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List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: West Bengal | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: West Bengal

The essence of life in West Bengal is captured in its handicrafts, festivals, wildlife, literature, and architecture. The Durga Puja celebrations in the state are like nowhere else in India. And almost all Indian celebrations and occasions are incomplete without centuries old handicrafts, traditions and rituals. The handicrafts industry of West Bengal is well known across the entire nation. Here’s my list of some of the most beautiful handicrafts in West Bengal that would add grace and beauty to your home decor.

 

1. Bengal Masks

Masks in Bengal have quite a mysterious history. Nobody knows how or why they came into tradition and became an inseparable part of handicrafts in West Bengal culture. People wear these, somewhat gloomy somewhat vibrant, masks during folk dances and traditional rituals. These masks often depict deities/characters from tribal folktales and mythological stories like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Hindu-purans,etc.

Bengal Masks | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Different regions and communities of Bengal have distinct styles/types of masks, and use different materials for making them. And you would find tribal masks made of all kinds of materials like wood, bamboo, clay, metal, paper, etc. Like there is Gomira masks, Dhokra masks, and various folk dance masks.

There’s a village in Bengal, named Charidra Village. The place is often also called “The Mask Making Village of Bengal”. Hundreds of villagers living there specialize in making handcrafted masks for a martial-arts-based folk dance known as “Chhau”. Charidra Village also hosts an annual village festivals for artisans and handicraft-experts in December. 

 

2. Dhokra Art of West Bengal

Dhokra is a unique method of making handcrafted artifacts made of metal. Historians believe that this art is over 5000 years old! Dhokra artifacts are made of copper alloys like bronze, etc., that are carefully turned into beautiful art-pieces. Each item requires expert handling and careful detailing, and often takes several weeks (sometimes months) for completion.

Dhokra Art of West Bengal | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Dhokra art pieces of Hindu deity– Lord Ganesha ©source

Metalsmiths use multiple layers of wax and clay to make the mould. Then they heat the core to remove wax and harden the clay mould. Finally the molten metal of right composition is poured into the mould at certain temperature to make sure the cast doesn’t come up with defects. The figure is treated with certain chemicals to make sure the surface looks good and to add an appeal to it. Also, the figure made have no joints in them whatsoever.

What make Dhokra art-pieces unique is that the clay mould is broken after the molten metal splidifies. Since only a single art-piece is made and we can’t reuse a mould, no two Dhokra piece can possible be exactly same. They make look-alike, but each and every piece is unique in itself. 

 

3. Bone & Horn Handicrafts of West Bengal

Bone & Horn handicrafts in West Bengal have been around for centuries now. Tribal people in the region used them for making decorative, artistic or ornamental stuffs. They also used to make small weapons like pocket-knives, etc. You could also find several household items like combs, walking sticks, rings, and cutlery also. However, cheaper plastic-based alternatives is taking their place, and the handicrafts are gradually disappearing from mainstream market places.

Bone and Horn Art of West Bengal | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Horn Sculpture (Elephants) ©source

You could easily find bone and horn handicrafts of West Bengal in special handicrafts market or handicrafts mela (fairs). You don’t have to be in West Bengal to purchase them, as these fairs are held all across India at specific places every year. The dates and duration may vary sometimes.

Artisans come there from all areas of the country to display (and sell) their regional arts. One such fair is the SurajKund Handicrafts Mela that is held in February/March in Faridabad, Haryana. The committee has been organizing this fair for over three decades now. Artists from foreign countries are also allowed to participate in the fair. The fair sometimes serves over a million visitors within a few weeks of time.

 

4. Pattachitra (Scroll Printing/Painting)

Bengal Pattachitra is an ancient form of art meant for storytelling. Bengal is the heart and soul of Indian literature, and storytelling has always been an inseparable part of the Bengali culture. Evidently, Pattachitra (or Scroll Printing/Painting) is Bengal’s way of using pictures instead of words, like the rest of the literary works. So, Bengal’s Pattachitra the art of visual storytelling. Traditional Pattachitra use natural colors (like from flowers, fruits, charcoal, etc.) often depict daily-life, religious events and traditions of Bengal. Pattachitra artists community mostly has women artisans.

The art form is slowly fading away from the mainstream as digital alternatives have decided to take over this entire freaking world. Pattachitra artists in Bengal are known as Chitrakaar (visual-artists), have kept this art form alive till date. You could find acrylic-based Pattachitra handicrafts in West Bengal markets, made for the sole purpose of home decoration. Fortunately, you might still find some amazing antique pieces made from natural pigments in state museums, art galleries, and antique shops.

 

Pattachitra Scroll handicraft of West Bengal | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Pattachitra Scroll Handicraft of West Bengal ©source

also read: List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Gujarat

also read: List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Assam

also read: List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Rajasthan

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Gujarat | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Gujarat

The essence of life in Gujarat is in its cuisine, heritage sites, museums, and temples. The Rann Utsav and Navratri celebrations in the state are truly unmatched. Both of them have Gujarati style, traditional wear in common. The textile industry of Gujarat is renowned not just in India, but abroad as well. Here’s my list of some of the most beautiful handicrafts in Gujarat that would add grace to your wardrobe, and souvenirs that I’m sure you’d love to have.

 

1. Bandhani 

Bandhani is a tie-dying technique, which derives its name from the Hindi word bandhan which essentially means “the bond” or “tying”. It used to be the prime choice for bridal dresses in traditional Gujarati weddings, however, things are changing pretty fast now. 

This labor-intensive handicraft demands time and expertise. In fact, some sarees with intricate patterns often take somewhere between 6 to 10 months for completion, sometimes even more. The workers mark specific areas or points on fabric that are then covered in wax or other kind of materials that resist dye. These points are often tied with strings or knotted to make sure that the dye isn’t uniform. But at the same time, the artists allow these points to form a repetitive pattern across the length of the fabric.

Bandhani | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Bandhani Saree ©source

Jamnagar city in Gujarat is known for its handicrafts industry that specializes in Bandhani. Just like most other traditional handicrafts across India, Gujarat also has specific communities of artisans who have dedicated their entire lives to this art. 

 

2. Zari

Zari ka kaam or Zari-work is perhaps the most popular embroidery work in India. Gujarat and Rajasthan are the base of Indian handcrafted-textile industry, and their products are sold in all states on India, and even exported abroad. Many people living in Surat district of Gujarat earn their livelihood by working in the textile industry there. These people specialize in making intricate embroidery designs, which are sold for hefty amounts of money. 

Zari | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Zardozi (Zari embroidery primarily designed of gold) ©source

Zari originated in India, and the artists originally used threads made of gold or silver. Artists use long needles with fine metallic threads wrapped around cotton string. Obviously the craft was meant for the royal families who could afford to wear them. Now that the times have changed, you could find affordable/cheap zari designs made of copper-alloy or plastic threads. But no matter what, original Zari would never lose its charm. 

 

3. Mirror-work Handicrafts in Gujarat

Mirror-work or Abhala Embroidery is a traditional art of attaching sheesha (mirror or something reflective) onto fabrics through careful embroidery. The materials used are of various shapes or sizes, and give an ethnic look to outfits.

Centuries ago, artists used small pieces of silver or similar shiny metals for the embroidery. Gradually, polished glass took their place in order to make the final pieces affordable. Now plastic pieces have replaced all of them. You could still find glass or metal embroidery handicrafts in Gujarat. It’s not easy to find them, but definitely possible. 

Mirror-work Handicrafts in Gujarat | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Mirrorwork ©source

This art is mainly used on female wear that are common choices for weddings/rituals or celebratory events. You might also find traditional style mirror-work on accessories like caps or handcrafted handbags, sling-bags, etc. Chances of finding mirror work on male outfits are pretty low, they generally have either Zari or block-printed designs.

 

4. Pithora Paintings in Gujarat

Pithora painting is a traditional style of tribal painting native to the state of Gujarat. It’s an art inspired by tribal lifestyle and rituals. Pithora style paintings were mainly carried out by Rathwas community. Artistic handicrafts in Gujarat has been practiced by certain communities for centuries, just like in most of the other parts of India.

Pithora Painting gets its name from the Pithora Baba, a deity worshiped primarily by the Rathwas community. So naturally the paintings were dedicated to their deity as offerings. Centuries ago, entire villages were decorated with Pithora paintings. Unmarried teenage girls would prepare walls around the village with cow dung and put layers of white powder. Then flowers and vegetables extracts were used as pigment for paintings.

Pithora Paintings in Gujarat | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Pithora Painting by Rathava Community in Gujarat ©source

Rathwas and other communities of Gujarat originally created Pithora art pieces either for worshiping their deity in times of hardships like famine, illness, etc., or for auspicious rituals and celebrations. Thus, the paintings usually include people dancing, singing, celebrating, feasting, and having a good time together as a happy and thriving community.

The original traditions have faded away with time, but the painting style is still alive. Artists in Rathwas community are now bringing the style onto canvas and textiles, and you can find some amazing art-pieces in handicraft fairs across Gujarat. 

 

5. Agate Handicrafts in Gujarat

The Khambhat (or Cambay) district in Gujarat is home to handmade agate-stone jewelry items industry. Historians believe the industry in that region is around 4000 years old! Agate stones are mined by villagers in Rajpipla Hills and riverbeds that are located almost 200 km away from the main town of Khambhat.

The agate stones are brought to the town after mining; where the industry workers process them. These translucent stones are categorized based on their color composition and hues. Then the stones are sawed, chiseled into shape, and finally polished into perfection. The workers carefully turn those weird looking pieces of rock into astonishing pieces of handcrafted jewelry. I’m sure you’d love to have one with you, I would!   

Khambhat’s Agate jewelry finds its way not just into Indian markets, but into European and Arabian markets as well, and the demand for this pious stone doesn’t seem to be going down anytime soon.

Agate Handicrafts in Gujarat | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Stunning blue agate jewelry piece

also read: List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Assam

also read: List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Rajasthan

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
Top 5 Indian Beaches for Surfing | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Top 5 Indian Beaches for Surfing

Since you are here, I assume you enjoy surfing as much as I am interested in writing this blog post. Water sports and rides like parasailing/bumper rides have always thrilled me, but honestly I’ve never tried surfing or other “solo water sports” kind of things. Reason is me being so damn careless and rash that I find only the assisted sports safe enough. However, surfing those high tides is definitely on my bucket list, and so is scuba diving (maybe I should write about that someday).

 

1. Surfing Fest in Kovalam Village

Tamil Nadu is home to some of the finest beaches in India, especially for surfing. Kovalam village (or Covelong Village) in Tamil Nadu is on the top of this list for its annual Covelong Point surf, yoga & music festival where some of the best artists and surfers of the country come together to have some fun together. The fest (usually organized in the month of august) includes surfing competitions, slack-lining, paddle boarding, food stalls, and what not.

They also offer some free surf lessons just in case somebody there wants to learn from professionals. Regular sessions may be chargeable, and their time can usually be negotiated for bigger groups. The earnings support various cultural projects in and around the village (win-win situation for all, if you ask me). 

Surfing Fest in Kovalam Village | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Lighthouse Beach at Kovalam ©source

Having said that, if you are eager to learn riding the waves, I’d suggest going straight to a surf school, and I’ve listed some of them in this post itself. Disclaimer: I’m neither affiliated to any of the schools nor benefited from them in any way, and better alternatives might be there.

Learn Here: Ocean Delight Surf School, Kovalam Beach, Tamil Nadu offers various surfing courses and equipment on rent, and you can check them out here.

also read: 7 most visited places in India by Foreigners

 

2. Serenity Beach, Pondicherry

Pondicherry (or Puducherry) is a former French colonial region in India. The place is only three hours of drive away from Chennai (capital of Tamil Nadu). Pondicherry is home to a serene blend of Indian traditions and French style architecture; just like Portuguese influenced culture of Goa. Waves perfect for surfing hit the Serenity Beach in Pondicherry all year long. The best months for surfing there are March to May and from September to November. While you’re there, don’t forget to watch the mesmerizing sunrise at serenity beach sunrise point.  

Serenity Beach, Pondicherry | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Serenity Beach, Pondicherry ©source

Learn here: Mother Ocean Surf School, Pondicherry, check them out here. You may also visit Kallialay Surf School’s website here.   

also read: Best Travel Books to Know More about India

 

3. Varkala Beach, Kerala

Varkala is a holy town with lots of ancient temples, and the Varkala Beach is about ten minutes of drive away from the main Varkala city. I suggest a visit to Papanasam Beach and Black Beach as well. Varkala Beach is filled with people on weekends and public holidays, just like most of the beaches in Kerala. However, it’s still considered a peaceful alternative in comparison to others. Varkala beach is the only beach in India that has cliffs along the shore.

Serenity of this beach makes it a perfect get away destination for relaxing on the weekends, and for surfing those waves coming your way. The best time to visit Varkala is from January to April when temperature and climate is in your favor. I discourage making plans in monsoon season as the downpours are quite heavy. The tide pattern is not suitable for surfing or similar water-sports activities.

Varkala Beach, Kerala | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Varkala Beach, Kerala ©source

Learn here: Moon Waves Surf School (Papanasam beach), Varkala Town, Thiruvananthapuram which was founded in 2016 has trained many individuals. You can check them out here. Soul & Surf school has about a decade’s experience in teaching yoga and surfing. You can visit their website here.

also read: City Guide: Mysore — The City of Palaces

 

4. Little Andaman, Andaman Islands

The exotic Andaman Islands are a perfect to get away from your chaotic life. As the internet connectivity is not so great, life gets a lot simple there. You’re simply secluded from the chaos of rest of the world, and that’s perfect for those seeking solitude.

Apart from surfing, you can enjoy scuba diving, undersea-walk and other usual water sports. You could go trekking, or see the only active volcano in entire India.

Little Andaman, Andaman Islands | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Andaman Islands, India ©source

 

Passenger ferries is an easy way to get to the islands. You would find local transports like jeeps or taxis to get around, or you also could rent a two-wheeler or a bicycle. Remember to keep sufficient cash or cards at your disposal for making payments. It’s best not to rely on ATMs there, and online payment options are generally not accepted in such places.

Best time to visit is between December and April; the weather is humid all year long though. You might also get to see turtles nesting during this period. Best waves for surfing hit the shores of little islands in the months of March and April. 

Learn here: Andaman & Nicobar Surf Academy, offers surfing lessons and equipment rentals in the area, you can check them out here

 

5. Beaches in Goa

It is no secret that Goa is the biggest party destination in India. Rave parties, clubs, casinos… you name it! The sunsets are serene beauty, and the city is immersed in humble influence of Portuguese culture. Goa is the perfect amalgam of the calm and the crazy.

There are lots of beaches in Goa, but only some of them (like Anjuna Beach) are popular for water sports. You can go for jet-skiing, parasailing, banana rides, etc., and of course surfing.

Goa Beaches | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

 

Tides along Ashwem and Arambol Beaches are considered best for surfing. The waves are not that big, but good enough to enjoy a nice session of surf, especially for beginners. Since Goa has so much to offer, you’d definitely love it there. Best time to go is from October to the month of April. Rest of the year is way too hot.

Learn here: SurfWala surf school (Arambol beach) is managed by a passionate group of surfers who have trained many individuals. The club also manages yoga sessions for tourists. But, in my opinion their prices are a bit higher than expected, and you can check them out here. Banana surf school (Ashwem Beach) is also a well-known club, you can visit their website here.

also read: 5 Best Beaches in Goa for Foreigners

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Rajasthan | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Rajasthan

The state of Rajasthan is known for its rulers, their royal history, brave battles they fought, their magnificent forts, exquisite cuisine and what not. There’s so much I wish to write about Rajasthan. So, here I am, coming up with my list of some of the most elegant handicrafts in Rajasthan that I’m sure you’d love to have. Here you go–

 

1. Block Printing Handicrafts in Rajasthan

This style of handicrafts in Rajasthan includes teak/sheesham wood blocks with carefully hand-carved details. Dipped in color, these blocks are used to stamp cotton fabrics. Some villages in Rajasthan are home to people whose only job is to keep this traditional art alive and thriving. The chippas caste of the Bagru village who has been doing this for three centuries now, is one such example.

Block Printing Handicrafts in Rajasthan | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

 

The color dyes used in the past were based on plant and other natural substances. Now that the times have changed so much, industrial textile dyes are preferred for the same. However, there are still some areas where you might find natural dye based crafts.

The cloth under printing is usually quite long in length and requires the printer to stamp multiple times, and each with perfect positioning as well. This labor intensive style of art demands patience and expertise. The outcome, as we all know, is a lovely piece of art.

 

2. Pichwai Painting

Pichwai is on over four centuries old style of painting that originated at the town of Nathdwara in Rajasthan. This traditional style of painting, like a few others, is inspired from the life of Lord Krishna. Centuries ago, the art was used only for decorating Shrinathji (a form of Lord krishna) temple in Nathdwara.

The painting is usually done on large pieces of cloth and hold a cultural, as well as, religious value. Pichwai paintings are used as backdrop to idols in temples and similar places of worship. Common themes are tales of Lord Krishna, traditional Indian festivals and celebrations, etc.

Pichwai Painting Rajasthan | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Krishna (Shrinathji) and the Dancing Gopis. Pichhavai from the Temple of Nathdvara, Rajasthan ©source

Pichwai painters might need weeks (or even months) to create a piece of art; pleasing enough to adorn the charm of Indian temples. The painting style emerged as a textile craft, but we can find the same on paper as well, not very often though. Like most of the Indian painting styles, Pichwai is also dying. I really wish it comes to life again and thrive in temples where it truly belongs.

 

3. Kathputli (Rajasthani Puppets)

It would be a sin to talk about Handicrafts in Rajasthan, and not mention Kathputli. I don’t think there’s even a single person who wouldn’t like to see a puppet show. The art of Kathputli is believed to be at least a thousand years old! The puppets are all handmade and accessorized with charming outfits.

Kathputli (Rajasthani Puppets) | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Kathputli (Rajasthani Puppets) at a cultural festival ©source

History tells us that Bhati community was the first to practice Kathputli puppetry at that time. Ever since then, folklores and legends have been passed down through hundreds of generation in form of these Kathputli shows and dances. The art holds a social importance as well because Kathputli is one of the prominent forms of moral education for the young. Village children learn various aspects and issues of society like friendships, marriages, hardships, poverty, compassion and sympathy through these shows. 

 

4. Meenakari Handicrafts in Rajasthan

‘Meena’ is derived from the persian word for Heaven, referring to the color of heaven, and ‘kari’ refers to work. Meenakari originated as metal coloring and ornamenting for jewelry, but now extends to paintings and textiles as well. Usual ingredients of this gorgeous form of art are gold, enamel and some precious stones. There’s also Kundakari, which is another form of Rajasthani handicraft jewelry.

Meenakari Handicrafts in Rajasthan | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Meenakari on the ceilings of the Alwar Fort, Rajasthan ©source

Meenakari art could be seen in forts in Rajasthan, so the art form holds a historical value as well. Rajasthan and Gujarat absorbed the Persian art of Meenakari centuries ago, but it has now become an integral part of Indian traditional wear. Russian, Chinese and Middle Eastern culture have signs of this exquisite art form.

 

5. Blue Pottery of Jaipur

Historians and artisans believe that Blue Pottery of Jaipur is the only form of no-clay pottery. The ceramic is actually made out of a paste based on borax, Multani Mitti, powdered glass and a few other essential constituents. As the name suggests, the Persian Blue color dye is dominant. However, more and more variants of this cool color were introduced for dying the ceramic.

Blue Pottery of Jaipur | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

 

Many believe that the form has a middle eastern origin. But, the craft was invented in China, so it’s actually an Asian form of hand-crafted pottery. The art of Blue Pottery captured attention of royal families centuries ago, and became a part of their elegant lifestyle. As the time progressed, Blue Pottery lost its dominance around twentieth century. Fortunately, artisans and art enthusiasts brought this beautiful art back to mainstream trends.    

 

6. Bone Handicrafts in Rajasthan

It is a handicraft form based on careful carving of animal bones (mainly camels) to create beautiful art-pieces and figures. The art form was introduced as a substitute of ivory carving which is now illegal in many parts of the world, including India.

Jodhpur in Rajasthan is the home of this handicraft industry. Artists usually work with camel bones because of their easy availability. But even there, the art of carving bones is obviously not limited to camel bones only. Apart from the people who work in this industry, some artists learn bone carving for crafting prototypes of their metal-based designs. 

Bone Handicrafts | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Handicrafts and jewelry made of animal bones ©source

Camel bone carving technique is also sometimes used to carve figures of Indian deities. This is quite controversial as something associated with deaths is used. Keeping all of it aside, I’m sure the art pieces would make good souvenirs that remind you of Rajasthan every time you look at them. 

 

7. Koftgiri (Weapon Artistry)

Koftgiti is an ancient art form of creating intricate designs on weapons kept by royal families. Obviously the art form now is not mainstream anymore, but holds a cultural and historical value for sure. Koftgiri was a Rajasthani handicraft art developed as a specialized form of metal carving and ornamenting that not only enhanced look and feel of the weapons, but also improved grip for use in training and real battles.

Centuries ago, there were families of Koftgiri artists who dedicated their lives to serve the royal families. They specialized in this unique art form and passed down the knowledge and talent for generations. Needless to say, they held a position of respect in the society and were often heftily rewarded for their masterpieces. Some of which are kept safe till date in numerous museum spread across the state. You might find ancient pieces for souvenirs in Udaipur.

Koftgiri (Weapon Artistry) | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Pommel of a sword, decorated with lion heads symbol of the Rathores’ dynasty, in Mehrangarh Fort (Jodhpur, Rajasthan) ©source

also read: List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Assam

also read: List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Gujarat

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Assam | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Assam

Assam is known for its vibrant waterfalls, mesmerizing bamboo forests, and vast stretches of tea plantation. True essence of its culture and traditions are captured in Assamese festivals, native lifestyle and traditional handicrafts. Here’s my list of some of the most pivotal handicrafts in Assam that I’m sure you’d love to have as souvenirs. Here you go–

 

1. Terracotta Handicrafts in Assam

Handicrafts industry of Assam is popular for its terracotta works. Mix sand and clay together in right proportions, shape it, give details and then bake till a brownish red color appears. And you end up with a beautiful terracotta art piece. 

Terracotta Handicrafts in Assam | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

 

Artists generally give shape to the mixture with their bare hands, and then use a variety of tools for careful detailing. Like most other regions of India, Assam also has communities solely dedicated to handicrafts industry. Kumara and Hiras are two such communities in terracotta and pottery crafts.

Art pieces of all shapes and sizes are easily available in local markets. However, demand for some works is so high that they’re sold across the entire country.  

also read: Kannauj— The Perfume Capital of India 

 

2. Traditional Assamese Paintings

Culture and traditions of the north-east have been a source of inspiration for many painters of different eras. And the naturally occurring things in Assam greatly influenced the traditional style of painting. 

Traditional Assamese Paintings | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Traditional Assamese painting depicting a Hindu mythological folktale ©source

Themes of these paintings are usually religious and mythological. Antique pieces illustrate parts of Ramayan and Mahabharat.  Folklore, tales, myths, and legends have been passed down through generations through these traditional paintings. I’d say they’re much more than just paintings, as they’ve become an integral part of the community over such a long period. Same goes for their monetary value of the handicrafts as well. Of course an antique piece would cost you a fortune, but you might still find new pieces painted in the same traditional styles.  

 

3. Handloom in Assam

Handloom weaving and Assamese villages are inseparable. You’d find a lot of women in almost all villages there who practice this on a daily basis. Some women do it as a profession, some do it for an extra income, and some do it just because they enjoy it. While the reasons may be different for everyone, one this is for sure that handloom weaving has become a crucial part of their lives. It is said that Assamese women weave their tales in the threads of their handlooms. They pass down this craft to younger generation when the time comes, and make sure their culture doesn’t fade away with time.

Handloom in Assam | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

An elderly Assamese woman at Sualkuchi town in Assam (also known as the Manchester of Assam for its massive handloom cottage industry) ©source

When we talk about handloom weaving, it is just as important to mention the golden Muga Silk. It’s a variety of wild silk cultivated primarily in Assam, and popular for its naturally occurring yellow color with a hint of golden shade. Muga Silk is the pride of silk textile handicrafts in Assam. In fact, it’s also called the golden treasure of Assam.

also read: Best Travel Books to Know More about India

 

4. Bamboo Handicrafts in Assam

Bamboo grows in abundance in north-east India. Every household has them, and there are entire forests of bamboo trees. Northeastern lifestyle and economy is highly dependent on bamboo and cane, especially in rural, or suburban areas. From daily-use items to designer handicrafts, bamboo is everywhere. Some of the most common bamboo-made things you’d find there are baskets, pots, handbags, furniture, fences, farming tools, etc.

Bamboo Handicrafts in Assam | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

 

Items like sieves, baskets, etc. all made with bamboo are mainly used by farmers or tea-plantation workers. Since the tea cropping is the biggest industry of Assam, and livelihood of a major community of people, the demand for cheap but durable farming tools is always there. Bamboo and cane handicrafts in Assam has thus become a vital part of the industry, and life of Assamese people.

 

5. Wood-crafts in Assam

A variety of trees grow in and around Assam. Forests and plantations have always covered the state. Just like in case of bamboo, Assamese villagers benefit from various kinds of wood and timber. Some of the palaces and monasteries in and around the region have over 6 centuries old wood-carvings. The artists make all kinds of common household items, tools, furniture, decorative pieces, footwear, jewelry, etc., most of which are completely hand-made and require years of practice and expertise. Carpenters usually carve a small item within hours, depending on the level of detailing asked of him.

Wood-crafts in Assam | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

 

Khanikar is a community of people who have devoted their lives to this craft for centuries, and passed it down from one generation to another. They select the finest wood available for a job, carefully carve it, and then use their years of practice and expertise to carve the intricate details. Finally, they paint the piece for better look, color and for its protection. Such people are so good at their jobs that its only a matter of minutes for them to carve their imagination into reality.

also read: List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Assam

also read: List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Gujarat

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
Tips on How to Make Friends at Hostels | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

7 Tips on How to Make Friends at Hostels

Everybody says its awesome to travel solo, and that is actually. But what most people don’t tell you is that it sometimes gets pretty lonely and you feel like you’re being left out. Let me tell you something, the feelings are mutual! We’re in this together, buddy. As soon as I try approaching new people, my social anxiety just kicks in… hard! Anyways, things have gotten better for me in recent years. Here are some things I learnt along the way, that I’m sharing as a “how to make friends at hostels” guide in here. These tips have helped me a lot, would hopefully help you too. Here you go–

 

1. Hostel Staff

In case you’ve searched for backpacker hostels online, you must have come across reviews about how good the staff was or how well they treat their guests. Hostel staff is one of the most crucial yet underrated part of staying in a hostel, especially if you’re a solo traveler.

As a person looking for meeting new people on your journey and making some new friends at hostels along the way, choose a hostel with such good reviews. It’s much easier to become friends with the hostel staff if they are welcoming. Just be polite to them, talk to them nicely and ask if they’d like to hang out with you in their free time or to show you around the place. However, it’s unlikely that they would agree readily because of their tight schedules (especially in-season), so don’t push too much.

Keep in mind that people always notice how you talk to others or how you treat others. If you treat the hostel staff nicely, it’s likely that somebody else would notice and try talking to you. I mean you’re not the only one there looking for companions, right.    

 

2. Group Events

As you might already know, backpacker hostels organize social events or outings for their guests, either on their own or in partnership with local communities. These events often include bonfires, night outs, city tours, yoga/cooking sessions, dinners, etc.

How to Make New Friends at Hostels | Group Events | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

 

 

Such events are fun, but you might feel left out when you’re there all alone and would see others hanging out with their partners or friends or whatever. But guess what, these social events and outings are organized so that travelers come together, get to know each other, socialize, have fun, and maybe get a little bit drunk along the way 😉 So, don’t worry about things and just enjoy your sweet time there.

 

3. Online Communities

This one’s a bit different and often overlooked. When it comes to the list of online communities, there is no end. As someone looking to meet new people offline, it’s just as important to look for them online. You never know who you might meet in an online cookie-baking community or cycling community. Stay active on apps and portals like Facebook group, Strava  (for bikers), Tinder, etc.

Don’t forget to connect to people on your hostel’s social media. Ask the staff for their social handles, if you don’t know them already. Post pictures, use hashtags and also mention the location. It would make it easier for others to find you online. 

 

4. Kitchen & Food

I can not stress enough on the importance of this point. Food & Art are two sure shot ways of bringing the masses together. Food brings together people with different backgrounds whose interests might even be miles apart. Some hostels offer open kitchens for the guests to use. Use that, buddy!

How to Make New Friends at Hostels | Kitchen & Food | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

 

Offer help if someone is already cooking there or cook yourself and invite other to share the food with you. It is quite simple — cook with others, eat with others or at least share food with others. While you are at it, share your stories as well. It is a simple, effective and delicious way of making new friends at hostels.  

 

5. Common Rooms & Music

As you might already know, almost all the hostels have common areas for their guests to chill and relax and spend some quality time together. I suggest you spend significant amount of your time in hostel chilling in the common area only. Don’t hide away in your bunk bed.

How to Make New Friends at Hostels | Common Rooms & Music | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

 

In case you’d listen to music in there, don’t use headphones or things like that. They make you somewhat “disconnected” from the world and make it difficult for others to come and talk to you. You can always listen to music without them; just remember to keep the volume down enough that you don’t disturb other guests. And if you’re listening to regional music or something like that, people might even come and talk to you out of curiosity.

also read: Ideas to make your Travel Memories Last Forever

 

6. Take initiative to make friends at hostels

This is an important one. Even if you followed the above mentioned steps by word, chances are that people might not approach you. People who travel in group often don’t look for others to talk to. So change the game here a bit, and take the initiative yourself.

Don’t just expect people to magically appear in front of you and become your companion. Approach people on your own, talk to them, offer help, compliment them or at least ask them questions that could spark a decent conversation, like– what camera gear are you using? or what’s that music you’re listening to? etc. (don’t sound creepy though).  

How to Make New Friends at Hostels | Take Initiative | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

 

Approaching bigger groups of people is often intimidating, especially if you’re an introvert like me. I suggest you look for small groups or individuals as they’re often welcoming and easier to get along. It is one of the easiest way to make new friends at hostels.   

Chances are you’d meet a few of travel bloggers in your journey, especially in hostels. So, if you become friends with them, don’t forget to ask for their social handles, website and everything. People love when someone asks for these things, unless they act creepy. 

 

7. Be welcoming to others

As a champion in social anxiety and introvert behavior, I know exactly how it feels not being able to talk to new people as easily as those weird extroverts make it seem like. There! I said it! Extroverts are really weird kind of creatures from the perspective of an introvert. And not just any introvert, but the alpha male of the kingdom right here. God! I’m hopeless…

Anyways, some obvious things to make people like you: Don’t judge people based on their looks, clothes or just anything for that matter! Maintain good personal hygiene. Give everyone a chance. Be flexible with your travel plans. Don’t push others, be polite and just be yourself. Remember that hostels are meant to bring people like you together and for you to make new friends at hostels. 

How to Make New Friends at Hostels | Be welcoming to others | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

 

Final word of advice– get the hints! When you’d try meeting new people, look for obvious gestures that hint whether they’re actually comfortable talking to you or they just consider you someone creeping into their comfort zone. That’s the last thing you’d want.

also read: Finding Cheap Accommodation: Volunteering Abroad

also read: Finding Cheap Accommodation: House Sitting

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
Make Travel Memories Last Forever | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Ideas to make your Travel Memories Last Forever

The purpose of traveling is to make memories worth remembering till our last breath. Everyone wishes for their best travel memories to last forever. But what actually happens is that most of our trips turn into a few Instagram and Facebook posts & nothing more than that.
Most photos we click end up in albums that might not be opened until next time there are more to put in and the souvenirs usually die a slow death in our homes. Apparently, to make our travel memories live longer and make us smile everytime they remind us of the trips, we need to do things differently.
Here’s a list of some creative ideas to make your travel memories last forever—

1. Sending Postcards

How about sending postcards to yourself? Sounds crazy? Read along…
I know postcards are generally sent to family or close friends. That’s the thing most people do; but I’m asking you to send postcards to your own address. Here’s the point— Just date them to future. Date them months or even years down the line.

Make Travel Memories Last Forever - stolenmaps
Write about things random happening around you out there, somewhere far from home… Write about that weirdo (or that cute boy/girl) you met in the Amsterdam hostel you stayed at or how you felt scuba diving in the Indian ocean for the first time or how peaceful it is to meditate in a Buddhist monastery.
And by the time they reach you, you probably would’ve forgotten about those travel memories. The postcards sent this way surprisingly, unexpectedly bringing back to you all those moments and travel memories. 🙂

 

2. Have your travel moments canvas-printed

Your best travel memories printed on canvas framed to hang on walls of your home. Sounds nice, no?
Some websites offer services to get your photos printed on canvas, framed and delivered to your doorstep. Many people in America like CanvasPop & CanvasDecor for this. A lot of options are available out there to choose from, pick according to your needs, convenience and of course, budget.
P.S. I’m not profited from the links above in any way.

also read: Finding Cheap Accommodation: House Sitting

 

3. Memory Wall

How about choosing a wall in your home, and turning it into a canvas of your travel memories. Put up your best travel photographs, souvenirs, collectibles, postcards, charms, etc. on the wall and you’re good to go!

Make Travel Memories Last Forever- travel wall- stolenmaps
Make a random collage; maybe add some wanderlust quotes to it…. It’s all about feeling joyful everytime you look it or show it to someone.
Create an amazing gallery of the moments you’d never wish to forget. The memory wall will always remind you of what you felt out there traveling and how liberating travel is.
The wall will be your constant inspiration and reminder that the world is fucking’ huge and the life damn short!! So, you gotta pack your bags and get going now!!

also read: Best Travel Books to Know More about India

 

4. Travel Blogging

Nothing is better than writing your experiences and feelings for the world to read and get inspired. Travel blogging is something that most travelers do, and you should too.
Travel blogging not only helps you “keep” precious travel memories, but also share them with people of same interests, know more travelers, meet people like you and make new friends.
Moreover, travel blogging can fetch you a handsome sum of money on a regular basis, if you get the hang of it. Many travelers fund their travels through travel blogging (and other freelance jobs).
Most web hosting companies offer cheap plans to get started with blogging at nominal cost. So, what are you waiting for?

also read:7 Tips on How to Make Friends at Hostels

 

5. Collectibles and Souvenirs

How about making an enviable collection of uncommon spices that you came across while traveling?
Most travelers have the habit of collecting items while traveling. Some of us like to collect classic things like stamps or coins, while few others go for uncommon items like shot-glasses. Of course, what you collect is all up to you.

Make Travel Memories Last Forever- collectibles- stolenmaps
Ideas of some cool collectibles—

  • Travel tickets you bought
  • Menus of restaurants you ate at
  • Uncommon spices
  • Coins, stamps, postcards, currency notes
  • Bracelets or similar jewelry items
  • Pebbles from mountains
  • Sand or sea-shells from beaches
  • Shot-glasses or perfume bottles

P.S. I’d love to see your collection. Tell me what you like collecting the most in the comments section below.

also read: List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Rajasthan

also read: List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Gujarat

 

6. Music Playlists

An interesting idea is to create Travel Playlists, every time you travel.
Listen to folk songs or traditional music of the places you visit to. It will enhance your travel experiences as you feel closer to the local culture. Make collection of those songs. Mark your favorites also.
Feel the connection between the music and your surroundings. Like Buddhist chants in monasteries, jazz music on road-trips, bollywood music in Indian transports, etc.
Even months later, listening to the playlists will bring back many travel memories. That’s how you keep your travel moments and memories alive, even after a long time.

Make Travel Memories Last Forever- collectibles- playlists- stolenmaps
P.S. You can always use SHAZAM (Android and iOS) to instantly identify the songs playing around you.

 

7. Destination Boxes

Ever thought of making travel memories boxes (destination boxes) for all the place you travel to.

Make Travel Memories Last Forever- destination box - stolenmaps
It’s best to choose wooden boxes; paint them with destination names. Fill the boxes with tiny things that remind you of the destination you traveled to. It can be anything like tickets, stamps, postcards, souvenirs, etc. Place the boxes on a shelf or something in your living room, and you’re done!
Not only the boxes look tempting to open, they also keep your collected items at one place.

also read: Finding Cheap Accommodation: Volunteering Abroad

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
Finding Cheap Accommodation House Sitting | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Finding Cheap Accommodation: House Sitting

House Sitting

Wherein a house-owner when goes away for some time leaves someone (house sitter) to take care of the house and/or some pets. 

The sitter by a mutual agreement lives there rent-free in exchange for taking care of the house, pets, plants or garden, performing general maintenance, etc.As a house sitter you get a house to stay at and the owner gets a keeper for free, it’s mutually beneficial.

House sitting is a great way to find free accommodation in most parts of the world. All you need to do in exchange is take care of a house and some pet animals like cats, dogs, fish or birds. It’s pretty common that owners leave pets in your care.

Benefits of House Sitting

House sitting is no doubt a win-win deal:

  1. The work is easy and usually there’s not too much to do, just the general maintenance.
  2. Free accommodation for a couple of weeks/months in a foreign country will save you a lot of money. Maybe enough to fund your next few flights. 😉
  3. You may find yourself a cute little finny, feathery or furry companion to spend time with. If you ask me, I’m fed up human company and won’t mind having a few cats around me for a change.
  4. Think of all the photos you can click with the cute pets. Your Instagram is gonna get a lot more adorable. Instagram is crazy about cute animal pictures, just saying in case you’re living under a rock…..

Why do I have to write something so obvious??🙄 Something is definitely wrong with me.

Plenty of house sitting websites are available on the web, but which one is the best? The answer is— best website is the one that lists the house sitting job you want. Simple.

Here goes the list of good online resource that help you find decent house sitting jobs and free accommodation—

 

1. Trusted House Sitters

In less than 7 years, THS has become the market leader in house sitting portals all over the web. Probably the most popular and most trusted platform out there to find house sitting opportunities. An excellent site to find you the best job that suits your travel plans.

Finding Cheap Accommodation House Sitting

THS lists thousands of house and pet sitting jobs from all around the world.  Jobs range from as short as few days to as long as a few months. Popular house sitting countries listed on the website are:

  • UK
  • USA
  • Canada
  • France
  • Australia
  • New Zealand

You’re most likely to find maximum jobs in these countries.

Pet & House Sitting

If you’re comfortable with keeping a few cute little fluffy/furry/feathered creatures, the site offers plenty of pet sitting jobs (along with house sitting, of course). Use search filter to narrow down the search results to specific pets, like cats only or fish only or no animal at all.

Membership

To contact house owners you first need to purchase its (expensive) Annual Membership plan. However, you might be able to get some discount. Search online for THS membership coupon codes. I’m sure you’ll find some 10-15% discount code after scanning a few sites. Also, keep visiting the THS every few weeks just to make sure you don’t miss out on any membership sale. The discount offered is often 20-30%.

However, the search feature is open to everyone with or without an account. You can always search for house sitting jobs that go well with your travel plans and buy membership only if you feeling like applying to one.

Affiliate Program

Just in case you’d like to earn some extra bucks, Trusted House Sitters offers an affiliate program with commission rates up to 20% per sale! Additional incentives for driving leads and other kinds of sales too.

My Suggestion

Trusted House Sitters membership is costlier than most other websites. If you’re new to house sitting, don’t buy the plan unless you’re certain that you found the right job you’re looking for. For those who have been sitting houses for quite some time and definite about scoring decent jobs, go for THS!

Charges: $119 (USD) annual membership.

 

2. Mind my House

Mind my House relatively has fewer jobs listed. But is definitely worth a look. Website’s simple interface is pretty well laid out and easy to use.

Finding Cheap Accommodation House Sitting

The site costs just $20 to house sitters looking for decent house sitting opportunities. If you’re new to house sitting and don’t wanna spend a lot of money in the beginning, Mind my House is a good choice for you. 

The website is not as popular as others and has kind of mixed reviews, neither too bad nor too good. If you find a job that catches your fancy, $20 dollars isn’t too high a price to give it a try.

Charges: $20 annual membership.

also read: Finding Cheap Accommodation: Volunteering Abroad

 

3. House Carers

House Carers is one of the oldest sites in its industry, almost two decades old, and has built really good reputation and trust among its users. Most reviews are in the favor of website’s “fair” working and no fluff information. 

House carer’s interface is not as good as many others, but provides good sorting and filter functioning in search lists.

Finding Cheap Accommodation House Sitting

The website primarily lists house sitting (or pet sitting) jobs from USA and Australia. If you’re traveling to these regions and looking for free accommodation, the website is definitely worth a visit.

You can sign-up as free account to get notified about relevant house sitting  jobs. However, to apply you need paid membership. Membership charges are also not as high as Trusted House Sitters or Nomador.

Charges: $50 annual membership.

 

4. Nomador

Are you new to house sitting and looking for free accommodation in France? If yes, then Nomador has got you covered!

Nomador is an international house sitting community of more than 100k members! The site has gained popularity in European countries (mainly France) and is now getting popular globally. What I mean is that most jobs listed belong to France and other European countries.

Finding Cheap Accommodation House Sitting

The site is technically much better than several other similar sites. Nomador recently updated its website interface and search feature to provide better user-experience. Search feature to find house-sits is open for everyone to use, with or without an account. Also, you can filter the search results primarily on the basis of destination (city/region/country) and dates (date/period/season).

What makes Nomador a great site for beginners is its free “Discovery” option. Discovery allows users to apply for 3 house sitting jobs absolutely FREE! 

Paid membership is termed- “Confidence”. Paid members get the benefit of applying to as many jobs as they like. They also get search priority whenever a home-owner searches for house-sitters. I obviously suggest applying to 1 or 2 jobs for free and see yourself whether the site membership is actually worth paying for.

Charges: $89 for annual subscription or $35 for 3 months.

also read: Ideas to make your Travel Memories Last Forever

 

Other popular websites:

  • Luxury House Sitting
  • Sabbatical Homes
  • House Sitters America [America]
  • Aussie House Sitters [Australia]
  • Happy House Sitters [Australia]
  • Kiwi House Sitters [New Zealand]

Note: Make sure you clearly discuss with house owner the details of job and what they expected you to do. And don’t forget to discuss the utility expenses like electricity, water-supply, Internet services, etc. before making the commitment.

 

also read: Best Travel Books to Know More about India

also read:7 Tips on How to Make Friends at Hostels

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
Finding Cheap Accommodation Volunteering Abroad | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

Finding Cheap Accommodation: Volunteering Abroad

Volunteering Abroad

2 types of volunteering opportunities are there— you work for organizations in developing countries to make things better and bring some good changes in the region. The other one is when you work for some hotel, bar, hostel or similar establishments looking for volunteers. The former is more of a social cause and the latter is sort of a part-time job. 

When it comes to volunteering opportunities in developing countries, most agencies involved ask volunteers to pay a lot of money for the experience. They literally demand thousands of dollars. Though the money covers food, accommodation and other management fees; dealing directly with the organization asking for volunteers may help you save a lot of it.

Working and Paying

Sometimes working for hotels/hostels/bars/restaurants need you to work a few hours 4 or 5 days a week and also pay for accommodation (and/or food) at the same time. You might think people are crazy to do paid work that earns them no certificate or something. No, they aren’t. The logic is simple— usually the amount you pay per day is much lower than what you would pay to hotels to stay in. So, think of it as a part-time job that helps you find cheaper accommodation than hotels. Simple.

A lot of volunteering opportunities in farming, childcare, cooking, education, teaching, health-care, photography, writing, etc. are available all around the world. The time-length of these projects/jobs can be as short-termed as a couple of weeks to as long as an entire year. You just need to find the right work that goes well with your travel plans. 

Here goes the list of best online resources to find your perfect host—

1. Workaway

workaway.info is a nice platform for those who seek volunteer opportunities. With over 30k+ hosts from more than 170 countries, workaway is a great place for you to find right hosts.

 

Workaway is primarily for cultural exchange or learning possibilities. So don’t expect to find many paid jobs. However, sometimes the hosts look for more help than usual volunteer work and they may offer you paid allowance. The allowance is usually meant to meet the minimum wage requirements of their country. 

The site offers you the option of signing up as couple account at a lower price for friends, partners, families who always travel and volunteer together.

Charges: Annual fee of $44 for individual account & $56 for couples account.

 

2. Grassroots Volunteering

GV lists volunteering opportunities worldwide in exchange for cheap or free accommodation and food. Grassroots Volunteering (GV) connects freelancers and travelers across the world to causes and communities in the places they travel to.

GV is more like a search engine where you find suitable projects for your next trip. As a volunteer, you will have to contact directly on your own the organizations listed on Grassroots Volunteering website.

Charges: None, FREE!

also read: Finding Cheap Accommodation: House Sitting

 

3. WWOOF

WWOOF (Working Weekends on Organic Farms) is a network of local organizations that connects organic farms and similar smallholdings to volunteers around the world. You’ll have to work for 4-6 hours each day in exchange for food and accommodation.

You can WWOOF in more than 130 countries with over 12k+ hosts, chances are that some hosts are available in your own country. If you’re new to WWOOF, I suggest you to begin volunteering in your own country first.

WWOOF is organized by countries individually. So you will, first of all, choose the country that you’re gonna travel to. Then sign-up as a volunteer on the WWOOF organization managing that particular country.

Charges: $40 an year (on average)

 

4. WorldPackers

“Through an online platform, we connect travelers – looking to exchange their skills for accommodation – with incredible hosts from all around the world.”

WorldPackers is definitely one the most popular and most trusted volunteering platforms out there. Excellent website and mobile apps (iOS & android) provides you access on-the-go. I just love the website and strongly recommend it. Work Exchange, Social Impact and Ecological projects are main categories on the site.

15 October 2018 onwards, only members who join the WP Annual Membership will be able to apply, chat with, and confirm trips. These travelers will become Verified Members of the community.

Charges: $49 for annual membership plan.

also read: Ideas to make your Travel Memories Last Forever

 

5. Staydu

The search system on this website is very simple, clean and dead easy to use. You don’t even need to sign-up to search hosts. I just love how this website looks and works. Staydu is probably the simplest of all such websites out there.

The site lists three kinds of hosts—

  • Stay & Help (RED): Hosts host you in exchange of few hours of work/help everyday. Generally 5 hours of work is demanded.
  • Stay & Pay (YELLOW): Hosts host you in return for money.
  • Stay for Free (BLUE): Hosts welcome you as a part of their life. You stay with them for free.

Many hosts offer free accommodation (blue). If you’re lucky enough, you may find a place to stay for free. I suggest you to find “stay & help” (red) host or willingly help Blue hosts; so that you don’t get that awful feeling of being a burden on them. Moreover, the hosts might also pay to meet minimum wages requirements of their country. Just find the right host for you.

Charges: None, FREE!

 

Other volunteering websites worth checking out are

  • hosteltraveljobs.com
  • hosteljobs.net
  • volunteermatch.org
  • pickingjobs.com
  • helpx.net
  • allforgood.com
  • anyworkanywhere.com

also read: Best Travel Books to Know More about India

also read:7 Tips on How to Make Friends at Hostels

 

NOTE: If you volunteer for a host/local organization that pays you in cash in return for your work, don’t accept it unless you have its permit. To legally work and receive payment in some countries, you might need proper work permit or work visa.

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
most visited places in India by Foreigners | Stolen Maps | Indian Travel Blog

7 most visited places in India by Foreigners

India every year receives millions of foreigners with open arms. Here’s the list of seven most visited places by foreigners in India—

Goa

This list would be incomplete without Goa — The party capital of India, the place loved by foreigners and Indians alike.
Vibrant nightlife, beach parties, thrilling water-sports & exotic beach bars all make Goa a great escape from our boring routine-lives. Being under Portuguese rule for more than four centuries, the Goan culture is highly influenced by it. Goa portrays an entirely different picture of India as a country to foreigners.
North Goa receives more tourists because of low and medium budget accommodations and recreation activities. South Goa on the other hand has lots of high-end luxury hotels and private beaches.

Popular Attractions: Goa Carnival celebrated in the month of February, centuries old cathedral churches, flea markets, colonial forts. Also sports like river-rafting, scuba diving and para-gliding are great here. And yeah, don’t forget to try Feni (cashew spirit).
Best time to visit: October to February, the weather is just awesome!!

also read: 5 Best Beaches in Goa for Foreigners

 

Mysore, Karnataka

Mysore — The City of Palaces, once ruled by Wodeyar dynasty is now known for its royal culture, history, architecturally masterpiece palaces and beautiful gardens. The city is settled at the bottom of Chamundi Hills.
Palaces, gardens, churches, temples and markets attract foreign tourists to visit Mysore. Any trip to Southern India is incomplete without a visit to Mysore.
Mysore in last few years has been booming with tourists (especially foreigners). The royal city with magnificent buildings built during British rule in India is loved by foreign tourists coming to India.

most visited places in India by Foreigners (Mysore)

Mysore Palace ©AlinDev

Don’t Miss: Mysore Zoo, Sand Museum, Mysore Palace, Chamundi temple, St. Philomena’s Church, Ranganathittu bird sanctuary & Devaraja market.
Best time to visit: Weather in October to January is best to enjoy the city comfortably.

also read: City Guide: Mysore — The City of Palaces

 

Kasol, Himachal Pradesh

Kasol (in Kullu dist) is a really beautiful town in the Parvati valley. The beauty of Kasol is complimented by the Parvati River. Kasol is not so popular amongst Indian travelers but foreign tourists love to visit this place.
Unconventional lifestyle of people residing in this hamlet intrigues travelers, especially foreigners. Kasol offers a number of treks, camping, rock-climbing to please your itch of adventure. Travelers suggest that Kheerganga trek is a must here.
Another thing that attract many people is easily available Marijuana.

I don't promote/suggest substance abuse of any kind.
most visited places in India by Foreigners (Kasol)

©AlokKumar Looks like a painting, no?… The Parvati river flowing in sweeping meanders. Kasol, HP.

Reaching There: Bhuntar (town close to Kasol) has good connectivity with the place. Bhuntar has good by-road connectivity with other popular cities/towns. Bus service in Bhuntar is available in day-time and private taxis are always available to take you to Kasol. Many regular buses are available from Manali also.
Don’t miss: Trekking and Camping, Gurudwara Shri Manikaran Sahib & Tosh village.
Best time to visit: Kasol experiences nice weather throughout the year. Still, June to October is preferred. Also, the time of March to May (spring basically) is best to wittiness Kasol’s wilderness at its best.

also read: 7 most visited places in India by Foreigners

 

Kutch, Gujarat

Kutch is one the best tourist destination western India offers. The Rann of Kutch is a vast tortoise-shaped land of white sand shines like moon under moonlight. Famous for its handicraft products, interesting architecture and exquisite apparel attracts thousands of foreigners every year.

most visited places in India by Foreigners (Kutch)

Rann of Kutch at night. ©RannUtsav

Don’t miss: The Great Rann of Kutch, Night camel safari, desert camps, camel race, handicarft exhitibions & markets, Kalo Dungar (The Black Hill) and Mandvi beach.
Reaching There: Airport and railway stations in Bhuj (capital of kutch). Bhuj is well connected by road with other major cities of the state. Bus services are there too, quite uncomfortable journey though.

also read: List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Gujarat

 

Delhi

A trip to India is incomplete without Delhi. The Capital is among the places most visited by foreign travelers. Delhi has been a seat of power for thousands of years and has witnessed the rise and demise of innumerable dynasties. Some of the most powerful dynasties that existed on the face of earth once flourished on this land and slowly died silent deaths. From mighty Pandavas to Mughals to rule of Britishers to India’s freedom struggle leading to independent India; Delhi has witnessed it all.

most visited places in India by Foreigners (Delhi)

Connaught Place, Delhi ©Deepak Chandok

Don’t miss: Akshardham Temple, The India Gate, Iscon Temple, Red Fort, RajGhat, Connaught Place Humayun’s Tomb, Purana Kila, Qutub Minar, Lotus Temple, Chandi Chowk. 

Best time to visit: October to March. Cold weather is best for traveling around.

 

Agra

Just like Delhi, Agra is on bucket list of every traveler coming to India. Travelers all around the world love Taj Mahal. Taj Mahal, one in seven wonders of the world, is definitely on bucket list of most travelers. 

Every year about a million foreign visitors come to see this beauty of white marble. Apart from Taj Mahal, people also love to visit the other ancient places of the city that narrate fascinating history of India.

Don’t miss: Agra Fort, Moti Masjid, Jama Masjid.

Best time to visit: November to March, pleasant weather makes your journey comfortable.

also read: Best Travel Books to Know More about India

 

Varanasi, UP

Varanasi is the place that reflects true nature, true image of India. The ghats of Varanasi must be on the list of every foreign traveler who comes to India.

Varanasi is not as developed as Delhi or Mysore, but welcomes every traveler with open arms. The ancient temples, aroma of incense sticks, Hindu priests enchanting prayers and sound of holy bells gives an entire different character to Varanasi at night.

most visited places in India by Foreigners (Varanasi)

Don’t miss: Kashi Vishwanath Temple,  Dashashwamedh ghat, Manikarna ghat, Ramnagar Fort.

Best time to visit: October to March. Varanasi celebrates Diwali and Holi festivals like no other place in India. It’s best to visit Varanasi on one of these festivals.

Featured Image Credits: ©TourGuideAgra.com

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
Street Photography

17 Best Tips for Candid Street Photography

What is Candid Street Photography?

Candid Photography refers to capturing photographs without the consent or awareness of your subject. The subjects in most cases are unaware that a photograph is being taken. Candid street photography captures the moments just as they are, subtle and beautiful at the same time.

Taking “perfect” close-up candid photos on streets without people noticing you is really hard. As soon as people notice you, they get conscious and react to the camera. The fear of getting caught and ending up in trouble is among the biggest fears of any street photographer.

Here’s the list of 17 best tips to help you get better at candid street photography—

 

Use Smaller Camera

It’s obvious that a bigger camera draws more attention and that’s obviously the last thing you’d want as a street photographer. You may have to walk a lot while shooting and carry everything by yourself. So a smaller and lighter camera is much better option than a bigger one.

Candid Street Photography

Prime lenses, because of their simple lightweight design, smaller size and easier handling are recommended for candid street photography projects. It is better to carry around a small camera. You can try Sony, Olympus, Fuji, Ricoh or Leica.

 

Use LCD

Using LCD screen instead of viewfinder is a good way to ‘hide’ yourself out on the streets. Using LCD to see what you’re capturing makes it less obvious that you’re shooting, while viewfinder will attract people’s attention.

Also, it gets difficult for people to tell exactly whose photos are being taken, which is good for you. Keep the camera a little distant from your face while shooting (obvious when using LCD), it might look like you’re doing something with your camera— scrolling photos, changing settings or anything; but not clicking photos. This is a nice way to get photographs without much attention and suspicion.

 

Keep the Camera Higher

It is an important point. Always keep the camera close to your face (unless your subject will easily see it or arouse suspicion).

Decisive moments often offer very less time to you. Don’t waste that precious time in grabbing the camera, bringing to your face and then shooting. You should adjust the camera settings to appropriate values and keep the camera close to your face, ready to click pictures the moment you find something interesting.

Also, it helps you avoid unwanted attention. Sudden quick movements will only attract attention of people around you. And if your subject notices and reacts to you, everything is ruined.

Candid Street Photography

Shutter Priority in Street Photography

Many photographers work with aperture priority in almost all kinds of photography. Aperture priority performs great in shallow depth-of-field shooting like architectural, landscape or portrait photography; but usually not for street photography. If you’re exceptionally comfortable with it, go for aperture priority or manual mode. Otherwise, I suggest Shutter Priority.

One of the hardest things in street photography is to capture moving subjects and avoid motion-blur. Moreover, while out on the streets shooting, you can’t use a tripod. So you might also have to deal with camera-shake caused by hand-held shooting.

Adjust to faster shutter speeds to capture sharper images when moving elements are involved. Increase the speed in case of intense sunlight and decrease in low light conditions. I suggest you to take a few test shots on the background and adjust camera settings beforehand to right values.

 

High ISO

Many Photographers prefer low ISO, but in a few cases higher ISO values can yield wonderful results. It is extremely hard to capture candid shots with absolutely right focus and correct sharpness. Higher ISO values can be really helpful in getting better shots.

High ISO sensitivity can get you correct exposure even for higher shutter speeds (to freeze perfectly) and larger aperture, along with good sharpness. For multiple subjects in frame, you have a better chance of having all of them (or at least most of them) in fair sharpness.

Candid Street Photography

Wide-Angle Prime Lens

You might have come across articles online emphasizing the use of wide-angle prime lenses for candid street photography. Well, I can’t agree more.

Wide angle lenses compel you to go closer to subjects, making you “a part of the street life”, the life you’re trying to frame. This can work wonders in street photography. The subject in foreground appears larger and holds viewers’ attention. Moreover, wide-angle lens along with large aperture creates a better range of sharpness in your images.

When shooting candid, you need your camera gear to be smaller. A large/heavy camera gear only attracts more attention and increase suspicion. With smaller and lighter wide-angle lens your work gets easier.

 

Zone Focusing

Zone focusing is a commonly used technique in candid street photography. It involves pre-focusing your camera to a certain distance i.e., you switch to manual mode & (generally) focus 8 or 10 feet away and Photograph the subject when in right focal range.

Most of the things happening on streets are often so sudden that you need to be lightning quick to capture them perfectly. And adjusting things manually need time. Zone focusing thus saves you from the hassle as you set everything beforehand.

In this way you can capture photographs without your subjects noticing you and also have them in ‘acceptable’ sharpness. This technique works best when plenty of light is available around, but can be used in low light environment as well. You just need to configure the settings to appropriate values.

Using a shutter release to shoot to avoid sudden movements is a good idea. Camera shake is reduced and you “stay away” a little from your camera, which cuts down chances of people noticing you clicking pictures.

Zone Focusing, however, is not suitable for every photo. So be ready to switch to auto-focus (you don’t get enough time to set everything manually) whenever needed.

Rat’s eye view angle

Sometimes, you won’t be able to hold the camera to eye-level because of risk of your subject noticing you. And that’s the last thing any photographer would want in his/her street photography.

Rat’s eye view means to shoot keeping your camera low (of course, lens upwards). In this way photos can be clicked and no obvious gestures are given off. No doubt, getting good shots is difficult in the beginning; you’ll get better with time and practice.

 

Patience in Street Photography

Patience is essential in street photography and I couldn’t go on with the list without including this point. Many photographers think they just need to look for a great/unusual scene to capture and that’s absolutely wrong.

As a street photographer, you don’t need to always keep hunting for the right shot. It doesn’t work like that (well, not for everyone I believe). A not-so-perfect yet interesting background and an “interesting” subject are real ingredients of a great street photographs.

When you come across a nice/unusual background, don’t rush! Have some patience and wait. Adjust camera settings, find a good position to stand and wait until a subject walks into your frame. Then what? Shoot!!

Candid Street Photography

No Eye Contact

Making an eye contact with your subjects makes them think that you’re keeping an eye on them. It is crucial in street photography that your subjects are unaware of them being followed/shot.

With an eye contact, you also invite their attention towards you. Try clicking photos of them pretending to shoot something behind them, a tree perhaps. Make them feel they’re not being photographed and are “unwanted” in frame. This will help you capture much better candid photographs.

 

You don’t always need people

Most of the street photographs you see are just people standing or walking on the streets. But is street photography all about people only? I don’t think so. Although candid street photography means to capture life “as it is”, but street-life is not about people only. There’s much more to it, like— street signs, stray animals, deserted houses, graffiti, construction sites, vehicles, etc.

Candid Street Photography

Many such things together represents the street-life, culture and way of living of people in a place and they all should be a part of your street photography as well. I know such photos might not be needed by your clients, but self-satisfaction is important too, no? Keep the pictures for your personal collection.

 

Know What to Say

Street Photography is creepy! Most people obviously won’t like the idea of being photographed without their consent.

Every candid street photographer has to deal with the fear of getting caught by someone. You have to convince others that you’re not stalking or spying on them; or you might end up in big trouble.

If someone catches you, don’t show that you’re frightened (you will be, for sure). Have a normal smile on face, confident body language and talk politely. Just be honest, lying won’t help you in any way. Showing your business card (you should have one) would be great. Say that they looked great, so you decided to add their photo to your collection. Praise their looks, but don’t sound like an obsessive freaky stalker.

If the other person is shouting at you, try to calm him down. Otherwise, a lot of people might gather around hearing him and the situation will only become worse for you.

They might get convinced by a polite request to keep photos (chances are slim though). If they’re still mad at you, delete the photos right there! Losing a couple of photos is better than losing all of them. You never know what people might do to you or your camera.

 

Capture Gestures

Most of the street photographs just have people walking or standing still on the streets. These photos are (no offense) boring! You should look for gestures and actions people do while out on the streets.

There are a lot of things people do out on streets, unintentionally most of the time. You can look for people sneezing, caressing their pet, or stretching their arm to stop a taxi, etc. like this one —

Keep the Camera with You

Whenever you hang-out with your friends or go shopping with your family, keep the camera in your bag/car. I already suggested you above to have a smaller, lighter one for street photography.

You never know when you might across something interesting that you would never wanna miss. Decisive moments occur at the most unexpected times. Spontaneity is precisely what candid street photography demands out of you.

 

Get Inspired

This is a simple yet an important one for you to grow as a photographer. Exploring the works of other photographers opens up your mind to new possibilities, techniques, ideas and creative approaches in your own work. Study portfolios of some renowned street photographers in your free time. The knowledge you can gain has no bounds.

You can create a digital collection of the works you like or would wish to reference in future. Purchase some prints for walls of your room. The more you immerse in street photography, the better you emerge as a street photographer.

Names of some famous street photographers to begin with: Wittner Fabrice, Zack Arias, Bruce Gilden, Helen Levitt, Bruce Davidson, Bill Cunningham, Sergio Larrain, Mark Powell. Just Google them!

 

Tell a Story

Street photography must tell a story. Your photos are (no offense) meaningless if they don’t reflect the life you’re trying to capture. Candid street photos must resonate with the emotions of your subject. A photograph without emotions to convey or a story to tell are somewhat “dead”.

Candid Street Photography

Just Be Yourself & Have Fun!!

Photography is an art meant to be enjoyed, cherished, loved and lived. You can’t be happy as a photographer unless you love what you do and live everyday of your life for the same only.

Photography, out of all art forms, gives freedom only when you “capture” life (quite ironical, isn’t it?). You need to go out, take your camera with you and live a life filled with passion, creativity and joy.

Candid Street Photography

image: ©RK

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
smoke bomb photography

Best Tips for Smoke Bomb Photography

Smoke Bomb Photography creates strong and surreal effect. The images captured are fascinating and aesthetic enough to grab anyone’s attention in just a fraction of second.

If you haven’t come across some mesmerizing smoke bomb photos yet, then must be living under a rock till now. Anyways, here’s everything thing you need to know to make the most out of your next smoke bomb photography project:

Things you need

1. Obviously, Smoke Bombs (Wire Pull Grenades are recommended)—Amazon

2. Your Camera (with stand)

3. External Flash—Amazon

4. Reflectors—Amazon

5. Water to safely dispose the bombs

6. Model(s)

7. Outdoor space (not advised for indoors)

smoke bomb photography

©Joshua Posada—source

 

The Smoke Bomb

Smoke bombs are mini-grenades and run for about 60-90 seconds. This is enough time to capture some shots if things are kept ready beforehand.

The bombs can stain your (models’) hands and clothes and they also stink… a lot. The cool burning wire pull grenades are strongly recommended due to safety concerns. Try not to inhale the smoke as it can cause irritation. Have first-aid kit in your reach, just in case something happens.

 

Preparations

An important tip is to make sure you shoot only in a super-dry environment. Although very low, there are chances that something around you like bushes or clothes might catch fire. So make sure to have plenty of water beforehand to control any such situation.

If you’re shooting at night, take with you external flash and reflectors for proper lighting.

You need to well plan the shots as the bomb burns off in a short time. Consider taking some test shots without the smoke bombs.

It is advised to avoid windy days. A gentle breeze is nothing to worry about. But if the wind is flowing too swiftly, you should postpone the shooting schedule to some other day. Stillness is precisely what you need.

smoke bomb photography

©Andy Swann—source

 

How it’s done

The colorful haze of undulating smoke is the essence of Smoke bomb Photography. Even a very dynamic thing like smoke is seized and captured in a frame of time, which exhibits the true nature of photography.

Ask your model to stand still and have an assistant move around in circles holding a bomb. Or let the model hold one and swing hands. You can also try lighting two or more of them (different colors) at the same time.

Creativity with smoke bombs knows no bounds. They can turn an ordinary image into a dramatic one. You never know when you might want to burn some and click a few surreal shots. Just keep some in your car when you go shooting outdoors.

smoke bomb photography

©James Young—source

smoke bomb photography

©CDK—source

smoke bomb photography

©Aaron&Whitney—source

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
sell photos online

5 websites to sell photos online

Sell Photos Online

Regardless of whether you’re a professional or a hobbyist photographer, extra cash is something that everyone needs as expenses like maintenance of photography equipment and travel to shooting locations are unavoidable.

So, how about displaying them online and turn your soft gold into some hard cash!? You just have to sell/display your images and earn commission whenever someone purchases license to use your photo(s).

Down below is my list of 5 Most Profitable sites to sell your photos:

1. SmugMug Pro

This is my personal favorite. SmugMug probably pays the highest commission in industry. Key Features:

  • You keep almost 85% as profit
  • You can sell stock photos and videos
  • Receiving Payment— Paypal, ACH
  • Additional Revenue Options—
    • Through Refer-a-friend Program: If you refer someone to buy membership, both you and the person referred gets 20% off. Like, if someone purchases a $300 product or membership, he will get $60 off. Similarly, you will also get 60$ (same amount) off on future purchases.
    • SmugMug’s Partner Program: Affiliate program for website owners to refer SmugMug to their audience. You earn 15% commission on all Annual plans. You can also enjoy benefits of dedicate management team that will assist you whenever you need any kind of help.

2. Alamy

Alamy is a great place to sell your photos. Some features:

  • You get 50% of the sale
  • Alamy has paid over $180 million to their contributors
  • You can sell stock photos, videos, vectors, illustrations and Live News
  • Receiving Payment— Paypal, Skrill, Fund transfer to your bank account
  • Great support service for contributors
  • Additional Revenue Options—
    • Through Global Distribution Network (30% revenue per sale)
    • Sell images under some unique and novel scheme (50% revenue per sale)

3. Shutterstock

Shutterstock is highly popular among photographers and agencies across the globe. It is a great place to sell your photos after a little editing:

  • Earnings depend upon License, Subscription and Earning-tier.
  • Shutterstock has paid over $500 million to their contributors
  • Great support service for contributors
  • Receiving Payment— Paypal, Payoneer, Skrill, Check payments
  • You can sell stock photos, videos, vectors, illustrations and Music
  • Additional Revenue Options— Through Affiliate Program: 20% commission rate whenever a new customer makes a purchase.

4. 500px Prime

It might not be as good as others in this list. But still, 500px is quite popular among photographers for sharing/selling their stock imagery:

  • You get 60% revenue of the photos sold
  • You can sell stock photos
  • Receiving Payment— Paypal, wire transfer, ACH

5. Adobe Stock

Who doesn’t know about Adobe?! Adobe is among greatest companies in photography industry. And its products are definitely worth considering.

  • You get 33% of the sale (for photos and vectors) and 35% for video sales
  • On Adobe stock, you can sell stock photographs, videos, vectors, and illustrations
  • Receiving Payment— Paypal and Skrill
  • You can also upload photos using Lightroom, Premiere, Bridge, etc.
  • Excellent support service

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
indoor photography

Top 7 Tips for Great Indoor Photography

Indoor Photography can be pretty hard to carry out because of common issues like grain in images, underexposed images, noise in images. The culprit being lack of light and confined space for setting up proper equipment. But don’t worry, with some handy tips, you can capture awesome pictures.

You can follow the tips below to get the most out of your Indoor Photography projects:

1. Shoot in RAW

Perks of shooting in RAW are innumerable. Simply, you’ll be able to edit your photos in Adobe Camera RAW to cut noise in your indoor photos.

Shooting in RAW gives you flexibility of adjusting exposure, white balance, color and what not!!

Indoor photography

©Morgan Leigh—source

 

2. Indoor Shooting with Overexposure

When shooting indoors, lack of natural light makes shadows more common. To reduce noise and control grain in photographs, it is best to have a little overexposure.

While shooting portraits indoors, overexposure helps hide wrinkles, fine lines, blemishes by simple dominating shadows. Overexposure works wonders for natural light portraits.

But, you need to use it intelligently. If you eliminate details in the bright regions, there no getting it back. It will simply ruin the beauty of your subject. And that will be the last thing anyone would want.

indoor Photography

 

3. Keep ISO under 1600

Having ISO more than 1600 almost always bring grain in indoor photographs. Go for higher only if very low light is available.

But make sure to shoot in RAW and have wide aperture to preserve details. Then only you’ll be able to properly adjust grain and highlights/shadows.

 

4. Aperture Priority Mode

You get to choose the aperture in Aperture Priority Mode. Choose lower aperture number (f-stop) for wider open aperture. Wider is the aperture, more light is captured.

With lack of natural light indoor, you should make the most out of what you have. So, consider to capture more light by widening the aperture.

With wide aperture, the depth of field is shallow, that means your subject will be in-focus and the background appears blurry. This effect is great for Indoor Portrait Photography.

For portraits, f/5 or f/6 should do fine. Make sure you focus on eyes, otherwise the face might be out-of-focus and blurry.

5. Use Reflectors

While shooting indoor, place reflector opposite to he window or door to reflect the natural light and make it fall onto the shadowy side of your subject.

It helps you make most out of the limited natural light you have and your subjects looks bright and beautiful.

Indoor Photography

©Dena Haines—source

6. Use Mirrors

You can try using mirrors for some creativity. Just hang one along the window, not blocking light on the subject/model. You can use hand-held mirrors as well.

Change your position to get angles and reflections perfect. Make sure your reflection is not there in the mirror. Ask your model to look in the mirror, And shoot!

 

7. Use Curtains

Curtains can help diffuse harsh light that can ruin your images. For example, if a direct beam of sunlight is falling through the window, then pull the curtains together to soften the light. It will be good for exposure as well.

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
Portrait Photography

Top 5 Benefits of Self Portrait Photography Projects

Self Portrait photography has plenty to offer. There exists many advantages of it… below are my list of top 5 benefits of the same:

1. Freedom

Portrait Photography

With self portraiture, you enjoy immense freedom. As a photographer, Self Portraits projects are meant for you and you only. You don’t need to worry about pleasing your clients.

This surely gives you the freedom of experimenting with composition, lighting, posing and post-processing. Also, you will have the comfort of working at your own pace on the project.

 

2. Creativity

Portrait Photography

Most of the photographers are not used to being in front of the lens. Self Portrait projects will help you as a photographer to discover new creative possibilities and hone your portrait photography and posing skills.

Whether you are a portrait, nature, wildlife or landscape or street photographer; originality and creativity are two prime elements of Photography. For growing as a photographer, you need to develop your own unique form of creativity.

 

3. New Ideas

Portrait Photography

If you are a portrait photographer, experimenting with Self Portraiture will help you find new ideas to carry out while photographing someone else.

You will understand what type of composition, posing and lighting works best in a given scene.You will then not worry much about technical aspects during photographing others.

 

4. Interaction

Portrait Photography

Self Portrait projects will make you understand what a model feels during a photo-shoot. It will help you get fair idea of how to instruct models to make the best out of them.

Then, you will spend time clicking more photographs and interacting with the models. Interaction is indeed very important for every photographer and model to understand each other’s expectations.

 

5. Love Yourself

Portrait Photography

Finally, Self Portrait Projects offer self-exploration and self-expression. Each of your photo will “portray” your way of seeing this world. Self-portraiture provides immense growth, both at personal and professional levels. And you might fall in love with yourself all over again 😉

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
Framing

How to use Framing in Urban Environment

What is Framing?

Framing means creating photo-within-a-photo effect. The photos captured are “self-contained”. Basically, we are bifurcating outer-most frame into smaller frames to intentionally bring/guide attention to the subject.

Photographers often apply positioning and perspective techniques to create a space and line to bring viewer’s focus onto the subject and add narrative to their photographs. It won’t be wrong to say that a photographer’s world is only what he sees through the viewfinder.

Framing

Hands Framing New York Harbor- ©source

 

How to apply framing in photos?

Framing helps in wrapping more mundane areas of an image and makes the subject stand out. It makes good use of design skills to increase impact of the image.

For an urban setting, always look for windows, doors, hallways,etc. There are plenty of those around in an urban environment. Such frames provide perspective and guides viewers’ attention right onto the subject, making your photographs impactful and eye-catchy.

Barriers, fencing, stairs, etc. can also act as great frames for photographs. Both content and narrative of a photograph are improved with this simple technique.

 

Framing Shapes

Considering doors and windows, rectangle & square are the shapes that strike first. They surely are great for framing technique, but framing is not limited to them only.

A plenty of other interesting shapes and frames that can be used for the purpose exist around you in urban settings. You just need to be aware enough to identify and use them for your benefit. Like an oval shape (a train window maybe) or circular/curved shape can be great.

Architectural photography can help you create unconventional photographs. Just blend the architectural photography & framing techniques together. Make use of perspective, lines, contrast offered by the buildings in frame to capture wonderful pictures of otherwise not-so-interesting things. You just need to think creatively. After all photography is a visual art and like all other art-forms, photography too thrives on creativity.

framing

©Black and White House by Scott Ableman- source

framing

©Laurie Flickinger- source

framing

©Laurie Flickinger- source

 

Keep It Real

Framing is no-doubt a great technique to capture awesome images. But, keep in mind that all photos are not meant to be framed. Many subjects are captured best when they stand alone.

You just need to take some time to analyze the scene, think differently and respond creatively. Trust your instincts and have a ‘inventive’ approach towards the scene.

Don’t focus too much on framing, otherwise you might eliminate some interesting elements that might have enhanced & added value to your photos. Never “force” a frame in an image or you might end up ruining an otherwise great composition.

If you feel that the natural beauty and attraction of a scene is being complimented by the technique, what’s holding you back? Keep your mind open to the idea, and look for opportunities.

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
Architectural photography

Top 5 tips for Architectural Photography

Solid knowledge of composition lays the foundation of interesting photography subjects like Architectural photography. Great Architectural structures have always amazed photographers, artists, travelers, etc. Here are the top 5 tips—

Use Wide Angle Lens for Architectural Photography:

architectural photography

While in search for some eye-catching photos of Architectural marvels, you might end up in front of a building where don’t have enough space to move to capture the entire structure in one single shot.

The use of Wide Angle Lens or fish-eye Lens in such situations can help you create dramatic compositions and ‘drag’ the building into the frame. However, if you don’t have the lens, no worries, you can try capturing a panoramic shot.

 

Change your perspective:

architectural photography

Tall, symmetrical buildings have always interested Architectural Photographers. If you too wish to capture cool photos of such huge buildings, then I suggest instead of moving away from the structure for the building to fit into frame, you can try moving towards it. Go closer to its base and look upwards. You can also search for lines that can lead viewers and try capturing some of the beautiful skies to give a better depth to your photos.

Change Position:

architectural photography

While shooting Architectural structures, in spite of good composition, you might face the problem of photograph seeming ‘flat’. In order to overcome this, you should lookout for better angles and camera positions which when complimented by perfect time of day such that sunlight creates strong shadows with the patterns or textures of the building. This improves the contrasts as well, and who doesn’t love Dramatic images??

But, high levels of contrast might result in overexposure of bright areas in images. Trick is to shoot the scene with intentional under-exposure, so that the bright areas are exposed correctly. Later on, you can easily alter exposure of dark areas. The reason is simple– the chances of recovering details from shadows are higher than that from the highlights (bright areas).

Look for reflections:

architectural photography

Reflections in glass buildings, symmetrical patterns, unique patterns, reflections in puddle after the rain can bring in a new dimension and sense to the photos and surely help you create images that stand out from the rest.

 

Architectural Photography At the Sunset:

architectural photography

You need to place the Building between yourself and the setting sun. During sunset, you will be able to capture the structure in an awesome silhouette.

The camera flash must be disabled and make sure that you expose the sky properly. In case the foreground seems lighter, set a negative value of exposure compensation will darken it. This creates some kind of enigmatic effect.

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
point-and-shoot

Take pro photos with Point-and-Shoot Camera

Because of the limited features of Point-and-Shoot camera, they’re often not liked by photographers.

In case a Point-and-Shoot camera is the only one you’ve got, then you should learn how to make the most of it. They obviously can’t match the capabilities, efficiency and resolution of a DSLR. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t capture professional-looking photos with them.

All you need to do is keep in mind some important tips and use them appropriately.

point-and-shoot

 

1. Explore your camera:

If you understand how exactly your camera works, half of the work is already done. You need to sit down and explore all the menu functions, buttons or dials. Once you understand their use and importance, you will know when and which function is to be used to create the exact photograph you want.

point-and-shoot

2. Help your camera:

No camera is perfect enough to do it all for you. So, you need to understand the limitations and possible problems with your camera. You should not completely rely on Automatic-mode.

For example, the flash of cameras generally emit a strong light, washing out the subject. It is common with most of the point-and-shoot and DSLR camera.

In such case, you should avoid using on-camera light and resort to natural lighting. If you’re shooting indoors, turn ON all the light and/or use reflectors to manipulate the incident light on your subject.

Some point-and-shoot camera might come with semi-automatic settings like shutter priority or aperture priority. Rest allows fully manual control. So, you should use that for your advantage and capture photos with better exposure.

point-and-shoot

3. Change your perspective:

I’ve suggested this a hundred times, and it is actually worth it.
Taking photos from same old perspective will not work for you. You should think differently, look for different angles that can help you play with lighting, composition, perspective and what not. Moreover, with a small, lightweight point-and-shoot camera, you enjoy benefits of better mobility and easy accessibility.
So, why not use that for your advantage? Capturing photographs from a point above or below normal eye-level will add life to the images.

Try taking photos from a worm’s eye view by kneeling or lying down on the ground or you can take photos through bird’s-eye view by simply moving to a place higher than normal eye-level. These can help you decide look of your subject ( like lower perspective makes the subject larger)

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
Food Photography

7 Tips for Capturing Motion in Food Photography

7 best tips to capture motion in food photography

Magazines love pictures where movements freeze in time. Photographs with sprinkling sugar or pouring honey are really eye-catchy. Obviously, publishers love what attracts viewer’s attention. Clients often demand food photographers for such pictures.

Read below for some simple and effective tips to make you better at it.

Manual Mode

You must be in manual mode camera setting to capture motion in food photography. Manual Mode allows you to choose aperture, shutter speed, ISO and other parameters to click photographs just as you wish.

Consider different types of motion in food (sprinkling powder, pouring liquids, etc.), lighting, fo2od color and several other similar things while choosing camera parameters.

Manual mode is best to capture creative/unconventional shots and moreover, you sometimes don’t get favorable lighting conditions. In such situations, manual mode becomes a compulsion. So it’s better to become familiar with it by continual usage.

 

Tripod

I suggest you to use a tripod for food photography. Camera shake can easily be avoided with it and in case you don’t have a tripod, place your camera on a chair or table and use Shutter Release to click photos.

If you’re shooting in consistent/longer motion (like pouring liquid), you can use camera timer as well. But for inconsistent or quick ones (like dropping chocolate chips), it’s better to use manual shutter release.

In both cases, having a tripod is really convenient.

 

Motion Based Shutter Speed

You need to adjust shutter speed according to lighting and the type of motion you’re capturing. For quick motion (like sprinkling herbs or powdered spices), a fast shutter speed will be great. For consistent/longer motion (like pouring milk) slow shutter speed might give better results.

Shutter speed must respond to ISO and aperture values. A fast shutter speed in low-light conditions generally give underexposed images. I recommend you to take a few test shots (before the food is ready) to properly adjust camera settings.

 

Focal Point

While shooting movements in food photography, focal point must be chosen carefully. Pick focal point at almost the same distance as between moving object and camera.

Of course, selecting behind the moving food will make subject out-of-focus. It is often recommended to choose a stationary point in frame as your focal point.

Some photographers keep center focal point at center of moving objects.

Large Aperture & DOF

Depth-of-field or DOF is defined by much of a photograph appears in-focus. When just a small portion in foreground is sharp and background is blurry, the photograph is said to have a shallower DOF. When almost everything in frame is in-focus like in landscape photography, it’s deeper DOF.

Large Aperture (lower f-stop) is associated with shallower DOF. To capture (foreground) food in absolute sharpness and keep background out-of-focus and blurry, choose larger aperture. “Strong impact” subject and pleasingly blurred background attract viewer’s attention onto the subject directly.

 

Burst or Continuous Shots

You should use Continuous High Speed or Burst mode while capturing motion in food photography. Simply choose the best photos out of several rapidly clicked photos.

Burst mode becomes crucial while shooting with camera timer.

 

Play with food!!

Photography thrives on creativity; so never restrict yourself to your “comfort zone”. Always explore new ideas and techniques.

I feel that freezing motion amplifies the very meaning of photography— capturing fractions of life in a frame. Food complemented with antique tableware are my favorite.

Play with food— sprinkle your love, pour your heart out, let it sizzle, let it drizzle.

Wrapping it up

1. Always use manual mode.

2. Tripod makes your works easy.

3. Fast shutter speed is better for “quick” motion.

4. Choose a stationary item as focal point.

5. Shallow DOF captures great photos.

6. Click multiple photos with Burst Mode, choose the best one.

7. Try new ideas and possibilities with your tasty subjects.

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
Decisive moments in Street Photography

Capturing the Decisive Moments in Street Photography

Decisive Moments in street photography?

The very moment when everything falls into place and together has a meaning. Every single detail in photograph is a part of its story. The candid image seems like a deliberately composed photograph. Decisive Moments in street photography are really hard to capture perfectly, not to mention, of course, finding them first of all.

Decisive moments occur at random and you need to be lucky to capture them. But of course, you can increase your chances of finding a nearly perfect arrangement.

Tips for Capturing Decisive Moments in Street Photography—

 

Interesting Places

There are higher chances of capturing decisive moments in moderately crowded places. You should visit “interesting” places like markets, gardens, bridges, etc.

Such places often have a lot of people or vehicles. There are better chances of getting a meaningful picture than on streets with very few people around.

Some places of your city that are often visited by tourists might be good to click some interesting pictures.

Stay Alert/Aware

This is a simple one but extremely important while out on the streets. Decisive moments occur quickly and randomly. Your awareness can be the difference between a masterpiece and a missed opportunity.

You need to stay aware of your surroundings, observe people and look for patterns.

 

Keep your Camera Ready

Keep the camera in your hand, ready to shoot whenever something interesting happens. It’s better to have wrist-strap for your camera than a neck-strap.

People often make the mistake of hanging cameras around their neck. When something happens, they waste time grabbing the camera, turning it on and pointing to shoot.

In case of decisive moments this much delay can be disastrous in street photography.

Use Wide-Angle Lens

Very often, decisive moments are missed because the subjects are out-of-focus.

Greater depth-of-field is better for photographing decisive moments in street photography. Using a wide-angle lens (35 mm generally) along with smaller aperture is great to get most of the things in-focus.

Remember not to go too high with f-stop (f1.8 or f1.4) with a wide-angle lens. It only disturbs the balance and makes photos out-of-focus.

 

Curiosity

Street photography thrives on creativity. As a photographer, you need to be creative, passionate and see things normal people can’t. Creativity needs to be developed and cherished at the same time.

Not exploring new things, being repetitive and living in your “comfort zone” only hampers the creativity in you.

Never restrict yourself to a particular type of photography style. Always try to explore new ideas, styles, techniques.

Don’t be Afraid

Candid street photographers are always afraid of getting into some trouble. What if someone catches you? What if they call the cops? These are the fears you’ll have to deal with and there’s no way around.

While out on the streets, you need to be honest and polite. If someone notices you clicking their photographs, never show that you’re frightened. It suggests that you’re doing something wrong (technically, you are!). It will be great to show them your business card (you should have one). Talk to them politely, try to calm them down and always be honest.

Obviously, nobody would like to be photographed without consent. However, most of them will agree if you behave politely and genuinely request to keep their photos. Praise them a little that they looked great and you wanted to add their photos to your collection. If that doesn’t work, offer to delete the photos.

Conclusion

I’ll wrap up by stating that you need to capture what you feel is ‘decisive’. I mean a moment is considered decisive by you only. The moments that strike an emotional chord in you or has a strong meaning or impact can be decisive moments for you.

You don’t get much of those meaningful decisive moments in street photography, so pick your DSLR and get ready to hit the streets.

Image Credit: The featured image of this post— “Gaze” has been taken by ©Zulfikhar Ahmed. All rights belong to the owner of photo.

Decisive moments in Street Photography

Decisive moments in Street Photography

Decisive moments in Street Photography

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
Street Photography

How to choose the best Lens for Street Photography

Best Lens for Street Photography

The lens you choose greatly affects your photography. When it comes to choosing a lens for street photography, a wide range of lenses are available to choose from. Now the question is: Which lens will prove best for street photography? To find out, read till the end—

Choosing Focal Length

On the basis of focal length, two types of lenses are available—Prime lenses and Zoom lenses. Both of them are used for various purposes in photography and have their own significance. But, which of them is the better lens for street photography?

Zoom Lens

Zoom lenses have ability to shoot at different focal lengths. These lenses are convenient to work with as single lens can be used for various purposes. Unlike Prime lenses, you don’t need to carry multiple lenses or switch lens every time you need a different focal length.

Prime Lens

On the other hand, Prime lenses have only one focal length or fixed focal length. These lenses won’t allow you to zoom, you’ll have to move closer to your subject for “zooming-in”.

Which one is better?

My answer is Prime Lenses.

Prime lenses, no doubt, have some limitations, but come with many benefits. They are a bit cheaper than Zoom lenses as they don’t need moving parts inside are generally faster (in terms of aperture adjustment).

Prime lenses are simpler in designing and generally click sharper images. They are considered Optically Superior as light reaching the sensor is somehow better than that in zoom lenses.

Because of shallower depth of field in prime lenses, they are ideal lens for street portrait photography.

Street Photography

Also, Many photographers prefer prime lenses for low light street photography. They produce sharp, high quality images even in low light.

With inability to zoom, prime lenses help keep perspective intact, while zooming lenses flatten it.

Choosing ‘Range’ for Prime Lens

Prime lenses are of many types, common ones in use are— Telephoto and Wide-angle lenses. Now the question arises: Which is the best prime lens for street photography?

Telephoto Lens

As a street Photographer, you may want to use a Telephoto lens for street photography, as it allows you to capture images from a greater distance.

Larger distance obviously helps street photographers to capture photographs without people (subjects) noticing them. This, no doubt, makes their work much easier and worry-free.

However, when you’re capturing street scenes standing far away, there is a sense of ‘detachment’ in photographs. Viewers sometimes feel that the photographer is not involved in the life being captured.

Wide-angle Lens

With a wide-angle lens for street photography, you need to go closer to your subject.

It helps get over that uneasy feeling of ‘detachment’ in photographs. It looks like the photographer is a part of the scene or has some direct involvement in the life in front of the camera.

However, going close makes it difficult to shoot without being noticed. Your subjects will react in some way as soon as they see you shooting. They might not like it and you might end up in a conflict, which is the biggest of worries for any street photographer.

Choose ‘Medium’ lens for street photography

The simple answer for best lens for street photography is to choose between the two— telephoto and wind-angle lenses. I mean you should go for Standard Lenses.

Street Photography

Using Standard Lens for street photography makes sure you’re able to capture great photographs with ample distance to avoid being notices, and it doesn’t seem that photographer is not a part of the scene. Focal length of Standard lenses is similar to viewing area of human eyes. This is the reason that photographers looks like a part of the life captured in photographs.

This, however, is not supposed to be followed always. Analyze the scene and decide what you want to make out of it, choose your lenses and camera settings accordingly.

If you’re comfortable with a particular kind of lens, you can use them for street photography as well. The best lens is the one which creates photos you love.

Street Photography

Street Photography

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
Street Photography

Beginner’s Guide: Camera Settings for Street Photography

While out on the street with your DSLR for some street photography, you saw a street performer doing something unusual. You decide to capture the moment, and began adjusting your camera settings to get a good shot, pointed your camera, focused your subject and are ready to shoot and…. oh,no!! that great moment is now long gone 🙁 Better luck next time….

This has happened with me before, and I’m sure you’ve struggled with the same problem. That feeling of losing (a bit of embarrassment) you get is really awful. But don’t worry, this probably won’t happen again if you follow these simple tricks.

Camera Settings for ‘Quick’ Street Photography

1. Use Program AE (Auto-Exposure)

Automatic Aperture mode, commonly known as AE mode, is a camera setting which automatically selects suitable aperture value. When light is uneven at different parts of the streets, AE mode automatically adjusts aperture value for best exposure.

This mode helps save time when you need to shoot quickly or take multiple shots in very less time. Many ‘events’ you would wish to capture, don’t give you enough time to manually set all camera settings.

Street Photography

Your camera in AE mode does all the math and selects a suitable combination of aperture and shutter speed. This saves your time and allows you to take better care of what you need to photograph.

Many DSLRs come with inbuilt Program Shift which allows you to override camera settings. When needed, you can adjust values selected by camera by merely turning main dial a little. Other parameters automatically adapt in accordance with that change. For instance, while shooting a moving bicycle, you need faster shutter speed to avoid motion blur. You can change it in fraction of a second and aperture will adjust automatically.

 

2. Use Continuous AF (Auto-Focus)

Continuous AF camera settings gives you freedom to quickly shoot moving subjects (people or vehicles) on the street. in manual mode, you might need to refocus your moving subjects again and again to capture great shots.

Street Photography

You need time for proper observation for doing so. This is where continuous AF will come in handy. Moreover, cameras with inbuilt multi-focus allows you to act more quickly and also do your work without people noticing you much.

 

3. Use Auto White-Balance

Well, you might already be doing this. While you’re on street, you often don’t have enough time to set all the camera settings. You should then shoot in Auto WB to save your time and capture things quickly, as they happen.

Auto WB feature does really good in many situations, but it’s fine if the results doesn’t match with your expectations. Out of all, white balance can be easily taken care of in post-processing stage.

Street Photography

 

Aperture & Shutter Priority Camera Settings

Camera settings in street photography are to be decided after taking certain factors into consideration. You need to choose among Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual Settings of camera.

Aperture Priority

Aperture Priority has its own benefits and drawbacks. If you’re shooting in daytime when there’s ample light available, this mode is recommended.

Just set camera settings to aperture priority and you don’t need to worry much about other settings. Instead, you can focus on content and composition of your photographs.

This setting works best for consistent light/sunlight on the streets as you don’t need to change the values frequently. But if sunlight is really intense, like here in Delhi, this setting might become a headache for you. The contrast between sunny and shady parts of street is so high that you need to change values every time a lot of time.

Street Photography

Shutter Priority

If you’re out on the streets early morning or at dusk, enough light isn’t available, try Shutter Priority. Choose fast shutter speed to make sure you don’t get motion blur in images, and go for high ISO numbers in camera settings.

With higher ISO, higher is camera sensor’s sensitivity to light and proper exposure is achieved even in low light. Faster shutter speed makes sure that Motion Blur or Camera Shake don’t ruin your photographs.

Camera Settings For Street Photography At Night

The artificial light from street lamps completely transforms a street’s look at night. The contrasts are mesmerizing, and need proper camera settings for shooting.

With the contrast between bright street lamps and darkness of night, automatic settings become somewhat unreliable. You should switch to manual mode for better results.

Street Photography

Try a test shot with ISO 200 and shutter speed to as low as 3-4 seconds with a (common) aperture of f/8 and check histogram. If it seems too dark, slow down the shutter speed for longer exposure and in case image is too bright, increase shutter speed. Take a few test shots to find best adjustments.

Auto-focus mode must be avoided as it doesn’t work properly in dark conditions. Also, don’t use Auto White-Balance and set it to Tungsten using manual settings.

Street Photography

Street Photography

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
Night photography

Beginner’s Guide: Camera Settings for Night Photography

Camera Settings for night photography —

Right camera settings for night photography are essential to capture good images. A perfect moment can be easily ruined if the photo is not exposed properly or the subject gets blurry. This get even more complicated in night photography. Here are the best tips to get proper exposure in low light.

 

1. Switch to Manual Mode

When it comes to night photography, shooting in manual mode is easier and efficient. Manual mode gives you the freedom to set aperture, ISO, etc as and when needed.

Night scenes may have very little light or even no light at all. With unreliable lighting, you can’t always trust the auto-mode. Best camera settings for night photography can be obtained only in manual mode.

Night Photography

2. Use a Tripod

In low light conditions, you need longer exposure to get good images. The longer it takes to capture a photo, more are the chances of Motion Blur or Camera Shake. It becomes essential to use a tripod, hand-held shooting won’t work. The camera needs to be perfectly still.

 

3. Slow Shutter Speeds

Shutter speed decides how long the sensor in your camera is exposed. With scarcity of light in night photography, you need to make the most out of what you have.

Expose your camera for at least 10 seconds. You might be thinking that 10 seconds is too long, but it is quite typical for night photography.

Sometimes, you might have to use even slower shutter speed depending upon the circumstances.

 

4. Larger Aperture (lower f-stop)

Aperture controls the light entering through the lens of your camera, just like pupil in your eye does. You need to use larger aperture to gather enough light to get proper exposure.

For larger aperture, adjust the camera to lowest f-stop available.

Also, aperture directly impacts the Depth-of-field (DOF) in your photos. Larger aperture (such as f/2) means shallow DOF. This means the subject in foreground looks sharp and the background appears blurry.

For shooting night landscape photographs, you need smaller aperture to get everything in-focus. But, lack of incoming light might leave you with underexposed images. So, take some test shots and adjust other parameters like shutter speed for proper exposure along with deeper DOF.

5. High Sensitivity

You might already know that ISO controls the sensitivity of camera sensor to the incoming light. More sensitive the sensor gets, brighter are images even in low light.

Increase ISO to 1600, although it (unfortunately) brings noise in night photographs. You need to make some compromises to get properly exposed images.

 

6. Mirror lock-up

Mirror lockup is a camera setting that locks your mirror before clicking photographs.

All DSLR cameras have mirror inside them. This mirror reflects light to the viewfinder before clicking an image. As you try to capture a photograph, this mirror flips to reflect light onto the camera sensor.

This flipping causes a slight camera shake and might make the photo a little blurry. To capture absolutely sharp images, you can try mirror lockup (if your camera allows).

Keep in mind, you won’t be able to use the viewfinder when this setting is activated. So, set the camera and frame the scene beforehand. I suggest using a shutter release button also.

Night Photography

7. Shoot in RAW

Choose RAW among JPEG, RAW and TIFF formats. Shooting in RAW ensures you can take care of noise in post-processing.

Color variations and other fine details can be preserved in RAW.

It gives you flexibility of adjusting while balance, color, exposure and many other things.

 

8. Test Shots

You can’t be sure about camera settings for night photography without taking a few test-shots. Analyze exposure of your photographs and adjust camera settings accordingly.

In case photos appear underexposed, consider increasing exposure time to 30 seconds. If too bright, decrease ISO from 1600 to 800 or adjust aperture.

Wrapping it up

Perfect camera settings for night photography:

1. Switch to manual mode for ultimate control.

2. Use tripod to avoid camera shake in long exposure photography.

3. Select shutter speed to 10 seconds or slower, depending upon the scene

4. Larger aperture (lower f-stop) make sure enough light is gathered. Aperture can be adjusted according to your needs for Depth of Field in images.

5. High ISO means brighter images in low light. However, it brings up noise, which must be taken care of in post processing.

6. Mirror lock-up is a setting to avoid blur due to camera shake while clicking images. Viewfinder is disabled in this camera setting. So, turn it on only after you’ve set camera and framed the scene.

7. Use shutter release buttons to avoid camera shake.

8. Always shoot night photographs in RAW format.

9. Try having some test shots and adjust camera settings as needed.

Night Photography

Night Photography

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
night photography

Beginner’s Guide: Essential Gear for Night Photography

Gear for night photography—

Having right gear for night photography is extremely important. The gear you use can make or break your night photography. Things like camera and lens are obvious, but which ones are best for long exposure night photography?

Here is the list of all necessary gear you need to make your next night photography session great:

 

1. The ‘Right’ Camera

“The best camera is the one you have with you”, does not go well with night photography. You need a camera that gives you the control and freedom you need. Not all cameras are meant for night photography. But if yours have some necessary features, it should do fine.

Features like bulb mode (for long exposure photography) and shooting in RAW are essential.

Full Frame DSLRs

Full frame DSLRs generally work better than other cameras for night photography. They come with larger sensors. This helps in capturing pictures of better quality and the noise is also reduced appreciably.

 

2. Wide-angle lens

A lens is an important factor in night photography. A good one can capture breath-taking photos and a bad one can ruin an otherwise great scene. When it comes to choosing gear for night photography, wide-angle lens is the most preferred type.

Wide-angle lenses have larger field of view, meaning that it captures the most of what is in front of camera. Field of view actually depends upon focal length of your lens.

Shorter lens (shorter focal length) frames larger area. Longer lenses with longer focal lengths are not suitable for star photography. They make your camera sensitive to earth’s rotation, especially in longer exposure.

Focal length of 35 mm or lesser is best suited for night photography (astrophotography in particular).

3. Tripod

With almost no light available at night, you need slower shutter speeds to gather light enough for proper exposure. Camera shakes are inevitable with hand-held shooting. With long exposure of 20-30 seconds, no clear photo can be taken without a tripod.

Now the question arises: What type of tripod will do fine?

It depends upon your way of traveling.

If you’re supposed to walk a lot with your gear for night photography sessions, light-weight tripods are better. These tripods are smaller and generally cheaper than bigger ones. However, these tripods are not meant for big, heavy cameras.

In case you don’t need to carry the gear much or have a car to go places, I suggest you to invest in a bigger tripod. Although they are a bit expensive, but work fine for light as well as heavy cameras.

Night Photography

4. Something Heavy

Many tripods come with a hook under the center column. You can hang some weight to increase tripod stability. Your backpack or camera bag will be fine for this purpose.

Adding extra weights is important for smaller tripods with heavy cameras. Perfectly still camera will help you capture sharper images.

 

5. Shutter Release

Shutter Release helps you trigger a capture without touching (and shaking) the camera. Absolute stillness is necessary to get perfectly sharp images in long exposure night photography. Some models have advanced features than just shutter control.

Some shutter release devices allow you to control exposure length, intervals (for time-lapse or star trail images) and also change camera delay (to values different from the default ones).

 

6. Spare Batteries

No photographer can be more helpless than when he runs out of batteries on site.

In long exposure, camera sensors are active much longer. This drains camera battery more quickly than usual. Also, the more photos you click (needless of long-exposure), faster you will run out of batteries.

It’s advised to keep at least 2 extra sets of charged batteries whenever you’re out shooting.

 

7. Flashlight

Of course, you’ll need them to see in dark. But that’s not the only purpose.

In low light conditions, you can use a flashlight to light-up something in your frame, a tree perhaps.

Sometimes, head lamps are preferred over hand-held flashlights. The reason is simple— you’d want your hands free to use the camera.

8. Lens Hood

Lens hood or lens shade are used to block unwanted lights from entering through the lens.

Your camera sensors get exceptionally sensitive to light sources in the dark. A lens hood blocks unnecessary light from bright light sources outside of your field of view and prevents lens flare also.

A lens flare is when bright light scatters in a lens, leading to an undesired flare effect in photographs.

 

9. Filters

Filter are NOT advised for use in night photography. Adding filters makes it harder for camera to gather light. You’ll have to further increase exposure length to get proper exposure in photographs. With even longer exposure, chances of getting motion blur or a little star trail effect in your images are higher.

However, filters can be pretty useful if you wish for specific effects in your photographs.

Cross-screen Filters

Used only and only when no light source is in frame. The stars must be the only source of light in your frame.

Cross-screen filters or star filters can create a “cross” effect in your photos. The stars appear like large crosses of light, with the star at its (bright) center.

Fog filters

Fog filters make the stars appear bigger and brighter in your images. Bigger stars help observing constellations in photographs.

However, fog filters might make your photos seem fake or over-edited, if not used properly.

Apart from night sky photography, fog filters create a mysterious kind of effect in night street photograph. The effect looks mesmerizing and create breath-taking photographs.

10. Other things you might need

Few things you might find useful besides the camera gear for night photography—

  • Extra Clothes: It’s wise to keep some extra clothes (like jackets) with you. It gets really cold at night especially at high places.
  • Mobile phone: Always carry a smartphone on site. Many photographers avoid mobile phones saying that shooting is the time when they need to stay away from distractions. I respect that thought, but your safety is more important. A mobile phone can be lifesaver if God forbid something wrong happens.
  • Mobile Apps: Applications like Sky Map (Android) provide information about stars and constellations and some other features helpful to night photographers.

Wrapping it up

Here is the checklist of gear for night photography—

Mandatory

  • Camera, of course
  • Wide-angle lens
  • Tripod

Recommended

  • Shutter Release
  • Spare Batteries
  • Flashlight
  • Mobile Phone

Not-so-necessary

  • Lens hood
  • Filters

Night Photography

Night Photography

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!
Food Photography with Smartphones

Top 7 Tips on Food Photography with Smartphones

Food Photography with Smartphones—

Appetizing photographs of delicious looking foods styled in the best way possible are flooding the Instagram. Posting food pictures every-time you hit a restaurant or bar is now as important as the food itself & you don’t always need a DSLR. Here are some tips that will help you get better at food photography with a smartphone camera—

Turn the Flash OFF

Artificial light/white box in professional photography is meant to light up certain parts of a scene. Smartphone flash, however, just throws a direct beam of light and highlight the scene randomly. Result is usually a ruined photograph. Most of the details you’d wish to capture might be lost in the harsh light.

Never Zoom-in

This is a general guideline. Whenever you want (and it’s possible) to take closer shot, physically move closer and then click a photo. Digital zoom of your smartphone only make your photographs pixelated.

Always move closer to click a macro food shot or a detail shot of your food and never zoom manually. Also, it’s relatively better to crop photos than ruin them with excessive zooming.

 

Exposure Slider

Most smartphone cameras have exposure control that works like in DSLR cameras. Of course it not as good as in DSLRs, but still it’s better to have more control.

Exposure control basically adjusts the amount of light interacting with the sensors. It allows you to change the amount of light in a photo.

Food photography is generally carried out indoors and you might already be struggling with low light. In such cases, it’s fine to click overexopsed photos. Usually, a little overexposure (than your usual smartphone photos) in low light conditions gives correct exposure.

But make sure you don’t overdo it. Exposing more than necessary will wash-out important details of your food photograph. Don’t overexpose to such an extent that the details can’t be recovered in post-processing. I believe that’s the last thing any photographer would ever want to happen.

 

Natural Lighting

It’s best to click photos in natural lighting only. Artificial lighting might get you better exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows, etc. But that doesn’t mean the food will look as appetizing as it actually was. Artificial light might make it seem artificial. Natural light is the environment we live in and would like to have food that looks natural. It’s best to keep it that way only.

You should alter natural light to your needs. If the sunlight is too strong for your scene, put curtains on windows to soften it. Light from some directions can be blocked to get better contrast in photos.

 

Contrasts

Contrasts create a ‘complimentary & contradictory’ sense in images (I know that sounds too fancy 🙂 ).

Light colored foods like vanilla ice-cream (yum-yum!!) requires a darker plate or dark table top. And obviously dark foods need simple white plates.

The contrasts achieved will make photos attract more attention. This definitely is something most of your clients and publishers ask for.

 

Overhead Shots

Overhead shots make things simpler. If inclined angles don’t present your subject the way you wish, you should try overhead shots. Instagram is flooded with such pictures.

These shots often cover all props, tableware and even the table surface. This obviously opens new ways of composing and styling your food. You can try various props and cutlery.

You won’t be able to capture motion in food photography like you can in a horizontal shot. Also, textures and color of your food are best captured in shots ‘closer’ than overhead ones.

Food Photography with Smartphones

Take lots of photos

Simple probability: Taking 10 or 15 photos have better chances of getting a great photograph than in clicking one or two of them. Mastering food photography demands a lot of time, practice and patience. The more photos you click with slight changes, the better you’ll understand its various aspects. Take multiple (almost similar) photos and analyze to learn how small changes can significantly improve your food photography.

The more you immerse in food photography, the better you get at it. Play with props, clutter things around, try different angles….

Food Photography with Smartphones

Food Photography with Smartphones

 

 

Well, there you go! That’s all I had to share. Don’t forget to drop a comment down below if this post helped you in some way or if you’d like me to write about something or maybe just to say hi!