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Featured Artist write-up and photographs of Santanu Mitra

SANTANU MITRA

The life of an errant photographer

Santanu was brought up in Bombay the first few years of his life. Remembering those days he recollects, “The light was different in those days, clearer somewhat.” Sure it was clear, because the Bombay of the 60’s was windswept with almost no pollution. His earliest memories are the Marine Drive, the Gateway of India at Apollo Bunder, constructed to commemorate the landing in 1911of King Emperor George V, the coconut wallahs and the mumphali seller, horse drawn carriage rides, Colaba Causeway, The hushed thin air of Khooshru Bagh and Muhammed Rafi sahib singing on most radios in the little shops of 1st Pasta Lane. And at home, gorging on Chotoder Ramayan and Chotoder Mahabharat published by Deb Shahitto Kutir. His first ever comic format literature.

When he was almost 7, his uncle returned from Germany with an unusual gift for him. Chocolates yes, cookies yes, even two EP vinyl records with Besame Mucho and the House of Bamboo!! But most importantly, he gifted the child a camera. An Agfa Isoly II 120, hand wound 120mm negative film, 12 shots to a roll. Available setting was only the aperture; f4, f4 with a yellow filter and F11. That was it. His father used it initially. Family trip to Ajanta, Ellora, Aurangabad, Khandala to the Hanging Gardens on top of Malabar Hills et al.

The story pauses there. Santanu comes to Calcutta with his father. Life became busy with school and growing up. But like many of his mates, watching films became a passion…irrespective of genre, language or taste! Parallel to this his diet consisted of comics like the Phantom, Mandrake, Flash Gordon, and in Bengali Sukhtara were his favourites.

Thus grew an interest in images. Constructed images. A choice of selection, what to see [in the frame] and what to leave out. A political, poetic, moment freezing choice. By high school, Santanu, had taken up his long lost gift, the Isoly II. So began a journey, quite by chance but guided by some unknown inner quest for defining space, to capture emotions, to hold a story in one’s hands, to comment as a social being.

After college, Santanu heard of an institution called Chitrabani, a multi disciplinary media centre directed by Fr. Gaston Roberge. He joined two courses concurrently, one as a member of team of photographers in an informal training programme headed by Brian Balen and with Deepak Mazumdar in a course in Social Communication.

The former taught him the skills, for by then he had acquired an Asahi Pentax MX [for a princely sum of Rs. 2,500/-] and most of his fellow photographer and he would share a 400 feet AGFA NP22 cine film roll and then cut it up in the darkroom to roll them in 35mm film cans. 36 exposures each!! The latter however, gave Santanu a chance to hone his skill. Over and above the assignments from the Photo Department, which focussed on Calcutta, a city of diverse people, shooting life on the streets concentrating on people and public spaces, his course in Social Communication took him to the rural hinterland of Bengal. Travelling to festivals far in the villages, crossing rivers, staying awake nights, listening to blissed out bauls in the throes of euphoric singing, the Chau dancers dancing to the primordial beat of forest drums whirling and rolling with the beats… It was a new world of magic and amazement.

Thus began Santanu’s journey as a professional photographer. A photo essay with a write-up by him sold to Namaste, the ITC in-house magazine. There was no looking back. He went to Delhi and contacted several travel and culture magazines for work and after his debut, he was good enough to be published by some of the best magazines of this genre. For the next six years he survived as a travel photo journalist and published with Destination India, Namaste, Swagat and several Travel Guides. During this time he travelled to the far corners of his country, diverse, rich, colourful and intricate.

While in Calcutta, he freelanced with the Telegraph newspaper, mostly in the area of culture and stage. He travelled to four consecutive Khajuraho Dance Festivals, covered the Bolshoi at Rabindra Sadan and the International festival of Dance and Theatre, a seven day affair with the top exponents in the field attending. Anna Halprin, Richard Shechner, Eugino Berba, Panikker from Kerala, Badal Sirkar, Girish Karnad, B V Karanth, Sunil Kothar just to name a few. While not working for the Telegraph, he freelanced and got odd jobs like travelling with the Head of Cinematography of Murdoch University Perth Australia, Peter Jeffery, to meet top film directors of India like Mrinal Sen, Satyajit Ray, Mani Kaul, Basu Chatterjee among others. Santanu was still an informal part of Chitrabani was making multiple Carousel transparencies [slide] projections. He was also actively shooting Mother Teresa for almost two years off and on, for CARE, a sponsor of the Missionaries of Charity. With Mother Teresa he experienced the Home for the destitute and Dying, the Leprosy colonies in Asansol, the Nirmal Hriday with inmates covering all forms of human handicaps and victims of social apathy.

Soon he shifted base to Delhi and joined The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts under Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, working in the archival field of Photography. Santanu photographed the art works of Elisabeth Sass Brunner and her daughter who coming from Europe in the 30’s travelled through China, Tibet, Burma and India to document the life of people there. They spent time with Rabindranath Tagore who’s philosophy influenced them greatly. He worked on the production team of Aakara, an international exhibition on Calligraphy. He painstakingly shot the Neolithic rock cave art of Bhimbhetka with Dr. Yashodhar Mathpal, a giant in the field. But the icing on the cake was when IGNCA acquired the complete photographic effects of Raja Lala Deen Dayal, the erstwhile Court Photographer to Mehboob Jah 6th Nizam of Hyderabad. Santanu was deputed to catalogue and pack and bring to Delhi the said effects! This comprised almost 2,500 hand coated emulsion glass plate negatives, sizes, 15×20, 12×16, 8×10 and 4×6 inches. Six view cameras made mostly in the United Kingdom and Germany, several lenses, innumerable POP prints of Army Officers and their wives and servants, The Royal Court, nautch girls in their finery, children of the aristocracy, palanquins, hunts and dances …the list goes on.

This was a treasure trove for Santanu, who lovingly catalogued and packed each and every item to be shipped back to the IGNCA. He recalls, “I think I really did learn a lot during those days. How a pioneer photographer documented his times with such care and perfection using not so user friendly equipment was verily a task for the toughest.”

After two years at the IGNCA, Santanu joined The Times of India, New Delhi, as a press photographer. During is six year tenure with the TOI, he covered all kinds of usual press assignments, from football to fashion, from murders to rallies, from politician to under-trials. He covered three riots at Khurja, Aligarh and Meerut. His portfolio includes the Mandal Commission unrest and he recalls, “Having to shoot with tear gas all around was a real challenge, it’s the police who taught us how to keep salt in one’s mouth for some relief.” He was there when Rajeev Goswami committed self immolation and was rewarded with the front page the day after. He covered Lal Krishna Advani on his Rath Yatra, Murli Manohar Joshi on Ekta Yatra to Kashmir, and climbed onto an AN32 cargo aircraft to cover the last sprinkling of the ashes of Rajiv Gandhi over the Himalayas with the hatch open at -24 degrees Celcius. “The sight of the mighty Himalayas from that height is unbelievable”, he says. He was appointed Chief Photographer Economic Times for the last two years of his tenure at TOI.

After resigning from the TOI, he joined television as a Producer and produced India’s first Art Review Show, State of the Art with Jessica Lall as presenter and also produced The Inside-Outside Show, a programme based on Architecture, Interiors and Usable Art. He also produced his first ever documentary on the Bauls of Bengal.

As his interest developed, Santanu started working as a Line Producer for projects of the BBC, Channel4, Canal Plus, TF1, TF24, Thalssa, Arte etc. He covered four Kumbh Melas and worked as Interpreter, Researcher, Cameraman, and Fixer.

In the early 2000’s he was asked by a friend, and ex-boss, to join as a Photo Editor for two newspapers in Nepal. Santanu’s work was to put a team of local photographers into a cohesive team and supervise the work of the department. He would , also, have to travel extensively all over Nepal to document local issues there, be they refugees, Maoists or local festivals and craft.

After successful completion of his brief, he returned to Calcutta where he joined as HoD of Media Studies at a renowned University. But his shifty feet wouldn’t let him be bound to a desk. He started freelancing again for foreign channels and private producers, and teaching a bit o the side. As he still does.

Santanu has exhibited in Calcutta, New Delhi, Kathmandu, Oslo and Arendal in Norway and Stockholm. But for all exhibits he is immovable on one count. “I like to keep my photographs full frame, no cropping. That is why I leave the natural black border of the negative gate in the frame. I somehow feel it adds to the authenticity of my endeavours”, he says. And then sighs, “Digital age has deleted all that.”

When asked what he got out of life as a photographer, he smiles. His eyes look inwards. Then afer a pause he says, “Photography has been my life and learning. When you are looking at the face of Pandit Mallikarjun Mansoor through a 180mm, 2.8, you can feel his voice rip through you. When you see a smoking jugghi jhopri colony after a recent fire through a 20mm you can see the devastation in one glance. When you see the Nagas rush to Ganga ji during Shahi Snan through a 400mm. it’s the energy of the moment that grips you by your throat. Photography has brought life to me in a way that I would never ever have seen as a civilian, and yes, I do mean a civilian. It’s because a photographer is always a Samurai. He has to have the eye, the sense and the reflex to capture a moment that can become timeless!”

[Disclaimer: A lot of jargon may not be understandable by young readers or non-photographers. We apologise.]

Interview with Kai Hornung

First , Can you tell us a little about of you and how you got started with Photography ?

I am Kai Hornung. I am a landscape photographer from Hanover, Germany. In 2016 I started to photograph landscapes when I was on a business trip to Ireland. Before I had photographed my kids and did some documentation of my family travels. Pretty much what everybody does. In 2016 though I started to actually learn how to photograph and how to actually take good photos. In 2018 I founded my little side business: Kai Hornung Photography. Aside from taking photos and traveling to beautiful places I write articles for magazines, sell prints and teach photography (mostly editing).

How would you describe your Photography style ?

I call it landscape photography art in which I try to portray different places and moods of our natural surrounding. My images are not necessarily documentaries, so they can range from a very natural display of the scene up to a more dreamlike vision of what I saw and felt that very moment. I have been a singer in bands for many years. So in my photography I aspire to make the image literally sing.

Where do you get your inspiration for Photography ?

It’s nature itself that inspires me really. This can be small and abstract scenes and frames of what I see. It can also be big, great and dramatic vistas also. I like to take my time in nature and look around. Also when I lock in for a composition I still keep my eyes open for things that even happen in opposite directions.

I also get inspired by other artists work and other art bring it music, film or books.

You are a world traveler and you have visited more countries , from Germany to Italy , Iceland and many more , we know this is not easy questions to answer , but what trip would you say was your best experience and why ?

This is in fact a difficult question for me since I don’t rank my travels. It’s like kids: you don’t rank them in any order but love them just the same. But if I take the question as “experiences that stand out” I would say my first real photo tour in late summer 2017 with my buddies Mikkel Beiter, Mads-Peter Iversen and Roy Jensen is a fond memory and the start to dedicating a trip to nothing else but taking images. Even to the brink of complete exhaustion. I went on a tour through the Alps, mainly Dolomites, together with photo friends who I had only met online before and it was fantastic. The places were magnificent and the shared enthusiasm for getting up very early, hike long tracks, stay up late and rarely sleep was incredible.

Since then I have taken plenty of such trips and never been disappointed.

How do you plan for a trip ?  

I do lots and lots of research. Mainly online with google maps and google earth pro but also with books and blog articles. For the bigger tours I like to make excel sheets which include travel times between potential spots, sunrise and -set hours, Milky Way possibilities and alternative spots nearby to have choices while on tour.

This is very, very time consuming to plan this way.  And it usually leads to having too many spots planned, but it’s just how I work and how I discuss possible tour plans with my partners.

A Tipp would be: if you see an image of a spot that looks promising look for similar images on google that are usually unedited but give a more realistic impression of the place and safe the location on your google map. This way you collect all sorts of spots to visit.

What is typically in your camera Bag  And what kind of gear do you use ?

I have a fstop camera bag which I have been using for years. I shoot with Sony gear and use the a7riii. I usually take many lenses with me which makes me end up carrying more gear around than I usually need.

I have a full list of my gear and also drone, tripod and filter on my homepage for all people who are interested.

What is the appeal of landscape images to you that is not found in others categories , like street , Portrait ? 

It’s the unparalleled experience of being outside and enjoying the beauty of nature. When I started out with photography I tried street and portraiture. But I usually feel uncomfortable asking people if I could photograph them. I also feel more rushed to shoot a model to release him or her out of the unnatural situation of being photographed. And this rush or hectic usually results in images that I feel could have been better if taken more time.

If you want to start any others categories then which gener do you want to start and why ? 

I don’t have such plans but people photography would probably interest me the most. Despite my above mentioned short comings.

Please describe your post processing workflow ? 

I do raw-file adjustments inside Lightroom to lay a basement to the edit of the image. This includes all kinds of corrections from white balance to tone shifting, contrast and lens correction. Sometimes shifting perspective and profile calibration. Also spreading the dynamic range and evening out the histogram. I then convert this into a smart object into photoshop and go for fine tuning, select local contrast and color work. Guiding light by dodging and burning and enhancing mood. Also separating colors and sharpening.

Some steps I take in pretty much every photo, others are dictated by the image itself and the artistic vision I have. Editing an image can take half an hour up to six or eight hours.

What has been your favourite photo location?

I have a special love for Iceland and the Dolomites. It’s not only the fantastic and endless possibilities to photograph. It is also the fact that I simply love being there and enjoy the surroundings so much.

What challenges do landscape photographers face in the near future ?

I think nature conservation while traveling by plane and moving around in nature is a challenge and sometimes contradictory for landscape photographers. I think it’s important to do that consciously. Last year there was an initiative many landscape photographers signed in which they claimed to place respect and preservation of nature first. As much as I like the initiative and agree to its goals, I could not sign it full heartedly just because I feel like how can I when I take trains and other transportation to reach far away destinations and also teach other people how to photograph when ultimately they want to travel then, too?

I know there are a few photographers who claim to be huge nature protectionists and in the next sentence explain how they take helicopters to shoot the most extreme places. I think it’s a discussion with many, many facets.

Can you take us through your creative journey and tell us what it is that you look for an image ?

I look for a feeling in the scene I see. A story that the place tells. This can be the place itself with its shapes and patterns or its landmarks. And the way the place interacts with the conditions that were during the time I was there.

Whose work has influenced you most ?

Early on when starting Ted Gore, Ryan Dyar, Elia Locardi and Michael Shainblum probably were my biggest inspiration. I don’t have any specific artists anymore that I would call as influencing me. The likes of Alex Noriega, Hans Strand or David Thompson are amongst those whose work probably inspire me the most nowadays in their ways of how they see things and present them in their work. There can be any great images though that make me go “wow!”. That doesn’t need to be of any specific artist.

Among your works , which one is your favourite ? Can you please share this photo ?

My image ‘escape’ is one of my favorites. To me is has a grace and power and also vulnerability of a fleeting moment that I don’t get tired looking at. It’s a scene where you don’t really care about the place where you shot it at because of its intimacy. I was happy to have that one included amongst the best in the international landscape photographer of the year awards.

Do you know any  landscape photographer from India ? 

Yes. Sandeep Mathur comes to my mind. He has a beautiful body of work. And Soumik Datta, an aspiring, photographer who I had the pleasure of teaching him some things about landscape photography.

In the field , what are your settings ? 

Aperture 

Shutter speed

Iso

White balance 

Focus 

It’s always f11, 73mm, 1/10 sec. and ISO100 and white balance of 5337 K. Always!   …just kidding. You cannot have one setting. it always depends on the conditions and what you photograph. In nature more often than not you find less than ideal conditions so you need to adapt and sometimes you go for less than ideal settings. Also nobody is error free. At times you might decide on settings that are not ideal. I always photograph in manual mode because I want to be in control of all perimeters. But in my opinion it’s completely misleading to think just because you read anyone’s Exit you could rebuild the image. I have a blog article about that subject. It might not satisfy the ones who are huge fans of this info though.

Image format : 

Always in raw as it allows for the most possibilities in post processing.

Can you please share your some best  photograph with exifthat inspire to us ? 

See the image I described earlier.

If we arrange a small photo talk with you in WebEx for an small interaction, learning us about landscape photography , 

are you interest ? 

That is always fun. In the end it’s a question of time if we can set this up.

Besides, for people who are interested to get one on one with me for portfolio critiques or editing trainings you can reach out to me.

What tips or advice do you have for others who’s started with landscape photography ? 

Simply go out and photograph and try to learn as much as you can. Photography is a craft and it needs time to get good at it. But it is fun and fulfilling. Be willing to fail and enjoy what you are doing then you have a good chance to improve your skills.

Interview with Zulfi

First , Can you tell us a little about of you and how you got started with Photography ?

I’m Zulfikhar, Travel Photographer based in Chennai. It all began when my passion for photography started as a child when my parents gifted me a film camera. As technology progressed and photography equipment became more accessible to everyone I pushed myself to discover the unexplored. I travelled to remote areas to find the undocumented, explore the unexplored and share the unseen.

Where do you get your inspiration for Photography ? 

My first ever inspiration was Timothy Allen, an English Travel Photographer. Later I found inspiration in every good image of all the photographers I came across.

Specially what is your favorite subject in photography? Which is your main genre?

People are my favorite subject always. I love to shoot Environmental Portraits during my Travel.

We know that you were Dubai based for a long time. Now you are in your hometown Chennai, India.

When you used to take snaps in Dubai and you take snaps in India…are there any differences you notice as a travel photographer? 

Yes a lot of differences. For instance, back in Dubai, it is not easy to shoot people! But it is not an issue at all in India. also there a lot of possibilities to shoot different genres in India. People are really very friendly in India.

Could you please guide the techniques of clicking the people’s faces and their lifestyles of the core areas? Because most of them won’t allow to be clicked always?

The formula to shoot people is really simple! First we need to make sure that you are as friendly as possible and approach with a smiling face. Talk to them for a while about their place and life, have a good interaction to break the ice. Most importantly, seek for their permission before you shoot. Then once you get the permission, choose the right background, light and capture your shots.

What are the gears you are using when you are clicking
☑️Portraits
☑️Landscapes
☑️Cityscapes
☑️Fashion
☑️Portraiture
☑️Streets
☑️Commercial works like fashion
* kindly share some specific settings too which you like the most…

There are no specific gears for specific genres. Initially I had a canon crop sensor camera – Canon EOS 70D, then I upgraded my kit with a full frame body – Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. Later on I also started shooting with Nikon bodies such as D810, D4s, D850 etc. I always prefer to shoot at Aperture priority except during fashion shoots at studios, where I always prefer to shoot on Manual mode.

Why are those gears much needed?

It is for the Dynamic Range. With rights gears you could get the most of what is available at the time of shoot itself. Post processing becomes easier and less time consuming.

Whose work has influenced you most ?  

There are quite a few names that would pop instantly, they are Timothy Allen, Jord Hammond & David Lazar.

Among your works , which one is your favorite ? Can you please share this photo ? 

It is hard to pick one favorite! There are quite a few, but I would say this particular photo would top the list because it was published at the Somerset Museum, London as the most commended shot.

Can you please share your any memorable experiences on your recent activities at your visiting to the places for photo shoot purposes? Ex- Kerala.

There was this one particular incident which happened during my visit to Kerala for shooting Theyyam Festival. It was 2’o clock at night and I was waiting to shoot the event which would start by 3am. Since I did not have any food earlier, I felt so hungry. There weren’t any shops or hotels available around, so I decided to go to the temple and ask if there was any food left, as they always provide free meals to all who attend the festival. Unfortunately it was all over. I walked back with disappointment. But suddenly a voice called out to me, a man from the temple management got me a full meals and said that was the last plate left. It was really touching. I felt so grateful. This is India for you, Unity in Diversity. I would never forget this incident.

Any favorite places you always love to visit…or any dream place?

The list is really long! I would love to visit Sikkim, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Myanmar and Camobida in the near future once this pandemic ends.

Any guidance for the amateur photographers?

Keep shooting, Keep learning! Be fully aware of the gear you use. Take feedbacks from others. Always improvise.

 

Interview with Street Photographer Cosmin

  1. Can you tell us a little about of you and how you got started with Photography ?

I live in Bucharest, Romania, I’m 35 and I’m addicted to photography. Especially to street photography. When I was a boy, I was dreaming of becoming a coreographer or to work in the music industry, but I ended up graduating the Academy of Economic Studies. A total loss of time. I didn’t like it at all. As a student, I started working as an editor and voice over for a radio station, and after graduation I found a job in television. Again, a creative medium. Nowadays I’m still in television, working as a video editor. I am an active person and when I really like something, I totaly devote myself to it. No sacrifice is too big. I like to respect people and to be respected. I like to believe that photography is the best medicine, at hand and quite cheap. And it goes very well with music. For the last 3 years I’ve been an admin of the international street photography group OnSpot. During all this time I had the pleasure to promote excellent photographers and I got to learn a lot from them. I was part of various street photography exhibitions, as those from the Miami, London, Milano or Bruxelles festivals. 

  1. Where do you get your inspiration for Photography? 

From films, music and everything related to the visual domain. From the photographs which I see daily, from different talks with my friends. Photobooks play an important role as well. 

  1. What does ‘street photography’ mean to you?

For the last 5 years, it became some sort of an addiction. Or maybe it was from the beginning, but I have a different understanding of things now. It’s a lifestyle…And even if I wanted to quit more than once, I couldn’t do it.

  1. Who are the Masters of Photography who inspired you most in your photographic works?

Joel Meyerowitz. Trent Parke, Alex Webb, Elliot Erwitt, David Alan Harvey, Constantine Manos have a special place… But there are many otthers.

  1. What first drew you to street photography—and how did you discover it?

I don’t recall exactly what made me want to take photos of what I was seeing. It just came to me I guess. It happened about 15 years ago, when I touched the first camera. Many stories to tell since that day.

  1. Are you believe that observation is the main thing in street photography ? 

Yes, observation is a key factor in getting a good image and also in evolving as a photographer. But in order to develop a sense of observation you need to back it with lots of work and patience. Time is no ally either…

  1. Black white or colour and why ?

It doesn’t matter to me if a photograph is in color or in black and white.

It’s the message that matters. I think it’s every photographers decision what he or she wants to pass on. Lately I’ve chosen to edit in color, but this doen’t mean that if an image would look better in bw I won’t edit it that way. It depends a lot on circumstances and the message. In both cases, I try as much as possible to show the mood I observed while photographing, and not to distort things. After all, life is so colorful that it would be a pitty not to show it. I think a photographers should follow their own style, their gut, and the message they want to convey. An image doesn’t have to be in bw to be timeless.

  1. In a street picture, do you think the contrasts of light are important to tell a story or are just an aesthetic fact?  

The light can certainly create stories through the shapes it creates. I believe though that it manages to help the composition especially through the volumes that it gives. The study of light in the street is a good exercise…to try to minimalise the composition with the help of light or on the contrary, to paint with light in a complex image.

9.    Taking a shot in the street could be difficult at times; dealing with people’s reactions or making sure it is not invasive in the various situations that could arise, is not always easy. What is your approach in these circumstances?

Getting closer to the subject is a big challenge. You don’t know what the reaction will be and it is always a risk taken. That is why I believe it is important to smile, to be opened, so that you won’t be seen as a menace to them. I get quite close to my subjects, sometimes I shoot from the hip in order not to alter the subject’s state of mind or being in the moment. Once you are being noticed, the photographed ones change their attitude. Things have changed, as the Covid crisis came along and people’s behaviour changed. It will be more difficult to get closer. A real challenge now.

10.     What is your approach with your camera when you are shooting unknown people in the street? This is a problem for many photographers: how do you manage it or how did you overcome it?  

In the beginning I used to avoid photographing people. Little by little I realised that what doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger. For me listening to music really works, I act as a tourist in my own city. And people feel that. I have no problem with photographing strangers.

11.   Which subjects, both people and places, inspire you most and make you to look for the shot, or that you think better represent your city and your land?  

I think variety is very important in photography. So I try not to think in advance of a subject, when I go out. I might get lucky and catch a candid moment or just the everyday simplicity… Having options is a plus in my opinion. If the location has photographic potential as well, then it’s a real bonus.

  1. Do you think is there something unique in the street photography that distinguishes it from other genres?  

Yes, the sincerity and naturalness of the moment. The liberty of not answering in front of anybody for the way you want to depict reality.

  1. In recent years, Street Photography has boomed, what do you think it’s due to? And what evolution has there been?

I would begin with the second question…I think we are dealing with a decline nowadays in street photography. Lots of cliches, people just want to imitate in order to get fast appreciation and recognition. Street photography has boomed judging by the number of images, not necessarily through quality.

14.  What kind of gear do you use?

I use my  Fujifilm XT2 with a 8 mm lense , in 95% of the cases.

15.   If you want to start any other categories then which genre do you want to start and why?   

I am attracted by documentary photography. You dedicate yourself to a cause, you get pretty involved and it requires lots of time, it needs to let things settle down. It seems very difficult to me, but that is why it is so challenging. 

  1. Which are the limits of ethics in a street picture ?

Respect for the photographed people is what matters first and foremost, in my opinion.

There is a limit to all things. I try not to get to the limit and not to depict  my subject in humiliating way.

  1. Among your works, which one is your favorite? Can you please share this photo?

And please share your best six photos .

I can’t name a favourite. I just hope that some day I will have an image that will count for something, or will be able to change something.

  1. How has social media played a role in your photography?

Every Friday, I promote a photographer on a fb page: On Spot Gallery. I’ve seen thousands of images trying to get the best selection for the page and I can say it helped me grow, from a visual point of view. On Instagram also, I discovered many good photographers. Social platforms are a good thing, but only to a certain point.

  1. What tips or advice do you have for others who are started with street photography? 

The best advice that I got from a friend, also a photographer, was not to look for the sensational. From that moment on, I started to appreciate much more simplicity, and the banal. Another advice that I would give is for them to try anything, without restrictions, to let their imagination fly and to be inspired by other photographers. Attention though… to get inspired, not to copy, because it’s a big difference. We all sort of change our perception through the images we get to see daily. I think in this case the Internet doesn’t help. What works for me, doesn’t neccesarily work for you as well. Without work and practice you can’t achieve too much. I believe that one of the biggest asset a photographer can gave is perseverance. Nothing falls from the sky and you have to make sacrifices and to be passionate enough not to perceive things that way. Another advice is for them to buy photobooks, as nothing compares to watching printed images, to attend workshops when possible and to be opened to new experiences. Also to watch as many films as possible (films with photogeaphic potential) and to be amazed by the things and places they encounter on the way. To write down their ideas, not to be afraid of new things and to believe in themselves because they are unique. Not to forget, modesty is also important. There is no magic recipe, only too short days.

Interview with Arturo

First, can you tell us a little about yourself and how did you get started with photography?

Photography was not initially important to me, it did not attract my attention. What did attract me from a very young age was traveling. Over time I did need to show what I saw, what I lived and what I felt, but it was really bad taking photos with my little camera. When I showed the images to family or friends, the only thing they saw was a moving photo and in which it was not known what I had wanted to take, it was very frustrating. Little by little I was striving to capture the essence of travel, so I gradually became interested in the world of photography. It was very hard for a long time, I traveled frequently, but saw no results. I returned and did not achieve my goal, my photographs were hardly improving, but fortunately, after a lot of work, I think that more or less I was improving when it came to capturing what I saw; Although I am an eternal dissatisfied and I am always unhappy with my work. From my travels I come back with the feeling that I could do better and maybe, that feeling is good to keep trying and improve as a photographer. Currently, I cannot conceive of traveling without my camera.

How would you describe your photographic approach?

Mainly my photography is documentary and anthropological. In my trips I look for people within their cultural and social environment to which they belong and it is there where I really feel comfortable. I focus a lot on fading cultures and ancient traditions.

But obviously, when you travel you have the opportunity to see many things and live countless situations that are worth photographing, and I do. I am not as “purist” as other photographers, who are very clear about their specialty and find it difficult to get out of it.
Where do you get your inspiration for photography?
Many years ago, I paid a lot of attention to the works of the great masters, Steve Mc Curry and Sebastiao Salgado in particular, I was amazed at his photographs of places I had traveled to and seemed to me other places, I was amazed to see what they They were able to see and how they reflected it in their images. They inspired me a lot, but now, I just let go and I’m not aware if something or someone inspires me, I just enjoy it like the first day.

How has photography allowed you to connect with local cultures?

I think it has been the other way around, that visiting other cultures or ethnic groups was what made me feel little by little the need to photograph them and rescue those unique moments, that I had kept in me, but that little by little they fade over time .
It is true that since photography is digital, it is much easier to interact with the people you are going to photograph, showing them the result on the screen, it takes away tension at the moment and is cause for laughter. With analog photography, you shot, thanked and left, it was much colder.

What is your equipment for travel photography?

I currently work with Nikon D800 and for various purposes.
Nikon 24-70mm
Nikon 70-200mm

Nikon 16-35mm

What configuration do you choose?

I only give priority to the diaphragm and by default I have underexposed 1/3 of the diaphragm to give it a little more contrast.

Which travel and portrait photographers have influenced you?

I think I anticipated this question earlier and answered it.
There are many photographers that I like, but in particular and the ones that influenced me the most were Steve Mc Curry and Sebastiao Salgado. The first one has masterpieces, in which you spend a good time looking at the scene and nothing is missing, everything is perfect and Salgado, what to say about this photographer, that magical black and white. But as I have already mentioned, there are true masters of travel photography.

What is the importance of portrait photos?

For me, everything is the modality in which I am most comfortable. As I mentioned before, on trips I take advantage of any scene I like, landscape, Street photography, details, I do not care, but it is with the portrait that I get the best results.

Have you ever missed what could have been a memorable shot?

Yes, I have failed not once, but a few times. On some occasions for not having the camera ready and being a quick scene and the image has moved, or is out of focus. I have had many situations in which I have not been able to achieve that unique image and that creates frustration that lasts for several days.

Among your works, which is your favorite? Can you please share this photo?

It is very difficult to stay with a single image, but I will choose one of the ones that I like the most, which does not always correspond to the best, it may be due to the circumstances in which it was taken, there may be some more sentimental than technical reason in that image, but I will try to make the photo you choose take a bit of everything.
This image belongs to a series, I do not know if it is one of my favorites, but it is true that I really enjoyed doing it. It is from some races that are held in Sumatra, Indonesia. I remember being in front of the oxen and when they got very close I had to run away and get out of their way. Everything had to be very fast and have the camera settings ready. It was really an exciting and good day, the result is spectacular.

What is your dream mission?

Good question. Well, I have had in mind for many years cycling the mythical Lhasa (Tibet) – Kathmandu (Nepa) route and being able to do a photographic report. But time passes and the years come upon me and every time I see it more difficult, although I always have it in mind. I also want to do a good report on the Rio Ganga, but there are many goals that I always have in mind.

Do you have any projects planned for the year?

It is a very difficult year to make plans of any kind due to the virus crown, I think this year you will be able to travel little. I had planned to organize some photographic trips around Africa, but you have to wait to see how the pandemic evolves.

Arturo López Illana

Tutorial blog Long Exposure Photography by Jhuma Datta

Landscape photography is a genre where long exposure photography can be very interesting  because what you see with your naked eyes isn’t necessarily what your camera captures. It is fascinating and is one of the best ways to unleash your creativity and shoot awe-inspiring landscape images. Since you can capture moving elements in an attractive visual  compositions either during daytime with the use of filters or else during the night with or without the use of filters, with the deliberate intent to create an effect on any moving elements that is typical for long exposure photographs. Effects like blurred skies with streaks of clouds, smoothed out water like if it is frozen, blurred ghostlike people, star trails, moon trails and light trails, using an exposure time that is deliberately prolonged to achieve this effect. It’s not the duration of the exposure that qualifies it as a long exposure photograph, but the intention of capturing moving objects with longer exposure times than necessary that makes it a long exposure photograph. To me long exposure means  “visualizing the invisible” and creating a mysterious surreal atmosphere. An extended exposure can reveal to the eye what was visible to the mind’s eye only. That’s why I love long exposure photography. I want to reveal what my mind’s eye sees. The ideal shutter speed for long exposures varies depending on the scenes and the permeability of the ND filter used. So you have to determine it on-site using test pictures. One value that you should not underestimate is the aperture. Don’t dive unthinkingly into high f-numbers like f/22. With a high f-stop you encounter strong light refraction. So lean towards values in the f/4–16 range instead. Keep the ISO between 100-400  to eliminate noise. Make sure your focus is correct before placing ND filter in front of your camera or you might struggle to focus. In any case, once your focus is correct, make sure you switch your focus from Auto to Manual mode, and don’t change it for the rest of the shooting. Use quality filters if you don’t want to see awful colour cast.

Equipment for long exposure photography :
A camera with bulb mode.
A sturdy tripod
No specific lenses.
A Nd filter 6-10 stops
A cable release

To wrap up this Long Exposure Landscape Photography guide, I just want to encourage you to go out and shoot.

Happy Shooting!!