Search Results for “stars”

February 24, 2022

Stars by a tranquil night

tranquil night
under a blanket of stars –
sleep gone, again :)

This shot is from a lovely spot is nestled less than 100 kms away from the bustling Bangalore, by the forests of Kanakapura (or whatever is left of it). Stay late, it is great to spend time with the stars :)

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 3200: 16 mm : f2.8 : 20.0 sec

Stars by the lake
Kanakapura, Karnataka, India

August 4, 2020

Aihole wrapped in a blanket of stars

Just an hour’s drive from Badami is Aihole – a historic site of ancient & medieval era with Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monuments. There are a variety of temples sprinkled all over this place. With so much variety, Aihole is indeed the cradle of temple architecture. The incredible work here dates from the sixth century through the twelfth century.

This week’s shot is from one such complex which hosts a collection of about 30 temples by the banks of river Malaprabha. The quarter moon was just enough to light the temple complex, while still allowing to enjoy the grandeur of the stars. The trip from earlier this Feb was not conducive to enjoy the Milky Way, but it helped to get an enticing composition around the north star with equally captivating temples in the foreground. How do you like it ?!

PS : This shot was made possible with ~200 shots over 45 mins and composited with the “Creative Effects” Photoshop script. You can download the same for free here :)

By the banks of Malaprabha
Aihole, Karnataka, India

July 24, 2017

Living under the stars

It is not a magical myth. There still exist places where the entire night is blanketed in the glow of the milky way. It is up to us all to make sure it stays that way :)

Went out along with my son for a night under the stars. After the long drive, at 5 minutes past 11, the planned spot at a State park did not work out – they just closed the gates prior to our arrival. This led to a drive around the unknown rural roads. After some scintillating conversations, light painting and trying out some Milky way shots, came across this lovely spot.

It was quiet a place to take a walk. Unlike city, there were no harsh lights to showcase the stone road, just the light of the stars and the sounds of the night. On the left were close to a hundred cows, casually mowing the grass. Only after we crossed the field, were we able to see the light, at the front yard of this house. Just enough for them and not polluting the night sky. It was quiet a scene, literally !

We talked about light pollution, rural life, dark skies, stars and soaked in the night :)

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 800 : 10 mm : f3.5 : 30 sec

   Living by the Stars 
Elberton, Georgia, USA
August 17, 2014

Sea horse, Skyline and some stars …

Buckingham Fountain at Chicago, is seriously beautiful.  A favorite spot in the city, one can literally spend hours hours watching the fountain.  The backdrop of Chicago or the lake, behind the fountain make it even more gorgeous.

With 134 jets and a fountain water capacity of 1.5 million gallons, it roughly pumps 14,100 gallons of water per minute. Water is re-circulated from the base pool after the basins are filled and not drawn from the outside except to replace losses from wind and evaporation. Some amazing engineering – be it the stupendous architecture or the the lighting at the dusk or the synchronous music that goes along with the lighting. The fountain located in the shores of Lake Michigan also symbolizes the lake itself, with four pairs of sea horses representing the four states that border its shoreline.

It was really lovely to see the Cassiopeia (Constellation) shining atop, even amidst all that man made city light. By the by, that lovely blue building, that u see there – that is where I work out of, lucky me … or not  ;-)

I present to you Sea horse, Skyline and some stars at Buckingham Fountain, Chicago. Definitely well worth checking out in large. How do u like it ?

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100 : 13 mm : f8.0 : 10 sec 

Buy Print   Buckingham Fountain 
Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois, USA
July 20, 2013

Stacking Up the Stars – Getting Creative

EDIT : There is an update to the Scripts with much more features and a UI now. Check out this article – Scripts to Make your Star Trails Awesome – for more details. I am still leaving this old article in place (along with the script) as it provides some insight into how the codes is designed / works. Thanks !!!

This is the second installment of the Star Photography Article. If you are just getting started do check out – Sleeping with the Stars. The below article predominantly focuses on Post Processing i.e. once you capture your shots. If you ended up here thru Google looking to set up for Star Trail shoots check out this comprehensive article @ Star Circle.

5 Different Creative Post Processing with the same set of 86 shots (each 30 sec exposure) 

StarTrailsGettingCreativeScript[16]If you had read my earlier article – ‘Sleeping with the Stars’ you would have noticed that I mostly shoot milky way shots. For some reason I preferred capturing the Milky Way at its full clarity like this, rather than the star trail style. It all changed until I came across some amazing Comet style processing of star trails like this.

The more I was looking at these, the more I was intrigued. As to getting the normal star trail effect – there are two ways of achieving it. One is a really long exposure – getting everything in a single shot, exposed probably for even hours together. The other is get shorter exposure of around 30 seconds or less and have them merged later in post processing. I prefer the latter, as it gets really interesting with the post processing options. For a regular star trail you could just fire up StarTrail.de to get the final trail effect like this. But with shots like this, it involves – a combination of steps from shooting multiple exposures, and manually editing each layer to achieve desired effect.

The reminder of the article presumes you have a handful of exposures (of shorter duration) of the star lit night scene. You can also download a sample set completely free to try hands on …

EDIT : Alternate Download link – http://bit.ly/1cAOiDJ

StarTrailsGettingCreativeSampleFiles[14]

As I was searching online there was lot of information on how to set up and shoot for star trails. There was information on processing too, but there was no step by step approach on getting custom effects. As I was working on this, came across David Kingham’s article, which was quiet comprehensive. It was not too over whelming, just simple steps on how to go about achieving this effect. This article also talks about Photoshop Droplets. Though simple, I was never able to get my head around Photoshop droplets. For me – personally – the concepts of droplets was little contrived.  Even if you find it simple and manage to load multiple shots as layers, Photoshop does not give an easy way of setting up the Mode for multiple Layers. Additionally setting opacity across larger number of layers is even more cumbersome.

Short cut keys “Alt + [“ – Select below layer ; “Alt + Shift + G” – Set LIGHTEN Layer Mode are quiet handy (but still time-consuming)

The simple but tedious solution is go thru each layer and set the opacity manually. Manual & mundane tasks always come in the way of creativity and does not let you focus on the end results. I was exploring ways to refine the process with more flexibility and reduced manual effort. That is when I learnt about Photoshop Scripting, inspiring for this  Photoshop Script and eventually this article. Surprisingly it is not complex at all.

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How to Achieve Creative Effects in 5 Steps

1. Set Up

Things Needed before you start –

  • Photoshop CS 5  (not sure if the inbuilt script – ‘ load multiple images as layers’ –  worked on versions earlier than CS4)
  • Multiple Set of exposures of star trails. If you are yet to shoot your first set and still want to try hands on, do not worry, you can download sample files here
  • Download the Creative Star Trail script here. Save to a local folder. This can be any folder, just need to know where you saved it

EDIT : Alternate download links
Sample Files : http://bit.ly/1cAOiDJ
Script : http://bit.ly/137haR0

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2. Load

Open as LayersLoad the files into Photoshop as layers

  • If u have CS5 u can easily load multiple photos into layers using the inbuilt script :

File –> Automate –> Load Files into Stack…

  • If u have Adobe LR or Adobe Bridge :

Select all photos (Right Click) –> Edit In –> Open in Photoshop as Layers

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3. Customize the Script

Edit the Script to set the basic style. For tweaking the script beyond the below control variables refer to this session on Code break up and overview.

// Uncomment the next line to show the debugger
//$.level = 1; debugger;

//BLEND MODE Variable , Defaults to Lighten Mode
// LIGHTEN is the best option for star processing. Results might not be pleasing if changed
// Variable added for future needs
//0 -> Do not change
//1 -> LIGHTEN
//2 -> SCREEN
//3 -> NORMAL
BLEND_MODE = 1;

//Design Style Variable
// 0 -> merges all shots with set BLEND MODE, no other creative processing
// 1 -> Comet Style left to right (light to dark)
// 2 -> Comet Style right to left
// 3 -> Saucer Style
// 4 -> Space ship Style
CREATIVE_STYLE = 1;

// Constants
MAX_OPACITY = 100 ;
.

Creative Style_Crop-2

BLEND_MODE : As the name suggests this variable controls the Blend Mode between the multiple layers. The default value is LIGHTEN. Based on my trials, I suggest to use LIGHTEN (1) for best results. For some types of images SCREEN might also come in handy. When trying out the script multiple times for different effects, you can also use a value of ‘0’ to leave the Blend mode between layers untouched. This is handy and saves time especially when you have large number of layers.

CREATIVE_STYLE  : This variable drives the pre-defined style.

  • Comet Style [1,2] : This is the preferred effect of comet streak – from light to dark. With an option of 1 or 2 the effect can be from either of the directions. Try both and decide which suits better for your composition.
  • Saucer Style [3] : I kind of liked this. It gives a strange metallic, yet smooth feel to the shot. The effect is similar to that of a flying saucer.
  • Space Ship Style [4] : This is UFO or the space ship style. You can tweak the code further to enhance or reduce the effect, by controlling how much of gap is there between the wings
  • The option of 0 does not apply any CREATIVE STYLE Effect. This is conjunction with BLEND_MODE can be used to just set the appropriate blend mode for you initial set of images. The larger you set, the more handy you would find this option as you play around with different effects
.

4. Run

Once you load up the files and the configuration parameters are set – running the script is pretty simple. From within Photoshop, initiate the script using

File –> Scripts –> Browse… then select the script file that you saved from Step 1

Depending on the power of your system give it a minute or two for the script to complete its action.

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5. Final Touches

Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you are satisfied with the results. If you are using a large number of RAW files as layers, the overall file size might be too huge to save (depending on the File System you are on, for eg. FAT32 does not allow to save files any greater than 2GB). Once you have the expected results from the script, you can merge all layers to reduce file size before saving the file. Do remember to save the file as *.PSD at this point.

We are not done yet, as always with post processing, the final polishing helps make the shot pop ! [Make subsequent adjustment as layers so you can revert back if needed]. Below are some suggested adjustments …

  • Adding back the foreground : At this point look at the foreground on your shot. You might want to get an appropriately exposed shot from the set or even the one you might have created (with a much lower iso and longer exposure) for the foreground. Mask the foreground into the final shot
  • Local Contrast and Colors : Leverage on Photoshop Levels / Curves to get the local contrast up. This can also be achieved with the Clarity and Vibrance options in Lightroom. Controlling the Temperature of the shot helps to add a cool feel.
  • Merging Multiple Files : Process one of the shots to enhance the milkyway. Have this overlayed with the current set of shots. This results in some pretty interesting effects like this one.
  • Star Spikes Pro : This is a plugin for Adobe Photoshop and other compatible editors. Provides a rich set of adjustments to create perfect optical spikes especially for the star shots. Aids in taking the creative options to a different level !!!

This slideshow could not be started. Try refreshing the page or viewing it in another browser.

User Arrow Keys or Click thru to see all effects …

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Photoshop Script – Tweaking and Additional Configuration

Feel free to customize more if you are brave :) If you are new to Photoshop scripting (like me) – this article should get you started. The intent of this section is to provide a quick overview of the script flow and some key variables. This should help is tweaking the script further or building on top of it. There are two major portions with this script – one setting the Blend Mode of the layer and the next one is setting the opacity of the layers.

The below block of code aids in setting up the Blend Mode of the layers defined by BLEND_MODE variable

// Set the Blend Mode of all layers ////////////////////////////////////
if (BLEND_MODE == 0) {
	// do nothing
} else if (BLEND_MODE == 1) {
	alert("Set Blend Mode to LIGHTEN");
	for(var i = 0 ; i < numberOfLayers;i++){
		doc.layers[i].blendMode = BlendMode.LIGHTEN;
		doc.layers[i].opacity = 100;
	}
...
...

Once the layer Blend mode is set, it is all about setting the opacity of the layers to control the effects. The subsequent blocks of code handles the same defined by CREATIVE_STYLE. Some of the key variables in this code are :

trailLength –> calculate the length of the trail based on the number of exposures. The trailLength is also validated to being odd so the effects can be uniformly applied across layers. A frame is dropped if needed to achieve this. This variable also drives the mirror effect in Saucer Style and SpaceShip Style.

if (numberOfLayers % 2 == 0) {
	trailLength = numberOfLayers - 1 ;
} else {
	trailLength = numberOfLayers;
}
...
...
.

myOpacity –> The opacity value is dynamic controlled with the for loop and adjusted as per the creative style selected. The logic here can be tweaked to get varied effects.

	for(var i = 0 ; i < trailLength;i++){
		myOpacity = myOpacity + myIncrements ;
		if (myOpacity > 100) {myOpacity = 100 ;}
		doc.layers[i].opacity = myOpacity;
	}
...
...
.

And one more thing …

StarTrail_CCLisenceCreative Commons : This Photoshop Script (though not anywhere near complex !!!) is still available under Creative Commons License. The effects depicted above is just a beginning. Feel free to play around, tweak, create new and share :)

Beta Tag: This is still in Beta. I am not responsible if this script fries your motherboard or you get the notorious BSOD. Just kidding, this is just a harmless script, the worst it can do it pop up errors for any Out of Bound values. But still I’m not responsible ;-) You can get back to this page anytime to see if there is an updated version (hint hint – do bookmark ;-) ). Alternatively leave me a message either via the contact form or the comments, if you would like to be notified when there is an update to the script.

If you have any suggestions or identified any bugs, feel free to drop me a note or use the comment session.

Would appreciate a link back if you find this script helpful. All the more would love to see the work you create using the script. Do leave a link to any work you create, in the comments below.

June 8, 2013

Sleeping with the Stars – Getting Started with Night Photography

Calvin : If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I’ll bet they’d live a lot differently …
Hobbes: How so ?
Calvin : Well, when u look into the infinity of the night, you realize there are far more important things than what people do all day.

Once in awhile sleep under the stars, being one with them. It helps to puts things in perspective :) Sleeping with the stars is an experience unto itself. In addition, being away from the city lights takes on a whole new level of fun, when you start taking star pictures. If u have not done it before, give it a try – u won’t be disappointed. Here are some tips to get started …

Some Inspirations

If you still need some inspiration to give you the final push  – Check out these amazing portfolios of my friends from Pacific North West. Ben was one the who inspired me into star photography. I am glad to have shot some amazing meteors, along side with Gary. I have not met Brad (GoldPaint Photography), but came across his  amazing work thru his Time-lapse – it definitely is inspirational :)

Ben Canales – http://500px.com/BenCanales
Gary Randall – http://bit.ly/178U4u4
GoldPaint Photography – http://goldpaintphotography.com/2012/07/18/within-two-worlds/

Planning

When you see amazing shots of Milky Way like these, it is probably not by coincidence that the photographer ended at the right place (away from the city lights) and at the right day (new moon or moon still below horizon) and the right time (where the milky way aligns with the foreground for a catchy composition) with the right weather. More often than not, these are results of meticulous planning. I share with the you the key steps that go into the planning and setting up of the shots. It might look elaborate, but believe me, once you get in the grove – it will be become second nature to you.

When

I was initially surprised to find out that the prominent and dramatic portion of milky way is not visible the entire year. Here in the northern hemisphere – the best nights to shoot milky way are around spring, summer and fall. If you are in the southern hemisphere then fall, winter and a bit of spring would be ideal times.

You could use a Planisphere to identify the stars visible from your location. Or with the aid of technology it is much easier – just use software like Stellarium (both mobile app and native desktop version) or Google sky map (mobile app).  Stellarium – especially the desktop version is very handy for pre-planning. One can easily see the stars / galaxies that would be prominent for any given coordinates and time. Look SE in the spring a couple hours before sunrise, look South in the summer around midnight, and look SW during the fall an hour after sunset. You can even download landscape for prominent locations or create custom skyline for your particular location. In addition you can also look for specific galaxies, planets, or even check if International Space Station (ISS) would be crossing the frame when you are shooting.

The Phase of the moon would greatly play into the planning too. The full moon would definitely make it impossible to shoot the milky way, while a crescent moon can help light the foreground depending on its position. And do utilize Stellarium to check out the rise / set times of moon and the milky way along with their relative positions.

Account for the local weather as you work to finalize the location and tentative dates. As you get close to the shooting date, check out the Interactive Map from Clear Dark Sky site – this is one of the best comprehensive site providing details on the cloud cover, transparency along with Wind, Temperature etc..

Where

All you need is a clear weather and a dark sky. But given today’s light pollution, it might not be as easy to get access to dark skies. This site Dark Sky Finder – gives a quick look into the potential dark skies near your area (this is only for US, do leave a comment if you are aware of similar service for world over locations). Areas marked dark blue or black would be awesome, but you need a location that is at least green.

I find Google Street view to be very handy, once you finalize the location. Is provides lot of insight into how the side roads are & if you have your set up under a particular tree over the night etc..

And How

There are lots of articles – both comprehensive and captivating – on this subject, thanks to Google. So rather than going over the same again, have provided links to some of the best articles out there.

Tools of Trade

Below are some of the key tools of trade that I use …

Camera : Canon 7D Any camera with a high ISO capabilities would suffice
Lens : Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 A Wide Angle lens is quiet handy is capturing as much of the sky along with the night sky. Additionally if you have access to a f2.8 or f1.8 , it would provide lot more flexibility while shooting. Though all of the shots listed in this page were shot with this lens at f3.5 or more
Tripod : Manfrotto 190XPROB 3 As you already know, a tripod is a must. One that can go really low helps with some creative compositions.
Red LED Light (Keychain) It takes as much as 15 – 20 mins for your eyes to get accustomed to the dark. This LED light would help changes / confirm setting on the camera in the dark. Any handy red or blue LED light would suffice. Nothing fancy. Do not use your regular torch or the mobile flash at it disrupts your night vision.
Intervalometer You would need this if you are planning to shoot star trails with multiple exposures. If you are shooting Nikon, you might already have this feature in-built.  Canon for some reason has this only on its highest end cameras. Yeah even the Canon 7D does not have this feature :(
But worry not, I have found Magic Lantern to be a very good alternative.
Additionally you can also pseudo simulate this functionality with a combination of a wired remote and continuous shooting :)
Software – Planning Google Sky, Stellarium (Mobile App), Phase of the Moon (Mobile App), Clear Dark Sky, Dark Sky Finder
Software – Post Processing Adobe Lightroom 4, Adobe Photoshop CS6, StarTrails.de, Star Spike Pro (PS plug in), Deep Sky Stacker

This article is a prelude.  Look out on this space for a follow up article on Creative Processing of the Star shots !!!

Happy Shooting. Do share links to your shots and experiences below in the comments.

EDIT : Here is the link to the follow up article on Post Processing that I had promised :)

February 12, 2012

Million Stars @ Trillium Lake

The starry skies on a clear night is so peaceful and soothing. Trillium Lake @ the base of Mt hood is an awesome place for watching the stars too. It is just far enough from the city to avoid the light pollution and short enough for an evening drive.

This was shot with the canon 7D at a slightly higher ISO [6400] and exposure of 30 seconds. It is indeed amazing how much cameras have evolved there by enhancing flexibility, freedom and creativity. This is one of my initial try, yeah there is lot more learning yet to be done … Though I am not satisfied with the overall shot, I was glad  to be able to capture the milky way. Now I would just have to wait for the winter to pass so I can just drive up to Trillium Lake. U know, its biting cold to hike up, and not so pleasant to camp out in the snow :)

Buy Print

Milky Way @ Trillium Lake
Mt Hood, Oregon, USA

October 20, 2022

Venus on the swing

Witnessed this moment on the same night as that of Venus ascending. By the remote islands of the Andaman and in the midst of the dark night – we were chasing the grandeur Milky way. Meanwhile the stars from the other side of the galaxy were probably pondering over the beauty of this rugged island. At that moment, oblivious to our presence, the Venus decided to join the party and jumped on the thing (that we call as swing) to get a ride of its life :)

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 4000: 16 mm : f2.8 : 20.0 sec

Venus on the swing
Morice Dera, The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India

July 28, 2022

Star trails & AI

I’ve been wanting to write about star trails for a while now. I love stargazing and I’ve been fascinated by the movement of the stars and planets across the night sky since I was a little kid. I grew up in a rural area where I had to learn the names of the constellations and planets by reading books, and I’ve always wanted to share that love with others. I’m excited to share my knowledge and passion for astronomy with you in this post, and to show you some beautiful star trails I captured with my camera.

Star trails and night sky are two of the most beautiful things in the world. They capture the essence of the moon, stars, and night sky in a way that nothing else can. On a clear night, they can offer a glimpse of the universe, and if you’re lucky enough, they can offer you a glimpse of the cosmos. My favourite thing about star trails is how they capture the motion of the stars.Star trails are a mesmerizing phenomenon that occur when a camera is pointed at the night sky for a length of time. The rotation of the earth causes the stars to appear to move across the sky, giving the appearance of a long line of stars moving across the sky. The effect is most visible when shooting long exposures, and can be used to create abstract artwork or as a way to capture the beauty of the night sky.

P.S : If you have not realized by now or if you were wondering that this is not my writing style, you are damn right – the below shot is from me but this blog post was written by an AI. All I asked for was a blog post regarding star trails, and the bot (HyperWriteAI) gave me this in a split second :O Am sure very soon these algorithm with evolve to mimic individual writing styles as well. Intrigued and scary at the same time, what a time to live !

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 3200 : 10 mm : f/3.5 : 25 sec (384 shots)

Kanakapura Forest
Kanakapura, Karnataka, India

June 13, 2022

Priceless conversations

Conversations
with friends
by the beach
under the stars
– are indeed priceless

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 4000 : 16 mm : f2.8 : 20 sec

Digilipur
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India

April 11, 2022

Venus ascending

Morice Dera beach is a lovely rustic beach located adjacent to the Andaman Trunk Road – just after Rangat. The twin rock at Morice Dera is unique. The walkway in between these rocks leads toward an eye-catching horizon viewpoint. Both the beach and the viewpoint were ideal to sit, fall back and contemplate. It was a great place to just be and do nothing. Being bortle 1 skies, zillion of stars, viewpoints like this, and the stupendous views – Morice Dera topped our list from the Andaman trip, especially for chasing the stars.
Venturing in the dark, stumbling by rocks, splashing in the water, beyond the viewpoint, definitely turned out to be worthwhile. The clouds were quickly closing in, but for a brief moment this scene of Venus ascending was indeed stunning!

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 4000: 16 mm : f2.8 : 20.0 sec

Venus ascending
Morice Dera, The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India

April 1, 2022

An alternate dimension @ Andaman

A flight out, a bumpy drive, a quick ferry, a speed boat via hidden mangroves, then a hike thru a magical little village takes you to this mystic caves in Andaman. If you plan meticulously and await for all the stars to align – you could witness the mystical caves opening up the portal to an alternate dimension.

Or may be it was just a couple of crazy folks playing with the darks and lights – deep in the caves of Andaman :)

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 100: 16 mm : f2.8 : 30.0 sec

Orb in Limestone Caves
Baratang, The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India

March 26, 2022

Fantas(y)tic twilight from Wandoor beach

After landing in Andaman by late afternoon, realized the weather was not much different from Chennai. Very tropical, humid, and hot. Trying to get a feeling of the place, we decided to catch up the sunset. Andaman, by way of it’s location, and single time zone – have both the sunrise and sunset quite early.

Luckily, our partners in crime had already sorted out a location for potential sunset – Wandoor beach. With a bit of working out on the ride, we left around 4:30 PM. Given the time, we were sure to miss the sunset, but still decided to head out. After an uneventful drive through the town, the urban view gave way to some forests, the forests then opened up to some backwaters. After some lovely views by the side of the road, we headed to the beach. Some interesting conversations, some new connections, a leisurely stroll by the beach – and then things started to unfold.

The sun had just sunk by the horizon. The quarter moon, though small, was blanketing the entire landscape. Slowly, the twilight was starting to weave its golden magic. And just when ‘I’ was thinking that the scene could not be any more beautiful, the stars decided to adorn & twinkled – one by one by one.

Awestruck, the ‘I’ just dissolved into the abyss and became part of it. Here is a slice from that magical evening :)

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 200: 16 mm : f2.8 : 15.0 sec

Wandoor Beach
Port Blair, The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India

January 24, 2022

Pattadakal by Moonrise

Pattadakal – literally know as ‘coronation stone’ – is a small rustic town in the Bagalkot district of north Karnataka. This UNESCO world heritage site hosts 7th and 8th century collection of nine Hindu and one Jain temple built by the Chalukya dynasty. As we were exploring, witnessed the Galaganath Temple, adorned by the Malaprabha River, lit by moonlight & blanketed by the twinkle of stars.

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 1000 : 18 mm : f2.8 : 20 sec

By the banks of Malaprabha
Bagalkot, Karnataka, India

March 27, 2021

Mysterious with Milky Way

Just 50 km from the busy bustle of Bangalore, nestled within the forests of Kanakapura is this classified spot. When the time is right and the stars align, I mean literally – one could witness the magic. Out here, in the darkness of the night – the lava flows and portals to the parallel universe open up. Just witnessing the same under the glow the of Milky Way elicits mysticism beyond belief …

Or maybe it was just a few friends, toying with the laser light by a meek rock, in the mango groves that lies by the edge of the Kanakapura forest :)

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 2500 : 16 mm : f2.8 : 20 sec

Kanakapura Forest
Kanakapura, Karnataka, India

February 14, 2021

Startling night on Valentines day

Had planned to visit this particular area last year with a friend. That never materialized because of you know who :) Accounting to the same, 2020 had not been great, even more so for travel. Then what can be said for night travel ?!

Hence, when the Astro season started this year, was trying to hold my expectations low. This time of the year the Milky Way graces the night sky after 3 or 4 AM. It was only a small window, but the twilight even from the horizon behind graciously blanketed the lake with its warm light. The stars finally aligned, and I couldn’t be happier.

Feeling thankful that we still have pockets of the night sky in a short distance from busy cities where the stars can be appreciated. Here is to the love of stars. Happy Valentines Day !

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 5000: 16 mm : f2.8 : 8.0 sec

A Hillock by the lake
Kanakapura, Karnataka, India

January 29, 2021

Cosmic Showers

When it rains, look for rainbows
When it is dark, look for stars
When it rains stars, sit back and enjoy the show :)

Even when we don’t see – the night falls, stars raise and the show continues. Here is a fleeting moment spread across 25 mins, from a random night captured from few years back.

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 2500 : 10 mm : f3.5 : 30 sec [50 shots]

Cosmic Showers
Harmon, Illinois, USA

September 20, 2020

Artography : Digital Painting

The process of creating art is better than the art itself …

This article is part of the Artography series. For this, intending to focus on Digital Painting – the art of creating a painting – be it Sketching, Ink, Watercolor or Crayons, etc. using digital medium and tools.
I welcome you to accompany along and see where it leads … :)

A triptych depicting portions (at 100%) of artwork to highlight the art (watercolor, oil, crayon) effect

Medium & Tools

A medium describes each of the items the artist uses to create art. If a certain wood is considered sacred, then using it indicates that the piece of art is very special. Or if an artist uses an uncommon medium, say garbage, it helps the artist make a statement.

excerpt from study.com/art

The medium is not as important as what the artist captures, creates, or conveys. Digital is one other medium. In my case, it is the ease of access and the freedom it provides that pulls me in. Yes, the medium is not as important, but to convey what your heart feels, it does require practice & fluency on the chosen medium.

Devices

A decade and a half back dabbled with a Wacom tablet (with 1024 Pressure Levels pen tip) along with a Windows computer. It was a good tablet but was not fluid enough for painting. Maybe there was no good combination of hardware + software at that time/level. A couple of years later, found the Wacom stylus as part of the Samsung Note series to be quite promising. But the mobile screen was quite small.

A few years back got my hands on iPad + Pencil. Though not a big fan of Apple’s closed eco-system, I was sold. I even tried Android & Windows-based tabs with a stylus, but couldn’t find anything better than the Apple pencil, for that close to native feel. It hit the sweet spot with the right mix of hardware + software.

Maybe the MS Surface and the latest Samsung Tabs might have stepped up their game now. If you exploring options look for pressure-sensitive, fluid, and articulate tilt controls on the stylus with minimal lag. For now, my tool of choice is the iPad + Pencil (6th Gen, 128 GB, WiFi).

iPad 6th Gen WiFi 128GB + Apple Pencil, ProElite Flip Case, running Procreate

There is an App for that

These days, there is an app for everything. And for creating art – there are a slew of apps. Below are a few, from my trials over the years. The key features that I look for while using these apps are – layers, different blend modes, customized brushes, support for a stylus with pressure and tilt control, number of undo, etc.

From the initial days of Android had been using Infinite Design and Sketchbook (even before it was bought by Autodesk). Initially was using these for doodling with my Jot Pro. Subsequently, Autodesk bought Sketchbook and it was great they made it free. Sketchbook is a great app for creating digital illustrations. But it always had the feel of digital art.

Trying to mimic native sketching & coloring, starting exploring options (this time for the iPad + stylus as the mobile screen was proving to be way too small to create any meaningful work). After reading reviews stumbled upon Art Rage. It is quite an easy app to use and comes with straightforward template tools, supports layers, and blend modes. The tools also have basic customization (like flow, smoothness, thickness, etc.). Simple to use and it is available on most of the platforms – Android, iPad, Windows, iOS. After a few weeks of use, felt it was quite restrictive on the custom feel that I wanted to achieve. The search continued and led me to Art Set 4, Crayon Style, Zen Brush, etc. Each has its strength but was not comprehensive.

Finally ended up with Procreate. Currently, this is the app of my choice. The learning curve is a bit steep, but provides amazing control and even comes with a brush studio to create custom brushes. It supports pretty much all kinds of art – Crayon, Pencil, Ink, Watercolor, Oil, illustration, etc. What you can create is really driven & bound only by your imagination.

Replicating traditional ways

why replicate traditional medium? you might ask. It helps to see how the tools of trade work. As with any art – be it traditional painting, photography, cooking – whatever it be – it helps to attain such a command on the medium that the medium disappears.

Trying to replicate the existing traditional medium via digital tools – helps understand how the tools (software, brushes, layers, blend modes, screen sensitivity, pencil/stylus angle, etc.) interact, react & respond. These are key to see how your digital strokes flow and respond to you. How colors on the digital platform mix, or don’t mix also plays into the effects that you target. If you do some traditional art painting, there probably is some unlearning to do :) While there are key differences and some limitations, the digital medium also comes with a lot of advantages – unlimited undo, different layers/blend modes, targeted effects, erase with effect, etc.

The intent is – someday – would love to be able to seamlessly work across these mediums. Truly bring them together – photography, artography, and traditional medium – to convey the art :)

Pencil Drawing & Shading

The most colorful thing in the world is black and white, it contains all colors and at the same time excludes all.

There is always something magical to black and white, something raw, something close to the heart. It helps in focusing on the strokes to create texture and depth.

Crayons

For me, just thinking of Crayons brings in childhood memories :) Be it scribbling on the walls or coloring that sun with bright yellow & orange for that school artwork – two elements stand out. One was the grainy & waxy texture typical of crayons and the other is the color itself. You never had a million colors. Crayons always came in a box of 6, 12, or max 24. Anything more was premium :) Luckily there are a few great sites like this that track the basic crayon colors that were ever created and sold (back from 1945).

Crayon colors in 8 count Crayola Box: blue, black, brown, green, orange, red, violet, yellow

So in addition to using the right paper texture, it also helps to create a crayon palette with the right colors so the final work has the native crayon feel.

Watercolor

Just because it is digital, doesn’t mean it isn’t real

Unlike pencil or crayons – watercolor is a wet medium. The beauty of watercolor lies in how the colors flow. Wet on wet or wet on dry and anything in-between, it is lovely to let the strokes play with the texture of the paper. The digital medium being dry does not lend very well for the dynamics of the water and its flow. A few tricks come in handy.

I found this tutorial by Adam to produce results quite close to native watercolor. He leverages different backgrounds with varied blend modes to mimic the textures and key brushes to emulate the flow. There are several different ways and lot of a tutorials on YouTube, but this is the one that worked for me. The brushes are specific to procreate, but Adam’s process can be replicated to any other tool like Photoshop or anything else you use for your art.

I also love the brushes from Abbie Nurse. I got to play with it when she was developing it and had shared the same via Procreate forums. But now it is much more refined, branded, and paid. Her tips around creating your own paper brushes is also quite handy.

Calvin at DrifterStudio has some amazing tutorials. His ways of using selective Hue and Saturation to create shadow and highlight is quite simple yet highly effective.

Along with the above, the digital medium provides – Oil on Canvas, Pen Art, Dot Art, Color Pencil, Acrylic, Calligraphy, Charcoal, illustrations – the options are literally limitless.

Art impacts others, the process of creating art impacts the artist.

Below are several of my work. Hope you let yourself to be impacted ! These were digitally created with Procreate on iPad + Apple Pencil. If you feel inspired, do give it a try and share a link to your work of art in the comments below …

Go, Create some art :)

June 11, 2020

Painting the Sunrise

A painting to me is primarily a verb, not a noun, an event first and only secondarily an image.

– Elaine de Kooning

This week’s art is from a short lived, but dynamic morning sunrise from Smokies. After checking out the stars, playing with some light painting in the night and getting some sleep in the car, we decided to head out of Smokies early in the morning. As we were driving out, just around the corner, we were treated to a lovely view and below is what it inspired :) How do you like it !?

If you are curious on how this particular art was made, check out the article – Artography – Photo to Painting.

Watercolor on Textured Paper

NewFound Gap Road
Bryson City, North Carolina, USA

January 6, 2020

Cosmic View by Backyard

The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be. – Carl Segan

It is one thing to drive out to the county side in the dark of the night to enjoy the stars. But imagine a world where you could wait for the sun to go down the horizon, grab some coffee and just enjoy this celestial view.

There exists places where, when the sun sets the black curtain rolls up and the sky fills with dazzling stars.

Most of us being urban dwellers, ought to do more to protect the night sky. Not just for the sake of protecting it, but for the sake of amazing views and serene feeling it brings !

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 2500 : 10 mm : f3.5 : 20 sec

Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges
Cedar Key, Florida, USA

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