Journey Along The Learning Curve
When I started walking the tortuous path of becoming a half-decent photographer, I did not realize I was to journey along the learning curve all my life. I dislike the phrase. It is a cliché, but I will use it for this little confession because it is apt.
But the phrase fits the purpose of this blog post, so I will use it!
The first lesson I learned was how to compose an image. This should be obvious to anyone, but not to me. When you read this, you may conclude I am quite stupid and, if so, you are correct. I took my camera, shot images, ran off to the lab, and when the results came back, I filled buckets with my tears. You may think I am joking, but I am not. Often, I bathed in my own tears and saved the world a lot of water.
Since then, my tear glands dried up, and nowadays, a teardrop falls with extreme reluctance. “Enough,” my glands seem to say. “You have completed your life’s quota of tears.”
Through The Years
It was to be years before I discovered arcane phrases like color and size contrast, the rule of thirds, Fibonacci’s something or the other, balanced compositions, etc. Keep these phrases in your belt, because you can trot them out and sound knowledgeable.
I learned a few lessons:
· A cluttered image is awful. Simplicity is vital, and you must keep distracting elements out of your image. It could be a metaphor for life.
· There are some things I enjoyed photographing, and others, not. This is a second metaphor for life.
· I love black & white photography. While this is not a metaphor for life, I know my brain works better in monochrome than in color.
· I love photographing people on the street, and nature.
Take Care Of Your Equipment
I learned those things; this is true. But the day dawned on me I must take care of my equipment. My initial attitude was careless, despite the price my father paid for my Olympus. When the monsoons arrived, I discovered the beautiful world of mold and fungi. My initial response to fungi was altogether negative because, one day, I discovered thin filament-like fingers of fungus covering my lens.
Despite my I engineering qualification, I did not apply science to maintaining my camera. But I overcame my initial feelings of shame and mortification and went down to South Bombay to get the lens cleaned. After speaking with the technician, I hoofed across to Crawford Market and bought a pair of huge class containers, half a truck of grease, and half a truck of desiccant.
I cheered myself, but I still had a few more steps to go along this specific learning curve. The monsoon humidity always saturated the desiccant gel with a vengeance, and they ceased to perform their miracles. After some time, the fungus returned, and the technician looked at me with pity, then reminded me I had to heat the crystals periodically to ensure they continued to keep my equipment dry.
Once again, as I slapped myself, I realized I did not apply my science training to life!
As time passed, I improved, and my Olympus is still in good working condition. Yet, when I look back over the years, I am reminded of a few things.
One, never assume your journey along the learning curve ever ends. If you decide you are an expert, you will stumble and fall. Your journey will end, and you will wind up feeling unhappy, frustrated, and with a bloody nose.
Enjoy the path, with all its twists and turns. Keep traveling with humility until the end of your time on earth. This, at least, is what I am trying to do.
I am often unsuccessful, fall down, curse, mope and then get up and walk on.