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An illiterate photographer told me some years ago that photography is the science of light. It beats the definition Oxford would give. Come to think of it, isn’t it really about how much light your retina can capture?Back in the days when image...


An illiterate photographer told me some years ago that photography is the science of light. It beats the definition Oxford would give. Come to think of it, isn’t it really about how much light your retina can capture?
Back in the days when images were developed in dark rooms, before the advent of the digital camera, mobile phone and the annoying little selfie-stick, analogue cameras were like the IPad 9. The world is a place that lacks respect for elders. I guess the dark room became old. I think the selfie-stick fails to realise he might one day grow old. So full of himself! Urgh!
The image that comes from a photograph is dependent on the amount of light the camera lens sees. The Photographer decides how much light will suit the texture of the image he wants to produce. In the end, it’s about getting light in. this is why I really didn’t understand the concept of the dark room. They said pictures were “developed” there. So, the picture starts in the light and is given birth to in the dark. Like, the light is the sperm and the dark room is the delivery room. Neither can substitute for the other. The picture cannot be taken in the dark neither can it be developed in the light room.
I would spend lots of time looking at negatives from the film of my big brother’s camera. Negatives, they called them. What a name! We would flock round a negative and try to identify the little images they carried; then cheer at how tiny and colourful they looked and at the absurd, mischievous beauty of it all.
Studying and learning is a lot like light for the photograph. The amount of light you let in will determine the final state of the picture. Dreams are negatives. Good ones always look smaller than reality and improbable. The dark room is the seat of imagination. Creativity is a dark world to explore. It is best shrouded in mystery. Dreams are songs of night. We should not allow them experience the harshness of light till they have been rubbed with the tenderness of night. Don’t smother the dream. Let it grow. Stretch your imagination like the vast, plain expanse of moonless night. The beauty of night is that nothing is. You can therefore fill the void with your anything. After the dark room, the image- the winning idea comes out ready to face the glare of day. It won’t shrink then. It’ll grow more beautiful.
Every amateur photographer will tell you to take lots of pictures. Better to have lots of negatives. Who knows, one of them might capture the groom’s candid bulge.

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