The simple joys of photography

S. K. Srinivas, Photographer and Birder

In the days of celluloid film, photography was a painful hobby. Composing a good photo required considerable skill, a great deal of patience, a lot of good luck and a competent studio that could develop film correctly.  A professional photographer or a serious hobbyist who wanted to develop his own photos had to have skills in chemistry as well, and a dark room, and plenty of money for film and chemicals.

Film photography was a thankless, time-consuming and expensive hobby. All that changed with the birth of the digital camera. Even so, those digital cameras were beyond the reach of most people. Today, we have smartphones, and just about anybody can enjoy photography. Digital cameras have also evolved. Now we have cameras to suit every budget and skill-level.

Puttenahalli lake, for me, is an ideal place to enjoy photography. On any evening at the lake, if you see a tall and bald man, laden with camera gear, that man is likely to be Yours Truly. Over the years, I’ve built up a vast collection of photos of the flora and fauna of Puttenahalli. Every time I get myself a new lens or camera accessory, Puttenahalli is the first place I visit to test them out.

Some questions I have been asked about photography –

Is photography very expensive?  Of course not. If you have a decent smartphone, that’s more than enough to get started. Some of my best images at Puttenahalli have been made with my phone. If you have about Rs.20, 000 or so to spare, you can get yourself a very good “bridge” camera (a camera with the ease of a point and shoot and with the technical precision of a DSLR) that’s almost as good as a DSLR camera.
As your skills improve, you can spend as much as you want, depending on how far you want to go. For most people, a bridge camera will be all they need.

Should I buy Photoshop?  No, you needn’t. All camera manufacturers offer their free imaging software with their cameras. And there are many photo apps on the net, all free. Gimp and Snapseed are two such.

Do I need a computer? Perhaps. For camera phone photography, you don’t need a PC. Just click, process, share. For a bridge or DSLR camera, you do. An unbranded PC is also OK.
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Where do I save my photos? As you take more pictures, you will find yourself running out of space on your PC or phone. Not to worry. There are many cloud-based sites like Google Drive, Flickr and 500px that allow you to store and share hundreds of images. If you have the money, buy an external or internal hard disk.

What is the best time for photography? In principle, any time is good. For outdoor photography, obviously, daytime is best. I do most of my photography at Puttenahalli, in the hours between 3pm and 6pm, depending on the season. Dawn is also a good time. Avoid afternoons, in general.

What kind of photography do I get into? Anything you like. Nature, wildlife, food, people, travel, street, candid photography – anything at all. There are on-line resources for every taste, every skill level and every person.

Does photography pay?     Depends on you. If you want to take photography as a full time, then yes it pays. Otherwise it’s an absolute NO!  Don’t even think of quitting your job. At the professional level, photography is really expensive and very risky. Save your money and time. Enjoy photography as a hobby, take great photos that you can share with your friends and family, spend as much as you can afford, and not a penny more.

Which camera do I buy? Buy only the camera you can comfortably afford, without the need to pay in instalments. Buying a camera (or any other electronic device costing less than Rs. 20K) on instalments is just foolish.  Cameras do not have resale value. Remember that.

As I said, all you need is a good smartphone and a free app. Nowadays, you get all kinds of affordable lenses and accessories for smartphone photography, if you think your phone is not good enough on its own.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive and immensely satisfying hobby, which will last for a lifetime, I’d say modern photography is one of the best options you have.

Go ahead. Make your day.