Picture this

Anjali Jhangiani
Friday, 18 August 2017

Sateesh Paknikar, who is an expert on the website, started his career with advertising, industrial, architectural photography in 1983. He shared, “I wish something like this existed back in the day when I was learning this art. We had to learn from our mistakes. It is a great opportunity for an amateur today to have a panel of experts to help out by telling him where the focus has gone wrong, where the light is overexposed and so on.”

Pixlent, a photo critiquing website aimed at expert photographers helping amateurs with their knowledge, was launched in the city earlier this week.

Photography is an art, and like any other form of art, you can master it only if you learn from a master of the art. Putting action into words, Pixlent, a photo-critiquing website was launched in the city on August 16. 

How does it work? Well, think of an amateur photographer who clicks good pictures, but they’re not absolutely mindblowing. The photographer has talent, but all he needs is some guidance. That’s where a host of expert photographers, armed with the knowledge they have gained out of experience, comes to his aid. Amateur photographers need to sign up on the website, and it does cost a fee, and upload the pictures clicked by them to have it reviewed by the experts in that particular category and critiqued. Special tools are developed to ensure a clear communication between the expert and the user. 

Sateesh Paknikar, who is an expert on the website, started his career with advertising, industrial, architectural photography in 1983. He shared, “I wish something like this existed back in the day when I was learning this art. We had to learn from our mistakes. It is a great opportunity for an amateur today to have a panel of experts to help out by telling him where the focus has gone wrong, where the light is overexposed and so on.”

Apart from Paknikar, expert photographers Robin Saini, Kiran Ghadge, Sushil Chikane, Ritesh Ramaiah and Tejas Soni, among others, were present for the launch. 

In a discussion with cinematographer, filmmaker and photographer Prashant Desai whose career spans over four decades, the experts reminisced about what urged them to pick up the camera. 
While Saini spoke about how he clicked a few photographs at a friend’s wedding and posted them online, which got picked up by other wedding websites and fetched him clients, Ramiah recalled giving the art a try to figure out whether it’s his cup of tea or not, and then ended up falling in love with it. 

“Photography is bigger than all of us, because it’s not a physical thing, it’s an energy. We are students of physics and psychology, combined. And we are learning every minute of our lives. When I teach photography, half my class is about analysing images, and the other half is technical. When my students are analysing the images they learn a lot more about photography than when they are handling the camera. That’s the basics of learning, and that’s how all of us, the experts team at Pixlent, want to help people who want to learn photography,” said Ramiah. 

Agreeing with Ramiah, Potdar shared that photography is not just about clicking pictures, especially when it comes down to capturing a moment. There’s philosophy in photography. “It’s a spiritual experience in my opinion. It’s an energy inside you that comes out in the image.

Art is what the energy is. You express it through the medium you are proficient in, maybe dancing, singing and photography too for that matter. I had taken a trip with my friends to Singapore in the 90s. All of them brought their cameras, I was the only one to bring my keyboard along. I took a few shots from their cameras, but at that point in time, music was my number one passion and I enjoyed it and wanted to  pursue it further. So even today, if a photograph that I click does not sing a song for me, it does not deserve space on my wall,” said Potdar. 

Ethics in editing
Since a group of photographers gathered together on a forum, it was natural for them to talk about concerns in the photography community. An interesting topic they touched upon was about their views towards editing. While some photographers prefer to keep their work as close to raw images, others believe that using editing tools like Photoshop does not compromise the integrity of a picture but enhances it.

Sateesh Paknikar pointed out, “When a painter makes a landscape painting, if there is a pole in the middle of the scenery, he has the creative freedom to not make that pole a part of the painting so that it does not disturb the beauty of the scene in his work. He cannot go and remove the pole from the ground, so he omits it in his painting. Similarly, doesn’t a photographer have the right to exercise such creative liberty?” 

What makes a good shot
There are two factors that contribute towards making a good shot, one is luck and the other is gut, shared Ramiah. How do you get a good picture? “By striving a little more than you did for the last image,” he said.

Adding to this, Chikane said, “It’s important to know where you’re going to go, what is your subject. Wildlife is so specific, it cannot be done randomly. You need to know what time of the day you want to go, which season, which habitat. Wildlife photography is expensive too, it’s better you travel with someone else or with a group. Most of the time you end up travelling with someone who has better gear than you.

So the question arises, ‘Why will someone see my photograph when there will be a better picture by someone else with better knowledge and better gear?’ Basically, you have to outdo yourself. You have to upgrade your technical knowledge also and the subject you are photographing.” 

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