How photography has helped in improving my mental health and well being By Rahul Seth

Perth from the South Perth Foreshore

About me

Hi. My name is Rahul Seth. I'm of Indian descent but was born in Switzerland and have grown up in Perth Australia for the vast majority of my life. I am a qualified accountant by trade & work for a local not for profit organisation. I love Formula 1, playing tennis, volunteering & travelling. I also happen to battle mental illness.

I've battled mental illness all my life but it was in 2008 I was diagnosed with depression. In 2010 I spent my first of 4 stints in a mental health hospital and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder & in 2015, after feeling I made a significant turn in where I wanted to be in life I disclosed to my Facebook friends (and now whoever sees this) that I once tried taking my life. Those days are long, long gone.

2015 was a life changing year for me & one of the best things I did was to pick up a camera & properly pursue my love for photography. I always had an interest in it but only had a smartphone & a standard point & shoot digital camera. It wasn't until I bought a camera where I could shoot in manual where I truly developed what will be a lifelong passion. I've composed this slate magazine to briefly share this passion & show you what it can do to improve your mental health & well-being.

But don't just take my word for it. Here's an article from the Huffington Post that explains what I'm about to go through in this magazine.

Sunrise New Year Day 2016 from Kings Park

What photography means to me

Photography is one of 3 things for me:

1) An expression of art

There's so much variability you can do if you are shooting with manual photography. You can take low depth of field shots, where your subject is in focus and everything in the background is blurred, to taking high detailed shots where everything is in focus. There's also long exposure photography, where you can turn moving water into sheets of ice which have shimmering lights illuminate the water body. And this is before we even get to other styles, Photoshopping and photo editing. The depth of what you can do is amazing.

2) Connection to nature

One of the most amazing experiences you can do in photography is to sit in one location with your camera and observe the change of elements. This can be for instance the change of light on things you are viewing, to clouds moving, to the feel of the weather change. One brilliant way of capturing this is to film a time lapse film using a smartphone & a suitable tripod. You can compress an hours sitting down to 20 seconds and see a whole new way of viewing the world. Below is a link to a YouTube clip of a sunset from the South Perth Foreshore

3) A way to connect to people, both digitally & in real life

Thanks to social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter & Instagram sharing photos to friends and the wider world has never been easier, You can share your work with people on the other side of the planet. However, the connection doesn't need to remain behind a screen. There are ways to connect with people and learn from them and develop your skills. Below is a link to a Perth based Facebook group and a Meetup.com group. Photography often makes for some excellent presents. I have no shame in admitting I buy $2 frames from Kmart & IKEA and give them as gifts with my 15 cent photo prints. All my friends love it.

Little Salmon Bay, Rottnest Island

What are some examples of the things you can photograph?

Sunrises

2016 New Years Day Sunrise - Kings Park

Sunsets

Cottlesloe Beach

Animals

Quokka on Rottnest Island

Stillness

Little Salmon Bay, Rottnest Island

Motion

Perth Speed Fest 2015

Sport

City Beach Surfer

Fireworks

New Years Day Fireworks 2016

Extreme Action

Daniel Ricciardo at St Georges Terrace

Light Art

South Perth Foreshore

Astrophotograhy

Serpentine National Park

Buildings

Corner St Georges Terrace & William Street, Perth CBD

Nature

Araluen Botanic Garden

Events

TEDxPerth 2015

Holidays

Forest Place Perth

Travel

Jewel Cave, Margaret River

My Equipment

Olympus OMD eM10

The camera store man recommended me this camera and I couldn't be in more love with it. It's compact, which allows for easy travel. It accommodates different lenses and has very user friendly features, it's even got wifi, which allows me to control my camera using my smartphone, which is handier than it sounds. This is considered an entry level camera and with a 14-42mm lens you are looking around the $750-$800 mark. Would highly recommend as a first camera

Olympus lenses

What's more important than the body of the camera is the lens. There's a wide array of lenses you can go for that have a wide array of features. As an entry level lens I recommend the 14-42mm lens, which allows for shots that similar to what you can see with your eyes and a little zoom allowed. I also possess a 40-150mm lens which allows me to capture items that are further in distance. I've just also invested in a 17mm prime lens, which allows for wider aperture which allows for amazing shallow depth of field shots. Only lens remaining for me to invest is a macro lens, allowing me to capture bugs and plants in sharp detail.

Vanguard Tripod

A tripod is essential for capturing photos in low light or night time scenarios. As photography is all about lighting, a tripod enables the shutter on your camera to remain open for longer and prevents the effect of hand shaking while these longer exposures are taken. As a recommendation the heavier a tripod is the better it will perform. Have a look at your local camera store for a tripod that will suit your needs.

Joby Gorillapod

Now this is a unique tripod! The tripod on ths has flexible legs and can be wrapped around poles and other suitable items. It's brilliant for photography with your smartphone and allows you to take amazing shots and videos in places that might not be possible to do so in normal circumstances.

Apple iPhone

Of course one cannot discount the humble smartphone from photography these days. The iPhone is my preference due to the friendly nature of it and the powerful apps that are available to edit your photos. One other way I tend to use my phone is for a wifi remote to my Olympus camera via their app. The benefit of this is that you aren't shaking the camera when doing long exposure shots. You can also do tripod selfies when you're travelling in a remote location! The other thing I like to use my phone for is time lapse photography, where I set up my Gorillapod with my phone to film and use my Olympus camera for normal shooting.

Indiana Teahouse, Cottesloe Beach

Where to learn more about getting into photography

Youtube

Before investing in classes or other materials, I seriously suggest searching on Youtube for photography tutorials. There is a tonne of high quality, free content that can teach you all you need to know and then some. Below are some links to a couple of videos that go over the basics of photography (aperture, shutter speed, ISO)

Meetup

Meetup is a social networking website that has groups set up where people meet to do various activities. Photography groups are prominently on there and feature ways to connect with other photographers. There is no substitute from learning from other people.

The internet in general

There are too many resources on the internet that go through photography. A quick Google search and you can find an array of articles. I have included a link from Lifehacker on the complete guide to photography that is a brilliant read. Facebook groups, like Meetup are also another valuable source of connecting with other people. And there are photography websites such as Flickr that do the same.

Books at your local library

The great thing about the photography is that the fundamentals of it have not changed over the years. Its just that the equipment has gotten better. This means that you can easily rely on old and current books at your local library to learn the elements of photography.

Classes

If the above options don't suit your learning style, then I recommend taking classes, despite most of the content in the classes being free and easily accessible elsewhere. I did take classes when I started out and was lucky to be taught by a member of the media who taught at TAFE. I would recommend taking a shorter, more expensive class with a photography store as you will get everything you need quicker and can supplement it with the other methods listed above.

Claisebrook Cove

Mental Heath Resources

Can't create a magazine on mental health without listing resources on the issue. Here are some of the best from Australia and Western Australia.

Beyond Blue

Australia's leading authority on mental health information.

Lifeline

A free 24 hour telephone counselling service.

Black Dog Institute

An organisation "Enabling mentally healthier lives through innovations in science, medicine, education, public policy and knowledge translation"

Headspace

"The National Youth Mental Health Foundation providing early intervention mental health services to 12-25 year olds"

Grow

"A community-based organisation that has helped thousands of Australians recover from mental illness through a unique program of mutual support and personal development"

GenWhy

A Perth based fortnightly support group meetings for people over 25 years of age experiencing depression and anxiety.

Busselton Jetty

Stay in touch

To Follow up on my work, or to message me, please see the following links below. Thank you for taking the time to read this eMagazine.

Facebook page

Instagram

Twitter

Flipboard Magazine

YouTube Channel

Email

Rahul.seth@me.com

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Rahul Seth
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