Film Days (Black and White)

In the second year at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Vadodara (Gujarat), in 1992, we were requested to get SLR cameras for upcoming photography classes. Along with the camera, a Russian Zenit 220 with 58mm lens, the lovely book ‘John Hedgecoe’s Complete Photography Course’ was also purchased, and the two became my introductions to the subject. I thoroughly enjoyed indulging in photography in the following three years of college, and gained from the guidance provided by the very kind Professor Khatri in the Photography department. Inspiration to shoot was also fuelled by hours spent in the Faculty library browsing through the most wonderful collection of classic photography books.

Black and white film was the preferred medium: to learn the basics, for its visual power, and of course, to follow in the footsteps of legendary photographers like André Kertesz, Ansel Adams, Brassi and Edward Weston, to name a few 🙂 To skillfully capture a good moment, in good light, with proper exposure and composition and then arrive at a satisfactory result in print continued to be a struggle for many years. Photography became a passion and almost all the pocket money given by my grandfather went into films and printing. Hundreds of frames were shot and many films and prints developed in the Faculty darkroom under guidance of the ever energetic Ramu Kaka. Some images were also printed at Sangam Studio.

Going out to shoot on a bicycle with ORWO black and white film loaded in the camera became the most favoured pastime. A few presentable images that resulted from all that enthusiasm and struggle, shot between 1993 and 1997, are showcased below. For me, they are also precious memories..

Arts faculty building in the distance, surrounded by trees

Quiet M.S. University campus in the evening

Vertical composition of criss-crossing trees

Trees at Kamati Baug, Vadodara

Strong silhouette of multiple trees and their shadows below, with light coming from behind

Silhouettes on a misty morning at Kamati Baug, Vadodara

A man walking below a huge Banyan tree

Banyan (or ‘Vad’) tree; M.S. University Campus, Vadodara

Lone squirrel amongst empty park benches, seen in perspective

Squirrel amidst empty benches, one afternoon at Kamati Baug, Vadodara

Tight shot of trees submerged in and their reflection on water

Flooded University Campus, Vadodara

Street photo showing people and an elephant heading towards Amer and Jaigarh forts in the background

Amer town, Jaipur, on a lovely morning in 1994

Three camel carts in silhouette, within a dry countryside landscape with trees in the background

Camel carts on a rural road; outskirts of Jaipur, on a hazy winter morning

Wide landscape shot with scanty vegetation and country road in the foreground, three camel carts and trees in the background

Barren country landscape with camel carts in the distance; Jagatpura, Jaipur

Silhouettes of Acacia trees and a bicycle parked below them

Photographer’s bicycle amidst Acacia trees; Jagatpura, Jaipur

Two adjacent palm trees and their reflection in the water below; hills in the background

Palm trees at Maan Sagar / Jal Mahal lake, Jaipur

A group of Acacia trees and below them, dry grass

In a beautiful Acacia scrub forest, Jhalana, Jaipur

Ramparts on hills in the background and below them a lake

Sagar lake, a landscape; Amer, Jaipur

Two groups of clouds floating in a dark sky, above the fortress on a hilltop

Clouds over Moti Doongri fortress, Jaipur

Tight shot showing geometric stairs connecting different levels of the step well, half in shade and about half in light

Chand Baori – a magnificent stepwell, in light and shade; Abhaneri, Rajasthan

Abstract photograph with strong tree silhouettes in water and amidst them the sun shining

Reflections of trees and the setting sun; Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan

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4 comments
  1. Prashanth Shanbhogue said:

    Beautiful images, Mayank. I do recall your long walks to Kamati Baug and the university campus with your Zenit 220. I guess John Hedgecoe’s book and Letraset had a permanent place in your backpack. Orwo? Not Ilford?

    • Mayank said:

      Thank you, Prashanth, for your kind words. You are so right there about the books 🙂 I did not get to use Ilford much 😦

  2. Beautiful time-capsule. I like the landscape from Jagatpura the best. The haze shows the depth of the landscape.

    • Mayank said:

      Thanks for your kind comment, Abhishek. Good to hear from you after a long time, hope you are doing well.

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