Sunday, 29 July, 2012

Game of Thrones, Anime and Lost Ambitions

Yesterday, I was travelling by train when I chanced upon a very interesting conversation that took place between three college girls. And unlike the usual "aaj kitni garmi hai na?" or "dinner mein kya bana rahi hai?" conversations that usually occur in the Ladies' compartments, this one was quite unique. And it held my attention for the longest time. 

But before I tell you what these girls were talking about, let me describe them for you. All three were Average Janes. Hair tied back, thin as reeds, carrying heavy book bags. Except for the thin part, that was how I looked in college too. I usually listen to music during my daily commute, but my Skull Candy earphones failed me (seriously, never buy those!) I tuned into this conversation these three girls were having. And this is what they spoke about: Japanese, Anime and Game of Thrones.

For the first five minutes of the conversation, I honestly was quite stunned. One of the girls started talking about manga and anime, saying she loved Bleach and was watching Durarara!! these days. She made a quip about how her brother started singing Bolo ta ra ra ra! after he heard the name of the show. This took me back to my own manga and anime fascinations when I was in school and college. My first memory of anime are NinkuGhost Sweeper Mikami, Pokemon and, of course, Dragon Ball Z, which were my favorites during school. In college, I would watch InuYasha and I was also a big fan of Fullmetal Alchemist. In fact, I even read the entire manga series along with watching the anime of the latter. 

I was already impressed. Then these girls went on to discuss how they were learning Japanese. That just impressed me even more. In fact, one of the girls' said she is learning Japanese only because she is so passionate about anime. As for me, I don't remember the last time I was passionate about anything. John Abraham, perhaps. But then, he's not a thing. And my 'passion' there is of the amorous kind, so that doesn't really count.

Finally, one of the girls' removes a book from her bag. It's none other than Book 1 of the Game of Thrones series. At that point, I really wanted to give these girls a standing ovation because I am in love with this series. They started discussing the books, the author and Ned Stark. My insides were bursting, because I really wanted to talk to them, but I figured I'd look like some creep, so I stopped myself and got off the train instead. And also because that was where I had to get off. 

Someone once said "The youth is wasted on the young." But these three girls proved it wrong. Dear Japanese speaking, anime watching, Game of Thrones reading girls, wherever you are, a salute to you. Go forth and prosper. And remember. Winter is Coming.

Monday, 23 July, 2012

Moving On

Life is all about changes, isn't it? The sooner you accept this, the better your life, in turn, will be.

On Friday, 20th July, 2012, we had to move houses. From a home where we spent more than 20 years, we would have to start all over in a new one. For the longest time, I just could not come to terms with that, so I chose to ignore it. But as the moving day came closer, my heart kept sinking. Everything I saw around me started reminding me of particular memories.

The old house had not been painted in very long, so paint was peeling all over. But there was a distinct shape this had created on the wall above my bed. So when I woke up everyday, I saw that mark, which to me looked like a horse. Somehow, this horse-like shape was very comforting to me.

There were a lot of such small things around the house that made me feel really sad. The day the movers were supposed to come home, I did not want to wake up at all. But once I started packing stuff myself, I just did not have the time to be nostalgia.

13 hours later, our house was empty, as was I as I took a stroll around what used to be my room. Suddenly, everything seemed so 'pariah', as they say in Hindi. I did take one last look at my horse-shape mark and it was still as comforting as ever.

And now, I am in the new house. It's been three days, and all of them have been spent in unpacking and arranging. I still don't feel at home here, perhaps in a while. Perhaps there will be a comforting mark on the wall here as well. Only time will tell. For now, I accept change.

Tuesday, 17 July, 2012

A Break, Maybe

Hello beautiful people of Twitter!

I have been contemplating this for a while, but now is the time to announce, I am taking a (temporary) retirement from this wonderful website. Since August 2011, I have had the best time, sending out silly tweets, getting to meet like-minded people and sharing LOLs along the way.

Recently, however, I have felt I have run out of things to say. I want to be funny and I want those who follow me not to question why they do. And to be honest, it will be very unfair if I can't tweet awesome sauce stuff all time to the amazing minions who follow me. So, it's time to say goodbye.

This retirement could be as temporary as an hour. Maybe a month. Maybe a year. I know I will return, but only when I am sure I can tweet meaningful things AKA actually funny dick jokes.

If you need to contact me, send me mails and naked pictures of yourselves on meblag at gmail dot com. And I will always be here on this blog, making super sporadic posts.

I'll see you on the other side. Till then, later, minions!

Saturday, 14 July, 2012

On Photography

Congratulations! You have just purchased a new DSLR. Believe it or not, this little device you hold in your hand can actually make you a great photographer. That is not to say you cannot achieve the same results with a regular compact camera or even your cellphone! The point is about making images that are timeless, and a camera is simply a tool to aid you capture pivotal moments.

As beginner photographers, we are all so excited about the kind of images we will make. The initial days with a new camera are the best, because we make so many images in that span of time. Unfortunately, this is also that time when we have the tendency to fall into a trap, where we start considering ourselves to be really, really good photographers. I will elaborate on this a little later, but at this point I would like to tell you a little something Henri Cartier-Bresson, the father of modern photojournalism once said - "Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst."

Can you believe that? Unfortunately, there is truth to this statement. So, how do we become better photographers? What should we do to make our 10,001st image a masterpiece? Following are some tips I can give you which will definitely help you along the way.

Learn the Basics
To be honest with you, I do not believe it is necessary to go to a specialised institute in order to learn photography. You cannot learn photography, you can only learn how to use the camera. What matters most is seeing, and how you perceive the world. It is all about how effectively you can translate your vision into a photograph.

So while an institute may not be able to teach you to see and perceive, what it can teach you are the basics of creative control. You can just as easily do this on your own by reading up on the various things your camera is capable of and how to harness these powers into creating your works of art.

Revisit the Masters
There is a reason why photographers Ansel Adams, Helmut Newton and Robert Capa are considered legends in the field of photography—it is the legacy they leave behind with their photographs. A great way to learn about photography and to get tips on how to improve your own style is by familiarising yourself with the works of such great masters. Read their interviews or works written by them. View and review their images. Analyse why they make for such great compositions. These masters should be your photography teachers and will certainly be able to take you on a path of better photography.

Think Before You Shoot
Before you make any frame, give yourself a second to think about what you are photographing. Is it meaningful? Will this make a great image? More often than not, we find ourselves making photographs of the poor and underprivileged, in the guise of practicing street photography. Before you do so yourself, just ask yourself one question—"Will my making this photograph make any change in this person's life?"

Another advantage of thinking before you shoot is that you will be putting a lot more ideas into your photographs and making intelligent frames.

Steer Clear of Photoshop
Photoshop is a great tool, as it has proved time and again. But if you are just starting out with photography, I suggest you keep away from it. I have seen more than the normal amount of images that feature selective colouring. It is one of the ugliest and most useless type of image editing. Just don't do it.

A lot of new photographers also severely overprocess their images, completely ruining it. Photoshop is meant to enhance your images, not make them jarring or look fake. You can always learn about this software in order to understand how to make minor adjustments to enhance your photographs.

Be Confident
Walking up to a person and photographing them can seem daunting, because we do not know how a person will react to our presence. In such cases, we become shy and stay away from photographing anything at all. You must learn to break out of this mold, because you may be missing out on a chance for a great photograph.

Photographing people is a very fulfilling experience. If you are hesitant in simply pointing a camera in someone's face and shooting, make eye contact first. Smile. Make conversation. And see how easily you will be able to make people photographs. If you can, email your subject their photograph, as it increases goodwill.

Try Everything!
In the beginning, we are not really sure about what kind of photography we want to do, so we become confused about what genre of photography we prefer. As beginners, we must try our hands at every kind of photography there is! Only when we shoot enough will we realise what subject we really like photographing, which can eventually become the genre of our choice.

Be Careful of Criticism
Remember when I was telling you about how we start considering ourselves to be really good photographers? Well, this point covers that topic. Facebook is a great website to showcase your photography. However, it also acts as a severe ego boost towards images that might just be sub-standard.

The most important thing to do is to never take any criticism you receive from your friends on Facebook to heart. They may just be saying nice things about your photographs just because they are your friends, or they may genuinely appreciate your work, you'll never know. The best advice about your work can come from someone you know will give you an unbiased opinion on your work. Always seek for the same.

And that's it! Before I end this article, there is just one more thing you must do in order to become better photographers--just keep shooting. And remember, rules are meant to be broken!

If you liked this article, do leave your comments below. There is a lot more about photography I would love to share, and if you would like to read, let me know. If you have any photography related questions, or otherwise, you can email me on meblag [at] gmail [dot] com. Cheers!