Day 1 of the trip dawned bright and sunny- well as bright and sunny as it can get within a railway compartment that is all glass window paned and curtained. At Hospet station, I found my way around to the minibus that was waiting for me along with my co-passengers to take us to the Sloth Bear Resort where we would be spending the next three days. Maybe it was the sheer relief and exhilaration at the fact that I had reached Hospet but I didn’t quite notice how far a ride it was from the railway station to the resort (this has a bearing on a later part of the story…stay tuned!). It was almost like going back 10 or 15 years looking at the roads. Lots of pigs, cows, goats, and chickens on the road- so much so that they considered us an intrusion on their road rather than the other way around. It was nice in a kind of way that took you back to your childhood and I didn’t notice the time fly by when suddenly we arrived at the resort.
The resort itself seemed a wonderful place- lots and lots of empty spaces with natural vegetation dotted with cottages. I had to quickly and desperately make maps in my head so that I wouldn’t lose my way back to the dining room where we were due to meet in the next half hour to discuss the itinerary for the three days ahead. The resort was fairly new (having opened its doors only in October last year) and the cottages were bright (if you drew back the curtains that is- d’ah!) and spacious and I was overjoyed.
I went around in the typical way promptly fumbling around with all the switches (plenty and well scattered- enough to make me spend a day before I could figure out how to turn off the fan!) opening all the taps (plenty concentrated in the bathroom- not sure all of them worked) and switching on all gadgets (non existent- there was an electric kettle but I lost interest by the time I came to it). My first shock was when I tried flushing the toilet before I used it and there popped out a reptile (it was a blur seriously!)- larger than a lizard and striped. I only had to rush out and slam shut the bathroom door and gather my courage which came to me quick enough- I had to take a shower and get back in the next 15 minutes! and I hadn’t yet heard the stories about the random cobras that were caught in the resort or the friendly bear that was found on one of the balconies (but seriously bear vs freaky reptile- gimme the bear anyday!!!!) Anyway when I went back to the bathroom the reptile wasn’t there- so it wasn’t my problem anymore.
I did finally manage to get out of my room and started making my way to the dining hall when I ran into Tharangini- my fellow companion on the tour. She explained to me that she was an ardent fan of birding and tried pointing out something to me in the vegetation when all I could see were just leaves and more leaves. My apprehension about being THE amateur in the group was concretised when she pulled out her uber cool camera and started taking photographs of sparrows (I later looked through her photographs of birds on her flickr gallery and they were fantastic!). At this point of time I still hadn’t spotted the birds and so I did the more sensible thing and drifted slowly towards breakfast.
My fears about being way out of league grew even larger when I was asked questions around the breakfast table like ‘So how often do you do photography?’ and my answers were along the lines of ‘Ummm, I took a photograph once and they said it was pretty cool!’ or ‘So what gear do you use?’ and I thought ‘Hmmm! My bicycle has 6 gears, my car 5, I didn’t even know my camera was supposed to have gears’- I should have listened to Lavanya (my very wise more experienced photographer sister) when she asked me to familiarise myself with the new camera. I guess flipping through the manual five minutes before the train doesn’t count as familiarisation!
But both Arun Bhat (the leader of the tour and a very well travelled and experienced photographer) and Tharangini went to huge lengths to assure me nicely that it was ok to be the amateur photographer and that I would probably pick up a lot of good things from the tour. Seriously it was good of them. If I had been in their position I would have just scowled (or maybe not, but you never know!). It was finally decided that while Tharangini would go birding along the canal in the morning, I would have my first basic sessions on photography in the morning before lunch. I was asked to report back (ok it was not that formal!) with my camera and I couldn’t help feeling like a newbie at Hogwarts being asked to come forth with my wand.
The weather was nice and pleasantly warm (though it grew sunnier during the daytime over the three days) and it was a pleasure sitting in the cool terrace having lessons on photography with a very patient teacher. The theory part of it was fairly easy (I guess spending 3 years studying physics has its rewards!) but the practicals were a bit messy when we tried using the camera especially as I hadn’t quite ‘familiarised’ myself with the gadget-
Arun- ‘So what does this blinking sign mean?
Me- umm, I don’t know!’
Arun- ‘How many MP does this camera have?
Me- Ummm, 12 I think,
Arun- ‘It says 10.3 here’
Me- oh yeah, d’oh!
I did learn a bit about rules that help you make better photos. Things like the rule of thirds which tells you to not always plonk the horizon link in the centre of the photo but that it may be better to do it in thirds (one thirds and two thirds- three thirds means that you forgot to remove the lens cap!). Or by leaving space in the direction of sight which makes the photograph more interesting. (You would be surprised at how many photographs I took of birds after this where the bird would be looking to the left and I would have left space on the right- which would have been interesting if there had been a cat crouching at the back trying to eat the bird- oh dear! I have to stop this line of thought!)
Most importantly I learnt that your photograph has to tell a story- So what story are you going to tell???
At this point folks I have decided to break up the narrative of Day 1 into two parts as it is late and I need to get to work tomorrow.
Stay tuned- or carpe diem and do better things if you have to!