Bombay Showcase

A picture is worth a million words

At every major intersection in Mumbai you may have noticed the ‘Shot on iPhone’ billboards looming overhead. They dazzle you with wonderfully shot pictures, proving your smartphone is as capable as a DSLR. In more ways that one, it's absolutely true. What was once just a quick shot tool is now enabling the emergence of a new breed of photographer. The smartphone now empowers you, the casual user, with the means to make great photos, letting you indulge what was once an expensive passion with just your smartphone.

While the iPhone is a capable device, with excellent optics, it's way out of most people’s budgets. However, manufacturers like Samsung and Sony, and even budget phone companies like Lenovo, OnePlus, Xiaomi, and Vivo are putting in some serious optics into phones. There are devices under Rs 10,000 that are great for shooting and selfies. Then there are the mid-rangers, with features like Optical Image Stabilisation, (which prevents blur in photos) and higher megapixel sensor sizes. And high-end Androids which have cameras that can definitely rival the iPhone.

The Professionals

Meet Ritesh Uttamchandani and Vipurva Parikh, two talented photographers, who are smartphone shooters and superstars on Instagram with their fun, impromptu photos.

Uttamchandani adopts a more gonzo approach to his photography. He prefers to walk about town or travel on his assignments, which allows him access to places and situations most people would never find. He first started using his smartphone for one reason "I get tired of controlling so many things [in a DSLR]: dials, lens, zoom, this and that," he says. "There should be some device where we can sort of freestyle, which goes back to one’s origins: point and shoot, instant, where you react to situations.” A smartphone also permits him to react faster as he works in a lot of chaos. He prefers the square format when shooting.

On his process, he says he likes to keep things real, with minimal in-camera app editing. He does not like using too many filters as they degrade image quality, effectively ageing the photograph, forcing nostalgia, when the charm of today’s scenes, light and environments should shine through. We look back at old photos because they are windows to the past. Today’s photography, when seen in the future, should indicate how life was now. Uttamchandani sometimes shoots on his iPhone and sometimes on an Android phone. He prefers the iPhone because of his grain structure.

Check out Uttamchandani’s Instagram for funny and thoughtful pictures of the denizens of Mumbai and the people he comes across on his travels.

You may remember Vipurva Parikh from that ‘Wish you were here’ video that went viral a few years ago. A visual love letter to his girlfriend, now wife, as he travelled across North India, taking photos of people holding up a slate with words, which he edited to a video set to the Ryan Adams’s song of the same name.

As for shooting on a phone, "It's very different from shooting on a DSLR,” he says. “I’ve gotten used to the compactness of the phone and it's easier to edit and share. It's not a replacement for my trusty DSLR, but for me it's a lot of fun.” Parikh’s pictures are all about capturing a glorious life, the people and the happy animals he meets along the way. An avid traveller who has shot for several international travel publications, Parikh’s got that rare talent, capturing emotion and in-the-moment images.

Parikh shoots on his trusty OnePlus One currently, ans he’s looking to upgrade to a Motorola soon. Using the standard camera app, he runs the images through the Google Photos image editor which gives you control over colour temperature, shadows/highlights and sport editing. He also uses Autodesk's Pixlr app for filters. He says that no two images are the same and each and every one requires to be edited to enhance the mood and feeling you are trying to convey.

Hone your skills

With the technology literally at your fingertips, social networks are filled with pictures. This makes standing out arduous, but definitely not impossible. The best way to view phone photography is from the perspective of having fun, taking some great photographs and pushing the medium forward. While some keep their pictures normal and unfiltered, you can unleash your creativity further in post-production.

There are a plethora of apps out there that let you edit your picture, cut out, add advanced effects, give your selfies that Kim Kardashian gloss or even do some really cool arty, abstract stuff. Exploration is key, to find what you have most fun with. See oour selection alongside for a few to get you started.

With motion photos now slowly becoming a popular thing, video is also a great way to get into the fray. On an iPhone, holding down the shutter button captures a few seconds of motion. This is slowly making its way to Android too. There is also slow-motion video, which lets you capture, say, the flight of a bird at 120 to 240 frames per second and slow it down dramatically so you can see each beat of its wings.

Hone your PhonoGraphy

With the technology literally at your fingertips, social networks are filled with pictures. This makes standing out arduous, but definitely not impossible. The best way to view Phonography is from the perspective of having fun, taking some great photographs and pushing the medium forward. While several keep their pictures normal and unfiltered, you can unleash your creativity further in post production. There are a plethora of apps out there that let you edit your picture, cut out, add advanced effects, give your selfies that Kim Kardashian gloss or even do some really cool arty, abstract stuff. Exploration is key; to find what you have most fun with.



Video is also a great way to get into the fray. With motion photos now slowly becoming a popular thing. On an iPhone, holding down the shutter button captures a few seconds of motion. This is slowly making its way to Android too. There is also slow motion video, which lets you capture, say the flight of a bird at 120 to 240 frames per second and slows it down dramatically so you can see each beat of its wings.



iPhone and iPad users have it good, with so many apps and features built in. However, in a country where Android is more popular, there are great third party apps to help you. Here are a bunch to sink your teeth into.





Snapseed

Free on Android and iOS

Undeniably one of the best photo editing apps out there and it's completely free. There’s so much to love about it, from the simple interface to the amazing control you have over your photo. Not to mention the ability to add drama and filters and then tweak those for the perfect fit.





Google Photos

Free on Android and iOS

Google Photos has a fantastic editor. However, what it also has is unlimited cloud storage for your photos. Google's photo assistant is one of the best, as it constantly buoys up images you took, but presented in little videos or animations.





FrameLapse

Free on Android and Rs 99 for Pro version

There's something serene about watching time-lapse videos (videos made out of pictures taken at time intervals) so you can see clouds zipping over the horizon and the sunset rolling in. iPhone users already have a fantastic time-lapse app built into the system. For Android users, there's Framelapse. It’s a nifty app that lets you capture some really good moments. Just set the smartphone on a tripod or prop it somewhere and leave the app on for sometime.





Facetune

Rs 250 on Android and iOS

Selfies -- love them or hate them -- are a part of today’s culture and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. If you love taking pictures of yourself the besties or a celeb sighting, Facetune is a must-have. Only because it removes blemishes off your skin and edits your face to look like the superstar that you are. For extra effects, you can also download the Candy Camera to go along with the app.





Retrica

Free on Android and iOS

If you love filters, you will love Retrica, an app that boasts of near ‘countless’ filters, collages and more. The best part of the app though is the fact that you can take an animated gif by holding down the shutter button for sometime. The filters are applied in real time not after you take the image, so you can accurately see how the end result will look.



PicLab

Free on Android and iOS

Sometimes taking photos is just not enough. If you have a way with words and love typography, then PicLab lets you unleash your creativity. Using a variety of font packs, you can include little poems or haikus on your photos.



Pixlr

Free on Android and iOS

From the geniuses at Autodesk, comes a fantastic photo-editing app, Pixlr. It’s got excellent editing functions and a host of filters that really bring that professional sheen to your photos. The app also let's you paint effects into your images, either corrective ones or special details to bring in that pop.



LightX

Rs 60 on iOS, and coming soon on Android

This relatively new app has been making waves for the ease at which you can cut out and manipulate your images. LightX let's you remove backgrounds with just a few deft strokes, letting you either blur it for depth of field or add in your own. The best feature though, is blending photos, so you can have a photo of something like trees blended with an outline of a face. With iOS out now, according to them, Android is not far behind.





PixelWakker

Rs 190 on iOS

This is an unusual app, available on iOS only, which lets you convert your images into strange pixels, mosiacs and more. While this does not really connect to photography conventionally, it does give you some surprising effects with photos that you take.





Fragment

Free on Android and iOS OR Matter Rs 120 on iOS

Continuing on that same arty thread, Fragment and Matter are two apps that let you add 3D objects into your photos, giving them a surreal look and feel. Fragment is simpler in scope, letting you play with geometry. However, Matter lets you actually create composites in full 3D shapes that let you go all out and up the surreal level to the max.

BrushStroke Rs 300 for iOS OR Bonfire Pro free for Android with in-app purchases

These two let you convert your images into popular painting styles. Whether it’s Da Vinci, Vermeer, Monet, Dali or the strange beauty of Van Gogh, you can transform your photos into real art pieces. While the algorithm goes weird at times, there are times where you get incredible effects.

Phonography 101

The one and only tip of Phonography is to learn the ins and outs of your stock camera app. Most apps are powerful, with some giving you manual control over aperture and other aspects. Others have features that let you make stunning photos by sensing the scene. If you own an Android and you feel the camera app sucks, download Retrica or Google Camera or perhaps use the camera mode in Instagram

Your Smartphone camera may be excellent or passable, but the best photos are not only about technology. It’s also about how best you use the camera. So learn its nuances, in what light it stuns or flubs.

As for formats, if you like posting on Instagram, sticking to square formats is best. If you love taking pictures of scenery, go for 16:9 widescreen which is somewhat default for most phones, and in-portrait mode.

Accessories:

Here are a bunch of accessories to help your hone your skills.

Lenses

Much like your DSLR camera has lenses, you can pick up tiny lenses for your phone too. They usually come with their own mounts and they range from fisheye extra wides to micros and zooms. While these are gimmicky, the more expensive ones do work well.

Selfie Sticks

Like selfies, the selfie stick is here to stay. It’s perfect for family vacations where you have a large group. Just make sure you get the ones with a Bluetooth shutter button, which most have now anyways.

Tripod

A must have, if you love taking images or time lapse videos. The best are the gorilla pods, which have legs that can be propped up in several ways. So you can even use a rocky surface to get a balanced photo.




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Printable version | Jun 7, 2021 12:33:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/entertainment/A-picture-is-worth-a-million-words/article14483388.ece

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