This is my first post on this new site. I have been guiding a lot of my friends in photography in various ways. I help any kind of photographer improve their photography skills. In this process, I have been repeatedly asked by people to start a blog. So here I am. My old site is gone. Now, this is more about my own thoughts and anything photographic.
For me, photography is a way to express my thoughts. It is to share with others, how I visualize things. I am still learning. I will write here my experiences, tips, thoughts, and whatever else comes to my mind related to my adventures with photography.
My ‘exposure’ to photography
My first exposure to photography was when I accidentally found a book on photography in my grandfather’s library. It was titled ‘The Encyclopedia of Photography’ and was bound in a beautiful reddish-brown color. I was impressed by the photographs in that book. There were photographs by the great masters like Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Robert Capa, and many others. I did not know the names then. I still have the book with me.
I get a camera
Many years after this, I got my first camera.I was in primary school and my father gave me an Agfa camera to play around with. I was a school kid and this was the best thing that happened to me. I took pictures of trees, houses, street scenes, critters, and whatever I found interesting. There were no major settings to take care of. It was easy for me to use as a child. The camera used medium format film, which I later came to know was quite expensive. I thank my parents for letting me use a camera which cost them money for the film and then to get my negatives developed. I remember at times being told to stop clicking photos of people on the streets, trees, and everything else. The photographs in my family meant photographs of our family members, something that I had never thought of capturing. For me, photography meant capturing what interested me rather than filling up family albums.
Photography was an expensive hobby which I realized when I reached senior school, and the rolls always cost money. I could not afford to get some of my films developed. Later I stopped loading film in the camera. Just taking the camera out, composing my shots, dialing in all the settings and then clicking! But, with no film roll inside. I did not get any pictures but I started visualizing images.
The Agfa camera was left behind once I shifted to another city for schooling. Here I got hold of a really old TLR. This was an inexpensive replica of Rolleiflex. Another medium format camera! The film still remained expensive and beyond the reach of my pocket money. However, at times I could afford some film. What I did manage to learn was to print my own contact sheets by directly placing negatives on photo-paper and exposing them to ambient light. The negatives were large in size and so the contact-prints themselves were keepers. I was a happy person.
The Canon rangefinder
I completed my schooling and went to college. I came across a Canon GIII QL, a rangefinder with actual shutter speed and aperture settings. This was my father’s camera and somehow he had stopped using it. The camera even had a built-in light meter. This helped me learn the technical aspects of photography. The shutter was a quiet one and I could indulge in even street photography with this. The standard lens with a slight wide-angle touch to it was wonderful. I started getting close to my subjects and losing my fear. Once again, another thanks to my dad for letting me keep this camera in my hostel during my college days.
After the Canon rangefinder, I again got my hands dirty with a couple of TLRs (Yashica and then a Rollei) but the film cost was high and for a college student that I was, photography with TLRs was not sustainable. Once again, I was back to clicking photographs without loading any films. Thankfully the people who let me play with these TLRs did not mind my clicking them without any film rolls.
Love affair with SLR
I had never tried SLRs till now and then one day I got hold of a dilapidated Canon AE-1 SLR camera in a camera repair shop. I had gone there searching for a case for the Canon rangefinder. This was the old FD mount Canon camera and I was really happy to be able to see what I wanted to photograph. Now I had clarity. I knew that my first camera, which I was going to purchase in the future, was going to be an SLR.
I saved some more money and then one day with help from my family, I bought my first Nikon SLR. It came with a 50mm lens. Now I was a photographer in everyone’s eyes. I had a camera of my own and with a crystal clear and sharp lens. I also moved to professional film rolls that had very tight exposure tolerances but gave good contrast and colors.
During those college days, I still kept on alternating between clicking with film and clicking without film, depending on how much dough I had in my pocket. Good transparencies’ rolls cost a lot. Let me take this chance to also apologize to my friends, colleagues, and those beautiful girls, whom I got to pose and clicked photographs… if I never gave you a photograph, it was most probably because I did not have money for the film-roll. As was my old habit, I might have used my camera without a film-roll on that particular day.
During my college days, I also landed up some professional assignments. They gave me money. Enough money to help me tide over time without any assignments and still be able to buy film rolls and enjoy a dinner to two at a classy restaurant.
Forced to digital with changing times
One SLR followed another and one lens followed another. The times were changing and the rolls gave way to digital. I was one of the late adopters of digital. Now I use Nikon DSLRs with a variety of optics. I, however, try never to carry more than two lens with me. I do not own very expensive cameras. For me photography is more to do with visualization. Very often it is quoted that a camera is just a tool and the photographs are made by the person behind the camera. Photographs are made by people. Photography equipment is …..well just the equipment. Cameras are just tools. Good tools are required but there’s a lot more that is required too. Photography is about many more things. More on this will follow in another post.
This is a short summary of my photography journey. I hope this site proves useful to my readers. For a quick list, visit Index of Articles
(Now I am a photographer, farmer, and hotelier. A drastic shift from the health-care sector! Time will tell if I made the right choice or not.)
Images in this post – Alfred / Creative Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0
Very interesting story!!!when I first met shivam in college I was really impressed with his knowledge. He taught me basics and even gave his camera .very good effort shivam.keep it up……
Yes Shivam. You are correct. Cameras are just tools. It helps photographer to take the picture. But of what,how and when, photographer decides. I had seen your many pics of nature. Beautiful they were. Beauty of the pic not only reflects the skill of photographer but also the mind of the photographer. I also know the teaching skills of yours. All the best in every move you take.
Great Shivam, I used to get surprised by your work in college days. Keep going. As you said camera is a tool, Photograph is created by photographer is a great true.
Dear Dr Shivam,
And I still remember you gave me my first camera in college… N I and Varuna dalal on one day and Meena Singh on another spent whole day clicking snaps at pilicula… Thereafter you got them developed.
Today you are following your passion and I wish you all the luck.
Will keep an eye on your works.