The Diary and Adventures of an Amateur Photographer

I always wanted to dabble in photography, but had a lot of questions in my mind. Which camera to buy? Tips for good photography?

I had similar questions in my mind about painting – so I put my questions to Prabhakar Bhatlekar, the renowned caricature artist and my friend. He had a simple formula to share ‘Just take a brush and start… that’s the way to learn and do it!’ The prospect of hard work, trial and error is so discouraging!! I had thought about asking a similar question about photography to Abhijit, Mr Bhatlekar’s son, and an accomplished photographer, but I checked myself. The advice would surely get repeated, I felt. But yeah, there was merit in what he said.
I then bought a camera. And broke it! I wasted three cameras. The third camera fell in the sand on the beach. It got wasted and it was an expensive one. But I bought a new camera, and showed it proudly to all. My DW, very considerate woman that she is, took a deep breath, regained her composure and said, “Photography is really an expensive hobby, I realise.”
The point I want to make it is that I may not have talent, but perseverance? Nobody can doubt that aspect of me.
Here are the results which I proudly present to you.
On my trip to Sri Lanka I went to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. As I entered I saw an elephant being fed some fruits. I hurriedly took out my camera and clicked.
As I moved I saw this cow and baby elephant standing together and silently communicating [oh, why can’t men do it that way?], the camera was out and I clicked.
Timing is the essence I told myself. The camera has to be ready to click, nobody waits for you. As I said this to myself, and looked at the passing herd [in the case of elephants a herd is also called a ‘parade’] of elephants through my camera, a Japanese girl walked into the frame. Beast and Beauty, what a combination! Serendipity!! [That word was coined from the word Serendip  for Sri Lanka]. Click, click. Incidentally the beauty and the beast were walking in the opposite directions – well, that is how it should be!!
We moved to Kandy. And I captured the scene at dawn, morning and dusk. From my room. The DW asked, “What’s the point of taking the same picture again and again?” That’s a different perspective on photography. “Just I take yours, darling, every now and then” I said. One has to be very sensitive to different perspectives just as to the different moods of people. And humour does the trick. A trembling hand can waste a good picture. Ask me, I know.
[Dawn. Morning and dusk]
And I spotted three monkeys huddled together. They have at least two qualities which distinguish them from homo sapiens. Firstly, they often huddle together and secondly, they do not like to be photographed.
We left Kandy to go to Nuwara Eliya. Tea estates. We were now climbing the hills. Mackwood Tea factory we saw and the setting of lovely office made me take the camera out again. There is something about high places. The image looks certainly better than original. I don’t know why. The same can be said about people in high places too, and I know exactly why, but more about it some other time.
We reached Tea Factory. This is the name of a hotel, believe me. I saw where their manager used to work – what an office! I clicked a photograph just in case it inspires some entrepreneur to offer good workplaces to his employees. Our generation did not get it, but why not tell others what is possible? eh?
And then we reached Ahangulla. South of Bentota. Why did we not stay at Bentota? Sorry Sir, a retired man affords only so much. The swimming pool was on the beach. The beach had a gentle slope and then the sea. So from an angle it looked as if a thin line divided the swimming pool. I sat there at the beach with my DW [and my camera, of course]. Suddenly a couple arrived. A newly married couple. Their photographer asked them to strike ‘Titanic’ poses. Just as those in the movie and in its posters. The couple happily obliged.
My heart sank. I would have used ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya’ poses instead. Titanic? Gross impropriety. But I hurriedly picked up the moment. Used zoom. I was pleased with the results. [That is how good photographers express themselves].
The sun disappeared in the sea. The lights were switched on. And another couple arrived. The bride was in blue dress and was a shy girl who was reluctant to strike Titanic poses.
Now that is called one on one free. [In our days it was called ‘bonus.’ But the word was much maligned by textile workers and American bankers. Don’t they have something in common? Both have managed to outsource their industry’s production.]
The next day we went for Madhu river boat safari. Here is a moment I caught while clearing the mangroves. Remember what I said about the timing? Well, that is the trick. Time does not stop for anybody. Nor does the boat.
And suddenly our boatman swung the boat in a full circle in Bollywood style. ‘Water monitor’ he shouted. You mean ‘Varanus salvator?’ I asked. I have always been scared of all animals put in the Class Reptilia. So much so that I had not forgotten my zoology. Varanus salvator is a carnivore. It is a protected animal, protected from man. When you see it, you wish to seek protection from it. “Eeeeeeeeeek” my DW shouted. But I held my camera firmly and took many shots. This is an interesting thing about great photographers. They are never sure. So they take many photographs of the same subject. Numerous, actually. One photograph is sure to come out very good. The trick works as you will see. When your speedboat is moving, though slowly, do you have a choice? Click, click, click…
We returned to our hotel. “Did you come here to practice your photography skills or to celebrate our 36thwedding anniversary?” My DW [Darling Wife] asked. I knew what it meant. I had to take her photograph. Here it is, my friends. Isn’t she beautiful?