Saturday, November 19, 2005

Looking at things differently

Photography is one of the best hobbies I have ever picked up in this life of mine. It feels great when you end up with a nice shot, something to be proud of. It feels great to shoot a roll, drop it off to a photography lab and to wait in anticipation for the prints. It feels great to discover a subject that is interesting and full of potential.

Sure, there are disadvantaged to being a serious amateur photographer. There's the money aspect. According to a rough estimate, I have spent close to Rs. 100,000 on my photographic equipment, various films rolls and the cost of their development, printing and scanning. Why not buy a digital camera, then? Because I am a luddite. I like loading film in my camera, sometimes setting the ISO speed manually for black and white rolls for better contrast and hues. I like the fact that I cannot waste shots on any subjects since I have a limited number of frames available (which leads to better judgement and a better feel for how the shot will turn out). I like the fact that print film is not so sensitive to light as a digital sensor is, which makes taking good photographs in low lights and high contrast shots very difficult, which in turn leads to a greater sense of elation when a shot does come out well.

Another disadvantage is that photographers are sometimes so engrossed in composing shots that they miss the scene. There have been times in my life when I was so anxious to capture a sunset that I missed seeing it with my own eyes. I remember beauty much more vividly from times when I didn't have a camera handy, or when I didn't carry it with me to a particular destination.

And don't even mention the extra luggage that one has to carry. During the first five years of me buying a camera, I never went anywhere without it, two extra lenses and a tripod. It can be cumbersome and heavy, you know. And if travelling by a train, there is always the fear of losing stuff.

But there is one advantage to being a photographer that offsets all these negative -- there's beauty everywhere. It really is in the viewfinder of the cameraman, as somebody once said. Before I started photography, I could never see the covert beauty in things. For me, this world was made up of new, shiny objects and old, dull objects. There were good looking people, and those who were not. There were new, swanky buildings, and old delapidated ones. But once I started looking at things through a viewfinder, beauty took on a whole new meaning. Beauty is not in a thing itself, but in how the thing is looked at. It is up to the photographer to bring out such beauty in things. Case and point, this shot by Senthil, and this and this. Boring, old, dull objects have been made to look beautiful because the photographer found beauty and was able to capture it for everybody else to see from the same perspective. That, my friends, is a boon. I find very few things ugly and uninspiring now.

Fortunately, India is fraught with photographic subjects. I found this lady sitting on the steps outside a general store, waiting for someone. After taking her consent, I took this picture. I hope you like it...

Please do leave your comments.


At 10:24 AM, Blogger Senthil said...

This one comes a close second to the shot of the old, smiling man. Amazing.

And thanks! :)

At 12:41 AM, Blogger whitelight said...

you sound like a purist too.

nice shots, by the way.

At 5:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and over here you have managed to bring out "natural" beauty even when the subject is staring straight into the camera.Ordinarily such shots would look plastic.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger richtofen said...

its a good shot - like all the others... but if you want unabashed criticism - you still got some way to go.
dont mind my being overtly rigorous - i do not mean to be. but i come from a design school - not one which used photography in any way - but one which still saw a lot of triggerhappy folk. work like this ws ten-a-penny among un-architects with vivitar basic SLR's.

your photographs are 'competent' at worst, and 'decent' at best. some, however touch some chords here and there. but, you still got to find that elusive space between poetry and literature - a space where your work finds expression minus the text commentary you usually associate it with.

keep clicking. you are definitely passionate about your work. i can see that without understanding jimmimy-bing about appertures, shutter speeds and exposures.

baron of J 9

At 9:36 PM, Blogger Anurag said...

Senthil, whitelight, anon: Thanks.

richtofen: Now, that's what I like. Unabashed, honest criticism. I have been told this earlier by another friend of mine too. As you mention, sometimes my shots lack the emotion. At the same time, there are many more shots of mine on slides which I am yet to scan. Hopefully some of them will have the quality that you talk of. Nonetheless, I thank you for the feedback.

At 3:02 AM, Blogger jaygee said...

zats true.. photography.. even an interest in it.. help one look for beauty where possibly u wldnt other wise look.
nice photos.. they coax u into smiling..:)

At 11:40 AM, Blogger gawker said...

"Another disadvantage is that photographers are sometimes so engrossed in composing shots that they miss the scene"

Very true. When I go biking on a trail, I usually take my camera with me. But I have found that having a camera distracts you from the pure pleasure of biking, because everytime you see anything on the trail, you are always thinking I wonder if this would make a good shot. And ultimately, you come off the trip with a whole lot of photos, but no real satisfaction from the biking experience.

On the other hand, those pictures allow you to relive the trip even after you go back home.

At 9:47 PM, Blogger Anurag said...

jaygee: Thanks, I'm glad you like the pics.

gawker: I can completely relate to what you say. That's why I go running, where it is slightly inconvenient to carry a camera.

At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are indeed a beautiful view finder. Some good photography there!!

Felt a pinch on seeing "dilapidated" wrongly spelt as delapidated.

I enjoy your blog - am a regular - and would hate to see any more spelling mistakes - doesn't matter what time of the night or day you are keying this in. Harms the beauty of your blog!

Take care [of spellings]

At 2:59 PM, Blogger littlecow said...

Beautiful pictures!

At 3:01 AM, Blogger Anurag said...

Anonymous: Thanks for the praise. Apologies for the typo.

Bala: Thanks.


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