Shooting Like a Renaissance Painter

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Thank you for joining my photoblog and hope you FOLLOW me to keep up with the latest chapters in my adventure book.

Arcanum Update

I’ve now an apprentice in Glenn Guy‘s Landscape Luminaires Cohort for Sphere 2.  This is not a snapshot club, but a serious group of photographers with great talent and experience in all genres yet focused on Landscape.  I will be challenged to shoot par with this cohort.   Glenn is an Australian living in Brisbane with years of teaching experience, world photography stories and at a level of intensity unmatched within The Arcanum.   I’m a lucky guy.

Photographic Society of Madras

I’m at the monthly PSM meeting now getting a head start on this post as we share, critique images at the start ahead of our guest speaker, Mr. Parthiban T.  Hope we’ll have a B&W and/or a Print workshop soon.  I’m learning so much now need the time to apply.

Disclaimer:  I'm a novice seeking the path towards Fine Art Photography.  If I've misspoken then let me know yet I believe I've captured the essence of the Rules of the Road in taking me forward.

Now onto the subject of this post, i.e. Mr. Parthiban T. gave a thought provoking talk on the Renaissance Period (c1400-1700s) as the birth of “Perspective Art” plus the emergence of naturalism and realism to give use Renaissance Art.   The Renaissance painters lead the way for photography as we know it today with the what and how behind the artistry of the craft.  Let me explain.

Shooting Like a Renaissance Painter

by Mr. Parthiban T. (Thank you for sharing)

One must strive to capture in-camera the essence of composition as taught by the Renaissance painters.   (Of course a little crop here or there never hurt.)

Elements of Composition: Lines, Symmetry, DOF, Color, Shape, Tone and Texture

Principles of Composition: Directional Emphasis, Placement, Space, Balance and Unity

Arcanum S1-C19-10


In this IR B&W image in the muddy rice paddies calf-deep in the mud, I’ve captured various Elements of Composition from the use of horizontal / diagonal lines, texture of the rice, curves of his body, a feeling of space with a defined foreground, midground and background having a defined tonal range of dark to light.

It’s a start, more to learn and apply.


We can apply the Renaissance Techniques to Photography by giving a Sense of Direction, Leading the Eye, Light Play, Balancing and Dynamic Tension.

Sense of Depth

You can add perspective in your image with a horizon line to limit the view, having elevation in the frame, separating the plane with a defined foreground, mid-ground and background, placing tonal differences of light to dark with elevated contrast and adding color. Wow- many options to consider and visualize the end image.

An image can appear deeper with converging lines (leading lines) from both sides that extents to a vanishing point. As a rule of thumb one can use these focal lengths for creating a Sense of Depth: Aerial Perspective 300mm-100mm, Linear Perspective 100mm to 18mm and Vanishing Point 300mm-10mm.

Leading the Eye

Alfred Yarbu (c1967) with his work on Eye Movement and Vision relates to photography relative to the Viewers perspective as follows:

The Viewer’s attention is usually highlighted by only certain elements in the picture.

The Viewer’s focuses his attention on  unusual, unfamiliar elements with his eye movement reflecting the human thought process.

The Viewer’s eye always returns to the same elements in the photo irrespective of the points of fixation.

Use of Dynamic Lines

Horizontal Lines give a sense of stability, calm, restfulness, and peace

Vertical Lines shows power, strength and growth

Diagonal Lines leads the eye and creates visual tension

Curves adds beauty and grace and a natural free flowing sense

In Summary

The Renaissance painters have provided us with the means to draw in the viewer and hold his/her attention.

Leonardo DaVinci: Golden Ratio and Diffused Lighting (⇓)LDVMichelangelo: Tonal Values (HDR-Like) and Forms (⇓)Mic1

Raphael: Perspectives and Visual Tension (⇓)RalRembrandt: Lighting of Portraits (⇓)Rem1Caravaggio: Low Key and Visual Dynamics (⇓)Cav1Lorraine: Tonal Separation and Perspective (⇓)Lor

Fine Art Photography

This is the direction, which I strive for. When the Elements and Principles of Composition are utilized to their fullest, we begin to reach a Fine Art Photography level that few in the profession have fully obtained.

Notable Fine Art Photographers

Tips as Photographers in Reaching a Fine Art Level


Adyar Eco Park, Chennai – Photocrawl

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Welcome and thank you for visiting my photoblog where I share not only my images but the story behind the camera.

You’ve heard of a Photowalk, but what’s a Photocrawl?  We associate a Photowalk with a group of people (5-20) covering a 3-5 kilometer route shooting urban scenes, country back roads, street portraits, landscapes, … lasting around 2-2.5 hours.

A Photocrawl is when you shoot in the Macro Photography genre, i.e. bugs, flowers and tiny things at a 1:1 scale to a full frame sensor size. This genre forces one to deliberately slow down to observe the environment at your feet across across a 10-30 meter radius.  Many insects, spiders, … are camouflaged by nature and hard to find without an experienced, trained eye.  Today’s Hint: Look for Green Leaves having non-uniformity, discolor as an indication of bug activity.

The Photocrawl often matches that of a Photowalk for time given you slowly scout the insect world around you.  At times you’re at a crawl (going slow) and at times in a literal sense you really do crawl on the ground for the shot.

Ten (10) members from the Photographic Society of Madras  held a Photocrawl at the Tholkappia Poonga or Adyar Eco Park recently.  Here are a few images for your review.

Image 1 – Red Bug w/15mm Wide AngleDaShanSheYing-1508

Image 2 – Flowering Milk Weed w/100mmDaShanSheYing-1502

Image 3 – Spider Having Dinner w/100mmDaShanSheYing-1505

Image 4 – Dragonfly Hanging Out w/100mmDaShanSheYing-1509Image 5 – Red Spider Eating w/100mmDaShanSheYing-1510


Note: The light shown in the featured image is a Zebralight H52Fw AA Floody Headlamp Neutral White which works well for Macro backlight and/or sidelight.


PS Don’t forget the PSM Confluence Photo Exhibit from 5/31 to 6/2 11:00am to 7:00pm. Please stop by and enjoy professional photographers sharing their images for your viewing pleasure.


Focusing on the Vital Few

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First and foremost, thank you for visiting my photoblog where I share my images for your viewing pleasure along with background information on the image.

Previously I mentioned how I increased my overall breadth of knowledge across a wide spectrum of photography (gear, composition, image processing…) followed by targeting the “Vital Few” photographers to increase my depth of knowledge.

1st: Blake Rudis 
(f.64 Academy, PS, Topaz, On1, DZS/CZS)
2nd: Anthony Morganti
(LR, PS, Topaz, On1)
3rd: Matt Kloskowski
(LR, PS, On1)

I’ve used a simplistic photoshop technique to Recover Detail After a Filter is Applied. After a filter (Topaz, …) is added to a duplicate layer of the Background image in Photoshop, then a layer mask is added with a brush used to recover desired details to taste.  Yes, simple yet the featured image for this post shows the possibilities of adding detail back for the windows, doors and signs while retaining the Georgia O’Keefe painted look in the image.

Image 1 – No Filter Applied
Image 2 – Filter Applied and Face Detail Recovered


Here’s a video explanation of the “Recovering Details Back-in After Using a Filter, e.g. Topaz Impression” within Photoshop by Blake Rudis


Finding Your Photography Mentors

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Thank your for visiting my photoblog today.  As mentioned in previous posts I’m an Apprentice in The Arcanum and to supplement my learning, I’ve reached out to multiple YouTube channels in the past.  At first to learn my new (or wishlist) gear and now for image processing.  The latter is the subject of today’s post.

Below are sample images created using Photoshop and the Topaz Labs – Glow plug-in.  As I study a new technique for image processing, I immediately apply it to cement the learning.  Often this takes multiple practice runs as believe me it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks yet the dog keeps trying.

Blake Rudis’ video explains the above image processing technique in clear and precise terms which are summarized to lockdown the exchange between the teacher and the viewer.  This is one of Blake’s forte as an artist turned photographer turned teacher.  Thanks Blake.

VideoBlending Options within Topaz Labs Glow by Blake Rudis

Here are my sample images using the Topaz Labs Glow with its Neon “Glowing Wires II” preset.  As you double-click to assess the inter-workings of the preset,  20+ sliders appear – wow now what.  It’s a learning curve to understand what each slider does so I just throw it to the left then back to the right – okay now I understand.  In the end, adjust to your artistic taste, no right or wrong.


DaShanSheYing-1496 DaShanSheYing-1497

So I’ve told you where I am today but how did I get here.

At first, I needed to expand my knowledge of Photography so I watched many YouTube videos being a visual-learning guy.  This gave me the "breath" of knowledge yet I lacked the "depth" to become effective.  

So I fine-tuned my YouTube channels to a few thus adding the "depth" to execute intermediate to advanced image processing.
My Breadth: Novice to Intermediate Learning Channels.
Mike Browne          Matt Granger    Julieanne Kost

Anthony Morganti  Tim Grey      Gavin Hoey
My Depth: Intermediate to Advance Learning Channels
Trey Ratcliff      Blake Rudis       Matt Kloskowski

Anthony Morganti   Jimmy McIntyre    Terry White

Dave Cross         Greg Benz         Tony Kuyper
Narrowing the Field of Focus

For the last year+ I’ve been studying the photographers / visual artists via YouTube video learning stopping at times stopping to purchase their Photoshop Course, Action Panels and/or Action Sets.

Now I’ve decided to target just a few Photographers to expand my depth in a structured way forward.

1st: Blake Rudis (f.64 Academy, PS, Topaz, On1, DZS/CZS)
2nd: Anthony Morganti (LR, PS, Topaz, On1)
3rd: Matt Kloskowski (On1)

Arcanum Follow-Up – Sphere 1 Challenge 20

Thanks for visiting my photoblog, hope you “Follow” as the best is yet to come.

Previously, I provided some background on my learnings in The Arcanum ahead my final Sphere 1 image critique in Challenge 20.  Here are my final five (5) images for you the “Viewer”.

Thanks to my cohort members who provided which five (5) images held their interest and “Told a Story” and held their attention as “The Viewer”.  More importantly right up to the last minute they shared what if anything bothered them in the image which I’ve attempted to correct.

My Critique is set for 5/24 then on to Sphere 2.

Image 1

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Image 2

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Images 3

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Images 4

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Images 5

Arcanum S1-C20-5

PS  Interesting that my initial focus was on portraits yet I only present just one (1) today.  Secondly, four (4) of five (5) images are Infrared Photography from my Nikon D300S converted camera at 720nm.  Maybe this is an indication of transiting to some level of a visual artist.

Reaching The End of Sphere 1 – What?

Dear Viewers,

I have been in “The Arcanum” since August 2015 as an eager Apprentice in Les Saucier‘s Cohort.  Les is a fine Master teaching us how to visualize the final image first in camera and through the image processing workflow.

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Although the Cohort specializes in Landscape Photography, we cover Macro, Infrared, Gear, Software Processing… you name it.

I’ve learned a lot, a lot and feel I’ve notched it up in the images I present to you.  Of course, my bus doesn’t stop here given I have so much more to learn and experience.

During “Image Critiques”, Les wears two hats seamlessly:

One hat he wears is that of the “Viewer” to state
  • what he sees.
  • what holds his attention.
  • what's the perceived subject.
  • where his eye goes.
  • what may be distracting him from the subject and why?
A second hat he wears is one of a “Teacher
  • On what he would do differently in holding the viewer's attention, i.e. add to it or take it away.
As Visual Artists, we use our cameras, skills and craft to emphasis what we want the viewer to see and in the end be entertained.

In our Cohort, there are many talented photographers where we share and learn together via on-line Cohort Hangouts courtesy of Google+.  Take a look at their amazing images.

Mary Presson Roberts     Douglas Sandquist

Richard Barrow     Ron Santini

The initial foundation is Sphere 0 with ten challenges (C1-10) followed by another 10 challenges in Sphere 1 (C11-20).   I’m now nearing the end.

For Sphere 1 - Challenge 19, I present to you ten (10) images from which I need to whittle down to the final five (5) images which Les will formally critique in Sphere 1 - Challenge 20.

Critiques in The Arcanum are a painless event – no worries mate.

Really – painless?

  • If you did something not quite correct – you learn.
  • If you did something correct but could do it better – you learn.
  • If you’re way off, you’ll be pulled back in – you learn.

In the end it’s all about learning to level-up your skills, techniques with a personal artistic expression.

Here are my ten (10) images which I’d like you the viewer to tell me which ones hold your attention and tell you a story in the comments.  Feedback is a gift so thank you.

Image 1

Arcanum S1-C19-1

Image 2

Arcanum S1-C19-2

Image 3

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Image 4

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Image 5

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Image 6

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Image 7

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Image 8

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Image 9

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Image 10

Arcanum S1-C19-10

If all goes well, I move on to Sphere 2 in the Arcanum with a new Master and Cohort taking me to the next level.


Rail-Fanning in India

Welcome to my latest  post on Rail-Fanning and “Follow” my photoblog to keep abreast of the latest postings.

Last Sunday I headed south of Chennai to Kolavai Lake at 4:00am for a sunrise shot over the lake at 5:30am.  We parked the car near a temple where already at 5:15am they were getting ready for a wedding event – auspicious time driven.

We headed for the lake first walking under the flyover (elevated roadway) then over an abandoned railroad track and headed towards a (manual) railway crossing including a local crossing guard who gave us our set of final directions.  We turned left down the track for 300m to reach an opening on the lakeside.  We kept to the left most set of three tracks given it’s used for switching, i.e. non-active.  All this was in the pitch dark with a little flashlight showing the path.  An interesting walk to say the least while maneuvering around meadow muffins.

After taking images of the sunrise (see below) we hung out watching the trains pass by, first at a slow speed around the bend then accelerating in the straight.  Took the chance to do some rail-watching (rail-fanning) with people living on the edge, or actually hanging out over the edge of the train.


There is something special about rail watching as even with what we consider today as low-tech makes us slowdown and enjoy old-time travel the way is should be.  Who doesn't love a steam engine.

The US has no real rail service worth mentioning other than the Amtrak northern route with adventures like this one to Yosemite National Park.  In Australia, I took the rail for travel to and from work then into Sydney on the weekends.  Of course we know European and British railways are efficient / effective yet here in India it has a flavor of its own.  Love it.

Here are some images in IR, Non-IR, Color and B&W processed with the previous mentioned Digital / Color Zone system plus seasoned to taste with Topaz Lab.

DaShanSheYing-1480 DaShanSheYing-1482 DaShanSheYing-1470 DaShanSheYing-1483

Blake Rudis’ Digital & Color Zone Systems

Dear Viewer,

Thank you for joining my latest photoblog post and I hope you’ll “Follow” along.

I’ve been busy of late expanding my knowledge and skill set around Adam Ansel’s Zone System for B&W and Color images.  Here’s a short primer for an explanation ahead of showing my images.

The Zone System is a photographic technique for determining optimal film exposure and development, formulated by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer. It was a quantifiable way to measure light data in an image.

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 6.45.19 PM

Now jump forward to the era of digital cameras and the application of the Zone System using Photoshop techniques.

downloadI’ve been lucky enough to find an excellent Zone System teacher in Blake Rudis and his f.64 Academy video course using Photoshop actions in the creation of  layer masks (10) with curves adjustments. Blake has created Photoshop Actions taking the labor out leaving you to make the curve adjustments to taste.

If you move forward to investigate Blake’s Zone System with an interest to purchase, he’s provided this coupon for 15% off over the next two weeks.
Use this coupon code: Dashan Sheying

Go for it and take you image processing to the next level.

The 10 Zones from Ansel Adams are aligned against the 0-255 grayscale and “stops” of light as we’ve been taught.

zone-system zone1Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 7.57.26 PM

Note:  The Digital Zone System is very different from Luminosity Masks.

Yes they are similar in nature, but different in application.  They both do similar things in essence.  However, the Zone Systems are a much better editing technique.

The Digital/Color Zone system is a selection method which is very different than with Luminosity Masking.  The act of subtracting to create zones is entirely different than the selection of a Zone.  There are also certain fail safes incorporated into the Zone Systems that traditional luminosity masks fail to incorporate by the way they make the selection.

Additionally, I realized that I’ve been leaving on the table in taking my processing to the best image possible by not using Dodge (lighten) and Burn (darken) techniques.  This is now a targeted technique to master.

Here’s a video visualizing what I’ve mentioned above:

Blake Rudis’ Zone System Video – Click Me  Blake’s explanation of the What and How provides the clarity from my attempt above.

Now onto my weekend images at

  1. Tada Falls in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, 3 hours north of Chennai
  2. Kolavai Lake, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India SW 1 hour from Chennai
  3. Traveling back from Yellagiri, Tamil Nadu, India
  4. Kolavai Lake, Paranur, Tamil Nadu, India

As always your comments are welcomed.

Black and White Gallery

DaShanSheYing-1456 DaShanSheYing-1474DaShanSheYing-1465 DaShanSheYing-1462 DaShanSheYing-1450DaShanSheYing-1453

Color Gallery (IR/Non-IR)

DaShanSheYing-1464 DaShanSheYing-1460DaShanSheYing-1454 DaShanSheYing-1473DaShanSheYing-1468 DaShanSheYing-1467

For this last image, I usedUTopaz Impressions and Blake’s Oil Painting preset – sweet.  Blake was first a painter before a photographer, it shows in his photography.


Rice Paddies With an IR Faux Color Mix

Thank you for stopping to view my latest post and hope you begin to "Follow" me on my photographic journey of discovery.

Yesterday we headed 2.5 hours north to “Tada Waterfalls” in AP in hope of shooting long exposure photography.

No luck as of course given 42 deg one should know it’s not winter anymore and waterfalls are most likely waterless.  Well, we did have water but it wasn’t falling – see you again in the monsoon season (Nov-Dec).

All was not lost as photographic opportunities often present themselves during the journey and not at the destination.

In my case, it was the 3x per year planting of rice that presented itself.  I took off my shoes and walked in mud calf-deep having the time of my life take photos.  I’m sure the farmers, men harvesting rice seedlings and the women planting the paddies thought these photographers were nuts.

Here are some IR images in Faux Colors..  What do you think, let me know.DaShanSheYing-1454
DaShanSheYing-1460 DaShanSheYing-1463 DaShanSheYing-1467

Here’s another one thrown in for Tada Waterfalls.


Still many images left to process using my newly learned Digital and Color  Zone System following the teachings of Ansel Adams, courtesy of Blake Rudis.  I will cover this in detail for my next post.

Thank you and keep stopping by to visit.

Laowa 15mm f/4 Macro Lens – First Time Out

Had my first serious outing with this new macro lens.  Yes it has soft edges and fringing yet what it captures is very unique.

Getting true 1:1 requires a 5mm distance from the subject and when combined with a large DOF (say f/22) becomes a true challenge for any photographer hand-held, i.e.  subjects fly off and getting good focus requires precise back and forth movement.

At the end of the day, it's about getting out and having fun which this manual certainly provides.  Recommended for those fun seeking photographers.

This first image with the green fluorescent flying bug (name??) was an exciting moment so without hesitation I moved in as I couldn’t wait for the bug to pose.

FYI – Threw in two images using Topaz Impressions for an artistic painted look.

DaShanSheYing-1435 DaShanSheYing-1434 DaShanSheYing-1433DaShanSheYing-1426
DaShanSheYing-1425 DaShanSheYing-1424