The Fifth Phase - Abhi Madangeri

Diary is a book where one keeps a record of events and experiences, and this diary is no different except that the records entered are not from one single person. The experiences shared here come from different people across the circle. The diary besides serving as a travelogue would also provide information on many different things varying from photography, travel, food, people, place, language, traditions and much more. So here is the first post about my Photographic Journey with Nature.

It started as a love for nature and wildlife and moved on to photography through travel. During my school days I meddled with a beautiful red Kodak compact film camera, and then got a chance to shoot video with my uncle's Panasonic camcorder.

Then came college life where time was spent with many other things like career, internals, exams, project, viva, friends, party, cricket, volleyball, canteen, hostel, night outs, Xerox, movies, late night chai, bread-omelet at railway station, tiff with the cops and the list goes on. Life was happily spent while the creative side of childhood took a back seat. I never regretted those moments but then came another phase of life bringing along with it, projects, deadlines, support, overtime, tea breaks, appraisals, salary, etc..

One day while cleaning my cupboard which I rarely do, I came across a book which read 'Types of Birds'. One glance at it and all the childhood memories came flooding back to my mind, the futile attempts to catch the 'Ti Ti' gubbi (little Green Bee Eaters; gubbi is sparrow in Kannada) which flocked the neem tree in front of our house, feeding the house sparrows which were pretty common those days, waiting for a guest on hearing the crow's shrill 'Kaaav', watching the black kites catch the chicken bone mid air thrown up by the Anglo-Indian uncle, sending the pet pigeons back into the wooden box on spotting a Shikra which we referred to as Cheel and watching the sun set which provided a perfect backdrop to the noisy parakeets and elegant egrets returning back home. Thus began the journey of capturing life's beautiful moments started.

Restart - The DSLR

The classic confusion which almost all new SLR buyer suffers from didn't spare me either. My brother was to come down to India from US in a month's time and I had to decide between Canon and Nikon?

One simple question on the forum "Which camera do I buy, Canon or Nikon?" would start off the same old debate on how one is better than the other, but at the end of it the question would still remain unanswered. Finally, after going through the long debate and discussion without any conclusion, much more confused than ever, I got myself gifted a Canon 400D, all thanks to my elder brother. Off course the decision was based on budget and even today I suggest the same to many beginners, “Don’t worry about the brand, buy what you can afford, use it till you outgrow it, remember the best gear is the one you have with you”.

The Different Phases

1. Shoot and Shoot

This was the initial phase where I shot whatever came by my way, no composition, no judgment of distance, just plain shooting. Believe it or not, I shot images of small birds like kingfisher/bulbul perched a hundred feet away with an 18-55mm lens. After shooting a heavy cropping, noise reduction and sharpening was applied. Percentage of shooting was 100% but number of keepers was zero.

2. See and Shoot

Then came the second phase, where I saw the subject before pressing the shutter button. Something very far was not shot, but if it was a lifer I would easily go back to phase 1 and start shooting but now it was called a record shot, though the shot didn't record much. Even this phase included the heavy crops, but heavy sharpening and noise reduction had come down a wee bit. The sense of composition was still creeping in, subjects were dead center and only close-ups with neat background were considered good images. Percentage of shooting was 90% but number of keepers was 2-3% with a couple of flukes.

3. Shoot and Think

It was time for the 3rd phase which involved thinking but only during post processing. Judgment of distance, equipment limitation had made its way into my mind. Subjects very far away were not shot unless for some wide scape. But a lot of time was spent after shooting in selecting and deleting the images. Subject would still be dead center, and composition was achieved during processing. Heavy cropping was avoided, heavy noise reduction and sharpening had reduced a lot. Percentage of shooting was 60-70% but number of keepers was 30-40% plus a couple of flukes.

4. Think and Shoot

Now in the 4th phase, I don't click anything and everything and fill up the cards. I see something, frame it, and make a picture in my mind before I click. Lot of composition is done on field which leaves little scope for heavy crops during processing. I anticipate the next move of my subject, wait for the right moment and then shoot. I try and understand the lighting conditions, make adjustments accordingly to create an image I want to make. I come back with fewer images but with lots of keepers.Percentage of shooting is 30-40% but number of keepers is 70-80% plus a couple of flukes.

I don't know what the next phase would be, what I know is that constant learning and sharing of knowledge will gradually guide me to it. In spite of knowing that, I am still in search of the Fifth Phase...



0 #1 Hrishikesh 2013-12-13 07:23
Very simple an well written Abhi. Let the search for the Fifth Phase be as adventurous as the first four. Cheers.
0 #2 Ameya naik 2014-01-06 06:27
Very interesting and simple written and enjoyable. Love the depth in the picture!! All the best!!
-1 #3 Rajeev G 2015-02-06 06:19
Nice write up. Inspiring to a beginner like me.

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