I grew up in Kolkata, and after graduation I moved to London for work. Since then, I’ve gone back about once a year. Walking around the city with a camera around my neck is what some of my friends would call an NRI (non-resident Indian) thing to do – on par with asking for bottled water at restaurants. But the truth is I’ve always enjoyed walking around the city with a camera: a Minolta SLR as a teenager in the early 2000s, then a digital compact, then a DSLR… before returning to the Minolta about eight years ago, when I rediscovered the joys of analogue photography. This year, I had a Leica M3 – a birthday gift to end all birthday gifts, from my girlfriend and my parents.
The photos you see here were all taken with a Voigtländer 28mm f/1.9 Ultron. I already had a Summicron 50mm f2 and a Tele-Elmar 135mm f4 (more on those some other time, perhaps), and wanted a wide-angle lens to complete the line-up. With a self-imposed budget of £250, Leica lenses or the Zeiss Biogon 28mm were out of reach. In fact, for that price I think I was lucky to get even the Ultron; I just saw a good deal on eBay and went for it.
A wide-angle lens takes some getting used to, but I like the perspective it offers, and it has some distinct advantages in a city as crowded as Kolkata. Some of the most interesting lanes (as in the first photo) are also the narrowest; a ‘normal’ lens just couldn’t have contained the whole scene. And getting close to the subject (like in the last photo) is one way to avoid being interrupted by a constant stream of passers-by.
Thank you for reading, and hope you enjoyed the photos. If perchance they inspired you to visit Kolkata, drop me a line!