For want of a four rupee polythene bag..a DSLR was lost !!

It so happened, that one of our photography colleagues, frantically called me and informed me that his dear DSLR camera has stopped functioning. Before I could ask him what went wrong he recounted a sad narrative how his dear DSLR went west ! This colleague of mine happens to be a sportsman and an ace cyclist, who has won many awards for his cycling ability. He has cycled through the most difficult Himalayan terrain and has visited most of the historical areas on his sport bike. Earlier he had a small point and shoot, but later on after joining us he purchased a DSLR and it became his constant companion.

However last week, he went to Lonavala and Khandala for a trek and for participating in an event. It was raining very heavily and in the heat of moment he did not realize that his camera bag, hanging from his shoulder, is getting wet in the rain. When he noticed this oversight, he immediately took out the camera and tried to switch it on. It refused to switch-on………! The water that entered the crevices, joints of the camera and lens body had done its destructive job.

This could happen to any of us. It is said that experts never commit mistakes they commit blunders! We may be handling cameras for well over four five decades, yet momentarily our senses take a back-seat and such blunders happen.

What could have prevented this unfortunate accident? A simple Four rupee polythene bag could have saved. One can buy a large polythene bag and wrap ones camera inside it and then keep it in the camera bag. Your camera bag is never intended to be 100 % water-proof. In monsoon, whenever you venture out put this four rupee bag in your camera-bag. This will save you heart-ache of losing your dear DSLR to the vagaries of nature.

One more trick I would like to share with you. While taking a shower ladies generally use shower-cap. This shower cap fits almost all DSLRs that are not weather-proof. Put your camera in such a shower-cap. The elastic wraps around and your camera is relatively safe. The people with thick pockets can have a costly alternative, a Rain-Coat for your camera.

The lesson learnt after this incident by my friend…….For want of a Four Rupee  polythene bag, a DSLR was lost…..!

So, friends on this World Photography I wish you….happy clicking in the ensuing year…and take care of your electronic gadgets in the remaining months of this Monsoon

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Hundred Years Of NIKON

  

The Nikon Story

Nikon’s Crystal Model

My tryst with photography dates back to 1965…….however ever since I have I crossed my teens and stepped into real world photography, I still remember that I trudged miles to feast my eyes on first Nikon camera. It was owned by a professional photographer who shot photographs for a film magazine. Since then the name Nikon and the camera became a part of my dream.

Here is a brief history of Nikon and how the camera brand evolved.

Nikon hasn’t always been Nikon. In fact, The company that makes Nikon Cameras now ,Nikon Corporation, has only been around for about the past 30 years. When two of Japan’s leading optical manufacturers – the Optical Instruments Department of Tokyo Keiki Seisakusho and Reflecting Mirror Department of  Iwaki Glass Manufacturing – merged on 25 July, 1917, with investment support from the President of Mitsubishi, Koyata Iwasaki,the company was known as Nippon Kogaku, K.K. (or ‘Japanese Optical Co.’).

what is in a Name ?

 The Nikon brand name was established in 1946 – not as the name for the company, but for a camera. Nippon Kogaku K.K. execs were looking for a title for a new compact 35mm camera that they were planning to develop. It is said that, in a bid to capture the camera’s compactness while building on the ‘Nikko’ abbreviation of Nippon Kogaku, they considered the title ‘Nikorette’, which sounds perilously close to nicotine gum . Concerned that Nikorette was too weak for a product for which it had major ambitions, the company instead decided to retain the ‘Nikko’ base but add an additional ‘N’ to give, as Nikon puts it, a more masculine impression in the Japanese language’. The first camera to carry the Nikon name – the Nikon Model I – was launched in 1948, and is commemorated by a limited edition crystal version (the above image ), which is available as part of Nikon’s 100th Anniversary collection.

A Reputation For Reliability

 Fast forward to 1988, and on 1 April Nippon Kogaku rebranded as the Nikon Corporation. Products bearing the Nikon name across various markets had built up a reputation for reliability and the company wanted to take advantage of this as it continued to develop as an international brand.

The Nikon logo was redesigned to reflect the new branding Nikon launched its ‘I AM Nikon’ advertising campaign throughout Europe seven years ago – and it’s still going strong. Created by the Jung von Matt/Spree creative agency in Berlin, the campaign was designed to build on Nikon’s ‘At the heart of the image’ concept.  “By reminding our customers that they too are at the heart of the image, we hope to ignite a new understanding of photography – one where anyone can express themselves, regardless of their photography experience, “said Nikon Europe’s Birgitta Olson at the time. The concept was a neat and simple one: express ‘who are you with your Nikon?’  Used to           encapsulate a moment and prick the emotions – ‘I AM Neil Armstrong’, to capture a baby’s first steps –     ‘I AM Alive’, for a shot of Robbie Williams turning his camera on the crowd – through to the more literal ‘I AM a Super Zoomer’,  it’s the myriad ways that ‘I AM’ can be applied that’s given this campaign its longevity and so the campaign “ I am Nikon “ was born and is still their catch-line in their advertisements.

In this journey of 100 years Nikon has contributed a lot to the imaging industry. They have invented a better kind of glass for the lenses. The ED (Extra Low Dispersion Glass) lens was their invention, which every lens manufacturer uses right now. This lens reduces chromatic aberration They were instrumental in developing special lenses for satellites launched by NASA. NASA has captured over 700,000 images from the outer space  with Nikon lenses over the years.

So wish Nikon a happy anniversary……..as they enter their centenary year……..!

with inputs from N-photo, August 2017 

Reference manual of your camera !

whenever you buy a camera you joyfully open the box ; in fact YouTube is replete with thousands of videos on unboxing of this one or that one, which includes variety of cameras available in the market.

The moment you open the box, you rummage through the box and the first thing you take out is always the camera. After savoring the feel of brand new camera in your hands and feasting your eyes on brand new , shining camera, then only you look at other things such as  its charger, usb cables, warranty card, memory cards……………however no body notices a booklet that is called instruction manual…..The very first page in it says that read this manual carefully before operating the camera……Nobody takes it seriously……..it is just tossed out….perhaps on the bed on which you opened the camera box……and after you put in the memory card in your camera and your hands start itching to click the first shot on the new glitzy gizmo you have just acquired……in the heat of the moment you forget about the manual and it lies their forlorn…….somebody comes in and crams it in the box and keeps the box on the upper shelf somewhere in your home. From this moment the neglect of the camera manual starts…….!

Friends, your camera is in fact a small computer and there are hundreds of little facilities available in your camera. I do not think that there is a person who has mastered each and every setting in the camera……including the employees of the camera company which makes the camera. It is virtually impossible to remember each and every setting your camera provides and tries to aid you in clicking better photos.

Hence your instruction manual is a valuable piece of your imaging set-up……do not disregard it at any cost……..I teach photography and in my class i exhort my students to treat the manual with utmost respect it deserves……I even go to the extent of recommending them to keep it on side-table near your bed….and take a vow that you will not sleep unless you read at least two pages of the instruction manual everyday. Slowly you become camera-friendly…..and instinctively know how to fiddle with the settings, to get very good pics.

Now days, camera companies are saving on printing cost, and are making these manuals available on the net. So if you do not find the manual in the box, do not worry……..Google can do the job and get you the manual…..download it as PDF or better still get it printed…….nothing like a physical book….in your hands while reclining on the bed.

Ignore the instruction manual at your own peril…….many a time it saves you…….frustration of missing important memories you preserve as images……!!

What is Correct exposure !

In photography we call a photograph nice when it hits our visual senses in right place. But is there any scale by which we can measure the accuracy of exposure. Some photographs look good when under exposed, some look good when they are slightly over exposed. Some look good just because they correctly show what I want to show and our sense of beauty may be creating a hormone which makes us feel happy.

But classically speaking, anything that has highlights, shadows and mid-tones is considered to be a good photograph. Yet in photography it turns out to be a balancing act. If you expose for shadows, you blowout highlights. If you expose for highlights, you loose details in the shadows. Based on this the legendary Ansel Adams developed zone system in photography.

time-ravaged-temple-at-dandoba-4x6

Hence friends try to expose for midtones………..! Here is an example…. a shot of dilapidated temple on Dandoba hills, near Sangli. Here the sky in the background was bright and the temple itself was in shadow. But I managed to get the midtones right ! Hope you people like it !

 

star trail……amazing experiment

star-trails-small-size

Star Trail Photo by Apoorv Thacker, Sangli, shot at Belanki (Sangli Dist.)

 

Star-Trails, a beautiful circular spirographic image of the path of the stars around polaris, (North Star) looks eye-catching .

In photography there are few exotic experiments that few people try and very few get it right the very first time. Off-course with advent of mobile phones and myriads of apps that help you in achieving the  right results. You can get it right if you follow the guidelines and experiment a bit.

For the uninitiated let me explain few basic astronomical facts. Our mother earth turns on its north-south axis every 24 hours ( roughly) and it also revolves around the sun. Earth completes one revolution around the sun in approx 365 days. earths rotation around its own axis causes day and night. The north pole of our planet points towards a star which we call as pole-star ( in mythology it is called Dhruv ). In fact it is the earth that rotates on its north-south axis but to we people on earth, it looks that it is the stars that rotate around the earth. So if you point your camera at the pole-star and keep its shutter open for sufficiently long time, it creates star trails just like light trails of passing cars we shoot at night.

Nowadays there is a software available that can create beautiful 360 degrees star trails out of the images of star-trail bits you have recorded. It looks beautiful. For capturing this phenomenon you have to follow certain rules. You should have a SLR with wide angle lens.You should have a cable release. You should shoot star-trails preferably on moon-less nights ( Amavasya). use widest aperture, keep the shutter on Bulb mode,Dial the lowest possible ISO, Have a heavy tripod,place it on the sturdiest platform. Figure out pole-star, point your camera at it, focus on infinity. see to it that you have some natural or man-made subjects in the frame, these objects should not hinder your view of the north sky.

After all this preparation, open the shutter and keep it open for say 30 seconds at a time.Allow the camera to cool down a bit as such a long exposure heats-up the sensor. Then again repeat the process…..so on for minimum 100 frames or more

Now download your images to your computer and using the software combine them together to create a magical star-trail photograph.

High Zoom Cams…………!

The world of photography has evolved over the years with plenty of variety available for clicking pictures and with that camera manufacturers have also evolved. Gone are the days of staid cameras with boxy look, cameras have now turned modern….with new technology being incorporated into…rather crammed into the gadget, just to meet the consumer demand…for variety….to satisfy a latent need of the consumer.

dandoba6

Earlier people used to have a simple point and shoot camera with no frills. Just plain simple look, slowly the concept of modern styling , ergonomics, entered the field of camera, and the ease of use become the buzzword.. Cameras shed their staid looks and took on the look of a fashionable eye-candy, which people would like to flaunt.

Right now the cameras fall into following sub-classes…..High flaunting DSLRs…..Bridge Cameras……….plain point and shoot variety ! we will talk about DSLRs and Plain Jane cameras some other time. But today, we will look at the middle one…..no pun intended !

Bridge camera is a cross between point and shoot and DSLR They have fixed lens. They do not have the ability to take on variety of lenses, but they boast of high zoom lenses. which can shoot the things which are far away than the plain point and shoot. But they lack the ability of the DSLR lenses to shoot under any lighting condition. The aperture of these lenses generally limited to a range between  2.8 or so and 8. With this limited range the creative photography takes the back-seat and you have to make do with the available amount of light. As such these cameras become fair weather friends. Come cloudy weather, dark areas, night shots, and you may be stumped.

High zoom factor of these cameras brings with it, another problem, the problem of shaky photos. No doubt some of the bridge cameras try to counteract  by providing vibration reduction (VR) facility, but in some of these cameras the zoom is so high that you do require a tripod to shoot. Moreover these cameras have very small sensors compared to DSLRs and hence they show noise at ISO 800 and above. And precisely for this reason I call them fair weather friends. If the weather is sunny and  the sun is shining, then your ability to get clear noise free shots increases.

But the best advantage these bridge cameras have is their compactness and their wife or Girl-friend friendly nature. Being small in size,these cameras do not invite the attention of your wife or girl-friend. A larger DSLR will be pain in the shoulder for you and an eyesore  for your wife or GF. I have seen many wives or GFs serving an ultimatum to their beaus that on the next trip it is either me or your camera…. you have to choose between  camera or me.And friends you cannot go on a honeymoon with your camera alone…..can you ?  Hence here the bridge camera becomes the peacemaker………you can have fun with your camera…and enjoy your much needed holiday with doting wife.Ultimately the choice is yours !

Mirrorless or SLR

img_7208The debate has been raging for last few years. Whether to go for the new mirrorless  handy cameras or to go for the age-old single lens reflex (SLR ) cameras. There are people who support SLRs as the ultimate  and there is  new generation reared on slimmer and lighter mobile technology who prefer mirrorless.

Off course there are advantages and disadvantages for both SLRs and Mirrorless. Let me give you a little background knowledge about SLRs. These cameras use the same lens to look at the scene in front by a mechanism consisting of  45 degrees inclined mirror and pentaprism, which bends the light rays and forces them out of the view-finder at the top through which you look at the scene.. Because of this contraception SLRs have greater flange distance, the distance between the lens and sensor. Hence they have larger depth and consequently they are much more heavier and bulkier.

In mirrorless there is no mirror,pentaprism mechanism, hence the flange distance is small and hence they are smaller, lighter like most of the high-end point and shoot.Mirrorless uses the LCD display at the back in place of view-finder and they use slightly different autofocus method. They take little longer to lock the focus than SLRs.

Another negative point, for mirrorless is because of smaller size of the camera, the battery has to be small. Hence it does not last as much as a SLR battery lasts. But most of these cameras are now offering two batteries to compensate for this lacuna.But the biggest advantage mirror-less offers is their weight. The lesser weight makes these cameras easy to carry on tour.

Some mirrorless cameras do not offer APS-C or bigger full frame sensors, but offer smaller ones. But good mirrorless cameras are now offering APS-C or better sensors.

Mirror-less is the latest technological advance in photography and is here to stay. Over the time there will certainly be new improvements in mirrorless technology. And slowly mirrorless will overtake SLRs. In India we may have to wait little longer for mirrorless to catch-up with SLRs, as we still ask the wedding photographer which camera he has, before placing the order with him. We like bulkier models (no pun intended )

Festivals….of Lights..Camera and Action !!

diwali-2016-greeting

At the outset let me wish all my friends, a very happy Dipavali. May this festival of lights bring in its wake all that is good, into your life. May best of luck be yours and all your dreams come true. My friends who do not know marathi, may find it difficult to understand the meaning of some of the words…..But the Dipavali wishes transcends all language barriers….it simply means Good Luck to all..Prosperity to all….Good health to all !

We Indians, love festivities and it is the time to make valuable purchases. Camera is one such instrument, that is bought in large numbers on the occassion of such festivals. Dipavali is one of them.

Earlier, even people having oodles of money also used to wait for one of the three and half muhurts……Gudhi Padwa,Dasara, Dipavali Padwa and Akshay Tritiya….to buy these goodies. Right now the sale of cameras sky-rockets on these days. My friend who is an old camera distributor used to sell one or two peices of SLR cameras earlier, but the things have changed to such an extent that he does it on each day of the year……..! And on these festival days they are sold in large numbers !

One more change has overtaken the public mind over last few years, they have started to go for official stores and not for grey market. There are distinct advantages to go for             “white market” as it gives you peace of mind and which is very much important with highly sophiasticated cameras entering the market these days.

So, friends, do indulge and get your self a camera…..wide variety is available and it is the consumer who is the king now and he is driving the market right now……go….enjoy the ride !

Need to back-up your photos

We photographers go on clicking spree once we see anything interesting or attractive. In the heat of moment sometime we click hundreds of pics in one go. Some of the clicks may be of graet importance. You may not be able to visit the place again. So what you are carrying in your camera are a bundles of memories. Generally we use SD cards or CF cards to store these images. No doubt CF cards are more secure than SD cards to store the images,but not all camera models support CF cards. And thus we are vulnerable to vagaries of electronic technologies. One small glitch and all your images are lost in a jiffy….before you gather your wits.

A minor fault in any of your devices in your computer may affect your images totally and lo all your memories are gone in a flash. It recently happened to me. We friends from our school days held a get-together and we were meeting after a gap of nearly five decades. I lost all the pics on my card because of a small glitch. I decided to write about it  so that you do not land yourself in such an avoidable situation. Though this happened to me for the first time in my five decades of photography experience, one cannot be sure when a disaster strikes !

Hence friends, when you go on a trip do carry a small laptop with you and after the shoot, back-up your images to your computer and also on a pen-drive. This will help you avoid huge disappointment. Learn from your mistakes, such mistakes do happen and are a part and parcel of life. The only way to protect us from the loss is to avoid repeating the mistakes.

Come October !!

When we were very young, there was a romantic movie named ” Come September “. It had very good lilting and foot-tapping music. For we photographers, “Come October” should ring the bells and make us sing happy days are here again……!!

The boy and his bicycle !

The boy and his bicycle !

This is the month, when the monsoon starts receding. Some of us, who do not dare to venture out during Monsoon, for the fear of damaging our much loved photography equipment, take out our cameras and once again start clicking !

Moreover, this is the month, which gives us the Nimbus clouds, the clouds which are filled to the brim with water droplets, showing us the grey shades , ranging from white fluffy combed cotton like clouds to dark grey ones. Friends go and click these clouds, for the sheer shapes they throw out and for multitude of colours they spew at sunsets and at Sunrises. You will not get such dramatic sky view again till next October/ November.

This is the good time to shoot, landscapes, seascapes. Good time to venture out for a short trip………..! Come…start clicking !!