Photography challenges...

December 14, 2010

Photography is one of the most enjoyable things that I am learning. I think my photography had its first roots in wanting to “save the moment”….and being able to look at the scene again…the pictorial version of Wordsworth’s “emotions recollected in tranquillity”.

Surprisingly, it was not the fact that I was surrounded by excellent photographers, that led me into holding a camera. Actually, when I have good photographers around me, I am content to see their images, and do not even strive for the best photograph. After all, my friends are generous with their photographs, and I can always refer to them.

What did, however, contribute…was the very excellence of the photographers! My friends almost always shoot in RAW, and then post-process the images to get the perfect shots that they post later.

And “later” is the operative word! Very often, everyone gets completely immersed in work after their return from a trip, and I wait and wait…and just a few shots come out after a long interval. This wasn’t fast enough for me; I like to record my trip, and I like the immediacy of the photographs more than their perfection. So I decided that I’d start using a camera myself.

Though my photographs are far from perfect even today, I’ve improved enough that I now cringe when I see my earlier attempts! But what’s marked all my photography was the “wanting to share”, too….wanting to share the scene, the subject, with others, in a way that my words alone would not do, but which my words would help. In this sense, I think my photographic journey has been fairly successful.

I would never have taken up photography if digital cameras had not been developed. To wait until the end of a roll, and then find a bunch of lousy images…no, that would never suit me at all. The fact that the photograph is in my hands within seconds, if need be, is what appeals to me very much. And I notice that I am not alone in this.

Of late, professional photographers who cover a wedding take as much as a month to deliver the photograph CD’s and albums to the families….but the families want to savour the moments of the wedding just after the events, and not wait for weeks! So, when I send my images to the families, I have uniformly found them very appreciative of my efforts, whatever be the quality of my images.

As I travel around my city, my country,and around the world, I like using my camera as my third eye, to quickly snap what I’ve seen, the way I’ve seen it. And this kind of documentation photography poses quite a few challenges, too.

Low-light photography and night photography are two areas where I need to learn a lot more. I realize that these are challenging even for experienced photographers, so I am satisfied with the efforts I am making.

Another challenge I face is, documenting what I see from a moving car or train. (Obviously things appear to move less fast from the window of an aircraft.)

KLeeping the focus is the main problem I am facing, especially when the plane of the object keeps moving continuously. I’ve missed many interesting subjects because I am just not fast enough in terms reaction time, to see, and then aim and shoot…the subject is already past, or the perspective changes, or other objects suddenly block the subject.

Truly, learning photography has completely changed the way I even look at ordinary objects ! I’ve learnt to appreciate and observe the quality of the light, the colours, the play of textures, the frame a certain sight makes, and so on. Truly, a very rewarding journey so far. I may not be a good photographer, but I am certainly a better photographer than I was!

PS. These are sort of “notes to myself”, but I’d really appreciate some inputs!