An Interview with the landscape and urban landscape Photographer – Sanak Roy Choudhury
August 19 is celebrated as World Photography Day and so to celebrate the diverse, extraordinary and versatile world and culture of photography, we shall celebrate the whole month of August with articles dedicated to Photographers. WeekendTrivia exclusive interviews with world-class photographers as well as a photography contest shall be running on as well as all other social media platforms. So dive into the fest!
The more said about the geniuses of this Optometrist and passionate photographer- Sanak Roy Choudhury, the less it is. Geometry, shapes, architecture and urban landscapes is his calling and he does poetry with his lenses. To know more about him, read on.
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P. S. – Copyright of all the captures in the article lies with ©Sanak Roy Choudhury
Q1: Would you kindly introduce yourself to our reader? Along with the genre of your photography and on which project are you working currently? What do you consider your greatest achievement?
A:Well I am a practising optometrist associated with Royal Palace clinic in Muscat, Oman for the last 14 years. Dealing with geometrical and physical optics is my daily routine. I love to class myself as an amateur but passionate in photography and shooting landscapes, urban landscapes, architecture tops my interest zone in travel photography. I am currently working on a project which involves documenting the varied landscapes in Oman. I believe in the Law of reciprocity which essentially states that when someone does something nice for you, you will have a deep-rooted psychological urge to do something nice in return. A best practice in respect to the Law of Reciprocity is to share some of your best content and knowledge to enthusiastic beginners which in turn will give you a sense of accomplishment coupled with love and best wishes. I keep this generosity above all my materialistic achievements.
Q2: What attracts you to your genre? Whose work has influenced you most?
A:I take deep interest in shooting Landscapes,Urban Landscapes and Architecture, I firmly believe to continue to learn everyday from the stalwarts of this genre. My initial reads about the great Ansel Adams gave me a strong reason to thrive upon one of his saying.
“Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.”
I feel that I’m inherently tuned into the melody of the natural world when I am shooting landscapes. A gamut of natural emotions flows deep into my mind and I always try to connect with the circumstances. Seeing is not enough, one needs to feel the picture before pressing the shutter. Feeling prioritises everything when I’m into shooting landscapes, urban landscapes. Communicate with nature and express it with ur viewfinder to create your own perception and interpretation of the same.
For Urban Landscapes and Architecture I love to shoot during the blue hour.
Why I choose Blue Hour for Urban Landscapes?
Colours have specific emotions & can really help in storytelling. Photographs will radically increase in visual value by adding certain colours to provide certain emotions.
Blue is very interesting because blue can give a sense of alienation, of emotional coldness, of lonliness.Even a frenetic energy that makes people felt anxious, and if we use that for specific images we will get a certain result of that cool cold aspect. However BLUE is also really interesting because it also has an effect of EMBRACE, of really crisp & cleanness.
BLUE & YELLOW share a really interesting relationship. They are both opposite on the colour wheel. That means that when we add blue & yellow to the same picture such as typical urban landscapes we are almost always going to get a guaranteed winner provided u know to correctly blend exposures and understand tonal relationships of the colour.
I normally keep away from following ordinary works but again I religiously follow the works of the legendary landscaper Ansel Adams, Michael Kenna, Nadav Kander, Sebastio Salgado. Landscape photography has evolved immensely along with digitalisation of the technology and there are some very noteworthy names like Marc Adamus, Max Rive, Daniel Cheong, Daniel Kordan, Ted Gore who inspires me time and again to enhance my skills.
Q3: Is it important to have any professional training to be a photographer? Did you have any at the time you set of your journey?
A:Well I am completely a self taught person and I always prefer to learn in my own way. Yes there are certain nuances which professional training might help in the initial phases especially in fashion, indoor portrait and wedding. However I firmly believe in any form of art technical knowledge can be acquired by training but no one can teach you the aesthetics. Uniqueness in your composition differentiates you from the rest and until and unless you don’t learn HOW TO SEE things will become stagnant no matter you acquire tons of medals and distinctions. At the end you will be recognised with your work
Q4: When you go in one of your photo-shoot which one is your favorite lens and why do you prefer it?
A:My genre demands the use of a wide angle in most of the circumstances and I always carry that along with 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8.Landscapes with a telephoto can be extremely unique and interesting and I try to utilise that whenever an opportunity comes knocking
Q5: How do you as a photographer make sure that the thing, person or landscape you want to shoot looks the way you want it to?
A:Each and every aspect of a successful photograph is important- the concept, the subject, the intention, the planning, the lighting, the composition, and last but not the least the final presentation. My journey to my desired outcome of a “Successful Photograph” essentially depends a lot on extensive research. The photo is actually clicked way before I reach the vantage point with my camera. Research is the key in my opinion once you have reached a certain proficiency level in order to get that sublime shot
Q6: Can you explain to the budding photographer what makes the good picture stand out from the average? How do you choose your vintage point for your photographs?
A:The simplest question in photography is also the most complex. To be deliberate and purposeful is the key to evolve successful photographs. Evaluation with consciousness each and every element in the scene is mandatory to stand apart from the crowd. Being the judge and mentor in some established groups and contests I eventually realised that uniqueness is the key. Every hour of the light and dark is a miracle in nature and every micron space is filled with information, be inspired from the stalwarts but be original.Dont be an imitating monkey! The basic points one must remember to excel in my opinion are the following
Nothing is as valuable as another photographer who has been there. I like to use social media to meet people, or through websites where there’s a forum to connect and ask questions. My homework starts at least before 3 months of my travel and gets intensified as the date approaches.
- Know your equipment
For me, simplicity is the key to success. I never bring new gear on any trip, it’s always tested at home first, and I bring backups on the real trip. Simple is always better. It’s okay to use the latest and greatest technology, but know how to use it before you start your trip.
- Reach the desired location well before time
This one is something I always do before taking any photograph. I ask myself:
Is there anything in the frame that is distracting?
Where and what is the primary light source, and how does it affect the image?
Impact: Should I get closer or further away?
Decide on the choice of lenses and filters needed to execute the shot and set yourself when u zero down to the best vantage point.
- Outside the Box, Composition is the key
In choice tourist destinations it can be tricky ‘thinking outside of the box’ when there are so many cliché or timeless views of recognisable landmarks and sight-seeing subjects. I try to limit myself to maximum 5 to 6 ‘SAFE’ shots focusing on composition and technique and then try to unleash my creativity and focus on originality.
Shoot from the floor with a wide angle or fish eye lens, climb a tower and shoot from above, wait for dawn/dusk – mount your camera on a tripod and slow the shutter speed to capture the landmark in beautiful light whilst incorporate the ghostly movement of tourists strolling by and the process continues. Experimentation remains the key to your originality.
Q7: From all the places that you have traveled, which one is you favorite and why?
A:“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world” –Gustave Flaubert
My travel photographs specialise in a particular aspect of photography such as landscapes, urban landscapes as well as shooting all aspects of travel. I never limit my ability to experiment and explore the unknown. Travel photography is amazing. Yes, it has its negatives and stresses like anything in this world, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. I truly believe it is one of the most rewarding things you can do, and it develops you, not just creatively, but personally and professionally. Some of the places you see will blow your mind and humble you to your core. I have been to 10 countries till date but definitely nothing is as magnificent then Ladakh.I was equally overwhelmed witnessing the sunrise in Lake bled in Slovenia and by the architectural grandeur in Amsterdam and Belgium.
Q8: A “Good Camera can make a Picture perfect” do you believe this myth?
A:Does a good oven make delicious food? As I mentioned earlier after reaching a certain level of proficiency there are circumstances which requires an upgraded model but at the end it all comes down the person behind the viewfinder
Q9: How important is to know a place before you go out for shoot? What are the challenges that faced so far?
A:Nothing is as valuable as another photographer who has been there. I like to use social media to meet people, or through websites where there’s a forum to connect and ask questions. My homework starts at least before 3 months of my travel and gets intensified as the date approaches.80% of the success depends on how you set up your plan. The greatest challenge I faced was in my recent trip to Cisky Krumlov, a UNESCO listed village where I needed to climb a 12 ft wall to get into the vantage point. As a reward I have some unique frames of that village which very few have managed to click
Q10: In a picture is “Digital manipulation” really require to make it perfect?
A:To me it is not a crime at all and there are categories in FIAP,PSA regulated salons where pictures with digital manipulation is accepted. However having said that there is a thin line of difference between MANIPULATION & POST PROCESSING and unfortunately many fails to understand this basic difference. It is extremely important to post process your images simply for the fact that the dynamic range of the human eye is unmatched with any camera sensor till date.
As per Ansel Adams: “Dodging & Burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.”The reality is anyways very mistakenly interpreted by many who feel post processing is a crime! The fact however remains unaltered and states that at any given situation no scene can be captured “accurately” by any camera. Limitation of technology comes into play for both dynamic range and the colours that can be recorded by the human eyes itself. I always believe in RAW workflow as I love to take control of the parameters as I believe that this is the best approach for most serious photographers. Developing a RAW image is the first (and possibly last) step in post processing stage. However the million $ question is “How far should one go with post processing”?
I like to compare post processing with cooking. You can’t appreciate quality RAW materials if your cooking ability is not up to the mark and vice versa. Similarly you may have the best gadgets but until and unless you don’t have the ability of that optimal “Final Presentation”, your photographs will never stand apart. Remember “The greatest dishes are very simple”.
Q11: Which post processing software you use for your pictures?
A: I use Adobe LR Classic, Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CC 2015 along with Nik plugins and TK action for luminosity masking
Q12: Many of the photographers ask us where they find out about the salon news or exhibition news. Can you please give them some idea?
A: All the information’s are there in the website regulated by FIAP and PSA.
Q13: Name the last photography book/journal that you read.
A:The Minds Eye by the legendary Henri Caetier-Bresson.
Q14: Nowadays almost everyone has access to devices with which it is possible to take pictures. What do you think is the difference between a professional photographer and any other amateur photographer?
A:Advent of cell phones has created a huge paradigm shift in photography world. I encounter innumerable stunning frames everyday taken with a cell phone in social media every day. A professional would love to tick all the boxes with extreme precision which again might not be the case of an amateur. Finally it zeroes down to the intent with which you are clicking. An amateur clicks for social media attention whereas a professional clicks in accordance with the needs of the client. An amateur has the liberty to experiment whereas a professional is confined within a set rule of parameters.
Q15: Any quick message for our blog? Wish you a very happy world photography day! Thanks for your time!
A:The most important thing is to enjoy what you do. Have fun to its fullest and travel whenever u get time as “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world”
Thank you Sanak Da, for taking out time for us and letting our readers know about your wonderful journey so far. We look forward to seeing more of your wonderful work…!