An old film and, introducing a child to slides, amidst a rush of precious memories

The other day, I found an old, exposed roll of film waiting to be developed.  This roll of film had already been waiting for eight long years.  Agfa had filed for bankruptcy in 2005 and I was left with no place to develop my favorite B&W slide film, the venerable Agfa Scala.  I was immediately tempted to see if it was still possible to develop Scala.  Searching on the internet led me to DR5 in Denver.  As I shipped the film over, I was not sure what to expect.  The film may have become brittle and I certainly did not recall all the frames that might exist on this film.  After a seemingly long wait, the package finally arrived after about fifteen days.

As I sat perusing the newly developed slides, my little niece came over wondering what were these things I was looking at.
“What are these?”
“These? These are slides.”

I realized she had never seen my slides.

“Well, slides are photos.”
“So, we can see these on your computer?”
“No. We have to scan these first…convert them to be viewed on computer. But, here…look through this viewer. Do you see something?”
“Yes!! It is a photo! I see a photo.”
“Okay. Do you want to see it on a projector?”
“Pro-jec-tor? Haha..Pro-jec-tor…haha…what is that?”

She kept laughing. She had never heard of a projector and kept on repeating the word.
It was time to show her a new thing, the projector. We went looking for my slide projectors that had not been touched for about six years. I took one of these down from the high perch and after dusting the lens, we set up the projector. I wanted her to see how beautiful the slides looked when projected. Reaching for one of the newly arrived slides, I put the slide in the projector. Turning off the lights of the room and looking at the projected slide on the wall, she sat mesmerized.
“Wow! Can you put me on a slide?”
“Sure. We can do it later.”
“I want it now. Right now. Let’s take a photo and put in this projector.”
“That is not possible. You see, we have to shoot a slide film, send it for development, and then it comes back in the form of slides. So, we cannot have it right now.”
“Why not? What is film? What is slide film?”

I showed her an unexposed slide film. Being used to my digital cameras, she still wanted to be photographed and put on a slide immediately. After trying to explain, I asked if she wanted to see some old photos using the projector.
“Yes! Let’s do it! This is fun.”

I took out some old slides and as we sat projecting those, old memories kept rushing in.
“Go, call Papa, Mummy, Dadu (Grandpa) and Amma (Grandma). I think they would like to see this one too.”

How I loved shooting these slides! Seeing a projected slide, I was able to relive those moments in my mind. And, I was rediscovering the joys of projecting the slides.

One after another, old memories flashed on the wall and all of us sat, transported back in time in the darkened room.


A tryst with iPhoneography and instagram

Who knew I would be so taken up by iphoneography?

‘The best camera is the one you have available at a time’.

To this adage, I had taken a few photos whenever I did not have my SLR with me.  Mostly, it was my little niece who played with the camera on my iPhone.  When I heard about instagram, I downloaded this free app but did not register for an account for a long time.  Then, I saw a photo taken using Instagram and felt tempted to register for an account and see what this popular app was about.  That one temptation opened my eyes to photography using my ubiquitous iPhone.   Low-hanging fruits and pleasures of a point-and-shoot aka an iPhone, were rediscovered by me.  My photography felt rejuvenated and I was back to my old ways again.

An ode to Poverty and hunger follows.  Visualized with my iPhone at 2:30 am in the morning, on a water trip to the kitchen!

Rice, Water and the moon
Rice, Water and the Moon

“When I am hungry,

the mere thought makes me swoon

A few grains of rice and some water

take me to the moon”

Instagram is a deceptively simple app.  Point, shoot, apply a filter if you like and you are done.  As long as we realize the limitations of an iPhone, one can make some beautiful art. Of course, our mind’s eye takes the photo and like always, we choose a subject worthy of our admiration. It is what we see that makes a photo but the technological details are removed when using iPhone and Instagram.  By using a set of fifteen-odd filters, we can choose beautiful renditions of what we foresaw.  This is what makes it so powerful.  And, with an online community to share and provide inspiration, I felt rejuvenated.  By seeing some photos, I could be visiting Paris, reliving some of my memories there or seeing some abstract, beautiful art from strangers in Indonesia.  Using instagram, one can choose to follow people’s pictures and be followed.  To gain an audience, you tag a photo with tags and people will find your photo, like and/or comment on your photo.

I saw photos on Instagram that were absolutely stunning and wondered how this could be taken using an iPhone.  Then came the realization that there are so many apps that one could use to make layers of perception in a frame.  It was as if I had discovered a whole new world.  Some people were actually shooting with their SLR, using Adobe Photoshop, Snapseed, Filterstorm and other apps and then, uploading the pics to instagram.  Many others prided themselves on their proficiency with the edit tools and would come out with their own edits of someone else’s photos.

My shadow can fly!

One may use many tools but art is art and beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.  And, many of these photos are an inspiration.  There is beauty in simplicity and for now when using my phone, I am only using Instagram to shoot, create art and share with the world.

Love and Trust

As if to welcome ‘my discovery of Instagram and iphoneography’, Instagram got bought over by Facebook for a cool billion dollars, around that time.  Wow!  But, I digress.

Art is not about making money but to satisfy our souls, to provide happiness in the process of creation.  When we lose the passion, the charm is gone and art is not the same anymore.

Happy clicks to you!  Feel happy!  :)  And, if you like, follow me on Instagram!

Photography and Musings by Nitish Naharas