Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Reality is Black & White

Its been a few months since I got my cell phone equipped with one of the most handiest cameras. A 2 megapixel worth of capturing capacity gave me a chance to see the world in a completely different way. I have always been carrying this odd yet deep urge to shoot the eccentricities of life. Watch the world as I want to see it. To create a mental map of reality. Although painfully difficult as it may sound, I was just trying to do what some of the great photography Gurus like Ansel Adams & Henri Cartier Bresson have always been doing.

To have a piece of technology in your hand that enables you to see the world differently, this concept always fascinated me. With my minuscule camera & more so my negligible photography skills, I still tried to capture what appealed to me. I still roamed around my usual path of journey to find the decisive moment. To find everything that I might have missed or hadn't noticed all these years. What disturbs me more is that the harder you try to grasp these oddities the farther they seem. They seem unrealistic & you lose faith in capturing them on your camera. For instance, take the fruit seller on my street. I have been walking that street for almost 20 odd years & have noticed that fruit seller everyday on my way to school. The other day I was on the same road & noticed him again & I pointed my lens at him. The shot was black & white & the light settings were for 'daylight', 12 O'Clock in the sodding afternoon. I pointed at him & tried to get a best shot with his fruits & him. He noticed me & as if he was used to people capturing snaps of him, ignored me completely, which was exactly what I wanted him to do. Like a professional model, who never gets camera conscious. I think he knew who I was. I stood there in the middle of the street avoiding traffic & hopelessly trying to figure out how to compose the picture, I lost it. All i wanted that day was to capture this guy I have been seeing all my life, everyday on my way to anywhere, on a frame, on a portrait. I somehow had engraved the fact in my brain that no matter how many years I would walk past that road I would see this guy. I had developed a mental picture of him with his apples (no pun intended), in black & white ofcourse. But somehow I wasn't able to recreate that mental image with my camera. The next day when I was going someplace, this guy was gone. Exactly like a ghost or a tormented soul finding salvation. He wasn't there anymore, not after that day. I totally regret not having him on my camera. But this also made me wonder, was he there on that afternoon when I tried to shoot him or was I just hallucinating ? Spooky.

That day allowed me to think about photography in a passionate sense. What exactly should be going in our minds when we are taking a picture ? I figured that the technical details of the photo like the intensity of light & the focusing & the shutter speed, somehow are reflex actions for a photographer. (S)He thinks about it all the time, even when (s)he isn't shooting something. It becomes a part of his vision. But that day I came real close to figuring it out. I just thought, what if we think in black & white ? What if the world is just portrayed in the various shades of gray, black & white. Almost immediately my mind raced back to all the things that will look good in black & white. I found a whole new area of reality. Life becomes so easy without colorful distractions. Black & White allows to understand the dynamics of shadow. How shadow actually works. I came to understand that even a shadow is as important as the subject itself. It has a life of its own & is evident in every Black & White photo. Without a shadow, there is no black, without black there is no gray, its as good as a white piece of paper. What this taught me was to look at life in two different perspectives. Good & Bad. Until that day I never really understood the concept of bad. Bad is as important as Good. It was always there, lingering in front me, but I hadn't noticed it. This is one of the primary reasons for having GOD in the first place. People want protection from evil & god becomes a sort of psychological aid to assist them in believing that they are safe. The whole construct of religion is surrounded by god & the evil. The Dev & the Rakshas, the yin & yang of any religion.

Almost at the same time I figured out how impractical it is to search for utopia. It isn't law & order we are looking for. Everyone has the urge to be perfect & correct in all aspects, but its a design that we have believed in ever since the human race was first incepted, that nothing is perfect. Even Newton gave it a law, “For every action there is an equal & opposite reaction”. This is the black & white of life. This is where physics & spiritualism merge. In scientific terms we can say its the balance of matter & antimatter, in spiritual terms we just name it God & Evil.

Its amazing what a simple unsuccessful photograph can make you think on a rainy afternoon. Although I have been enjoying it with a cup of tea & plate full of my favorite biscuits, I am still imagining everything in Black & White. It somehow takes me closest to reality, to the source, to the religion of my mind.

Black & White is raw beauty.

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