Sunday, 5 October 2008

Camera Capers: 2

My second SLR was a Minolta 3xi and a gift from my brother-in-law.

Compared to the humble Yashica FX-3, this one was packed with awesome automation, at least so it seemed at that time. The 3xi came with a power-assisted, wide-angle zoom that was a delight to operate. The focusing was automatic. You could play with different priority modes and could even operate it in manual mode, though not so elegantly. It was lightweight, compact, and took beautiful pictures. I was very happy with that camera.

But somewhere along the line, I lost interest in photography. To start with I was never a very creative photographer and considered myself, at best, efficient or workmanlike in my approach to the craft. I could be counted on to take a decent picture, but never a great one, if you know what I mean.

I believe that to be a good photographer, you have to see beyond what you see within the confines of the viewfinder and search for a certain truth, a certain essence that the others either ignore or cannot see. In great photographers, this happens automatically and without conscious effort and everything else—subject, framing, composition, lighting, colour—automatically falls into place. This is why Raghu Rai and you can stand side by side and take pictures of the same landscape and when you look at the final results, yours is just a nice photograph while his is imbued with a certain spiritual aura and speaks to someone deep inside you.

No. I did not stop taking pictures because they were not “great” or because they lacked a “spiritual aura”. I stopped taking pictures because I was getting tired of opening the camera bag, taking the camera out, removing the lens cap, looking through the viewfinder, composing, shooting... the whole process. I also started feeling that photography and the whole paraphernalia associated with it somehow distracted me from the act of simple observation. The camera was getting in the way of that beautiful sunset or that magnificent monument silhouetted against the fading light.

Or, maybe these are all noble excuses and the real reason could be something as mundane as sheer laziness!

Anyway, these days I carry no SLR. My present camera is a Sony Cybershot T10 which is slim enough to fit in my shirt pocket and on those occasions when I have to be the family chronicler of get-togethers and birthdays, it is such a relief to put it in “auto” and click on mindlessly.

The pictures turn out invariably to be surprisingly decent.


Thiruvengadam said...

The so-called "Film" photography appears a thing of the past. The techno savvy people of new generation have gone digital. Just zoom, click and download and lo ... you are ready for the next! All in a jiffy! No hassles of buying film rolls and the costly processes it involves. But I sometimes wonder what would happen to all those color-labs dotting the Cityscapes and all the expensive machines they once used to boast of.

padmaja said...

Photography was one of my subjects in college and I never could figure out the relationship between the numbers and the light available! Enjoyed developing pictures in the darkroom though! That was magic!
And married to a photographer, I understand your tediousness of lugging the equipment around. We never take his camera on holidays.. A small digi does a great job for us!!

Rada said...

Manohar: Sad but true: Film cameras are rapidly becoming or have already become obsolete technology!

Padmaja: More often than not, it is the photographer rather than the camera that will make a difference, don't you think? :-)

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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.