Long Live Composition

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Photography has come a long long way since the film era. Digital has completely taken over films, made photography accessible and affordable to masses, which is good but film era did one thing that digital fails to do – ‘Make a photographer think’. When I say think, its not just about the cost per shot or cost per roll, but it made a photographer think many folds more before each click ; about compositions, lights, exposures and all other aspects that makes a photograph compelling. Since there was no chimping option during those days, photographer either did it right or missed it completely. That charm of artistic thinking has vanished in this mad digital age. Memory cards are cheap, so are hard disks. Each outing equals 1000’s of pictures but no real photograph. 

Digital Photography equipments have come a long way aswell, the camera companies have become the photo equivalent of drug dealers, giving the so called BEST-PRODUCT-EVER once in every six months and photography enthusiasts get trapped with more choices than needed and end up buying everything thats not really required. Pixels are swelling up, wide angles are never wide enough, telephotos can never reach far enough, that’s the world we live in for now. People are busy talking about pixel counts than talk about compositions, more busy battling on the never ending Canon vs Nikon war than actually spending time on field shooting. One thing these people fail to realize is the more important aspects of photography. Without COMPOSITION all that’s created with these MEGAPIXEL giant cameras is just ‘highly detailed crap’. Composition is the king and light the queen – camera, lenses etc etc are just the loyal citizens – the day you know this hierarchy, you excel. 


“Better graphics doesn’t mean a better game” and ‘better camera doesn’t mean better photographs’

Roof top photography is now officially a new genre of photography and most often the easiest to shoot. Get over 80 odd floors up (abundant in UAE), point your camera in any direction you wish to and shoot. Thats about it, nothing can look bad from that height. Reason being the point of view. Its not very often that we see city from that heights, so no wonder these photographs are instant hits. Nothing wrong with that until you see a billion pics online with almost the same ‘spray and pray’ motto. I do know some brilliant photographers, Daniel Cheong to name one of them, who do jaw dropping work when on roof tops, their work stands out because they know what they do, they work on their compositions, on exposures and they look into every small detail before hitting that shutter button. Compelling photographs come from inspiration, not duplication. Unfortunately, its the other way around. Duplication rules over inspiration. Never get lost in the crowd of billions by doing the same old thing, rather do something new, something fresh and something different. How do you do that – by thinking and by composing. Like Ansel Adams rightly quoted, “The single most important component of a camera is twelve inches behind it” – figure it out. 

Recently I got on roof aswell and the idea was simple. To compose rather than point and shoot and get lost in excitement. Reached the roof by 5:15am. As I climbed the stairs to helipad, I visualised my very first photo opp right there (as seen below). By 6:15am, the light I was looking for was finally at its full glory. Without further due, I got back to the stairs where I knew I had my photograph waiting and one exposure is all it took to get what I wanted. Relieved with what I got, played around the roof for another couple of shots and it was wrap up. Came back home with 5 shots on my D800. Looks like good habits are creeping in finally 😉 Below are the images from the outing. 

Stairway to Heaven

 Nikon D800 | Nikkor 14-24mm | 14mm | f16 | 8s | ISO 50

I titled it ‘Stairway to heaven’ (which by the way happens to me my most loved song ever). The composition is simple yet powerful. It shows the same old roof top perspective with a difference. It feels as if this stairway actually leads us to heaven and seems like its floating in mid-air over the city.

stairway to heaven

Nikon D800 | Nikkor 14-24mm | 14mm | f16 | 60s | ISO 200

This was another shot from the roof topping. The staircase is now visible, proving it actually wasn’t floating in air 😉

Bottom line : Photography has evolved, digital replacing film, darkroom being replaced by lightroom but one aspect which has remained the same is ‘COMPOSITION’. Before you hit the shutter button, pause for a moment – think, compose and then shoot.




About subodhshetty

This entry was posted in Long Exposures, Perspectives, Photographic Locations, photography, Tips and Tutorials and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Long Live Composition

  1. shamseer says:

    nice shot outstanding result

  2. Arun says:

    well composed – photos as well the article. thanks for sharing.

  3. Manasa says:

    Definitely looks like a stairway to heaven !! bravo !

  4. Ansar Shah says:

    cool write-up…great shot

  5. Sensible & Inspiring article Subodh as usual ! Hopefully it acts as an eyeopener for people who are stuck with the gear fascination phase ! I also come across a group of people who boast about the equipment by the cost , no name ,no model , just I own a camera SLR of xxxx price .
    Regarding the first pic ,it is a nice pic with a very good theme ! I feel that there is a element of unified focal point lacking because of which there is confusion whether to see the cityscape or the contrasting stair !May be it is just a subjective feel!
    Keep writing & inspiring !

    • subodhshetty says:

      Thank you Jai for a detailed comment. Appreciate such whole hearted response. I totally agree with you about the gear fascination people have, which is quiet unfortunate. Its ok to have gears if you justify them with shots, but just having gears for the sake of it is truly disastrous.

      Regarding the shot, yes there is a confusion in the image and I feel this confusion is what makes it interesting. As you rightly said, its very much subjective and as I always say, if a viewer spends more than just ‘5seconds’ staring at an image, thats the success and I believe this image does hit that 5s mark 🙂

  6. ali says:

    perfect shot 👌. which building is that

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