Are you passionate about photography? Does your camera lens capture the depth eyes can’t see and details that words can’t describe? Are you keen to create a Photo Blog? Then allow me to introduce an avid traveller and an outstanding photographer. You can find his photo blog at https://collectingmoments.in/ , a start-up creation of a 70 years young Army veteran. An ace sailor, he was one of the pioneers of India’s historic voyage around the world on Trishna.
“Born in July 1952 in Balrampur, Uttar Pradesh, I completed my schooling from St. Columba’s School, New Delhi in 1967 and graduated from the premier National Defence Academy, Pune. It was there that I was instilled the sense of adventure and that was the start of my love affair with water. The Corps of Engineers, Indian Army nurtured this adventurous streak. An engineer by profession, sailing and adventure have remained my lifelong passion”. Narrates Brigadier AP Singh, Sena Medal (Gallantry) & Bar, Vishisht Sewa Medal.
His life is an icon of adventure. His passion for travel reflects in his photo-clicks taken in a vast variety of surroundings and occasions. “I have always been an ardent long-distance driving fan and by now have driven across the length and breadth of the country, from Kanyakumari to Himachal and Gujarat/Rajasthan to Assam. Most of these drives have been with my family, initially on motorcycle and then as the family grew, by car. I have also driven across the United States from Miami to the Niagara Falls and done a 3-week trip across UK, Ireland and Europe in a caravan.
“I have lived a very rich life, and indulged in a variety of activities since my school days. During school days, reading books was a passion and once I joined NDA, new vistas opened for me and I took up sailing as an extra-circular activity. I was fortunate that I got commissioned into the Corps of Engineers. Sailing became a major part of my routine in my early service period and since I excelled in the sport, I was able to continue uninterruptedly,” says Brig AP.
The Army encouraged me to take up the sport of sailing. I became a National Champion and represented the country in the sport. This was followed in being appointed as the National Coach for the Optimist Class for over two-and-a-half decades. It was very satisfying teaching 7-8 year olds and ultimately to accompany them for international events!
I also qualified as an International Race Officer, the first from India, and that kept me engaged in conducting championships in the country and abroad. The opportunity for long distance sailing came in 1977, for one of the first Indian sailing expeditions to foreign shores. I ultimately achieved the sailor’s dream, to sail around the world. The circumnavigation on Trishna in 1987 became maritime history as the first Indians to achieve the feat. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Indian_circumnavigation
- The Great Trio , for Photo Blog : Photography, Travel & Writing Notes
- I had always been enamored with photography, and with extensive travelling to various destinations for attending sailing events; it provided the perfect opportunity to take it up as a complementary activity. Writing came naturally to me – I started with keeping notes on scraps of paper to record the places and events I visited/participated in. These were later converted into accounts and official reports. I have continued that habit and now those accounts get posted as blogs.
- My trips can be classified in three categories. Firstly, are those with family/friends. These are for specific events such as attending a wedding, a reunion, visiting relatives etc. For this no prior research is required. Secondly, there are organized trips with travel groups for visiting specific destinations viz. a 10-day exploring Ladakh tour or a 10-day trip to Spiti and Lahaul Valley. In this, all the spadework is done by the agency, and the accompanying guide is available to explain the sights as we travel. The third category is as a part of a photographic expedition, with a professional photographer accompanying the group. These can be wildlife, birding, heritage sites/monuments, etc.
- I have always had a love for documentation – probably a habit learnt during my Army service. That has translated into maintaining accounts of my participation in sports events, records of travels and other interesting events in my life – I do not maintain a daily diary. Earlier I used to write a travelogue and keep printouts. But these are accessible only to a limited circle of friends and acquaintances. On many occasions I was told I should write a book – that prospect seemed a bit daunting. A few of my accounts did get published, like two chapters in the book “Adventure in Uniform: Land, Water and Sea” edited by Prof Kishori Lal. But these were ad hoc attempts and I wanted to take this up more seriously after my retirement. That is when the idea of creating a photo blog germinated. It took a while before that dream actually materialised.
- Basics of How to be a photo blogger
As a photo blogger it is equally important that one selects an appropriate blog site and plugins to enhance the quality of photographs and maintain the page loading speed. These are important to ensure that potential visitors are not deterred from the site.
About Website : – “My photo blog website is based on Word Press, which is the most popularly used site in the world. They have an option to host a free blog, but that gives limited choices. I have used another agency to host my website, which comes with many add-ons like providing a personal domain name, additional storage (required since mine is a photo-heavy blog), setting up an email service to send periodical newsletters, website maintenance (very important as often problems will crop up), etc. All these are paid services. Though they also design websites, I have not used their services for that, instead using a leading website designer – https://thesuperlativedesigns.com/ – who I would rate as one of the best available for this task. This will be evident from a visit to my website. They also helped me integrate all the components, not an easy task for a layman like myself.”
About Cameras : –I use two cameras and a mobile phone. These are the Canon 7D, Sony A7iii and Samsung S10 Lite mobile phone. Each camera has its set of lenses. I mostly shoot pictures in RAW format, which gives more flexibility while post-processing the photographs. RAW format cannot be uploaded as such on sites, hence the need for a picture processing software. There are countless such software’s available, one of the most common one being Photoshop & Lightroom. These have a vast array of options, which I find daunting ( though it’s the most popular choice worldwide).
About Photo-Editing softwares : –I have found a simpler option in use of Luminar (https://skylum.com/luminar). It’s a paid software and can be downloaded from the internet. Just keep in mind that all these are graphics-intensive software’s and so check the computer configuration you use before going in for these tools.
About Image-Compression for website : –I have a photo-heavy blog and conserving storage space is crucial. Hence, I use photo compression software to compress my photographs, without much loss of resolution. One should remember that a reasonable photo from a DSLR camera nowadays can be easily up to 28 MB is size and that will eat away all storage space in no time unless it’s size is drastically reduced. Though there are many software’s available for this, I use https://shortpixel.com/online-image-compression.
- Some more tips for budding bloggers!
Anything done with passion is bound to succeed. For the sheer satisfaction it brings to us. And it lets us rise above our normal selves for those moments we are involved in the endeavour. Pursue this hobby with the same mindset. Keep learning along the way, as they are innumerable options for this, both in practice and theory. I took a 3-month certificate course on Creative Writing a few years back to brush up on the nuances of different types of writing.
Another thing I do is to keep viewing the works of other bloggers to see how they showcase their work, it always gives new ideas to improve my own. Always be open to learning – the age of the teacher does not matter if he/she has something to teach. Always be open to trying new ideas, experiences and ventures – again your age is not relevant as long as the physical capacity for the activity is there. I am nearing 70 years of age and I still learn, often from people younger than my daughters!
My single most important message I would like to communicate to the youth is – “While work, and studies, always take precedence in our daily life, one should never give up on hobbies and interests. They are the spice that liven up our lives and help us through the difficult moments. These activities expand our horizons and help us become better individuals.” Conveys Brig A P , who is also an Editor at AGNI , which is a publication of FSSS (The Forum for Strategic and Security Studies).
- So this answers , how to create a photo blog?
Passion for travel is the first inspiration indeed. It is about the quality of life you want to lead and the story you wish to articulate about your adventure. Mode and places matter but what matters more is the message you wish to convey. What your eyes see differently and how you narrate your stories gives your blog character. This was the story of a true soldier, how the Indian Army can shape your personality and offers extraordinary opportunities to those willing to take the challenge! If you have the courage and motto to pursue your dreams.
Do not miss these rare-to-find clicks by Brig AP at:-
Ajai (@ajaisingh2017) • Instagram photos and videos