My fascination for SLR cameras goes back to my early childhood when my mother was in her photography phase (she had a stitching phase and a baking phase and many others too) and had converted a bathroom in our Sector 24, Chandigarh house into a dark room to develop her film. I don’t remember if she printed herself or not, but I had the magical experience of seeing photographs come to life in SPA, when a whole bunch of my batchmates took photography as an elective and we would all take turns to watch them print through the night!
I am not a serious photographer, but I started playing around with my mother’s Olympus SLR in 1999, primarily using it when I took a tour through Europe with my parents, a sort of graduation gift we had been planning for years. I used a standard 50mm lens and really loved the challenge of trying to compose pictures within its bounds.
In 2000, when I was studying in the US, Rahul (we weren’t married then) and me bought a Canon Rebel 2000 before embarking on a crazy adventurous drive through Texas to New Mexico. The trip, which included visiting seedy Mexican border towns and places that we had read about in the cowboy Western comics of our childhood, was recorded in detail on that lovely film camera that had a wonderful ability to capture color and light most accurately, recreating the feel of the place when you saw the photograph months and years later!
When Rahul got home the Nikon D80 digital SLR in 2008, however, it quite literally changed my life! For the first year or so, I was intimidated by it (its really amusing to think so now!), but slowly, it grew on me. In truth, it drove me out of the house….as I began to enjoy clicking in natural light and hated using the flash! Slowly, the lessons from college came back (I’m not a pro and not even a very adept photographer) and I discovered the pleasures of manual mode photography. The camera and in part my sketchbook have been the friends who have urged me to travel. When I look back at photographs taken in the last few years, I see how my comfort with the D80 grew, how I became more confident, experimented more, etc. I also see that my favorite subjects are much inspired by my training in architecture–heritage, urban chaos, contradictions and contrasts in an urban landscape, people in an urban setting and the D80 was my eyes to view the places I went to.
And now its dead! D80 accompanied Rahul on his African trip. When they were both swept away by a current, Rahul survived the experience but D80 didn’t! Now don’t mistake me, I wouldn’t have had it the other way around, but the least D80 deserves is a proper eulogy. Goodbye D80! May you rest in peace!
And now, we’re in a strange predicament…we have two good Nikon lenses and two good Canon ones and no digital SLR body to use them with! We’ve used a Canon (though pre-digital) and a Nikon and we’re kind of split down the middle about what to buy….Of course, to live without a DSLR seems inconceivable now!