CONTENT

Talk @ National Academy of Direct Taxes, Nagpur

It’s not exactly pleasant news when the taxman asks you to speak up. But Sudhir did speak up, addressing not one but a whole class of in-training taxmen. The prestigious National Academy of Direct Taxes at Nagpur is the apex training institution of the Indian Revenue Services. Sudhir was invited to be a part of their annual cultural fest, ANUBHUTI 2017.

Anubhuti 2017
National Academy of direct taxes
National Academy of direct taxes

He conducted a photography workshop for the numerous photography hobbyists and enthusiasts there who were keen to learn some tricks of the trade from him. The workshop included a presentation on wildlife photography in general, Sudhir’s journey as a hobby to professional wildlife photographer/teacher, and tips and tricks of wildlife photography on August 29, 2017. This was followed by a short field outing the next day, where the trainees got a hands-on experience of shooting outdoors.

Sudhir with trainees

It was as much an honour for Sudhir to address such an accomplished group of youngsters as it was enjoyable for them to learn from their favourite photographer. By the looks of it, he will be pulled up every now and then by these taxmen.

Everyone shooting in the field outing

CONTENT

5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD ATTEND SUDHIR SHIVARAM'S PHOTOGRAPHY LEARNING TOURS

Guest post by Camilla Malvestiti
www.tigersinthewild.org

A few years ago, the tiger changed my life. The call of the jungle, the sheer thrill of tracking the most elusive of cats and an innate stubbornness made me realize that it was time to leave my routine as a vegan chef in Paris and move to India. 

Sudhir Shivaram Photography
Junabai Cub at Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve

It all started with a personal project on writing and photography : Tigers in the Wild.

In January 2017 I saw my first wild tiger in Ranthambhore and got hopelessly hooked on both stripes and long tele lenses. 

Very soon, I was in one of Sudhir Shivaram’s photography learning tours in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. Little did I know that it would only be the starting point of a great learning experience with one of India’s most talented wildlife photographers and an amazing teacher. 

So why should you attend one of Sudhir’s workshops ? 

  • 1. Let out your passion for wildlife photography and get carried away
Sudhir Shivaram Photography

Sudhir started his professional journey after deciding to quit his corporate job to follow his passion for wildlife photography. 

Not only this passion shows, it’s also contagious. 

By signing up for one of his workshops you’ll surely end up with all the technical information on how to become a confident photographer, as well as getting inspired to follow your dreams. 

  • 2. Visit some of the country’s best wildlife destinations with experienced drivers and guides while making new friends
Sudhir Shivaram Photography Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve
Sudhir with Gudda (Naresh Singh), one of the best drivers / naturalist at Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

Sudhir organizes intense learning workshops which require a lot of work but are also great fun. 

Believe me, you won’t mind the 4:30 am wake up call to be first in line in front of Bandhavgarh’s hottest gate for tiger spotting. Nor you’ll be able to withdraw from passionate evening discussions after having enjoyed amazing food. 

Sudhir Shivaram Photography Bandhavgarh
Always leave early to be the first in the line for the safari

While driving in the park, you’ll experience the skills of some of India’s most experienced drivers and guides. In their hands, the game of tiger tracking is as smooth as it gets. Let the magic of the forest unfold under your eyes and concentrate on making images.

Sudhir Shivaram Photography Kanha
Tigress MB3 with her cub at Kanha Tiger Reserve. Photo by Camilla
  • 3 – Learn how it works, but most of all start finding your style

One of Sudhir’s most famous catchphrases is “Move away from taking images to making images”.

Learn all about technical principles, the paradigm of photography theory, master the rules. Then break them. Experiment. Rules are there to be smashed. Just saying.

  • 4 – Step out of your comfort zone, in a safe environment

Learn how to critique an image and give valuable feedback. Sudhir organizes a healthy photo competition during each workshop. While finding time to review the images taken during the day might be a daunting task for those who tend to overindulge on the blasting of their shutterspeed, an honest peer-to-peer evaluation will give you invaluable insights on your photography.

Sudhir Shivaram Photography
A healthy competition is organised among participants of the workshop.
  • 5 – Be part of an active, benevolent online community

Let’s keep in touch. How many times have you heard or told this phrase but haven’t really followed up ? Life kicks in and with it all the time-consuming daily activities. Sudhir’s team devotes quite a huge part of their working hours to the animation and maintain of his online community. They encourage WhatsApp and Facebook groups, theme competitions and an overall active dialogue to clear all your doubts and help you continue learning even after the workshop has ended.

Voilà, these are reasons which have made me a big fan of Sudhir Shivaram’s photography learning tours!

https://www.sudhirshivaramphotography.com/photography-courses/photo-tour/

Guest Post By Camilla Malvestiti
www.tigersinthewild.org

CONTENT

The Definitive Guide To Post-Processing

There are many guides to learn about post-processing in photography.

Also there are many ways to post-process the images.

But when you know how to use the knowledge of them tactically, you can make a difference.

That is what you are going to get in my definitive guide of post processing in photography using ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) and Photoshop.

You are going to learn:

  • The very basics of post processing (both RAW processing and JPG processing).
  • Why post-processing is important
  • Dos and Don’ts
  • Which step in post processing affects what
  • How to do post-processing the right way

You are also going to find out whether post-processing is image manipulation or image correction.

Before we dive into the guide, go through my post-processing tutorial using Adobe Camera RAW.

Let’s start with knowing what post-processing actually is…

What is post-processing in photography?

Tiger

Post-Processing refers to image editing in photography. It is an integral part of digital photography. And understanding the basic workflow will help you get the best out of your captured images.

Why do we have to post-process an image?

Personally, for me, post-processing is not image manipulation but image correction. The digital cameras have limitations with the dynamic range and the colors/tonality/contrast it can capture. Our human eye is much more capable of viewing the objects.

So when we click images, the chances of getting images as they are for the human eye are less.

Hence post-processing is needed to match the image to what you saw in the field.

DON’Ts in post-processing

don'ts in post processing

I follow basic post-processing. But I do not digitally alter or manipulate my images. For me Post-Processing is – show what you saw in the field, nothing more and nothing less. Of course, you can enhance the image a bit. It is like doing makeup and going to an event or party, but do not get a plastic surgery done. Of course, if someone wants to manipulate the image to make it look more beautiful, it’s an individual choice and nothing wrong in that.

Things I avoid in post processing:

  • Images, where the subject has been cut out and placed in a different background,
  • Morphed images
  • Combining two images of the same subject into one
  • Adding elements that were not originally preset while shooting.
  • Removing elements from the image which originally existed.

Remember, I do not want to show what I did not see in the first place. I just work on showing others what I see with my eyes. This opens door to what we have to do in post-processing.

DOs in post-processing

Depending on the photographer expertise and experience, it may always not be possible to get everything right the first time in the camera. We may commit some minor mistakes while photographing. We need to correct them in post-processing. Basic post-processing which I follow would generally include the following:

  • Crop and Straighten
  • Colour Correction
  • White Balance
  • Exposure Correction
  • Contrast and Clarity
  • Sharpening
  • Levels adjustment

Let’s get into knowing where we use the above steps individually..

#1 Crop & Straighten

straightening the image in post processing

Even though we take great care while capturing an image, there are chances of not getting image as we want, especially the composition aspect.

This may result in getting unwanted pieces of information at the edges and the image may get titled a bit.
In that case, we crop and straighten the image to clean up and correct any issues with composition.

#2 Colour Correction

color correction

Sometimes we may not get the colour of the image as we want. In that case we need to make corrections though it needs some expertise.
In that case, we can correct any colour casts and ensure the image colour is as accurate as possible.

#3 White Balance

white balance

White balance is the colour temperature of that image and is one of the parameters responsible to get you good colours in your image. Generally a lot of photographers keep this setting in auto white balance and hope to correct it during post processing. It is not a good practice as I always advice to get it right the first time out of the camera.

But when the things don’t fall into the place as we want, we can always correct that while post-processing an image.

#4 Exposure Correction

Exposure Correction

In some cases, underexposed and overexposed images are not desirable. When the image is either underexposed or overexposed we make exposure correction while post-processing. We perform this step to bring the optimal variant of the image.

Exposure correction improves the overall tonality and dynamic range of the image.

#5 Contrast

contrast adjustment

While taking photos, sometimes we need to get sharp images. In that case, to get sharp images we increase contrast. This can be performed using various algorithms in photoshop editor.

To sum up the points we perform this step to bring back any missing punch and bring out emphasis and detail.

#6 Sharpening

sharpening the image

Sharpening the images gives them the professional finish. Because, we can display images at their best by sharpening. It more clearly reveals the details of an image.

So we sharpen the images where necessary to bring out any key details.

In photoshop editor, we make use of all the above things to show the image at its best. Now I will take you through the process that I follow to edit photos in ACR and photoshop. It is not necessary to apply all the changes suggested. You decide what makes sense for your image and make the corrections accordingly.

RAW processing using Adobe Camera RAW: How to edit photos professionally using Adobe Camera RAW

In this section, I will take you through the step by step process for RAW image processing. We are going to touch the image in all aspects(stated above) one at a time to bring its best version out.

Here are the steps to follow if you are using Adobe Photoshop CC. (there may be slight variation in the version you use)

Setting the White Balance:

First and foremost thing to consider is white balance. Set the White Balance to match the actual scene.

In Adobe Camera RAW you can use the drop down to choose one of the presets (Daylight, cloudy etc).

 
 

The best way is to use the temperature slider to choose the value to get the correct lighting / colours in your image.

In case there is a slight colour shift even after setting the correct WB, you can use the Tint slider to adjust it. It is present just below the temperature slider.

 
 

The other basic settings used to correct the image in Adobe Camera RAW:

The below image has the other basic settings that we need to adjust. It has sliders to set the desired value for getting an optimal image.(perfect image)

 
 

Exposure:

I talked about exposure in my article on histograms. This will give you a clear idea about underexposed and overexposed images.

Use the exposure slider in case you want to overexpose or underexpose your image.
When you are making changes using the slider, you need to keep a watch on the histogram which is displayed on top of the tools and ensure the graph stays within the extremes.

Contrast:

Use the contrast slider to give a better punch in the image. This slider increases the colour depth in your image.

Highlights:

If the Whites in your image are overexposed, you may use highlights slider to get back some details in the whites.

Shadows:

Shadows slider is the opposite of highlights. You can get back the details in the shadow or dark areas of your images by using this slider.

Whites:

Whites slider increases the brightness of only the whites in your image.

Blacks:

Blacks slider is also responsible for increasing the bit depth. This slider is very useful for landscape images which have a lot of haze.

Clarity:

Clarity slider brings out more details in your image. If your original image is pretty sharp, then avoid using this tool. Play around with it to get a feel.

Vibrance:

Vibrance slider increases the saturation of only the vibrant colours in your image and not everything. I always use this compared to Saturation.

Saturation:

I avoid using saturation slider. This increases the saturation of all the colours in your image. We don’t want to do that.
DO NOT overdo any of the above settings. Use them minimally to improve upon a good image.

Converting and saving in Adobe Camera Raw

In Adobe Camera RAW, you need to put the below settings before saving the image. Click on the link which is shown at the bottom of the ACR tool:

Converting and saving
In Adobe Camera RAW, you need to put the below settings before saving the image. Click on the link which is shown at the bottom of the ACR tool:

 
 
 
 

The key settings to keep before saving in ACR are:

  • Under the Color Space, Keep the space like ProPhoto RGB or Adobe RGB
  • The Depth can be set to
    • 8 bits/channel for any web-based posting (FB, Instagram, Flickr, etc).
    • 16 bits/Channel, if you are planning for print.
  • Under Image Sizing, keep Resize to fit as default (box unchecked)
  • You will have to set the image resolution based on your end requirement.
    • For web-based posting (Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, etc) keep the Resolution as 72 pixels/inch (honestly it does not matter for web).
    • For prints, you need to keep the Resolution at around 300 pixels/inch and keep the image dimension as per the print requirement.
  • Rest all the settings, keep to the default shown.

Note: All the above is using Adobe Camera RAW. Similar settings will be available in Canon DPP or Capture NX.

JPG Processing Using Photoshop

After doing necessary changes in Adobe Camera RAW, it is time for JPG processing in photoshop. We do the initial photo editing in ACR cause it’ll make further editing in photoshop easy. Here is the step by step process for editing image in photoshop.

Step 1: Photoshop Settings | JPG Processing Using Photoshop

Before proceeding on jpg processing using photoshop, it is important to make these one time settings in photoshop:

  1. From the menu, choose Edit->Colour Settings and enter the below values
  2. Enter these values:
 
 

I will breakdown the necessary things, you need to do here, for you. We need to customize only in the settings, working space and colour management policies.

  1. Settings: Use the drop-down menu and choose “Custom“. You can name these settings as you want to distinguish easily.
  2. Working Space:
    1. RGB: ProPhoto RGB (if you do not have that, then choose Adobe RGB (1998))
    2. CMYK: Leave it to U.S. Web Coated……
    3. Gray: Gray Gamma 2.2
    4. Spot: Dot Gain 20%
  3. Colour Management Policies:
    1. RGB: Convert to Working
    2. CMYK: Preserve Embedded Profile
    3. Gray: Preserve Embedded Profile
  4. Keep the rest of them to the default.

Color Management Policies:
RGB: Convert to Working
CMYK: Preserve Embedded Profile
Gray: Preserve Embedded Profile

Rest, keep it to the default.

Once the above values are entered, you need to save it (This is a one time setting). Click on Save, give any name you would like to save it as, then enter the description regarding this profile you are saving and that’s it.

Step 2: Cropping | JPG Processing Using Photoshop

  1. Open the image in Photoshop
  2. Go to the Crop tool.
  3. Enter the width and height to crop in pixels or inches (for web choose around 1920 pixels on the longer side for horizontal images and around 1200 pixels for vertical images). Be sure to enter as 1920px (without the px, by default it will be inches)
  4. Drag over the area to crop and hit enter.

Step 3: Level Adjustments | JPG Processing Using Photoshop

1. Go to Image->Adjustments->Levels

 
 
 
 

There are three triangles as you can see in the above image:

  • The left triangle is to adjust shadow details
  • Right triangle is to adjust highlights
  • The centre triangle is to adjust brightness/darkness

.

Drag the left triangle to adjust it with the start of the graph. That should deepen your image.

Check how good the image looks visually and adjust accordingly.

You need to hold down the key (or Option key for Mac users) and drag the left or right triangle to make adjustments.

When you use the slider, a small amount of details will start to appear and you need to stop there.
You can use the centre slider to darken or brighten up the image.

Step 4: Vibrance (or Saturation) | JPG Processing Using Photoshop

Go to Image->Adjustment->Vibrance to increase the vibrance.

In case you do not have vibrance, then use saturation.

If you have vibrance slider, keep it to 22 or below.
if you have saturation (instead of vibrance), keep the amount to below 13.

Note: DO NOT make the above correction if you have already done this as a part of your RAW processing.

Step 5: Sharpen Image | JPG Processing Using Photoshop

1. Go to Filter->Sharpen->Smart Sharpen
2. Enter the radius as 0.3 for web-based posting and 1.3 for print (processed at 300dpi)
3. Now, keep incrementing the amount based on how much sharpening you need. Typically an amount between 70-100 is fine depending on how sharp or unsharp your original image is.
4. Keep “Remove” drop-down option to Gaussian Blur.
5. Rest of the values – keep it to default.

Step 6: Saving for e-mail/Web | JPG Processing Using Photoshop

1. Once the image is ready, go to Edit->Convert to profile
2. Make the “Destination Space” profile: sRGB IEC61966-2.1
3. Keep the others to default.
4. Hit Ok.
5. Now File->Save As, give the file name, keep the Format to JPEG. Make
sure under colour, you see the ICC Profile as sRGB IEC61966-2.1, if you don’t create a convert profile, it will be your working profile, which is ProPhoto RGB or Adobe RGB.
6. Once you say ok, in the JPEG Options, change the quality to 12 depending on the Size which is displayed below.

The above are the steps which I have been following for editing images in photoshop. This is how you can edit photos professionally using Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop.Which part of the process do you like the most? Did I miss something? Do you have any questions? Let me know by commenting below.

There are other ways to achieve the same results recommended by other photographers. Feel free to choose the steps comfortable for you.

Happy Processing!

CONTENT

Exploring Sanjay Dubri National Park

Located in the Sidhi district of Madhya Pradesh, is one of the most spectacular reserves that I’d like to call an underdog. The combination of mesmerizing landscapes and waterbodies with the presence of some feisty big cats makes Sanjay Dubri Reserve a destination that shouldn’t be missed when exploring India’s forests.

Sanjay Dubri National Park

In December, I held a two-day workshop with 16 participants in collaboration with the Forest Department and the MP Tiger Foundation Society to promote tourism at the reserve. As part of the collaboration, the entire trip, from the accommodation to the safari rides had been sponsored, so only a nominal fee of INR 15,000 was decided for the participants, part of which would go as proceeds to the forest department.

Sudhir with forest department officials in Sanjay Dubri National Park

I was working with Forest Officer Mr. Parihar and enquired with him about what the forest is in need of. It being winter, we figured that what the forest officers are most in need of is winter wear, so along with the workshop fees, I contributed INR 1.6 lakhs from the Sudhir Shivaram Photography organisation to purchase fleece for the staff that is so important in these winter months.

Offering winterwear to forest officials

Usually, I like to reach the forest where the workshop is scheduled a day or two early, so that I can spend that time by myself, relaxing, taking photos and familiarising myself with the place.

On the 4th of December, I reached Jabalpur and drove to Bandhavgarh National Reserve and drove to Sanjay Dubri from there with another friend Mr. Nishant Kapoor and later joined by Mr. Jay Raj (Range Forest Officer Mr. Parihar’s brother).

Sanjay Dubri has 4 different ranges:  The Dubri range, the Kusmi range, Pondi range and Bastua range.  I wanted to check out the more unexplored areas of the forest, so we drove to Kusmi Forest Guest House from Parsuli Resort, where the workshop participants would arrive in two days. That night, we went to bed after planning our adventures for tomorrow.

Early next morning, we ate our breakfast on top of Ramdha Watch Tower, which is located at Ramdha Kund, a site with large rock formations in the middle of water ponds. From Gopad River View Point we took in the breathtaking vision of the river gushing below us, as we stood atop a large rock on the cliff.

Sudhir at the hill top in Sanjay Dubri National Park
Scenary in Sanjay Dubri National Park
Sudhir at the hill top in Sanjay Dubri National Park

After lunch at the guest house, we headed to the Son Gharial Sanctuary, which is about 100kms away from Sanjay Dubri National Reserve and we stayed there for the night.

Sudhir having luch at the guest house

In the morning we took a boat ride through the serene waters in the sanctuary and then headed back to Sanjay Dubri since the workshop participants were arriving soon. That evening, I met with the 16 enthusiastic workshop participants who had come from all over the country and briefed them about the course of the next few days.

Sudhir Shivaram

In the morning we set out into the Dubri range and went straight to the Bitkhuri Watch Tower.

Sudhir Shivaram with workshop participants in Sanjay Dubri National Park

As we ate breakfast on the top, we could hear alarm calls from below us, and were even able to pick up conversations happening between the Bandhavgarh staff over the radio, despite it being at least two hours away! It proved to me how accessible that spot was, even though it was remote.

Everyone having breakfast in Sanjay Dubri National Park

While we were going through the forest, we found out that the tigress Kamli had just made a kill. Instantly, set out on a frenzy to track her down as fast as we could. We all know know precious timing is to get a good sighting, and we knew we had to act fast or we’d miss her. Luckily, we did manage to track her down and get some photographs of the gorgeous cat.

Tiger shot in Sanjay Dubri National Park

Post lunch, we headed to the base of the river we had seen from the cliff and were allowed to get down and dip our feet into the cold water since this area isn’t part of the reserve. We literally spent an hour there, goofing around and playing in the water like kids! It was shallow and safe, which is why we had such a great time there.

Everyone playing at water in Sanjay Dubri National Park
dancing with local tribals

In the night, back at the resort, we went through some fundamentals of photography, wherein I talked about some technicalities and techniques and answered all the questions that the participants had come with. The interactive session was followed by a dance performance by local tribals in the resort. Not only was this enjoyable for the whole group, but it is also a great way to promote the local culture by providing them with exposure and opportunity.

QA session back in the resort

The next morning, we visited the forest’s elephant camp, and were spending our entire day exploring areas a little beyond Kusmi range. We didn’t expect it, but the jungle had a gift for us in store. One of my favourite parts about being in the wild is that it can spring a surprise on you at any moment. It can be so thrilling! We were lucky to be able to get a glimpse of Kamli once again before we concluded the ride.

Tiger in Sanjay Dubri National Park

In the night, Mr Vincent, Field Director from the Forest Department addressed our gathering, and we distributed the fleece to the officials who had joined us. We also shared the workshop mementoes with the participants. The participants and I spent a good few hours chatting about our wildlife travel stories. Put a group of wildlife enthusiasts in one room, and the chatter never stops! Everybody had such intriguing insights to share with the group.

distributing fleece to the officials
winding up the workshop

Winding up the workshop the next morning, we all departed from Sanjay Dubri and made our way home.

The forest is a gift that keeps on giving, and I have always wished to give back to it in the best and most efficient way I can. This wish did come true through the collaboration with the MP Forest Department and the MP Tiger Foundation Society. I’m absolutely delighted to have been able to contribute my share to the forest, and I can’t thank the resort staff and forest department for all the work they put in. I’m currently working with them to figure out when to schedule a trip like this again, so keep an eye out for when I announce the next workshop!

Here are a few pics from the tour:

Some more behind the scene images:

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