My first memories of childhood begin with my father’s Leica R4 and since then, cameras and I have been inseparable. So much so that I rarely leave my house without my camera and at work, I develop new forms of cameras, imaging systems and algorithms.
I grew up in a small city called Dehradun (in India) and was fortunate to have an extremely joyful childhood. I was fascinated by cameras and the process of photography, from observation to documentation. Due to the scientific nature of my father’s profession, I had access to state-of-the-art equipment ranging from advanced and specialized cameras to optical and scanning electron microscopes. This enabled a natural osmosis that catalyzed and intensified my lifelong interest in imaging sciences.
Photography gave me an outlet to my childhood boredom. Growing up in the 90s when 35mm film had to be used sparingly, I would spend most of my time observing my surroundings, practicing judgment and anticipation; the key to outstanding photographs and a meditative process in itself. This basic skill turned out to be a blessing in disguise. For example, I don’t own a phone and when my friends keep me waiting because they are late, the childhood practice of scanning the environment kicks-in and many a times, beyond street-style photos, this leads to interesting conversations with strangers and passers-by.
On a different realm, a camera is just a tool for recording a visual experience but one has to be an observer first! I find that the ability to be a good observer is intertwined with the ability of being self-aware. This interplay of awareness, observation and recording the corresponding visual experience is enough to keep anyone self-entertained. This is something magical!
As film photography declined, like many others, in early 2000s I drank the kool-aid and got into digital photography. Life took many turns and moving from Delhi to Rennes … Singapore … Hong Kong … Lausanne … Khartoum … Boston, I finally landed up in London (where I am now based). Something interesting happened in Rennes in 2007-2008. Through the use of 35mm film, a dear friend of mine Adrien C rekindled the memories of film photography. This was the time when the iPhone revolution and cellphone photography was ramping up, digital cameras were competing for the megapixel race and film was an uncommon choice. Adrien’s example was inspiring and it instilled within me a newfound interest for shooting film.
Fast forward to 2014, as I moved towards the digital Leica M system, I also decided to do something about my 35mm dream. After 3 years of dilemma, which at some point also involved 120 format film, one fine day, I ordered Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 400 and loaded it into my Leica R8 equipped with the 50mm Summicron-R lens. At the time, I was living in Boston, working towards my doctorate and hence the 5 frames summarize aspects of my daily life.
Superia X-TRA 400 is ideal for all-weather shooting because of its latitude and the Leica R8 system is a delight! The 50mm Summicron is sharp when wide open at f/2 and together with the ISO 400 film, this compensates for low light conditions.
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