Photography is a visual form of communication. Photography is a powerful media to send a message. Photography can be a person’s true reflection. Photography can tell stories more effectively than any number of words can.
There are many good things about photography. One particular of them is the ability to capture something as you see it. Some might say a video is a better option in this era of multimedia, but I think photography is more powerful. I’ll get to that in a later post. For now, let’s talk about this past year in my photographic journey.
Early Days in Photography
It wasn’t until I got my first DSLR when I started learning photography seriously.
I realized my passion in photography not long after I realized I had a mind for writing. My first camera was the one that was built-in to my mobile phone. It was a Nokia classic phone, and I loved it. The 2 megapixel camera has allowed me to capture photographs on the go. But soon enough, I outgrew. I don’t mean I had learned all the basics of photography. I just grew tired of the noise and poor performance in low light.
Two of the things that I’ve always wanted were laptop computer and a camera. 2011 was a great year for me. Because in that year, I was able to afford my first laptop computer and I had won a technology blogging competition that awarded me my first digital camera. It was a Samsung ST60 point-and-shoot camera, and I still have it.
The Samsung camera has served me well. I’ve not only shot random nature and landscapes with it, but more importantly, as part of my online blogs and my work at a news agency, I’ve covered many events with this. Granted, the pictures never came out looking too professional. But I was happy that at least I had a camera. I still didn’t take my camera everywhere, though. I would only take it to events and during travel.
The Biggest Jump — DSLR
Anyone in photography knows that the biggest break you can catch as a photography learner is getting yourself a DSLR. I’ve been craving for a DSLR camera after I figured my point-and-shoot wasn’t giving me satisfactory images under all conditions, particularly indoors and low light. But I’ve never thought that I’d buy a DSLR camera someday simply because they are expensive. I don’t think I have the talent in me to be able to earn from my photography, and therefore investing in an expensive hobby didn’t seem a good idea to me.
But things changed when I was window shopping at Dubai International Airport during transit on my way to the United States.
In October 2013, I was invited to Mozilla Summit 2013 in San Francisco, California. I, along with a few other Mozilla volunteers from Bangladesh, were selected to attend the event. That was my first time visiting the United States. So we were walking around the gadget shops in Dubai and there a camera shop caught my eye. They were selling a Nikon D3100 at a significantly reduced price. And the deal didn’t seem like something that I could afford to miss.
I had saved money to buy an iPod Touch 5th Generation hoping to snap pictures at the event and tweet them. But a DSLR camera? That sounded like an incredible thing waiting to happen. The original price of the camera was AUD 1999. But it was on sale for about AUD 1300. So I thought for a few moments and decided to go ahead.
During that trip, three of us had purchased the same camera. And I couldn’t be happier that I did.
As with most, if not all, new DSLR owners, I suddenly started feeling better about my camera. I was instantly in love with my new, albeit entry-level camera, which allowed me to focus faster, get the same shot in different focal lengths, and of course, snap shots at low light. It was a dream come true for me. And I was a happy shooter throughout the three-day event in San Francisco and the one-week tour in New York that followed.
My vacation in the United States went better than expected. But as soon as I returned home, my real education regarding photography started. I believe I’m not the only one whose real photography education starts after they get their first DSLR camera. I know that I love taking photographs, but I had never spent as much time reading about the fundamentals of photography and the concept of composition, perspective and the related matter until I got my hands on my first DSLR. Perhaps DSLR does make one want to be a better photographer!
Gadget Research and GAS
Eventually I realized I couldn’t afford every gear that I wanted and I didn’t necessarily need them all.
Shortly after I returned home and started learning the basics of DSLR, I found myself deeply confused. It didn’t take me too long until I figured out I needed a 50mm lens because I was particularly interested in learning portrait photography. But then again, some sites suggested that I should buy the 35mm if I’m on a crop sensor body. Crop sensor? What the heck is that? Is 50 good enough for me? Should I opt for 35? Or should I save for 85 and make the jump when I can. You get the point.
Luckily, myself being a tech-savvy person, I quickly figured out all of it. What is crop sensor, how it affects the image quality, ISO performance and focal length of a lens, how apertures, shutter speed and depth of field works, how to maintain a good exposure and how each of the elements in exposure triangle work together became clear as water to me.
And then, I had GAS. Gear Acquisition Syndrome.The first thing that I wanted was a full frame camera. But with their insane price tag, I was forced to quickly get that out of my ahead. And then came the lens lust. I started craving for 35mm because of its low-light performance (at this point I already had a 50mm 1.8). I wanted a 17-50 f/2.8. I wanted a 70-300mm telephoto lens (I didn’t start dreaming of 70-200mm f/2.8 yet because I know I can’t afford it). The list goes on. You know how it is. You never get tired of it.
Eventually I settled for my kit lens, the 50mm f/1.8, and a 55-200mm f/4-5.6 lens that I’ve purchased recently. I also bought a third-party Yongnuo YN-560 III manual flash for my Nikon and trust me it has been one of the best things I’ve bought. It brings my kit lens back to life for indoor photography. If you’re a beginner, you should check it out too. It’s super easy to use, super cheap, and super useful.
To Be Continued
So how does one get out of Gear Acquisition Syndrome? How was I able to find peace with the entry level equipment that I have? I’m glad to know that I now enjoy my photography journey to the fullest with a few bumps here and there. And I would like you to know the rest of the story. And because it’s taking a lot of your valuable time, I’ve decided to divide it into episodes.
In the next part, I’ll write about my realization about how the gear that I have can be used to accomplish things way better than what I’m capable of right now, my attempt at portrait photography, learning post-processing and dealing with the internet trolls who think I shouldn’t call my images “photographs” just because I have a DSLR. Stay tuned or Follow me on Twitter @aisajib to read the next part when published.
Also, don’t forget to write what you think in the comments. How was your early days in learning photography? Did owning your first DSLR made you want to learn photography more? Have you ever found yourself in Gear Acquisition Syndrome? How did you deal with that?
All photographs published here may not be reused/reproduced without proper permission and link back to to this or the corresponding Flickr page.