Sunday, February 12, 2006

Painting with light

This is a picture of a swimming pool that i clicked on my trip to Muthodi. I really like the multiple hues that are visible because of the soft lighting. You can see aquamarine turquoise at one end and it graduates into pitch black at the other. The reflections are soft and blurred almost as if they are dusted with an air brush giving the picture an "oil painting" look. The lone spotlight offers a moonlit effect ,creating a sharp contrast with the other reflections ,making this one of my fav snaps!

ps: what i dont like is the ugly timestamp that the DSC H1 inserted. Thought of touching it up with photoshop but decided not to go there :)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The forgotten world

When was the last time you actually WROTE a letter to a loved one ? Ok let me rephrase my question. When was the last time you wrote ANYTHING substantial on paper ? For me it was hmmm….a year back…no actually a couple…or maybe more…when I was in college, although it was restricted to my never ending notebook graffiti during class and the pointless ramblings in my blue books (used in my internals!). Most times, my writing instrument used to be borrowed or bought at the last micro second before the exam. You know the old sprint to the college stationary mart, to get the 5-buck-Reynolds that would last all of 2 term papers. Let me tell you, I was not alone in this mad rush… :)

Looking back even further to my high school days, although I can't trust my squishy neurons with long term memory, I know that things weren’t too different. Against all odds, I remember middle school for one amongst a lot of things. Middle school was when we actually switched from the boring pencil to the mystical fountain pen. Back then, it was something that really excited me. I never understood how something as simple as a pen could have so many parts intricately designed and fitted together. I was fascinated to see all those expensive pens on store windows with their beautifully crafted nibs in various shapes and sizes. I was disallowed from using one in my primary school days for fear of spoiling my handwriting. How that could happen is beyond me. So, I waited like an obedient kid with all eagerness to get to 4th grade so I could start writing with my own fountain pen. Now it almost seems like a joke, when I think of the things that would satisfy me as a kid! :)

When I actually got into 4th grade , I freaked out . I started using my fountain pen to write in school, at home, on novels, on the walls, on newspapers, postits, charts, on my hand, on graphs , even on plastered limbs. I used to love the smell of fresh ink. Having to top up my fountain pen on a nightly basis for the many writing miles ahead, the sheer beauty in the design of the nib, the fact that you had to clean the pen every week or so….there was something classical and authoritative about the fountain pen.

By the time I was in my 7th grade I had collected fountain pens of all sizes and shapes. I had a collection of nearly 300 pens which included Parkers, Sheaffers and my prized possession – a Mont Blanc which was handcrafted and plated with gold! Its an irony that I have never used it, but that’s how it goes with any collector’s item. :)

Zooming into the present I can see that things have changed quite drastically! People hardly write nowadays. The advent of Notepad and MSWord has ensured that people prefer them anyday to the old fashioned pen and paper. No one has the time or energy to write on paper, leave alone use a fountain pen which has to be cared for like a 20 year old vintage car. I actually know people who can type faster than write and prefer to do so anyday…My collection of fountain pens is nearly completely donated to charity except for a prized few of course….

However I still know a few people, who stick like glue to the forgotten world of old fashioned writing. The long heritage of craftsmanship and innovation associated with a fountain pen will never cease to amaze me. Like all things fashionable, I am confident that very soon it will be back in vogue to write with a fountain pen. It will be cool to be seen with an expensive one in yr shirt pocket… until then my prized Mont Blanc shalt wait!

Note: The pic is taken from one of Leonardo da Vinci's original notes. It depicts his design for an airplane. This was written on parchment using a feather and plant dye for ink.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

My Calling

I was eight when my dad first showed me his prized possession. It was something that he kept carefully in a leather bag in a small locker in his room. A vintage Minolta complete with external flash bulbs , an array of lenses and multiple filters. As he ran his fingers over the camera, I immediately knew that this was something very precious to him.I was intrigued to say the least.

To me , taking a picture meant pointing the camera at an object and clicking the samll button on top. I coudn't care less about focus or aperture.Why would you want to do so many complicated things to take a simple shot of an elephant in the zoo? Wasn't a camera meant to capture those special moments in life ,so that you could look at them with your grandchildren and laugh your head off? Wasn't it meant to help your straining neurons in remembering those rare occasions ... grandpa playing soccer with you, or when dad and you tried to bake a cake for mom and ended up making charcoal instead..or that emotional moment when your brother became a dad...or just the time when you saw fighter jets zoom past you in the sky for the first time? I have seen so many people fuss around with their huge expensive cameras on numerous trips with the intention of capturing that beautiful landscape or just a group snap on top of a mountain. So engrossed are they with the nitty gritties of taking the shot ,that they actually forget to notice the beauty of the very place they are in...the beautiful sunrise, the chirping of the birds, the long winding river and the roar of the waterfall at the edge,grandpa's timeless jokes from his graduation days...all this is lost in the mad scramble to set up the camera to capture something that is already etched in memory...for life.

I am now three times older than what I was the day i saw my dad's camera. I have seen a lot of my buddies transform into budding photographers lugging tripods and heavy cameras on our treks and outings. However, my perception of photography totally did a U - turn on one cold winter morning when I saw this exhibition on wildlife photography at the British Council. Displayed on the walls there, I saw the most beautiful pictures of tigers i have ever seen . This photographer , whose name i fail to recollect right now (as usual my grey cells go into hibernation when i need them most) had captured this magnificent animal in its natural habitat in all its glory. Every single detail on the tiger's body was captured so well on film. It was almost like capturing the entire gamut of emotions of this beautiful carnivore...and he had done a stupendous job of this. For the first time i almost looked a tiger eye to eye ...almost.

Inspired by the wonderful exhibition,I went back home promising myself that i would take good pics with my dad's camera and put up an exhibit too and win prizes at that. Months went by and several tens of reels later ,I realised there was more to photography than point - n - shoot. It started dawning on me that this was an art ,and you need to train and condition yourself in a certain way to be good at it. You need to have your creative juices oozing to get that super shot. Taking point n shoot pictures is one thing... protraying your feelings through photography is another. Just capturing an elephant in the zoo is one thing. Capturing an elephant with the bruises on its chain clad legs AND the tears rolling down his face is something else.That blurred picture of grandpa couldve been so much better if it had been taken with a little more care...capturing the wonderful emotions on his face as he goes into raptures talking about his college crushes...capturing the tricolor on the wings of the jet as it zooms by...Photography is an art and a science in itself. An expensive one at that too! :)

Having said all this , i realised that there are times when you need to stop and actually get off the bus and enjoy the scenery rather than stare into the view finder and fiddle with aperture, exposure and focus. There are separate photo shoots that i go on to do these things. Other occasions a simple point n shoot will suffice! There is a time and a place for everything.

To become an artist is not easy...It takes hours of practice and perseverence. Ask a figure skater and he/ she will tell you. Even though i tap keys to earn my bread, I know i will be a good photographer a few years from now. That dream of putting up my own exhibit is slowly but surely coming true.I know now that i have finally found my calling......