Friends come and go. Some stay for long. Others become sweet memories. Some others fade away. Today I was sitting alone in the morning, on a high vantage point, gazing at the rising sun, fog clearing up and a shining river in the center. I was planning to capture some photographs. The time spent with oneself can sometimes be the best. Today while watching the scenes unfold in front of me, I also remembered various incidents with friends and photography.
Studying in college, my pocket was always a little too tight. Photography was an expensive hobby. Not always did I have money to buy film. On one fine day, a very senior person from the college administration asked me to help him out. He wanted to have a collection of photographs from some of the constituent hospitals. It was an assignment for me and an opportunity to make some money. With the advance payment that I got, I purchased a big box of Fuji professional film of 100 ISO. I was planning to use the only Nikon body I had with me then, a Nikon FM10 (actually a Cosina made body but marketed by Nikon).
In the film days, there were two broad classes of negative films. The regular films sold everywhere had a slightly better tolerance to exposure errors. The professional films gave their best only and only when exposed properly. However these films outshone the regular counterparts by a huge margin when used properly. This is what I purchased for the above assignment.
Now the best thing that happened on this assignment was that I met another photography fanatic with a wonderful Nikon FM2 camera and a 50mm lens. He was a senior faculty member and became a close friend of mine. In fact he even taught me as a teacher. I still remember how happy I was to know that he would be teaching me though he had also confided that teaching was not his favorite things to do.
Till today, we are in contact. The photowalk I mentioned some time back, was completely planned by him (Photowalks). The thing that I admire in him and try to copy is his energy and hunger for knowledge.
The sun was already high up in sky and the fog was starting to clear up. I captured some quick photographs using a 135mm lens. My aim was to get some distant mountains with a stream flowing between them. The spot I had chosen gave me a perfect view of the scene in front of me and most importantly, the stream reflected the bright sun perfectly. Satisfied with these snaps. I again quietly sat down, to let some more time pass by.
A magpie flew past me but I did not have a long telephoto lens with me. This reminded me about a few more of my college friends. There was a time when I was without any camera. My earlier cameras were left behind in my hometown and I did not have any decent camera in my early college days. One friend of mine had a film camera that used a 110 film cartridge. Somehow the camera was nicknamed ‘hotshot’. On one fine trip, this friend of mine carried his 110 film camera and captured many snapshots. There were only three usable ones from the whole roll. He also promised to buy me a long telephoto lens if I happened to be in photography ten years from that time. Its been longer than that. I do hope that my friend remembers his promise. (He he he).
One of my batchmates was gifted a Cosina SLR by his brother. He started joining me on some of my photography trips. Then there was a senior who used a Pentax camera. It was a nice SLR with a huge viewfinder. Quite an attractive camera.
With a little help from my friends (thanks to The Beatles for providing me this snippet), I was able to enjoy whatever little photography I could manage in my college days.
(An old photograph that I captured on a trip to tea gardens with my friends)
There were friends who were interested in traveling, some who wanted to try out new adventures and some others who wanted to relax in exotic locations. I hopped on to various interesting places with these college chums of mine. Once it was a drive in the tea-estates and then again there was lounging around on gorgeous sea-beaches. Sometimes we visited old temples, forts or palaces and some other times we just walked around in emerging shopping complexes or regions (while I captured some street scenes). Photography went along with me everywhere. To me, my friends helped me become a better photographer and my photography helped me realize the value of my friends to some extent.
The fog was staring to clear up in the scene in front of me. The sun was a bit more high. I could also see some distant clouds. Thankfully, I drive a car now. No more fear from sudden thunderstorms. I changed the lens to 25mm from the earlier 135 and captured some more photographs. Prime lenses are still my favorites and regardless of what people might say, these are what you’ll always find in my camera bag.
(A road on Western Ghats during the rainy season. It takes just a few minutes for the clouds to gather up and rain)
The thought of thunderstorms also reminded me of a couple of more interesting incidents. During the college days, once a group my friends planned a short ride to neighboring hills (Western Ghats). I did not carry my camera along. We rode on motorcycles through the winding mountain roads. The morning on that day was clear. By afternoon, there were dense clouds and a thunderstorm followed. It was quite a downpour. We were all drenched. All our clothes were dripping wet but we were determined. After riding our bikes for some more distance we reached our destination. A hidden away lake in those hills. As luck would have it, the sun came out and we got a chance to dry ourselves and our clothes.
I was determined to capture some photographs from that route in the same season. As fate would have it, I got another chance to go on a similar motorcycle ride. This time with my girl-friend. I did not leave my camera behind. This was the same Nikon FM10 that I had used for a photography assignment.
The season was the same, the time of the year was also the same. I was hoping to capture some of those scenes which I had visualized few years back. This time again, while we were almost near the lake, the rains started. They were torrential. The so called ‘water-proof’ camera bag failed to prevent my photography equipment from rains. The bag itself was filled with rain-water. Film rolls were practically swimming in the water. I knew that I could not use the camera further on. We were forced to turn back. A few days in a desiccator and the camera was working fine again. Try doing that with any of the present day SLRs.
Coming back to the present. The light was just right. After capturing a few more photographs, I was ready to leave. Packed everything back in my camera bag and was on my way. My next stop was going to be a place next to the mountain river that I had photographed from my vantage point.
Sometime back, I was introduced to my father’s batch mate from college. He is a one of the best photographers in ‘droplet-photography’. I knew the concept but have never tried venturing there. This friend of my dad, had perfected this technique and created his own niche out of it. Someday I’ll request him to write an article for this website.
I remembered another of my recent friends. I was introduced to him through a local photography club. He wants to somehow merge his hobby (photography) and career. Every time, I visit the river side, I see some of the places nearby which are exactly as he had described to me as his future home. He is a Canon user and with very strong visualization skills. I do hope that someday we will do lots of photography together.
This brings me to another point. Join a local photography club if you can. If there’s not much of ego involved, such clubs can be a great place to meet like minded friends and to even learn a thing or two. Some of my recent friends in photography are from a local photography club.
Now the main reason – why I wrote this article. I just wanted to convey a thanks to all my colleagues and friends who have helped me along the way by in-numerous ways in photography. There are hundreds of interesting incidents to pen down but I am not as energetic as many of you reading this article might think.
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