Sunday, July 25, 2010

Now I wanna be a photographer!

It seems to me that I have this unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Not just knowledge but skills, things I can actually do and accomplish. Trying to learn Salsa is part of it so was insisting on learning to drive a manual car. And my latest is trying to learn photography. But, it's not really new.

When I was young, very young, less than 7 years old, we used to live in a rented house. Our neighbour family had a son who was ..umm...I am in no position to guess how old he was then, but I'd say in his 20s or so. I used to call him Rajesh Bhaiya and he was friends with my elder brothers. He had a black and white camera (we are talking about the 70s), and a small room under the the top flight of stairs that he used to use as a dark room. I saw him going in there and then coming out with finished prints and stuff like that. To me that was so glamorous! That whole business of working in a special room and developing films, it was like magic. He earned my childish respect for that. I think that's where my fascination with photography first started.

In the later years, I have been quite obsessed with taking photos, something doing a good job at other times, botching it up completely. In the recent years, I have been able to own and use digital cameras and collect a lot of photos in the process. But none of it was to be a photographer, just to take photos, subject or events were more important in my mind than the act of taking photos to get better at it, if you know what I mean.

The latest inspiration was my colleague, Derek, who is an accomplished Amateur Professional. He usually likes cars and takes a lot of photos at car shows and exhibitions. He is very good at it, to the point of having had his shots published in magazines and even used on the covers. He is quite passionate about it and I guess some of that motivated me. (If learning a new skill is involved, I get motivated easily, go figure!)

So, I bought a camera. I already had a 5MP Casio digital camera that I bought in Germany in 2005. It has served me well and still works. But now I wanted something better, something with more zoom and a faster shutter, with more settings.

There is nothing better than to research for an electronic item before purchase. I spent a whole day doing that and finally bought a Fuji Finepix S1800. It's called a Bridge Camera. Not because you can only take photos of bridges with it, but it serves as a bridge when you want to go from a compact digital camera to a full Digital SLR.

Here is a link to its Amazon page in case you are curious to find out more about the camera.

I simply love it! It has 18X optical zoom and 6.3x digital zoom (optical is the one that matters). I can't give you the technical details like sensor size and lens type etc. but I know that the only shortcoming of this model is that it does not have interchangeable lenses. I looked into those cameras and they were way too expensive. This was under £200 and they were closer to £500 and in most cases above it.

Having received the camera in post, I wanted to take it out for a spin. I chose the Aspinall Animal Park at Port Lympne. They had a photography course for £90. A whole day, with an expert photographer and only 8 places.

I did that last Saturday and it was amazing! There was nothing in the way of instructions, but there was a very experienced photographer at hand to ask questions and he gave us some tips from time to time.

Even I got some great photos from that day. We had great VIP access to all the animals so we could take photos easily and up close. No crowds jostling our elbows. In the afternoon we actually went into the cage of the Colubus monkeys.

Here are some samples:

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