Tuesday, June 14, 2011

That's how it was

Whenever I saw those photos with blue sky, beautiful clouds, colorful birds and insects, playful children, smiling people, wow, I'd exclaim and promise myself that one day I too will capture such pictures and I too will show it to the world. I must say little did I know then.

And when the time came I bought a nice "NIKON" ( read in quotes, I took pride in it then ) DSLR camera. Top notch, I told myself. And while I was bringing the camera home I could already see myself taking pictures of those grand sunsets, a wonderfully moon lit blue canyon, a solo exhibition and a national geographic 'photo of the year' award. Well, that was until I sat down with the camera and saw the different buttons and menu options on it. 
Would a silly thing such as camera menu option stop me from taking great photos? Never. Who do you think I am? An engineer. Yes, I can crack anything. And I did. I dropped the camera once. 

Just after learning the basics of the camera ( that's all one needs to know ) I went out and started taking only the great pictures. That great moment when the bird flapped its wings or when the sun sank into that river, where did they go? Right into my camera. How were the pictures? Awesome! I hadn't seen the snaps on my laptop yet. When I did, hey what went wrong? Why did the bird lose its neck? And why does the river look so dark? Why doesn't sky show any colors?

Boy, even an engineer needs to know certain things. A whole new world opened up for me. Aperture, Exposure, Shutter, ISO, white balance, metering - It felt like reading a dictionary. The words were all there, but nothing sank in. I started using those words like a pro. Firmly believing that one doesn't need to know everything, just start using the lingo and things will show up. And they did, but not in the way I wanted.

It wasn't long before I realized that the job doesn't end after clicking the shutter release button. There's a laborious job of post processing. Correcting all your mistakes. Adjusting the exposure, saturation, white balance, temperature, phew, and what not? But then again, I'm an engineer, yes that's what I am. I can pick up anything. I'm always open to learn new things. I'd learn photography, I told myself. Only if I knew that thats exactly what I wouldn't learn!

It started with the image editing softwares. By then I had realized that if I were to enhance my great pictures, I should use a great software. Since my laptop runs on linux I was forced to find the alternatives for the crazy photo editing softwares. Clearly the applications in the free world were not good enough for me. I ran those windows apps in linux - not a big deal for an engineer. Did it work? No. In no time, I was all into fixing linux to run those windows' softwares. I'd do anything to capture great pictures. But I wasn't learning anything about photography. I didn't worry about it then. In fact, that thought never crossed my mind. I had a bigger objective now, to fix Linux! I had to fix it otherwise I might have to use sissy windows. How I wished if I could run windows on linux. Nothing is impossible for an engineer, I'd run a virtual operating system! ( by the way, where is that great picture I promised? Just don't think about it for now alright, fix linux first ) 

Well, even the photo editors did not help much. I was short on the resources. 

To take great pictures you should have great lenses. A holy voice started speaking to me.

Lenses you say? Which ones? I questioned.

You see, it continued, to capture the wildlife ( ooooh the tiger ) you need a telephoto lense. To capture landscapes ( ah the great sunset ) wide angle lense and if you'd like to shoot the insects ( like the big ant, yes, i want to shoot them) macro lenses. And then there are others like prime lense, fisheye, zoom, super zoom, filters, converters.... stop it! I said, I want them all. No picture of mine should look bad.

Pictures were still no good. The divine voice started speaking again.

Son, when you take a picture, you should keep the camera still. Even with the slightest vibration you may mess up your shot. Did you buy the lenses with vibration reduction feature?

Ah! now I knew the problem. All I needed was a vibration reduction lense.
But why didn't you tell me this before? I asked.

You were not ready yet, my child. It said.

Pictures were still not great.

The voice spoke again. Son, when you capture the photo with long shutter speed, its hard to keep the camera still. You would need some tool to keep the camera still.
You should buy a tripod or a monopod or may be atleast a gorillapod. That'll help.

I asked again why it didn't tell me before.

You were not ready - was the reply.

When I complained that the images were not getting better, the godly voice spoke.

Son, there are times when the sun steps out of your way. Call it a fear of getting captured. But when the light is not good enough, you should manage it on your own. You can try buying the flashes. They come in various types. You can attach it to your camera or keep them separate. Oh, you may also consider buying umbrellas. No, not the ones you use during rains, but similar ones. You can control the harsh light and have a soothing effect on the subject.

Before I could ask, it said, I didn't tell this before because you were not ready.

Nothing changed, the pictures were not anything I wanted them to be.
This time, I was totally disappointed. When I started complaining, the voice spoke again.

Son, to capture a great photo you just need to envision it. Your camera and other accessories are tools to help you get that quicker or efficiently.
However harsh it may seem, you cannot take a great photo. You don't have what it takes. I'm sorry my child.

Bursting with anger, I asked - 'Why didn't you say so before?'

The voice calmly said, son, you wouldn't have believed me. You ask for the error report before accepting anything.
You are an engineer, thats how you are.


  1. :) ಬದುಕು ಯಾಂತ್ರಿಕವಾದಷ್ಟೂ ಅದು ಹಾಗೇನೇ...ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿದೆ.

  2. Ha Ha! Subtle humor. Good post.
    I could relate myself so much to the write-up. Faced similar situations. Not with a DSLR though.