Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Camera matters

I got my first camera when I was ten. It was a gift from my uncle, who brought it back with him from England. I was extremely thrilled. It had a built-in flash, and auto-focus features. I loved it because it was so unlike my father's complicated, bulky Canon, which I couldn't even hold in my small hands.

I gleefully set about taking photographs with my lovely new camera. But there was an inherent limitation to the number of pictures that I could take - 36 - in one roll of film. I would have used up rolls upon rolls of films, but my father sat me down and explained to me the expenses involved in photography. The cost of the film, then the developing and printing. "It is an expensive hobby", he said. "If it had been your only pursuit, then it would have been alright. But after truckloads of books and music cassettes, your music lessons and the sports club, it will be good if you go a little easy on photography. Oh, I am not saying you should not take any photos at all! Go on, click away, but keep it under control. When you grow up and start earning, you can do what you want!"

I, a sensible and obedient (ahem) daughter, appreciated the reasoning. So I set limits for myself. Is it a short 3-day holiday? I could use up only one roll of film. Is it a week long holiday? To historical and touristy places? Ok then, two rolls. Is it a birthday party? 15 snaps at the most. A family get together? 15 or 20 photos. And so on.

Now, this limitation actually turned out to be a boon. I deliberated over each snap. I would wait for the best possible view, the best time to take the snap. I would pick and choose the best scenes, the most remarkable, memorable views and object. And then I would focus, hold my hand steady, and just move that one finger, and... click. The view was frozen for eternity.

And then the desperate wait to get back home and get the photos developed and printed, to see how the picture had turned out!

If I look back now, I marvel at my photographs. Much care and thought went into each photo. Each one was perfect. I was immensely proud of them.

Now I have a digital camera. No limit on the number of photos. No film costs, development costs, printing costs. Just click. Endlessly. And added to it, I immediately get to know how the picture has come out. Not satisfied? Click again. Auto focus. Light adjustment. Zoom capabilities. I now click with one hand. I click as many as I want to, saying, I will just pick the best. And the result? Not one of them is as good as the pictures I took with my trusty old camera.

Oh I am not blaming the poor digicam. It is a wonderful gadget. My own apathy is at fault. I know that with the digicam, I can click snaps that are far better than my simple little snaps of yore. But I don't try that hard. Because now I have nothing to lose. The enthusiasm, the need to make each picture faultlessly beautiful, does no longer exist. The agonizing, yet exciting wait to see how the snaps have come out, the anticipation of looking at the snap for the first time after it has been printed - the charm has gone.

Yeah I know, I know, all is not lost yet. :) I am glad I stopped to reflect on why my pictures don’t seem to be that good any longer. A problem acknowledged is a problem half-solved, and all that. But a part of me also wonders if I should get back to using a good non-digital camera (What's it called?). All you photography enthusiasts out there, go ahead and give me tips. ;)

[My other post on photography.]


Sri Harsha said...

I luv my digi....but left it at home when i was there the last time.

Need to get a new one as soon as i'm done with my MS!

Keep clickin' !


Nirwa Mehta said...

I believe, digicams are a boon! How else do you explain the picture I took


hehehe.. jokes apart, nice post! Try taking pictures with both the cameras.. :P that way, you get the picture you want.. and with digicam, you can save the cost! Err.. never mind my suggestions! :P :P


Swathi Sambhani aka Chimera said...

yes, we all have nostalgic memories of the photographs of yesteryears - some of them so beautiful in black and white and then we sigh! and go back to our digital cameras :)

Anonymous said...

Its called SLR cameras i.e single lens reflex! I'd love to see your pics...especially if they are black and white. Why don't you upload them onto the net and share it with the world? Cheers!

Sunil said...

Not all Non-Digital (its usually called "Film Cameras") are SLR cameras. You get SLR Film cameras and Non-SLR film cameras. Reading the post, i feel this one was a Non-SLR "film camera".
(SLR ones are expensive...!!)

we never had a camera at home. The first one we got was a Digital cam which my bro bought. So, i donno abt the Joys of a film camera described excellently here, but, some of my best shots wouldn't have happened if not for a Digital camera. The "expensive" factor would've killed my hobby.

A hobby, not taken too seriously so far:

The Reason why yuu don't appreciate the pics from the digital camera, is because you have Sooo many of them. The good ones are lost among the not-so great ones.
Shortlist them, as "Best of Mee" orr "Wallpaper Material" orr something like that. You will be surprised to find soo very few pics worth putting in these "categories". This will drive you to put more efforts into the next pic you take out of your Digi-cam.

Shruthi said...

Harsha: Did you leave the cam behind intentionally? ;)

Nirwa: Heh heh don't I know that photo ;) About your suggestions, well, since you explicitly tell me not to mind them...... ;))

Swathi: Ha ha ;) That's correct!

Aditya said...

Very well written post.

It is true that technology gives us all the previlages but we start loosing enthusiasum.

Aditya B

Supremus said...

Ha ha - you recite a very similar story like mine :) about the days when I had a sleek minolta and then transferred to a digicam.

I think one of the advantages though of having a digicam (at least for me) has been that I no longer wait for moments to happen or no longer deliberate if I shold or should not waste a pic - I can take as many as I want and discard the rest.

Of course, that saying, the quality of digital photographs cannot match that of your normal SLR cameras - perhaps that's what you are missing? I suggest you propose the idea of buying a digital SLR, at which point i am sure S will think twice hehehehehehe :D


Shruthi said...

Ravi: Oh by the time I started taking snaps, the b&w ones were out of fashion - all of mine are colour snaps! But b&w snaps are beautiful, aren't they? :) About putting them up - lots of work - scanning and uploading, etc - maybe sometime! ;)

Sunil: Oh yes, mine must be a non-SLR film camera. That's the term I wanted - "film camera" :) Is there any other name for it?
You have a very valid point, Sunil. The good ones are lost in the huge number of ordinary snaps that we take in a digicam! And thanks for the tips ;)
Heyyy your photo gallery is really good!! Keep going! :)

Shruthi said...

Aditya: Thank you :) The funny thing is, advanced technology is supposed to aid you, but unless you really know how to take advantage of it, sometimes it is more of a bane ;)

Suyog: Ah yes, just right. No second thoughts about whether to click or not click! Just go ahead and click! :)
A digital SLR? Now that's a dangerous thought ;)

PRIDERA said...

I guess you should try the SLRs (non digi cameras) Everytime I click with my SLR, I am more careful and focussed. With digital cameras, I can call it more relaxed clicking only because I can afford extra pics :)

Sri Harsha said...



Chitra said...

WOW Shruthi....notch up another similarity! I too feel the same :D!!

Sachin said...

Shruthi, good one! I have a different take on this. I never considered photography with interest when I was younger or even uptil I graduated. In fact, it was quite a chore for me when someone thrust a camera into my hands during a family function and asked me to click some pictures "as I saw fit"!

But just recently, in fact during my first wedding anniversary my wife gifted me a Canon Powershot A520!!! And I took to it like a fish to water…. Though I still don’t know the full extent of its capabilities, I know enough to declare that deciding the best mode in which to click a pic with the correct exposure as well as the best shutter speeds for night shots all combine to make it a complete photographic experience. And one that has me marveling as to why I did not think of getting into photography earlier itself.

I feel that even a digi can give you the same thrill and delight as any other camera, its just that you should enjoy the whole process and not turn it into a chore by taking hundreds of pics only to select the best of the lot. Rather, you should try to make sure that each picture you take should be your best!!!! Happy shooting!!!

Shruthi said...

Pridera: Yes, same here!

Harsha: :)

Chitra: Sigh, I have stopped keeping track of the similarities! ;)

Sachin: Wow, so photography is a newly discovered hobby for you, huh, thanks to your wife? :) Good for you!
Yes you are spot on - about not making it a chore! Click selectively - that's what I am going to do from now on!

Anu said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your comments...

nik of my time said...

Hey Shruti, am a photography enthusiast too. Recently became a proud owner of a Canon S2 IS. Which camera(s) do you own by the way?

As far as film photography is concerned, I agree, I used to love the wait!

Shruthi said...

Anuradha: My pleasure!

Nik of my time: I used to own a Miranda, then a Ricoh.

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