No shortcuts to ‘The Point of Best Capture’ | Daily News


No shortcuts to ‘The Point of Best Capture’

Today, anyone with a smartphone is a photographer. Anyone who has Snapseed can make photographs look good. And even if you know nothing of Photoshop, you could still fiddle around and chisel off rough edges, so to speak. You could use any one of the many apps available to highlight, circle and pretty much do whatever you want it to do.

Takes the fun out of photography, some might say but others would say such things have made it more interesting.

I’ve known photographers and their stories amaze me. Their work is instructive. And sometimes they teach, without seeming to do so, as is the usual way of those who have mastered their art.

So, a week or so ago, I was playing with the mobile phone. I was thinking of frames, angles and light probably displaying amateurishness that was too painful for a good photographer to bear. Tharindu Amunugama was kind. He noticed that I was using the zoom function on the phone.

‘Don’t do that. Get closer. Let your feet do the zooming.’

And so I did just that. ‘Zoom’ was duly retired. And I recalled photographs and photographers. I recalled a poet and an epic poem too.

Adisham Bungalow in Haputale is an impressive piece of architecture, in rain or sun, on a clear day or covered in mist. If you google ‘Adisham’ you’ll get lots of pictures, the vast majority of which would be of the entire house or at least most of it. None of them capture ‘Adisham’ the way two photographs that Tharindu took when we visited the place about a month ago.

The first, a closeup. A ‘rock-framed’ set of windows. It spoke of a different era, solidity and a design incorporating ‘roughness.’ The second was a view through a window. It captured a side of the building, arches, a courtyard and a piece of sky that gave a sense of dimensions. The colors or rather configuration of colors, were exquisite.

I hadn’t noticed any of that. I just saw a pretty building, a half-way nice garden and some old furniture. I took in the view. And then it rained. I took in the rain too. All good. I didn’t notice the windows. Saw, but didn’t see.

And I remembered a particular photograph taken at Rangiri Dambulla in an album that contained lots of them. It stood out on account of detail, color, lighting and the architecture of the composition. He had zoom-walked.

And I remembered a photograph taken by the legendary Nihal Fernando. An ancient stupa marked by the bludgeoning of element and time. I remember seeing it at the exhibition titled ‘Eloquence in Stone.’ There was a cloud formation which mimicked the shape of the stupa. I believe this was noted by Sinharaja Thammita-Delgoda who I believe wrote the captions for the photographs (later turned into a book by the same name). I remembered Uncle Nihal telling me almost twenty years ago that sometimes you have to wait for hours and hours for the right light. Maybe he waited on this occasion too. Maybe he noticed the movement of clouds and extrapolated the possible cloud formation. Maybe he was lucky in terms of light. The angle, however, was not about luck but design.

I remembered Mahagama Sekera’s ‘Prabuddha’ too and something I wrote about 11 years ago in an article titled ‘Beauty is the number 14 and it lasts for 72 hours.’

‘Prabuddha is at the Ruwanweliseya. It is evening. The evening star is clear in the sky. Prabuddha walks around the maluwa until he finds that one spot where gaze, pinnacle and star intersect. Writes Prabuddha: ‘deepena thama dansina!’ What is more beautiful now, the artifact, the history symbolized and embedded in it, the evening star, Sekera’s exceptional eye and tender gaze or the intersection of these things? I am not sure, but Sekara’s juxtaposition was certainly illuminating.’

Prabuddha walked. Sekera made him walk. Maybe this is because Sekera walked. Nihal Fernando walked all over this country long before the dawn of easy-click photography. Tharindu walks even though easy-click is literally at his fingertips.

They’ve walked long enough and in so many directions that they probably know there are no shortcuts to ‘best capture,’ be it in photography or anything else. They wonder. They wander. And therefore they’ve mastered ‘focus,’ I feel.

They take wonderful pictures, using their feet.

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