My FP Tips (not the same as Q Tips)

June 18, 2016

I notice that every well-known (and sometimes “world-famous in Jayanagar”) photographer likes to talk about his/her genre of photography. There’s art photography, creative photography, soul photography (no, I am not talking Kirlian here!)…so here goes, let me tell you about MY kinds of photography!

M Photography.

Mango being the English word for “aam” which, in Hindi and Urdu, also means “general, layperson” as opposed to “khaas” or “specialized, special”. ALL of my photography is Mango photography. I like my photos to be a kind of record on the day I have spent, the things that I have seen and experienced. So, as someone once told me, I have “no focus” (often true of my photos as well!). I might click a bird now; the next frame would be an interesting plant near that bird; the third would be the group of people clicking the bird; and the fourth, a funny-looking insect nearby.

For this kind of “kadambam” (mixture) photography, I realized that lugging along a 30-ton (feels more like 50 by the end of the outing) DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex…don’t think I don’t know the Camerese language!) camera fitted with lenses that look (and cost) as if they are part of NASA’s rockets to the moon, was a bad idea.

You laugh at my lens description, O rude reader? I am not joking when I say there are cups made to look like DSLR lenses…

you can see one here !

It was going to be even tougher because, in additon, I would be carrying a pair of binoculars, a bird book, a pad and pencil, a water bottle, some snacks, my laundry (ok, scratch the last, but while I am scrambling over rainy hill and muddy dale, I am in the process of creating tomorrow’s laundry)…. the finishing touch being that before I sort out all my crapola and finally raise my camera, the others have already got crisp, clear shots of the wildlife moment.

So I quickly got myself a “bridge” camera. No, this is not something that spans the river Kaveri, but one that is between one of these looks-like-an-escapee-from-an-armoury pieces of photographic equipment…. and one of the tiny, convenient, but I-can’t-handle-them mobile cameras.

This earns me the sometimes-veiled, sometimes-not-so-veiled, scorn of the DSLR community. “We’ve just stopped looking at your photographs,” one of them told me. I wanted to tell the person, with great dignity, that my photographs were not posted for the DSLR group, they were for sharing with my friends, who might or might not be photographers. But all I did was wilt under the damning words…the great riposte occurred to me only four days later.

Now that it’s established that I am a Lower Caste Photographer, I’ll go on to my wildlife photography. I blithely took the camera in my hands and soon realized that wildlife photography is as quick and easy as pulling a buffalo out of mud. For example, let us take the situation where, on a safari, I come across a beautiful animal. One (or all) of the following are likely to happen:

  1. My camera settings will be all wrong. My camera is an evil one which sets itself to “M” (which stands for Murder the photograph) or some other unexplained mode (represented by a running figure with a javelin through its heart). As a result, I will either get a picture of a white ghost in a dreadfully grey background, or a dark impenetrable mist in which, somewhere, that animal is successfully hiding. It’s safe from any predator in the world, as well as the eyes of anyone seeing my photograph.

  2. I will be, at the moment, looking at something else, and by the time, startled by the strangled excitement of the cries of other people, I turn and train my camera on the animal, it is a Gone Animal. I have excellent images of Gone Deer, Gone Birds, Gone Snakes…so I can also call this Gone Photography.

This brings me to the third genre of my photography, which is

PT (or WAS or AMA) Photography.

It would be difficult to find someone as expert as I am in this. Photography, it is said, is a moment in the past that has been captured. Ah, but my photographs capture a moment or two AFTER that moment(which is now in the Past Tense). By the time I click a lovely bird , I get a beautiful frame…of the clump of leaves where the bird WAS, A Moment Ago. I get a sharply focused image of a twig, where a butterfly WAS….AMA. Checkered Keelback in the water? I get the geometric ripples of the lake, where the snake WAS….AMA. Bee-eater eating an insect? I get a photo of the bird, with the insect, presumably, inside it…it WAS in its mouth….AMA. This AMA, WAS or Past Tense photography is my forte, fifty….up to a hundred.

OOF Photography.

These images are made when I am aiming for the tiny hairs on a dragonfly’s head..and I get, instead, the tiny hairs on the head of the cameraman who is standing on the other side of the dragonfly. How sharp are the blades of grass I get, as a fuzzy something that might be a unicorn, is rushing past, its blurred outlines spreading over half the photograph! OOF also refers to the sound I make when I look at such photographs on the LED monitor, after taking them.

FSI Photography.

This genre is where I aim carefully at the subject, and shoot. At this moment, when, all around me, I hear the click-click-click (and sometimes the rapid rat-a-tat of the Burst Mode) of cameras faithfully recording the image, I get my own entertainment, as my LED screen announces, “No memory card”, or the icon of a battery outlined in red, with nothing inside the outline, glows brightly at me as the rare bird makes a quick getaway. “I got it, I got it!” yell my friends gleefully, while on my face is the frozen, constipated expression of One Who Has Missed It Again. FSI, as you can now see, stands for Forgot Something Important.

So there you have it. I am an expert in these genres of photography. And since I am expert, of course, the next thing to do is to CPW…Conduct Photography Workshops. I have a nice clientele waiting for me. Let me explain. Recently, someone waltzed in to speak to me, and said, “I’ve bought a camera with two wheels.” I blinked, but then realized that for this person, the dial setting the different modes was one wheel, and the dial that allowed them to scroll through the images was another wheel. Another friend of mine reported a lady who, at the end of his DSLR photography workshop, thoughtfully asked, “You mean,I now have to buy a laptop as well?” For such people, I can certainly conduct workshops. I’ve already worked out a lot of the course material.

“Lesson 1. Cameras do not have wheels”. “Lesson 2. How to take off the lens cap (part B in the diagram herewith) before clicking the camera button.” “Lesson 3.TV mode does not mean that you can watch the news or the Oscar awards.” “Lesson 4. Please remove fingers from the lens area.” “Lesson 5: You cannot take extend your arm and take quick selfies with DSLRs.”

My budding career beckons me. I want to begin my expert pronouncements in pure Camerese –“You’ve got to adjust the white balance (this does not mean bedsheets piled on the washing machine) and push your exposure down one stop (this does not mean taking off your clothes at the next place the bus halts.), and do remember the rule of fifths, sorry, thirds.”

I shall plumb the depths of each genre of DMP (DM’s Photography)….only I won’t give it such a pedestrian name. I will call it Light Panting, sorry, Light Painting, or something Really Meaningful like that. I will of course have a Web Domain and a FaceBook page and such-like things. I will have visiting cards that say I am an Image Maker. My ads will say, “Only 10 seats left, please rush”, carefully not revealing that there ARE only 10 seats,all of them as empty as the memory card of my camera after I have accidentally deleted all my photographs before downloading them.

In fact, for sharing all these things, I want you to send me a wire transfer to my bank account…No? You won’t? OK, I will just call this post My Free Photography Tips…which brings me to the largest genre of my photography…. Free Photography, as no one would ever pay for any image of mine.

Here’s a pic where the distance of the subject from my camera is the same as that of my camera work from good photography.