Review — VSCO 4.4.1 for iOS and Android

 

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

Photographic sharpness: an obsession

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

Mountain roads: photo book in print, available on Amazon

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

The Mountain Roads project

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

Should you square-crop Instagram photos?

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

Picturelife

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.

Continue reading

Removing haze with Lightroom

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