This year when I came back from my Nilgiris trip, I excitedly told everyone in my amateur birding group that I had seen a rare bird. “Look!!!!” I said pointing to the black speck on the photograph excitedly. Now, we amateur bird watchers are a very competitive and determined lot, full of love for birds, enthusiasm and josh.
A: I saw a Tickell's Thrush (a bird) the other day.
B: F@#k I swear if I don’t spot one by this weekend I will hunt and kill all of them f*#&ing Tickell's Thrushes.
So it was with a great deal of resentment masked by a tight smile that B took the photo and peered at it and then exclaimed with a triumphant snigger “ahem, I think, this a speck of dried butter chicken gravy”. I snatched the photo from him angrily and examined the photo. A little bit if scraping and the dried gravy came out. I looked hard and found what I thought was the bird and triumphantly showed it again to the group. But try as hard as they could they could not spot the bird. And that is when I realized that I needed to buy a new camera, one that would take pictures of birds, large enough not to be smothered by butter chicken gravy.
Till that day I had nothing to do with cameras. I was a binoculars person and knew quite a bit about them too. I scoffed at the bird photographers in our group lugging expensive camera and zoom lenses around while I skipped merrily ahead with my binoculars. Now I realized that they were not such a bunch of fools as I made them out to be. At least they could show the picture of the bird they had ‘shot’ and say “See a white cheeked barbet bird’ While I pointed to a random blot on my photograph and said “See a white cheeked barbet …I swear this is a white cheeked barbet, God promise it is a white cheeked barbet …someone please believe me *sob*’.
So I called a pal of mine who is quite a sensation as a young and upcoming wildlife photographer (YAUWP).
YAUWP: You want to buy a camera? Why…you plan to ask the birds to say ‘cheese’? HA HA HA!!
Me: Grrr er…heh heh very funny man but ‘No’. I need to prove what I have seen da. So please to help me out.
YAUWP: hmmm ok here’s the deal. To get a decent bird image, you will need a camera with a 300mm telephoto lens with a 1.4x extender. For smaller birds, a 600mm lens is required. Your camera should have manual override of automatic functions. A camera which does not let you chose the exposure and focusing point blah blah . It's also a good idea to have things like depth-of-field preview and some form of mirror lock up blah blah.
Me: Huh???? er…I mean thanks a ton da, you have been such a help, gotta go now, bye.
Him: My pleasure, do get in touch with me if you need any more help...
After that enlightening conversation on buying a bazooka and assembling it, I decided that I will go it alone and called the Directory Enquiry service. After telling them very reassuringly that ‘YES’ my email ID is definitely lalapaloosa @yahoo.com and ‘NO’, it is not a fictitious ID and that the last email ID, email@example.com was ‘NOT’ fictitious but was suspended due to disuse etc., I managed to get a couple of Camera Shop numbers without giving out my actual email ID.
I was sure I would walk into a camera shop, pick up a nice camera and show it to Mr. YAUWP with flourish while he burnt in envy at the beautiful pictures that I had taken. So it was with such nice thoughts in my mind that I walked into this snazzy shop on Brigade Road.
Me: I want to buy a camera.
Salesman: What camera do you want?
Me: Huh? Er…something for bird photography.
Salesman: Do you want a SLR or DSLR, Pro SLR, 35mm Rangefinder, Medium Format, Large Format, Medium format rangefinder…
Salesman (patiently): Ok I will simplify this a bit, are you looking for a Point and Shoot camera, Prosumer camera, Professional cameras or Digital video camera.
Me: er…can you simplify it a little further?
Salesman: You have no idea about cameras do you?
Me (miserably) : No.
Salesman: *sigh* Shall I suggest something?
Me (brightening up) : Sure!!!
Salesman: Why not go for a nice Binocular?
I guess I will stick to birdwatching.