Saturday, April 25, 2015

FITNESS PHOTOGRAPHY, PHOTOPROCESSING and PHOTOSHOP. For Dummies.


First there were morons in the field of fitness who thought: Supplements = Steroids. Now comes the second wave of morons who think PhotoProcessing = PhotoShopping. What we learn from this is that the only true fact is that Hater = Ch**ya #facepalm
- Pushkaraj S Shirke

Fitness is one field where everyone has a tendency to think that they are all experts. A grand bunch of know it alls schooled from IIN(internet) with large doses of conventional wisdom. So its not surprising that we see waves of fools one after the other. The first few waves were about heavy training making people huge and light training keeping people lean, the second wave was about supplements being steroids, and now a growing wave is the bunch of idiots that like to comment "Photoshop!" on every striking physique they see. The kind of fools who don't even know the basics of fitness or fitness photography - the idiots who don't even know what a RAW image is, what a processed image is, what retouching is and what photoshopping and morphing is.

So here are the basics of fitness photography just for those willing to get out of their pool of ignorance and willing to learn:


1. LIGHTING
Fitness photography is all about lighting primarily. Simple Glamour lighting doesn't work here. Lighting that flattens and softens your hard earned physique doesn't work here. You need lighting that compliments every curve of muscle that you have earned.

Me consulting with Fitness coach and Bodybuilder, Kaizzad Capadia as to what
bodybuilding poses will highlight Athlete Yashmeen Manak's most prominent Musculatures. 
2. POSING
Though there are many 'fitness' photographers who shoot soft-porn and boudoir magazine centrespreads in the name of fitness, real fitness photography is not soft porn. If the poses in your photo can be captioned as "take me baby!" and seem like an invitation to take off your clothes, its probably not fitness photography. I mean no disrespect to boudoir photography, I have shot lingerie commercials too. But when you do that, call it that. Don't name it fitness photography and disrespect a field. Fitness photography poses involve poses that display your grit, strength, fitness attributes and musculature - and thus often involve lifts, weights and dynamic movements - or simple classical poses that enhance the visibility of the most well developed musculature of the athlete.


3. THE RAW FORMAT
WIKIPEDIA: A camera raw image file contains minimally processed data from the image sensor of either a digital cameraimage scanner, or motion picture film scanner.[1][2] Raw files are named so because they are not yet processed and therefore are not ready to be printed or edited with a bitmap graphics editor

Now this is where we get to the technical aspects. A professional photographer always shoots in the RAW format. What RAW means is not that it is a real picture - it means that it is a very high resolution picture that carries millions of micro details of the picture that was shot. RAW IMAGES are NOT the final images. They are like the Negative of a film reel. They need to be processed.

A processed image of Model Ishan Qureshi shot by Me, Pushkaraj S Shirke.

4. PHOTOPROCESSING
Earlier processing used to take place in dark rooms with silver nitrate dips. In modern days, photo processing takes place on a simple software called LIGHTROOM or in PHOTOSHOP. Just because these images are processed in photoshop, it does not mean that they are photoshopped. Photoprocessing only involves altering light, contrast, hues, levels, clarity, sharpness and shades of the picture.
Photoprocessing does not involve RE-TOUCHING OR MORPHING in any way. A good photographer will always give you a bunch of processed images. That is where a photographer's job ends. Retouching and Photoshopping, if required by the client, different professionals are hired who charge a separate fee.


5. RE-TOUCHING 
In the field of glamour, retouching is a package with the photographer. Since the demands of the beauty industry are so fake, most photographers are dependant on having their images retouched for commercial usage.
Above Photo(26th) was retouched by Phowd
Skin softening, scar removal, clean up, hair re-do, make up and eye brigthening etc are a part of this process. Genuine fitness photography that is non-commercial rarely involves re-touching. Retouching is a beautificiation process much like over painting and is still ethical within limits. What is absolutely unethical and unfortunately rampant in fitness photography is MORPHING.
Refer to this page for good examples of retouching: http://webneel.com/25-best-photo-retouching-masterpieces-and-tips-designers


6.MORPHING
Morphing is what true photoshopping is. Morphing is when you use photoshop tools (usually like liquify, stamp, clone, replace etc) to contort the body/physique out of its original proportion.
Obviously there are people who go way overboard even with morphing, just for fun. 
Increasing biceps, straightening shoulders, increasing the bust size. widening lips, enlarging eyes and lips, straightening the nose, re-structuring the jawline, adding abs, reducing fat, shaping the legs and arms, reducing belly fat etc are all called BODY MORPHING / PHOTOSHOPPING. This, in my perspective is absolutely unethical.
For people battling image related self esteem issues, a photoshopped pictur of themselves could help them realise that they are already beautiful and  be able to see the strings behind the 'beautiful' faces of the celebs they admire. 
* THE ONLY EXCEPTION TO BODY MORPHING ETHICS: Like plastic surgery, even photoshopping has its ethical ground in certain unique cases. The only time where Photoshopping is an exception is when it's done not to fool people, but to help some one improve their own sense of self - to help them realise that they already look amazing and that the people they see in the media are all just like them, but enhanced with photoshop. It makes a huge difference to such people. It can also help people with body image identity disorders and help get such people out of depression. And this entire phenomenon is actually caused by the media and its fake representation of body and beauty ideals.

A picture of Yashmeen Manak Clicked by me on which morons were screaming 'PHOTOSHOP'.
This woman, my friend, is a professional athlete and trainer and in my opinion has
the most camera friendly female physique in India.
So, the next time you see an amazing physique on social media, think about it. Don't just be one of them random trolls that comment 'Photoshop' and piss on that athlete's hardwork and photographer's skills. It might be photoshop, it might be raw or it might be photoprocessed. But before you comment, make sure of what it is. Or else it only shows you as a fool, nothing else.
Another picture clicked by me. This is Miss World Fitness Physique winner
and a professional Muscletech athlete, Shweta Rathore.
Hating is easy. Finding Inspiration over your hate, may not be, but it sure is worth it.

Regards,
Pushkaraj S Shirke
Fitness Coach, Fitness Photographer and Film Director
www.pushkarajsshirke.com

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