How to shoot a timelapse sequence?

First, we begin with what a time lapse video is.
This is a video of a span of time which is compressed to a few seconds or minutes to observe a slow change in the setting. The best examples of time lapse videos (commonly called as simply timelapse) are the ones which show the making of huge structures or those of a day transitioning to night and vice versa.

Next, how do we make one.
Timelapse are basically made of multiple photos, taken over a long period of time, and then stitched back together to make a video. The speed of the video is set in such a manner so that the video appears to be fluid and the resultant time of the video becomes a few seconds.

For this to be done, we need a device which is capable of taking photos at a fixed interval. So, either a camera with built in option for interval shooting, or an intervalometer which can be coupled with the camera. Below are some photos and their explanation. The camera being used here is a Nikon D7200.

Photo Shooting Menu In Nikon D7200
Interval Timer Shooting option

The photo above shows a setting where 699 photos shall be taken, with a 10 second interval between them. So, total exposure time is 6990 seconds. The setting can be done as shown in the below photos.

One should pay attention to the fact that using these settings you can change only the number of photos being taken, not the photo’s settings. So, the ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed and Focus has to be set by the user first.

Once the number of photos are taken, they must be processed to produce a timelapse video. There are multiple options to achieve this. Quick google searches lead to many paid and free options easily and the instructions are quite straightforward.

A calculation must be understood here. The relation between the number of frames and resultant video.

In the case we have here, we have a total of 699 frames, over a span of 6990 seconds. For a smooth video, it must be played back at about 30 fps (frames per seconds). So, my resultant video is going to be approximately, 699/30 = 23.3 seconds long. So, I shall be representing 6990 seconds, i.e almost 2 hours worth of exposure in about 24 seconds.

Add a music to the video which is fitting to it, and Voila! You have your timelapse! Check out the one I made using the settings explained above.

Timelapse video of a seedling unfurling

Offcourse there are apps available now in which all you must do is set the phone at a particular location, dial in the time you want the resultant video to be, or the exposure time, and once the exposure is done, the app returns you a expertly made video. In fact, some DSLRs also come with this option of inbuilt timelapse. Mine comes with the interval timer option only. Anyway, I hope the post is useful to anyone who wants to know about the wonderful thing a timelapse is.

Feel free to let me know of your thoughts in the comments below.

Till the next post,

Cheers!!

Pi Network: Scam? MLM? Pyramid Scheme? Next Bitcoin?

Hi There,

There is a tiny chance that by now, you have never heard of Bitcoin. If not, do a quick wikipedia search and come back here. I will carry on with the premise you know what the Bitcoin is and also assume that you did not manage to amass it while it was still possible for a normal salaried person. I miss not being able to grab that opportunity.

So, just like I did with rushing with the NFT opportunity, I was elated when a friend invited me to the Pi Network.

Now, the Pi network is currently in a nascent stage, beta stage, if you may call it, where the pioneers mine the coin (Pi Coin) on their mobile phones using their mobile app. Recently they launched a non custodian wallet too and gave us 100 test pi coins to test out, which works just fine. The core team does plan to launch the mainnet and the coin into the public exchange by the end of 2021, a time when the coins will have some real value in terms of fiat currency. Till then, honestly it is still make believe.

What strikes strange, is the way the network is being marketed, where one has to be invited to be able to join the network and then as he/she adds more people to the network, the speed of mining increases. It sounds absolutely like a multi level marketing scam, except there is no money involved. There is an app which you must download and run. The app has a tiny battery footprint, uses minimum data, does not ask for permissions of storage, location, phone or messages. It asks for contacts permission for inviting others, which can be denied without affecting the functioning of the app. For mining to happen, the user must register and put in an attendance, once every 24 hours, maybe watch 1 or 2 ads and that’s it.

This has every smell of a scam and my brain says that it is, but the heart says, what if the the core members are not scamming us after all? What if this explodes like the bitcoin? Didn’t you hear stories where the early adopters of Bitcoins were called loons and fools? What is the risk anyway? There is no money involved and we provide our life’s data to google and facebook anyway to be used as a product, so what’s the harm?

For me, as long as there is no actual money from my pocket is on the line, I am a 100% ready to try out a new product. If, down the line they ask us for money, hard real money, then shall I decide, whether I want to continue or not.

Till then, I shall keep mining this coin.

Since you cannot join the network without an invite, you can use my code after you sign up : novemberking91

You can go to this link too : https://minepi.com/novemberking91

I wish that you take this leap of faith and that our collective leaps are rewarded. Its not completely wishful thinking though, there are multiple websites and pages which are coming up discussing about this new coin, Pi. Do check them out and do decide, just do remember, in case this hits the market good, and the values go up high, on 28th of April 2021, you had been shown the possibility of it, yet again!

This post is in no way containing all the data that is to be known about the coin, but it tries to get you, dear reader to have an interest in the matter. I hope I was able to do it.

Good luck to all of us.

Cheers!!


The photo of the Pi coin is not mine. I took the photo from this link and have added the texts on it.

Minting your first NFT : A noob’s experiences!

Hi there,
I just minted my first NFT a couple of days back and what shall follow here is an account of my experience.

Before I begin in all earnest, know this, I am not a blockchain expert or a crypto wizard by any measure. I have a sketchy understanding of what they are and generally believe in escaping a situation, if it demands money online!

So, let’s begin!

We have heard of crypto currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Dogecoin etc. at a time when it was already past the early adoption phase. The first time when I came to know of Bitcoin, it was during the college days, around 2011/2012. The price of 1 BTC (bitcoin) was almost as much as 1 USD, which rapidly became 100 USD. The point being, that was a time when I did not have any disposable income to invest in a tech which I did not understand fully. Most of us Indians still don’t for that matter anyway. And by the time I had some money and knowledge to invest, it was 2017/18, 1 BTC was close to 10k USD, clearly out of reach. So, I ll say, we, as a generation missed out Crypto train big time.

So, when a new kid, NFT came on the block, I was keen on finding out what it was and how to make some money out of it. An NFT is a unit of data, which is stored on the blockchain, certifying its uniqueness and authenticity. The NFT can be anything digital, a photo, a video, a song, in fact it can be anything.

And YOU CAN MINT YOUR OWN NFT and sell it.

The market right now is in a nascent stage, so the opportunity for relatively unknown people to sell pieces of digital art and collectibles is still available. With that thought in mind, I decided to go ahead and mint my own NFT.

Everything costs money. Whether real dollars or rupees or the virtual ether, bitcoin etc. but it will cost money. So does minting your NFT. These charges are known as Gas fees. There are websites which proclaim “Gasless” NFTs where you can mint it, but pay no gas charge upfront. The trick employed here is, that the gas charge will be charged against the proceeds of the sale, if you manage to sell your NFT. Also, the gasless NFTs are not allowed to be transferred to your wallet, so, you dont own it, until it has been sold at least once.

I minted my first NFT using the gasless option on Mintable.
The process is easy enough. Sign up for the website, make a wallet in Metamask. Metamask is apparently quite a popular wallet which is used by some more online marketplaces too. Then, I uploaded the photo I wanted to mint. Put in some of the details and Voila! my first NFT was created.

Check it out here.

Once I created it, then did I realize that I did not make it downloadable, so now, even if someone pays 200 USD for my NFT, which is honestly a pretty picture, they will not be able to download it. They can resell it or use it for commercial purposes, but not download it. Kinda stupid, I know, but then, a mistake is a learning.

Also, since it was gasless, Mintable owns it as of now. So, I cannot use the same NFT to sell on a different marketplace, say Rarible, Foundation, Opensea, etc.

Gas fees, which you must pay for minting, keeps varying according to the time of the day, Ethereum vs USD values, network congestion, etc. These are just some of the causes. A website to track the gas prices graphically is this one. So, do check it out before minting. It may so happen that you wait for an hour, and pay a fraction of the gas fees as of now.

Bottom line, unless you invest money into this, chances that you will get money back is negligible. Read up a bit more, set aside a few of artwork or digital assets that you feel are worth being put out in the open market. Set aside a bit of money, about 200 USD to begin with and create a proper NFT, gas fees and all included. Then, list it on the different markets. Off course, loads and loads of marketing is needed. People must know that you exist and that you are interested in selling a digital asset. Consistency and perseverance are key to this too.

Make no mistake, this is a business and all principles of a business are applicable here. Prices fluctuate wildly and it is easy to get disheartened. But when you think of the rewards that are possible, the risk seems to be bearable.

Dear reader, please know this, NFT is still new. There is still scope to jump on this bandwagon before it becomes too huge to be unaffordable for most of us. Read up, research and take the plunge. At worst, you’ll lose 200 USD. At best, the returns are unlimited.

I have tried to put in my experiences and thoughts into this post as best I can right now. I ll continue to research and find ways to get the best bang for my ether.

Let me know of your thoughts and doubts and I shall try to come up with an answer, or we shall embark on a quest together to learn something new.

Cheers!!

A Noob’s guide to a free AMEX Card

I was born in 1991 and neither of my parents, during their years of career has had a credit card. So, at the first opportunity, 26 years later, I promptly obtained one. For a lot of people in the middle class, my generation is the first one which takes the plunge into the world of rewards, cashbacks, due dates and balance transfers. Almost every bank we know of, issues a credit card and each has its own pros and cons.

Amongst the cards available to be issued based on applications, AMEX cards are one of the most desirable ones. So, yet again, upon realizing that I was eligible for one and would be able to use it fruitfully, I applied and obtained one. The prime objective was to experience the enigma around AMEX cards, the rewards programmes and to be honest, the slight feeling of pride from the second glance the card receives as you hand it out to be used.

In the post ahead, I shall discuss some of the basic questions that I had asked around and hope that it’ll help you too. The discussion aims to cover

  • Types of cards – Debit/Credit/Charge
  • How AMEX is different?
  • Eligibility and why you should get one
  • The rewards programme
  • Pros and Cons as experienced by me
  • How to get an AMEX card with no annual fee

Let’s begin!

Types of Cards – Debit/Credit/Charge

These three are the major types of cards available easily to any customer.

The Debit card is linked directly to your bank account. There are daily transaction limits on the card and you can, technically, spend as much as your balance is in the linked account. In India, for most debit cards, a daily transaction limit of ₹50,000 exists. Debit cards are given out as a part of the standard kit while you open a new account in the banks. These are generally free of charge or a minimum yearly charge for account maintenance is charged.

The Credit Card (CC) is not linked directly to your bank account, in a manner that what you spend on the credit card will not dent your bank balance immediately. Every CC comes with a limit of sorts, which is the maximum expense that you can incur on that card. There is a fixed number of days in which you must repay the CC account, which varies from 30 to 51 days in general, which is known as a credit cycle. The limit of the card is dependent on your income, spending habits, CIBIL scores; simply put how reliable you are that you shall pay the money back, from the bank’s point of view. This causes the limit to vary wildly. For me, I have had cards where the limit varied from ₹18,000 to ₹2,50,000, and the limits keep on changing over time. Also, in case you are unable to pay your dues on the due date, there is an interest that is charged for every day that you delay settling the due. These cards can have loads of rewards attached to spending goals and may have annual charges for them.

What about the needs of high spend groups? Having a limit on their spending is not suitable for them, so there comes the third kind, Charge Cards. These cards are meant mostly for people who require virtually unlimited spending power while being able to repay on a fixed date. Charge cards mostly include an uncapped spending limit, loads of reward points and an annual fee. The prime point for a charge card is that you must pay the due on the day of the statement. There is no free credit period as such for these cards. So, these cards are best suited for business purposes, where transactions are settled on a fixed date basis. In case there is a fee default, it gets reported to the credit bureaus and has major negative effects on the cardholder’s credit ratings and in turn to his/her credibility in the eyes of the bank. So, if you are sorted with your finances, have the requisite control needed and do not mind paying the annual fees, the rewards of a charge card can be very alluring indeed.

Some of the debit cards I own!

How is AMEX different?

The biggest difference is that AMerican EXpress (AMEX) is not a bank. It is a credit card issuing agency that issues its own cards and has tie-ups with most major banks of the world. So, you can not have debit cards from AMEX, though you might have AMEX affiliated ones, similar to the VISA or MasterCard or RuPay ones that we see commonly. There are prepaid AMEX cards too. So, what difference does it make for you and me? The answer is, to obtain an AMEX card, you’ll have to either apply for it or be invited to its membership. Of course, most major banks of the country have credit cards that are AMEX affiliated, but they are still not technically AMEX cards.

A photo of my AMEX MRCC
My AMEX card

Eligibility and Should You get one

The eligibility criteria for AMEX cards vary according to the cards themselves but are quite stringent as compared to the cards from other banks. An annual salary over ₹5,00,000 with a CIBIL score of 750+is generally recommended for being eligible for at least one card. We must remember always that being eligible does not mean that you must apply for it. You must have a clear idea of why you want the card? Is it for the benefits and rewards or just use it as a status symbol? Are you ready to pay the annual fee for it (You can get it for free too you know! Check the last point 😉)? Would you be able to utilize the card fruitfully? If you can justify yourself on these questions, then you should go ahead with it for sure.

 My reasons to get the AMEX card were driven by the zest to try out the rewards being offered by AMEX. Since I had already been using my existing cards for most of my expenses and shifting to the new AMEX card was neither difficult nor have I had to go out of my way to spend differently.

The Rewards Programme

Let’s be honest, we choose credit cards based on the rewards they provide. Most have some sort of a cashback in place; be it as points, statement credits or miles. These rewards can be redeemed for physical things such as discount coupons, electronics, holidays, flight tickets and even cars. And this is what entices us ultimately, the value for return. 

 For AMEX cards, this value is high. They have multiple reward programmes running at a time which can be used quite interestingly often. As of now, besides the discounts being offered on the card in dining, shopping and such, they have spend based rewards at 18k and 24k points. Of course, you can redeem your points for statement credit monthly, but that is a sheer wastage of points.

Let’s take a quick example to see how using the AMEX card cleverly can be useful for us. 

Assumptions:

  1. The card is AMEX MRCC (Amex Membership Rewards Card)
  2. The monthly expense is at least ₹20,000. This is not difficult if you include rent payment via credit card. 
  3. You have signed up for the spend based rewards programmes.

Scenario:

For the MRCC, you get 1 point for every ₹50 spent (some exclusions exist, such as utilities, fuel, etc.).

 Spending ₹2,40,000 in a year provides you with 4800 points only. That is honestly very sad.

But, if you make at least 4 transactions of ₹1500+, you get another 1000 points. Assuming that is being done, the new total becomes 16800 points. 

Signing up for a spend based reward programme, where if you spend more than ₹20,000 in a calendar month, you get another 1000 additional points. Assuming that is being done too, now, the final total becomes, 28800 points.

Now, with 28.8k points, you become eligible for both 18k and 24k rewards.

 The 18k rewards has Taj vouchers, Amazon gift certificates, statement credits etc, while the 24k rewards has Tanishq vouchers too along with Taj vouchers and Amazon gift certificates. You can choose from these at your will. Apart from redeeming the points as rewards on AMEX, you can choose to convert some of them to air miles and redeem flight tickets too. 

So, you see, if used cleverly, AMEX credit cards can be quite useful. It is not that these offers are available only for AMEX, but rather every card comes with its own sets of rewards. Some research helps.

Pros and Cons As I see it

The Pros and Cons of an AMEX card are as varied as the person using it. For me, the rewards were more enticing than standard cashback, while the main disappointment has been the non-inclusion of the MRCC in the airport lounge programme. I do not fret much about it though, since I have other cards which provide airport lounge access, but if the MRCC provided the same, it would have been nicer. Not having to pay annual charges offsets the disappointments greatly.

How to get an AMEX card for free

One thing we must understand is that the reason AMEX and other better-than-the-rest cards can offer the rewards is that they all have annual fees. In the case of AMEX, the MRCC and the SmartEarn are the two cards that have the option of fees waiver based on the spend. 

SmartEarn is aimed towards the ones who want to have an AMEX card in their wallet mostly to feel premium about owning an AMEX card. It has the least entry requirements and does not have a lot of value in terms of rewards other than accelerated points accumulation. 

 This card has an annual fee of ₹495 + taxes which is waived off upon spending more than ₹40,000 in the previous billing year.

 The MRCC on the other hand is aimed at people who want to enjoy the fruits of their expenditures but are not willing to spend a lot though. It misses out on lounge access, golf club memberships etc, but offers you possibilities to stay at Taj or gift yourself/ your beloved Tanishq items.

 This card has a first-year fee of ₹1000 + taxes and an annual fee of ₹4500 + taxes. But, if you use a referral code, such as the one below, the first year fee becomes Nil and the annual fees come down to ₹1500 + taxes. In fact, if you use the card the way I have mentioned in the example and use my referral code, that’s how you can get your AMEX card for free. Do hurry though, this offer is valid till May 2021 as of now.

My referral link is here!

To end, I shall say that it is time that we begin using credit cards for our daily expenses. It promotes healthy financial discipline and improves your credit score. The credit score is an important tool to decide at what rate you shall get your loan from a bank. Mostly, higher credit score holders get better terms for their loans and the chances of rejection are minimized greatly.

Feel free to reach out to me with your doubts and questions, I shall be happy to help solve them 😊

Cheers!! 

Blogging to Vlogging : What changed ?

Hi there,
It has been almost a year since I was here, writing a blog. Why you may ask.
Did I not have new content? Did I not have the time? Was I lazy? Or did blogging become obsolete?

To answer the first three questions, I did have some new content. I got married, went for trips to Thailand, Dhuandhar falls, places in and around Vadodara, more recently Goa, so, yeah, I did have content. Time, to be honest, I did manage to extract some out of the daily schedule and had I really wanted to blog, I would have been able to. Lazy? Maybe a bit.

But then, when we come to the fourth question, Is blogging dying, that needs a bit more insight and discussion.

I began blogging in 2014. I had quit the first company and was preparing for further studies. I had picked up the hobby of photography back then and was trying to find ways in which I could reach out to the world and show my skill. I loved to write, spin stories around the photograph, so, blogging seemed to be the best option.
By 2016, I had managed to post more than 200 posts. Sometimes I would post multiple times a week, that was the heyday of blogging I would say. There were meetups, various forums for discussions, brand integrations and what not.
Vlogging was a new thing back then. A handful of stalwarts picking it up. Content creation was still mostly in the written media.
Looking back, that was the best year, till now. My rate of posts declined, so did the viewership. I will blame it largely on my own inaction of not being consistent, while not negating the influence of videos on the entire industry.

Videos and vlogs became the new thing since then. Youtube began being more user friendly and the content creators lapped up the opportunity with open arms. Videos are easier for the mass to consume and garner a following quickly, as compared to a blog. A prime reason is the language of the video. There is no restriction at all in a video. It can be in any language out there and that shall cater to a certain group of the population. While in a blog, in India, the language is mostly English with a handful more in the vernacular language. One can argue, that by writing, it develops your skills and makes you adept at the language, but from the point of view of the content consumer, it is simply easier to check out a video. It ll be shorter, have better visuals and it feels connected. This is true for the mass media and that is why best selling books get made into movies and often a well executed movie earns a lot more than the book. For example, one of the best sellers of our times, the Harry Potter collection by J. K. Rowling is estimated to have an earning of $7 billion, while the movies have earned more than $9 billion till now. One must take into account that the first HP book, The Philosopher’s Stone was published in 1997 (UK) and its movie was released in 2001. The figures keep on increasing.

It is not that Vlogging is all the easier than blogging. While it has the advantages of being able to reach to the consumer in a much direct manner, it does have its caveats. As always, content is king. You can get away with making transition videos on mini video apps and platforms, add a few filters and some music to it, but that is honestly, rubbish.
A well made video, which shall add some value to your consumer, requires preparation and research. The execution has to be better than the competition, the information has to be enriching and the content, engaging. Add to this, editing. One must edit their clips to form the final video. Off course, you can hire a team of people to do the backend jobs, but then you must pay them too. So, either you have enough money for recruiting a team, or you do it yourself. I must reiterate here, putting in a few transitions and filters is not editing, period. It includes honest effort and quite a lot of knowledge. All this becomes a hurdle to a newbie into the foray.

But then, the rewards are huge. The Vloggers who have managed to garner a following earn a lot. They earn from the revenue from the views of the videos, ads and also via collaborations. So, the risk reward scenario favours the tenacious and dedicated. And this increased scope of rewards has pushed many bloggers to explore the vlogging scene. Some have become exclusive vloggers, some try to keep a balance between the two.
I have also tried to keep up with the times and have spruced up the look of the blog. Added a few sections of tech and the new found skill, cookery. The cookery section is to be fuelled by the Vlog, Feastorama, which is a Youtube cooking channel, founded and maintained by me and my wife.

If you have made it till here, means you are still interested in the quintessential question, Is Blogging Dead? And the answer shall be No, it isn’t! It is turning to a niche though. The number of bloggers shall steadily fall, so shall their readership, until, there shall be a wave of revival where Vlogging will have become so mainstream that people shall return to reading.

Until that day arrives, we as bloggers, shall keep our head up and carry on with making new content for you to read, bookmark, share and re-read again 🙂

It feels good to be back writing. New posts shall be coming up soon.

Cheers!!

Dry Ice!

Hi there all. It has been quite sometime since the last post, I ll blame the hectic work schedules and in some effect, laziness for the same.
Anyway, today we discuss, Dry Ice. Frozen Carbon Dioxide, when made into pellets to be used for cooling duty, is known as Dry Ice. 

Dry Ice is of interest to us photographers since it produces thick smoke, when it comes in contact with water.

And the best bit, the smoke is cold, and heavier than air, so it flows!

This gives the opportunity to use the flowing smoke creatively. It can be used to provide artificial smoke in photos, to be used to as a background or otherwise. 

So, there you have it, the secret to thick billowing smoke in the photos. Have fun it. Be careful though, it is carbon dioxide, so, preferably do not inhale a lot of it, and experiment in an open space.

Cheers!!

TLR Camera : What it is and how to use one

Readers who are millennials or older, would recognize this camera either because someone in their family owned it, or they may seen it in the movies.

This here, is what a TLR looks like.

A TLR Camera, Mumbai, India

A TLR is a twin lens reflex camera, where there are two lens, which help in taking the images. The lens above lets you view your subject and focus by rotating the ring, which in turn focuses the bottom lens. The major advantage a TLR has over other formats is that your image does not get shut out due to the mirror movement as with SLRs. You also get a lower than eye level perspective of the scene. On the downside, there is parallax error and the options to stop down to preview the photo will not be available.

Front view of a TLR Camera, Mumbai, India

Behind the bottom lens, sits the shutter, and your film.

Back view of a TLR Camera, Mumbai, India

You view your would be photo from the top of the camera.

A view through the viewfinder of a TLR camera, Mumbai, India

The basic functions available on the camera are similar to the ones we use today. It has shutter speeds and aperture values that can be set easily. A unique thing was the distance scale on the bottom lens, which may be featuring here for this specimen here is more of a pseudo TLR, since the focus is fixed.

So, in a pseudo TLR, how to achieve sharp focus?? Flip the camera to the other side and read the scale.

Table of depth of field on the back of the TLR camera, Mumbai, India

This scale gives the hyperfocal distances and the appropriate DOF based on the aperture and the distance from the subject. You read the details off the scale and dial them in, and voila! you have a sharp image. One thing to note is that the image formed in the viewfinder is laterally inverted. Takes a little time to get used to, but once you do, it is quite fun.

Some may say that it is too much work, I ll say it is an amazing learning experience. This specimen on the 1950s Elioflex 2 from the Italian Ferrania was a gift to a dear friend Tara (a calligraphy expert by the way) scrounged from Chor Bazaar of Mumbai.

Maybe I ll go get a film camera and try out some film photography, what say readers?? Let me know of your opinions in the comments below!

Cheers!!

The Elephant Parade : Mumbai 2018

With the novel objective of raising awareness for elephant corridors across the country, The Elephant Parade India arrived at Mumbai this month.
Along came exquisitely designed and painted elephant replicas, each having an interesting story to its own. Apart from being an awareness raising tool, it is also an amazing means to showcase the artist’s expertise and talent. I met with the following elephants at the Phoenix Marketcity at Lower Parel. The elephants shall be on display in various locations within the city and details can be found here.

Iridescent Elephant from Elephant Parade, Mumbai

Black Elephant from Elephant Parade, Mumbai

Blue Elephant from Elephant Parade, Mumbai

Black Shiny Elephant from Elephant Parade, Mumbai

Brown Exotic Elephant from Elephant Parade, Mumbai

Green Elephant from Elephant Parade, Mumbai

Black Elephant from Elephant Parade, Mumbai

Forest Elephant from Elephant Parade, Mumbai

These beautiful elephants are also available for sale using the website mentioned earlier. It is my recommendation that you go and have a look at these elephants as and when possible.

As a note to my readers who may be in Mumbai from 14-18 March, a set of these exquisite elephants shall be at the Bandra Fort during the above mentioned days. The opportunity to capture stunning photos is quite an unique one.

A trick to reduce the influence of crowds on the photo is to have a long exposure. The elephants being stable are sharp while the crowd fades away due to them moving swiftly. In case there are posey people in front of the elephants, they shall show up.  There shall be ghosting, for sure. This is the minimum hassle method to obtain a clear picture. Drawback being it can be used only when you can shoot a long exposure, meaning, day time shots are not possible. For the daytime shots, you can set your tripod and take a series of shots and then use the “Median” command in Photoshop to eliminate the crowd. Ghosting shall be minimal.

Go have fun, use a different technique and share your results in the comments below.

Cheers!!

 

Long Exposure : Demystified

Time and again, I have had requests and queries on how to take the amazing “trails” photos, today, I shall try to demystify them.

Long Exposure, Trails, Diwali Night, Marine Drive
The technique is called Long Exposure. As the name suggests, we make the photo’s exposure long. In doing so, any light source, or lit up object, that is incident on the sensor, shall be registered by it. In technical terms, we extend the time the shutter stays open, by decreasing the shutter speed. This causes the exposure to be “long”.

Here’s an example:

Long Exposure, Queens Necklace, Marine Drive, Mumbai

Now, to achieve this, we need to have a shutter speed that is low enough to form the light trails, while the aperture has to be such that the photo does not wash out, all the while maintaining the ISO at a level where there is not a lot of noise.
We can get to this unique combination by fiddling in the Manual mode:

Nikon D7200, Manual Mode setting

Or, by setting the camera in the Aperture Priority mode (AV mode in Canon).

Nikon D7200, Aperture Priority Mode setting

The objective should be to have an optimal exposure, despite the slow shutter speed.

Nikon D7200, Aperture Priority Mode setting

With enough practice, taking stunning photos shall not be difficult at all.
Long Exposure is amazing for smoothening out ripples in water, or giving the water a milky flowy look. Do try them out.

Long Exposure, Smootheing of Lake, Bangla Sahib, New Delhi

Slowing down water flow, Elephant Falls, Meghalaya

It is also useful to take photos in low light environments such as this dimly lit monument at the Lodhi Gardens, New Delhi.

Long Exposure, Lodhi Gardens, New Delhi

I shall conclude by stating that unless you practice, you shall not be perfect. Go out there, and explore the amazing world of long exposure.

Cheers!!

Macro Shots

Today, as I sit to type down this post, my bags are packed and ready to leave. I leave NICMAR, Pune in less than 6 hours and will be on my way to my home first, then to much bigger adventures. Last night while packing, I stumbled across two very prized possessions of mine, my self made reverse lens adapter and a pair o kerosene lighters.
Flipped it open, spun the wheel, the sparks erupted, felt good.
At around 0100h, I felt a tiny bit creative. So, here is what I did, past mid night, using the reverse lens adapter. Lens used, my trusted Nikon 50mm F1.8D, and the camera, Nikon D3100.

macro of tanks made on a zippo lighter

macro shot of a SDHC card

macro close up of a diamond ring

macro close up of the wick of a zippo lighter

macro close up of the striking wheel of a zippo lighter

macro close up of the hinge of a zippo lighter

The following images are shot using the Tamron 70-300mm F4-5.6 macro lens, in the macro mode as control shots.

macro close up of the stalk of a flower

macro close up of a stalk of a flower

I ll infer that unless one is dedicated to shooting macros, the need for a macro lens, is quite limited. Often, a reverse mounted lens shall do the trick. Adding on, it is always much easier to use a full manual lens for reverse mounting because you can control the aperture ring and decide on the depth of field.

With this, I sign off from NICMAR, Pune. I shall be travelling for the next few days and shall also be visiting Delhi for almost a week, so that should make for a nice post.

Till then,
Cheers!!

Repurpose – Flash Diffuser

Photographers, both, budding and experienced, have faced the issue of flash whiteout quite often. Sometimes it can be handled by varying the settings and we immediately realize the importance of a flash diffuser.
Like the name suggests, it is used to diffuse the harsh light from the flash and make it more soft and soothing, while still lighting up the subject. It is useful as it does not produce harsh shadows and lights up more area, albeit in a little less intensity.
One can get clip on diffusers for the on board pop up flash, while the external flashes generally come with a diffuser flap. Here is a method of repurposing a used cigarette packet as a flash diffuser in a hurry.

Get a white pack, rip off the bottom of it carefully and pull out the silver or golden foil from inside, carefully so as not to tear it away.

Cigarette pack with a ripped bottom

Reverse the foil so that the shiny bit will be facing inwards.

Foil reversed in a cigarette pack

Push it to till the head, in such a way that light doesn’t escape and is rather reflected and the head behaves as the flash.

Foil positioned to reflect light

Clip it on your camera’s pop up flash. It may need a little tweaking here and there for it to be set correctly.

Repurposed pack clipped on on board flash

Repurposed pack clipped on on board flash another view

Results:

 

Brain coral, loses detail due to white out by direct flash
Normal flash

 

Brain coral, much more detailed due to diffused light
Same settings, with the diffuser

I hope you have found this useful. This is quick fix solution, a typical Jugaad 🙂

Cheers!!

Star Trails: What is and how to..

Shooting at night, and in long exposure is quite fun, one must agree. With a little tweak, the night can be turned  into dusk, if not bright day.
This shot, 0230 h. 30 seconds of exposure does this trick.

Long exposure photo of lake with landscapes mirrored into the lake.

We get enamoured by the photos of trails of lights across the sky, often in round or elliptical patterns about a stunning landscape. Some of my readers may already know what it is. What you have seen, is a star trail.
What is it? Well, as the earth rotates, from our point of view, fixed on the earth, we find the stars shifting. If we capture this shift, over considerable span of time, we shall get the path traced by the star. That illuminated trail, is the star trail.

Star trail photo over landscape. Multiple long exposure photos combined in one.

Things we need are quite minimal. We need a tripod, a camera with a means to take a certain number of shots over a period of time, a landscape and a starry night.

Set the camera appropriately on the tripod. In the settings menu, make it take photos till the battery runs out or at least 8gb worth of photos are captured. For the exposure settings, you ll have to take a couple of cold shots. Try with the minimum ISO and shutter speed at about 15 seconds. Take a shot and inspect it, if you can see at least one star in your display screen. A few trial and errors and you shall get the exposure right. Once done, set the camera on the interval shooting mode, and wait.

Now, what you shall get out of the shots is a series, where the only movement, preferably, will be of the stars. Get hold of the software, StarStaX, and load up the images. Follow the instructions and let the software process the photos. If done correctly, you should get yourself a beautiful star trail photo.

If you have reached till here, you have definitely earned the right to know what may go wrong. Take a look at the photo above, once more. Zoom it. Do you notice that there are tiny gaps between each trail. That gap is what 5 seconds looks like. Between each of my exposure, I had set a gap of 5 seconds. If you want a continuous trail, ensure, no gaps. You may have to shoot on JPEG for that, turn noise reduction off, so that as soon as the camera shoots one image, it can continue to the next one. You have got to ensure that there are no movements on your end. Before you put the photo into StarStax, it is advisable to convert them in JPEG, if you have shot in RAW. And while you are at it, make the uniform changes in all the photos using sync (Lightroom) or similar functions.

My exposure is about 120 photos, half an hour long. This was a proof of concept shot, to try out whats and hows. Now that I know, in near future, better, seamless shots should be expected.

Till the next post.
Cheers!!