Monday, September 04, 2006

Shooting in the dark

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...
Me: *SLAM*

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 and ‘NO’, it is not a fictitious ID and that the last email ID, 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…
Me: *gulp*
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?
Me: @$#%@^@&

I guess I will stick to birdwatching.


T E Zacharias said...

I hate those "know-it-all" kinda people... especially when we go to them asking for help.. then they puff up their chests and start off with a sentence filled with jargons, not known to exist before :(

Mind Curry said...

lol..this one was too cool to read. especially the butter chicken gravy thought :)

i love photography..but having the right instrument is so important huh..i think the DSLR still is a dream for me.

hope you graduate to camera soon :)

Amey said...

Now you know how some people find buying a decent PC hard ;)

But yes, finding a good camera for your needs is about as hard as finding an ideal husband. So, the idea is experiment with what your friends and acquaints have got, and choose from that. (that applies only to camera)

Anonymous said...

The adventures of the opti-mist-ic ornithologist !! Great post again! - Janus

Anonymous said...

Speaking of birds and wildlife, it's a sad day. Steve Irwin, RIP.

silverine said...

connors connor: Me too girl, so fed up of jargon :( But I will triumph!! :)

mind curry: Thank you and happy Onam doc :)
but having the right instrument is so important huh aaargh not again!!!!

fleiger: I think everything including getting a husband is complicated these days *hmph*

Janus: Thank you :)

G: That was sad news indeed :(
RIP Steve Irwin!

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

i have a decent enough camera, but i'm never lucky with the wildlife or birds. i suppose one cant have everything in life. :(
happy onam!

Asterix said...

:) I totally relate! Following is the conversation that I had with a camera-guru when I bought a new digicam a few years back:

Me: I bought a new digicam.
Camera-guru: so what's the focal length? Is it a Lica or Carl Zeiss?
Me: Ummm...neither actually, its a Canon.
CG: I meant the lens, bozo!
Me: Errr...well its shiny!
CG: Sigh! Ok what about optical zoom, not the digital zoom mind you, the optical zoom.
Me: Oh you mean when I rotate the lever on the top-right?
CG: Nevermind.

Me, a camera-novice, cried myself to sleep that night.

Amey said...

Yes, The Good Old Days... when you had one camera in market, and your parents decided whom you are going to marry ;)

So, which field glasses do you carry?

Anonymous said...

Lovely post!

Ask me anything you want about cameras and I will ensure you get the a regular reader but commenting for the first time!

D Taraporewala

Jim said...

Cameras, lenses, telephoto... it's for the birds!

Jiby said...

this post made for better thiruvonam laughter than the malayalam comedy movies they are showing on tv right now!!!

and hey, ur post is not showing up on the kerala blogroll feed.

Ajith Prasad Balakrishnan said...

---“Look!!!!” I said pointing to the black speck on the photograph excitedly -- Kaakka vallathum aayirunno ?? Happy Bird watching :)

Anonymous said...

Hahahaha, I have been regularly following your blogs, and I must say, I absolutely love your writing style!!

Anonymous said...

Hey tht was hilarious! Jargon includes, 4x optical zoom, 8x digital zoom, 12 million pixels, auto focus, Carl Zeiss double tonned optical lens, 512 million bytes built in memory blah, blah and blah! Veruthe qajada!!

Happy Onam!

Unknown said...

For the bird watching U might need a Digital SLR camera with a zoom lens.. My idea is go the camera shop and tell them that U need a camera for taking pictures of birds.. And when they pound you with all the jargons, let out your second and lethal weapon, your budget... I think that will simplify your requirement to the guy!!!

I too am a habitual ornithologist and I love watching the two legged walking kind of birds and I use my Digital SLR camera, candidly ofcourse, to get good pictures of these birds!! ;-)

Unnikrishnan G Nair.

Sreejith Panickar said...

Salesman: Do you want a SLR or DSLR, Pro SLR, 35mm Rangefinder, Medium Format, Large Format, Medium format rangefinder…

Plenty of research going into a work, huh? That was a funny post.

By the way, a very Happy Onam to you.... Paala-yilaano Onam?

silverine said...

tothless wonder: Happy Onam to you too :) I guess one needs a different kind of camera plus zoom lenses for bird photography.

Asterix: I shed a tear and some reading your comment. Old wounds opened up and me too cried a lot :(

Fleiger: Canon

D Taraorewala: Thank you :)

jim:I would disagree ;)

Jiby: Thank you and thanks for letting me know about the feed problem. Someone else aslo told me that today's TV programming in Kerala was really bad.

Ajith: It was dried butter chicken gravy 'duh'!

Nirwa: Thank you girl :)

Aqua: So true, sometimes I feel they are not interested in helping you!

Unni: Budget also doesn't help as the guys at the counter don't know how to advice according to your photography needs.

sreejith: Thank you, wish you the same. I celebrated Onam in Bangalore today, was on a days leave :) After going thru a couple of shops and gathering brochures you do get very knowledgeable about the types of cameras :)

monu said...

ഏന്റെ ഒരായിരം "ഓണാശംസകള്‍"

what all programs for onam ?

monu said...

ഏന്റെ ഒരായിരം "ഓണാശംസകള്‍"

Amey said...

Happy Onam! So you are fine now, after all the blood (red wine?) and other sacrifices?

Anonymous said...

firstly happy oraayirum onaashamsagal to you :)

and you write such awesome posts then you should be able to confuse the "smart" guy with statements like see the lens of the juxtaposed camera hypothecates the fact that there is parabolic symbolisation of the digital zooom which encompasses the fact that there is emphatic paranormal injustice done to the lens reflex provided by the refracted parochial view through the digital screen of the emphatic display

isnt that kinda simple?

Kusum Rohra said...

LOL.. this was great, and for the nth time they threw me out for laughing out loud right in between office hours :D

But as usual, I have sneaked back in to comment, so :P to them !!!!

Well, even I don't know much about cameras, I mean come on!! I know about shoes and clothes and parfums and jewellry, what is a nice little girl like me supposed to do with all that camera gibberish? Huh!

Kusum Rohra said...

and ya I know about HTML tags too , , see :D , ,

and no no no I did not just copy them from the heading on the comment box :D

silverine said...

Monu: Happy Onam to you too :) The programme was a Pookolam, beer and the Onasadhya :)

fleiger: Same to you dear! :) Still hobbling with the cold but I am fine otherwise :)

iyer education; You always make me laugh, God bless you :)

kusum: Thank you :) I know what you mean, ask me about lipsticks and I can stump a Camera salesman with my jargon :p

Binoy, The One and Only said...

Best thing to do, leave the scenic photography to proffessionals and stick with normal photos!

I am buying a Nikon S4. Don't have a clue what it will do!

Manoj Prabhakaran said...

happy onam! the feed was temporarily switched off (the move to blogger beta messes up the dates), but should be back now.

to buy a camera, decide on your budget first. then they won't bug you with all digital SLR and 600mm telephoto lens (unless, you have a lot of money to spare).

Amey said...

Thanks... and get well soon, and all that stuff too.

This must be bad week for photographers around the globe, my camera just lost optical zoom... (Ok, I can't call 1.1X as zooming) And nikichan can't post her pictures on Flickr any more

Any updates on your camera front?

ദേവന്‍ said...

Years of dealing with jargon wielding technocrats made me follow three doctrines.

1.Whomsoever cannot make it simple enough for layman's comprehension is no master of it himself.

2.He who tries to confuse with hard jargons is a tenderfoot.

3.The one who always try to prove he is competent isn’t.

Enjoyed your hilarious perspective. BTW “My relatives and other animals” and Vet in Harness” are in my favorites list too.

[ How bout buying a cheap pocket edition digicam and use it for a while till you are sure you
a. really have the need for an expensive camera
b. know what to look for when you shop for a durable one
c. have enough digital experience to determine the specs you really need so that salesmen wouldnt try to make you pay for things you dont really require]

Emmanuel said...

hey , did u delete my earlier comments??? :(
i was searching for a "befitting" reply from you....
the things i have written in those were not for the sake of criticism....
i was totally honest..

pinne veruthe onnu choriyaamennu vicharichu....i was so bored at that time and had nothing to do....

if i hurted u, i'm really sorry...
continue writing in ur inimitable style.....
btw, forgot to wish onam y'day....
belated onam wishes....hope u had a nice time...
take care....bye.. :)

Anonymous said...

This is the "young and upcoming wildlife photographer"! And I said "blah blah blah" and not two 'blah' as you have mentioned here. I am going to sue you for misrepresentation of facts grossly endangering my endangered reputation as a YAUWP!!!


lol typical of you to blog about this...come over in the evening and I promise to devote one full hour to your camera problems :-)


Praveen said...

on the bright side, none of your readers would want you to taking up a new hobby, of photography while you can easily spend that time writing blogs :), so maybe what happened was not all that bad ;)

Kusum Rohra said...

OMG!! I just realised, I forgot to wish one of my favourite bloggers a happy Onam, Belated wishes for you and your lovely family :D

I am hoping Thou will be kind enough to forgive oh kind friend :)

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

I guess one needs a different kind of camera plus zoom lenses for bird photography.

the point is that one also needs birds for bird photography.

hope and love said...

hmmm.. photography.. something i know nothing abt..

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

If I may make so bold ... a Nikon E8700. Check it out on the Net. About 40K in India, less than 30K if you can get somebody in the US to ship it to you.


silverine said...

Binoy: I have a Nikon Coolpix S4, very good!!! But delicate, a repair cost me 4k :(

mp: Thank you :) I will try what you suggested.

fleiger: No updates, but what JAP has suggestd looks promising!

ദേവരാഗം: Your observation is spot on. Thank you for the inputs :)

emmanual: Criticisms don't bother me but please dont go around telling bloggers how to write and how not to, that is rule number one of blogging. You are under no obligation to read anything here or at other blogs. So please desist from such comments in the future.
Happy Onam to you too :)

YAUW: "grossly endangering my endangered reputation as a YAUWP!!! LOL What crap! You are among the best, thanks da :)

praveen: lol thanks dear, hope you had a nice Onam :)

kusum: Thank you dear, and you are heart was about to break, your wishes saved a major catastrophe :p

toothless wonder: Thankfully I dont have that problem :))

HnL: Join the club, me is the life time President of the club :)

JAP: Thanks a lot for the info. I must do some reading up on it. The price also sounds good.

Alexis Leon said...

That was really funny. Esp. the back to square one ending.

But the cameras are very complicated and I have no idea about the technical aspects. So I leave all that to my brother who is an excellent photographer.He has photographic equipment that can fill a room and cost a fortune. And yes his 200-600mm zoom lens looks like a rocket launcher.

Amey said...

Yes... finally, you get a good advise, without any jargon thrown in. The cam looks good [and it comes with a recommendation, as I said ;)]

Emmanuel said...

hey, that was a nice reply...:)
i always see comments that people enjoyed your blog and your replies....

i said that it was not an advcie from my part and was only my opinion that you may try other styles....

also i just wanted to know how will u respond to a criticism which i'vent seen in any comments in any of your post...that's all....

also i'm much aware of the rule u mentioned......

anyway once more i'm really sorry if i hurted you......
i'll continue reading ur blog...(under no obligation!!!)
thanx for the wishes...
and check this out....

Kusum Rohra said...

my heart was about to break, your wishes saved a major catastrophe :p

I always knew I HAVE THE POWER

* Beaming with pride and singing tunelessly la la la la *

@rChU said...

Trust me Ur always on my Number 1 list when am feeling blue....n that song i dedicate to u (with a few twisted words)...n only u....

"when am feelin blue...all i have to do is take a look at u(your blog ie.)then am yet so blue (for lack of oxygen into the lungs literally...coz i cud either laugh or breath..cant do both)"

I always read u...but this is the first time i ever posted a me gal...ur awesome...just love the way u make me ROFL & also i literally LMAO!!!! sometimes my beau wonders on wat drugs am i high on...shhhhh its a secret , n i aint sharing!!!!

Keep on going gal!!! Cheers!!!

Anonymous said...

hahaha! great post! happy onam! - karthik

manuscrypts said...

sigh.. watching tandoori chicken being made is the closest i get to bird watching ...

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

hey now seriously, i think that nikon coolpix 8700 that JAP mentioned is quite a bit out dated, and a little complicated for someone new to manual photography.
plus, if you are serious about the birds, you'd have to buy an extra telephoto lens, and i wouldnt say nikor lenses come cheap.

my personal suggestion would be a fujifilm s5600.
it i accept is not as great as the nikon, but it also costs only about half as much. (and it has a decent 10x zoom, as opposed to 8x on the nikon)
and you could buy a decent telephoto lens, and a set of filters if you'd put in another 4k or so.
after you're done with your experiments on this one, you could prossibly update to a pro rated camera.
i think that should make sense.

Vandana Bhatia said...

You know as a techie person , I would rather recommend you to take up a Digital camera (they have become a lot cheaper to yester years rates) and you can move on to a DSLR or a different/advanced variants once you become an expert with Digi. Honestly I think Digital camera with a good resolution (something like 7 MP) works as well in picture quality

silverine said...

Alexis: Thank you :) Wow your brother seems to be doing some serious photography!

fleiger:It is good, checked out.

emmanual: Thank you!

kusum: Yes you have the POWER girl!!! And good singing btw :))

Arch: Thanks a ton dear, you made my day with that comment!! :)

karthik: Thanks buddy :)

manuscrypts: LOL :))

toothless wonder: Now that was some info even I could understand, thanks :)

vandana: I already have a Nikon S4, pretty good, but I need more zoom. Thanks for the inputs :)

Anonymous said...

ok.. have been a silent admirer of this blog for a long time.. and guess this is the right time to break the silence and show some appreciation.
If you r thinking about digital cameras, i wud suggest canon S2IS(5 MegaPixel,12X optical) or the latest S3IS(6MP,12X optical ).. both are excellent cameras and relatively easy for a novice to operate.


Amey said...

Actually I too tried to picture (or rather, photograph) birds once. And given the propensity of birds in wild to run off at slightest attention (unlike birds in *ahem* some other locations), I am always of the opinion that shooting from the hips is the major requirement for a bird photographer. That actually ruled out a lot of cameras for me.

Pratish Menon said...


Ajith Prasad Balakrishnan said...

Knock..knock.. One books tag for you..Check out my latest post

Jeseem said...

birdwatching, for once i understood differently [:)]

Anonymous said...

Someone knows a lot about cameras!! i must say you are a genius coz you got all those spellings correct. I would have got mixed up with the letters itself.... hehe

hilarious as always!

eclipsed thoughts

silverine said...

G: Thank you so much for your suggestions and the comment :)

fleiger: Here's a trick, keep your camera focused on the bush/tree the bird is hopping on and click when it comes in sight. Birds are nervous creatures and keep hopping around so that predators do not have the time to aim and grab :)

Pratish: :)

Ajith: Let me see :)

Jeseem: Hope you are better informed now :p

eclipsed thoughts:Thank you dear :)

Amey said...

I know, but everytime I try to do that, I think I am camping, and I have to put down my gun err... camera.

Anyways, Point and Shoot cameras are not useful for this, mostly you will get a just a smudge of color telling you where the bird started and ended, unless you have good shutter speeds.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog.
Where do you go to bird watch in Bangalore?

hillgrandmom (Can't seem to post with my blog id)

Anonymous said...

ok sweetie .sorry for not comemnting btu I do visit ur psot regularly ..girl u rock ...that bery bery beery story was too good..brgt back fond memories ..cos me love beer....
as for techonogical jargon girl too abd at it myself ...get the cold feet whenever me need to buy something techie ...shouldnt the marketeers do something abt us women ..I wonder... keep psoting sweets ..we all love Ya ( posting as anon - shruti ..cant seem to post otherwise )

silverine said...

Fleiger: Yes, PAS camera's are no good for this and you do need a bit of zoom.

Madiwala/Hebbal/Kalkere/Rampura akes,IISC/UAS/Blr Univ Campus, Bannerghatta National Park and Tippagondanahalli are some places good for birding in Bangalore. I am on beta blogger so you could use the 'other' option to sign in on beta blogs.

Shruthi: Nice to see you gurl :) You can sign in using 'google/blogger' or 'Other' option. I think I am now in beta blogger and hence the problem in signing in. So you a beer lover too? :) You are right, what's the point in ad spends when you don't train your dealer's sales staff in furthering sales? You made my day with that comment dear :)

Amey said...

Not a bit, but a lot of zoom... tried with 4X camera, and the birds were stretch of imagination :(
I guess min 10X will be needed, with decent pixel size.

silverine said...

Fleiger: Yes minimum 10x zoom is required, which my cam has, but the picture still lacks something.

Thanu said...

I say it again, anytime I see a bird (other than crows) I think of u. If I'm home I run and get the camera to take picts. Will send u few more picts

silverine said...

Thanu: That is so sweet of you, I showed the bird pics you sent to my enitire family :)

DD said...

Bird watching of any kind reminds me of only one thing...the "Bullfinge pakshi" (and its awesome sound) from Pattana Pravesham :)
The 'sweet' sound made by the bird is still ringing in my ears :)

silverine said...

DD: Try bird watching in the field, awesome!! :)