Russia

How I Got into Russia

Russia has been in the news lately for Ukraine and the Sochi Olympics. This mysterious country has always been on my travel bucket list. I’ve heard the western stories about oppressive lives that people in Russia lead and I’ve heard about stories of Russian magnanimity during India’s wars with Pakistan.

I’ve read George Orwell’s 1984 and while it made for a dramatic read I wasn’t completely sold.  I was more inclined to believe in the stories I heard from my family.  I was very keen on seeing the country myself and when I got a chance, I grabbed it both hands.

Heading towards Moscow

The Visa

I was told that getting a Tourist visa for Russia involved a lot of red tape and hardship. I checked out the Russian embassy’s website and figured out all the things I needed. Surprisingly it wasn’t too long, albeit I had to incur some unnecessary expenses. As an Indian passport holder I was required to submit a copy of return flight tickets, hostel reservations and an official ‘Invite’ from an approved tourism company in Russia.

As per the laws, I had to call for ‘Invite Card’ from Russia and submit the original copy along with my application.  This cost me an extra Rs.5000, which really pinched my wallet.

The rest was as easy as a breeze.  Three days later I had my Russian Tourist visa in my hands!

The flight & food

Aeroflot In-flight food

I had chosen to board from the New Delhi airport partly so that I could spend a few hours in Delhi to catch up with some friends and partly because I wanted to see the world class T3 Delhi terminal. It was totally worth it.

I was on an Aeroflot flight and I must say that as the national carrier of Russia, I was disappointed to know that they didn’t serve alcohol on board. I was expecting a river of vodka flowing in the aisle and all I would have to do is dip my glass and get some delicious Vodka.  Oh I hate when bubbles burst.

I was given my subscribed Veg. Meal and I did in fact enjoy it. Well, what a let down, I can’t complain about the airline food. All in all, it was a comfortable 6 hours on my way to Moscow.

Landing at Sheremetyevo International Airport

On landing at Sheremetyevo airport, I was a bit lost. Here I am in Russia, at an international airport, BUT there’s hardly anyone around. I was a bit scared as I was so used to having mobs of people around me. I was in a bit of a shock.

The gorgeous smiles of the Russian air hostesses passing by were helpful in easing my nerves! The Russian journey had begun well 😉

long exposure photography

Long Exposure Photography Tips

Long exposure photography blends in the old school knowledge and understanding of camera mechanics along with the latest technology. This form of photography surely involves a fair amount of planning and skill. You have to experiment, chop and change values to get some surreal results. Long Exposure photography will also help you learn about your camera and its capabilities. The thumb rules of photography are all in play as you get set to capture images that have an unreal quality. The time lapse captured is amazing and you can expect some jaw dropping images! Here are some handy tips to get your shots right from the first click:

1. Use RAW format:

Use the RAW format while clicking your long exposure shot. Even at a lower ISO, you will find some noise in the image. These are easy to clean out during the processing phase. It is possible that you may find some red/green/blue pixels at ISO 100.

2. Use a Lens Shade:

Since this is going to be a long exposure, you’d want to ensure that no stray light enters the sensors. It is recommended that you cover the viewfinder with a cap for exposures longer than 60 seconds.

3. Tripod and Cable Release:

Since it is a long exposure shot, a tripod and cable release remote is absolutely essential. You wouldn’t want your camera to shake once the shutter is open.

4. Natural Conditions:

Choose the perfect conditions. Set up your equipment well before the light fades out. This will leave you with enough time to capture time-lapse of the sun setting. These will make for amazing images. It’s needless to say to that you will have to experiment with various settings and values.

5. Lengthen the Shutter Speed to get an unreal feel:

Longer shutter speeds will capture larger time frames. This will surely add a lot of blurry lights from moving cars and swaying trees. Thus enhancing the background whilst creating a more unique image.

Trailing_stars_above_Paranal

Using these five basic tips will surely give you a good result. You have to judge the situations and the lighting around to make the perfect picture. If you are an advanced user, you can try using Neutral Density filters for better effects and photos. Adding filters will mean certain adjustments in your light metering and focus, which is easy to do. Hope you capture some stunning long exposure images!  Happy clicking!

black and white photography

Black and White Photography

Black and White photography is one of the oldest forms of capturing photographs. Existing from a time much before colour photos, they have an old world charm that allures even the best photographers. Making pictures in black & white highlights your subject in the most obvious way. There is no dazzling colour, no vibrancy, just plain simple contrast that makes for stunning photos. In pictures that have a lot of moving elements, B&W adds the pause, giving us the visual liberty of time. Here are some tips to do black and white photography.

Eiffel Tower

1. Composition:

Composing a good photo is very important in B&W photos. Since the images are largely flat, your image can say their share of thousand words using subtle techniques of contrast, depth of field and framing. Be sure to experiment and use common photography techniques like the ‘Rule of Thirds’, Leading Lines, Symmetry & Patterns, and Balancing Elements.

2. ISO:

ISO is a function that controls the exposure rate of the camera sensors. It enables you to click photos in poorly lit scenes. This however, comes at a cost, in the form of noise pixels in your images. These are tiny spots of red, green andgrey, which are scattered throughout your photo, reducing the sharpness of your image. You definitely cannot have them in a B&W photo and hence it is advisable to keep your ISO to the lowest possible value.

3. File format:

Your file format generally shouldn’t matter if you are shooting photos for memory. It is recommended that you shoot photos in RAW format, if you plan to edit them or make them a part of your portfolio. The RAW format captures all the details of an image and saves them without any compression. This is extremely helpful during the post-production phase.

4. When to Shoot:

While on most days, a clear sky &good sunshine is recommended for photography, B&W photos look best in overcast or dark skies. Head outdoors during the dark gloomy days and try making some B&W photos for best results.

It’s needless to say that practise makes perfect. Look around for inspiration and draw insights from the masters like Richard Avedon. With time and effort, you can surely create some stunning B&W photos.