What’s In Your Bag: A Historic Analogue Kit

 

Kulwant Roy was responsible for some of the most iconic images in Indian history. However, for a long time, his images lay largely forgotten, till his nephew brought them to light. Here, Arya shares Roy’s treasure trove with us.

A historic analogue kit tells us that the process of imagemaking transcends technology.

Kulwant Roy’s Kit

 

1. The Speed Graphic Trunk
This was the custom trunk in which the view camera and its flash unit, bulbs, filmholders and film were stored. A hardy metal thing, it must have also been quite heavy to carry around.

2. Using What Was Available
Kulwant Roy was a part of the Royal Indian Air Force, but was dismissed after he refused to bow down to the discriminatory ways of the British. His friends in the Air Force smuggled out film for him, and he used whatever he could.

3. Switching to Flashbulbs
One day, Roy and a few fellow photographers were waiting to photograph Jawaharlal Nehru coming down a dark stairway. They asked Roy’s assistant to light up a pinch of magnesium powder for the flash. Nehru came down, and there was a mini explosion. Turns out, the assistant used six teaspoons of magnesium instead of one, since there were six photographers! After this, Roy switched to flash bulbs. Analogue Beginnings This large format camera was used for reportage. It could do just about anything, on field as well as in the studio. Margaret Bourke-White also used this to make her famous pictures of Gandhiji.

4. The Best of those Days (All the Lenses)
Roy’s equipment was the best he could buy and arguably the best equipment available those days. He used a select few things, but ensured that each piece of gear was well worth the investment.

5. Analogue Beginnings
This large format camera was used for reportage. It could do just about anything, on field as well as in the studio. Margaret Bourke-White also used this to make her famous pictures of Gandhiji.

6. The Shift to TLRs
As things progressed, the Speed Graphic grew old. Roy, too, desired speed and mobility. But he also wanted large format negatives so that he could crop them, and so, he shifted to TLRs.

7. Customising the TLRs
TLRs changed the viewpoint of their users, because they offered waist-level viewing, unlike the view camera or speed graphic which could be held at eye level. Roy and his contemporaries started making wonderful waist-level photos, but later, he bought himself this viewfinder so that he could hold the TLR up to his eyes. The Shift to TLRs As things progressed, the Speed Graphic grew old. Roy, too, desired speed and mobility. But he also wanted large format negatives so that he could crop them, and so, he shifted to TLRs.

8. Precise Metering
During its time, the Weston Master was the most accurate light meter available. It was the only tool to easily measure ambient light falling directly on the subject. Considering that there was no instant feedback with LCDs in those days, this was possibly the most important piece of equipment in the kit.

8. Switching to 35mm
When Roy reached a certain pinnacle, he decided to buy himself a Leica M3 with a complete kit of wide, normal and tele lenses as well as the Weston Master. He bought this kit from a German photographer who was visiting Delhi.

Tags: 35 mm, Aditya Arya, Ambarin Afsar, Flashbulbs, Kulwant Roy, metering, Shooting Technique, TLRs