Great Master’s Exclusive: Ashok Dilwali
On the occasion of our thirteenth anniversary in 2010, 13 great masters drew from a lifetime of experience to give you over 150 carefully selected tips on photography and ways of seeing. They debated the idea of ‘the perfect moment’ and share their personal practices. In this edition, Great Master Ashok Dilwali shares his tips for better photography.
Shoot During the Golden Hours
Dusk and dawn are the best times to shoot as the light is magical. The sun is low on the horizon and the soft, golden light helps you shoot fantastic images.
Be Conscious of Your Surroundings
Your composition can be affected even by any activity that is happening behind you. Ideally, a photographer is supposed to have four eyes—two in the front and two at the back of the head.
Look Before You Shoot
Analyse the scene very carefully before shooting. Always fine tune the composition before triggering the shutter.
Quality over Quantity
Spend more time on exploring a place and working towards the perfect picture, and shoot less. Concentrate on quality rather than quantity.
Study the Conditions
Before leaving for a shoot, look at the weather forecast. This will not only help you prepare mentally, but also ensure that you take all necessary precautions.
Ensure you carry extra memory cards and batteries when shooting in nature. Some places may surprise you with their scenic beauty, while others may be more challenging than you expect.
Extreme Weather is Good Too
One thing you should keep in mind is that weather in mountainous regions generally follows a cycle. Good weather is always followed by bad weather, which again leads to good weather, and so on. Extreme weather conditions allow you to shoot innovative, atmospheric shots.
Go Back to the Same Place
A moment in landscape photography is about anticipation and being at the place at right time. Going back to the same place again and again is essential to get the best light and mood.
Patience is Key
You may not get any good images for a number of hours, and then shoot five lovely images in ten minutes! You need to wait for the right light and settings.
Filters are Relevant
Even Today Polarising filters, Neutral Density filters, Warming filters and others offer you millions of ways to see the scene in a new way, while you are shooting the image.
Review Your Images
If you are out on a long trip, carry a small netbook or laptop. Look at your photographs at the end of each day and delete the ones that you do not like. This will not only help you create additional space for shooting the next day, but will also make your job of postprocessing images easier.
A Tripod is Invaluable
Landscape photography demands the use of a low ISO and narrow aperture. This makes it necessary to use a tripod that is sturdy and easy to set up and use.
Experiment with Abstracts
Nature provides you many opportunities to shoot abstracts. I personally find unconventional pictures more satisfying than straightforward shots.
Maintain a Lakshman Rekha
I use Photoshop to enhance my images, but like to maintain a lakshman rekha. A level of honesty has to be maintained at all costs.
Be a Fine Photo Editor
In addition to developing your shooting skills, learn to evaluate your work. Be critical and ruthless—never consider an ‘okay’ picture to be good enough. Ask yourself which images are truly unique.
My Interpretation of the Moment
Beautiful moments keep happening when you are in the midst of nature. For me, the perfect moment is one that mesmerises me as an individual. It is when I forget myself as a photographer.
Ashok Dilwali’s breathtaking pictures of the Himalayas take you to a different world. Capturing the stars that adorn the Himalayan nightscape has always been a passion for Dilwali. He has spent his life capturing the enigma and majesty of the Himalayas.