Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Light and Enlightenment

I was never into photography, until a few weeks ago. And that's because I'm a cheapskate.

We decided to get an entry-level DSLR camera a few weeks ago. Not too expensive, not cheap either. So I figure to get the most out of it, I would have to take as many pictures with the camera as possible to drive the cost per picture down, and thus diluting the digestible-but-still-hard-to-swallow investment in the camera. So, I dug into the camera's manual, and ploughed through photography web sites trying to empower myself to squeeze even more juice from the camera. And I was caught surprised.

My previous experience in photography was nothing more than taking a point-and-shoot camera (a term I learned only recently) and taking photos of the person or persons in front of me, while trying not to cut off their heads. As I was trying to get a clearer picture of what digital photography can achieve, I suddenly realised that photography is so much more than what I thought it was.

While I was trying to get my head around the concepts of exposure, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, HDR, D-lighting, bracketing etc, etc, I came to realise that most of these functions are not just trying to capture what we see, they actually allow us to transcend what we see into what we perceive. This goes way beyond of what I, a photographic ignorant, thought about photography before - to simply capture what we see. But there's probably a very good reason to the existence of these exciting features.

The camera is trying to emulate the sophisticated mechanism that is our eyes with these functions. While these functions fail to achieve the flexibility of our eyes, they actually open up a whole spectrum of creative possibilities by enabling us to inject our aesthetic colours and hues into what we see. I know, I know ... photography has been around for ages, and I'm probably the last one to realise this. But while I was gradually taking in the ideas of this art form of light, and thrilled to have found a new toy (much like what I have discovered with this blog), another thought slowly surfaced in my mind -

Photography is actually going the opposite direction of Buddhism.

If anyone asks about my religion, I would claim to be a Buddhist. However, if the knowledge of Buddhism is like an ocean, my understanding of it is only as much as dipping my legs into the river that feeds into the ocean. So not there yet. My grasp of Buddhism is that, without over-simplification, in life, an apple is an apple, nothing more, nothing less. To attain peace within ourselves, we should accept it as an apple wholeheartedly without any other thoughts like one apple is not enough, or I prefer a red to a green apple, or I rather have apple juice, or why am I not getting an orange, etc.

Having thought that, it dawned on me that when we're trying to paint our artistic vision of colours and shades over the photograph of an apple, we're actually heading away from the teaching of Buddhism, or rather my understanding of Buddhism.

Not a bad thing, but it's food for thoughts.

No matter.

I just want to announce that in the future, there will be more photos being posted here in this blog. And hopefully, that's as delicious as an apple.



Mama Mia said...

Congratulations on the new camera! That is one my my hubby's dreams, to have a DSLR camera.

Looking forward to the photos you will soon post on this blog!

Buzzing J said...

Mama Mia:

Suddenly, I felt the weight of expectation getting weightier ...



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