The art of capturing a piece of time forever – in a manner that triggers instant recall of the situation. Or at least, that is what photography is to me.
Yes, I too am a photographer. Amateur, granted, but still a bona-fide photographer as the above definition is usually fulfilled to a high extent in each photo that I take. I got bitten by the bug one fine evening – I still recall the event clearly (which is surprising as my memory is more or less similar to that of a goldfish) and what was a random click via a cell phone of a Mosque in Oman after I’d offered the evening prayers turned out to be a fantastic shot.
That said, the bug didn’t send me hurrying out to get a DSLR – for the simple reason that I had no idea what a DSLR was. All I knew was that there was a camera used by professional photographers with a huge lens and I called it a professional camera. Ye are permitted to smile at my ignorance.
It was a few months later that I understood that it was called a DSLR. Out of curiousity, I went to buy one – and returned home empty handed because the price was more than what I earned in two months. So I decided to bone up on the tips and tricks of photography – and experimented with what I learnt on my cell phone camera.
That was how I learnt how to take good pictures. Light, exposure, focal length, aperture, shutter speed – I experimented with these using complicated apps that I downloaded on my phones. Given the limitations of a cell phone camera, I had to really use my bean a fair bit to make sure that the photo I took was a good one. Until I bought a DSLR last November, that was all I had.
Imagine. Going from a cell phone to a DSLR. At first, frankly, I was lost – so many controls, so many features, so much to manage – and I nearly sold the camera. Then I came across a blog from a photographer which was pretty much an eye opener – because it was the first one to tell me to actually refer to the manual first, before getting too enthusiastic. So I did and was quite glad that I’d taken the lad’s advice. I also came across a very valuable piece of advice from another blog by a photographer with an SLR – or the precursor to the DSLR, a camera that uses film instead of digital storage to capture shots – with a message that changed my entire approach. “Take one shot, make it count…” was the message.
I do exactly that.
Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, it entails a lot of fiddling and patience on my part to set up my camera for each shot and the subject, if animate, usually gets fed up. On the plus side though, I take a snap and walk away. I don’t need to check my display for how it turned out, I don’t need to worry about running out of space or battery and anyone watching me taking a photo is usually surprised and I hear the words “That’s it? Won’t you take an extra photograph just in case this doesn’t turn out well?” quite often. Yes, that’s it. No, I don’t.
Frankly, I’ve never had to.
Which is why it makes me smile to watch people with new DSLRs – they put it in Auto and voila. An expensive point-and-shoot. They really wonder what I’m doing with my fiddling and swearing – it doesn’t help to see that my DSLR isn’t the latest and greatest offering from the Canon / Nikon lineup. No, its a 6.1 MPix DSLR from the now defunct Konica-Minolta. Ancient would be a pretty apt description for the Dynaxx 5D I have.
Ancient or not, its a great little thing though. I regularly end up with photos that those with the latest gadgets wish they had taken. I call them monkeys with DSLRs.
And they really piss me off. Seriously. To all said monkeys – its not the tool you use that matters, its how good you are to make the best of what you have.