or videos altogether on different machines and media. Here is how you can correct that. Continue reading
The debate between camera phones and dSLRs is as old as camera phones themselves, but I am not here to debate. Traveling briefly this past weekend, I decided to see how various approaches to editing a photograph made on a phone could best help it to compare with control photographs made on a dSLR.
These controls are not truly control samples in that they are photographs I made subject to my own vision. However, since I made the phone photographs subject to my vision too, any personal preference is assuredly nullified.
Read on to find out the test procedure, editing and other details followed by the results/my thoughts. Continue reading
I know that everybody reading this article is either armed with a bunch of photos and a digital camera or is soon going to be. So I will get to the specifics really fast; but organisation dictates that we first clarify two things: the target of this article (i.e. what you will be able to do after reading this), and the scope of this article.
If you have the software already, fire it up and follow this Lightroom guide; if not, you could read it and return to it once you do have Lightroom. Lastly, some of the advanced stuff mentioned here may not be possible on older versions of Lightroom (before 5) but the basics definitely are. You can always skip the target/scope section if you wish.
Before we begin
1. After reading this Lightroom guide you will be able to…
Take a proper photograph you have shot in your camera and ornament it to better suit your vision.
More importantly, you will not be able to make bad photographs you shot magically look better. After all, photography is still inside your camera. But generally, you will be able to make your photos look more refined — like adding a second coat of paint.
My suggestion is that you always shoot RAW, not jpg, because — Lightroom or not — jpg limits what you can do while RAW gives you a lot more control and latitude over how your images turn out.
2. The scope of this article
Firstly, I will be talking about making a photograph in post (i.e. Continue reading
My joy knows no bounds today because my camera phone (whose wrecked lens glass I wrote about a week or so ago) was finally repaired. Samsung’s customer service was a tad slow in mailing the part (“We don’t get many with that phone here” the man at the service desk told me) but once it arrived, fixing it was easy and lasted as long as a stroll around the nearby bookstore.
The daredevil that I am, I made my first (somewhat) proper photograph as I waited at a traffic signal on the way back:
The weather was gloomy so I cautiously decided to stay at home, but a little later into the evening, as the weather got brighter (or at least as bright as it could just before the sun set), I went for a pretty long walk and made several more photographs.
First of all, I was just glad to have a working camera. But just as important was making sure it worked perfectly, just as well as — if not better than — before it cracked. The exposure, focus and the whole shebang was spot on, and I was in a race against time to make photographs before darkness set in and noise conquered my screen.