For some shutterbugs, a picture is worth years of planning and practice. On World Photography Day, marked on August 19, we speak to a few photographers, who overcome many challenges to get close to the wild, underwater marine life and even attempt to click celestial objects.
Hours of waiting in the wilderness
Rathika Ramasamy grew up with a fascination towards birds and developed a keen interest in photographing them. The 47-year-old photographer, who has been visiting forests across the world to capture wildlife for over a decade, now feels comfortable getting almost close to the big cats — tigers, lions and leopards. But, each visit still feels just as uncertain as her first visit to a jungle, as nothing is predictable with the wild, she says. “There is a lot of preparation that goes into each of my visits to any jungle to capture the animals. One has to keep in mind about the right months to visit, as many national parks don’t allow photography in monsoon season when the animals breed. When I visit a jungle, I take help from local guides to track the movements of the animals. Then I wait close to the bushes or in a jeep parked around watering holes, hoping the animals come out for water. The wait time can sometimes be a few hours or even days. Nothing is in our hands when in a jungle — the lighting required to click the photographs or the subjects,” asserts Rathika.
She recalls once being chased by a herd of elephants while in a jeep, driving close to a cliff. “All the challenges and the waiting feels worth when I get a photograph I had dreamed of. It took me six years to capture my dream shot of elephants in a misty backdrop,” she adds.
Being one with the marine life
After many underwater dives, Puducherry-based Donarun Das decided to capture the colourful world inside the oceans. It took him over three years of practice to even be able to carry a basic point-and-shoot camera underwater despite being an experienced diver. “The significant challenge under water is the lack of light and then there’s the issue of being able to compensate with buoyancy (force exerted by water on any object) if carrying any photography equipment. There are several misconceptions surrounding underwater photography that marine animals are harmful, but in fact, it made me understand that man is the most harmful being — for the amount of trash we throw into our oceans. When under water, one should be extremely aware of his or her surroundings, as there is less than a few seconds to capture something that goes by,” recalls Donarun, 31, who has been practicing underwater photography for over six years now. He admits that it took him dozens of dives to be able to spot the rare frogfish, which he always wanted to capture.
Shooting for the stars
His interest in astronomy as a child got city-based IT professional Arun Venkataswamy into astrophotography about eight years ago. Ever since, he has been trying to capture the distant constellations, stars, celestial events and rocket launches. “I was astounded when I first learnt that astronomy and photography could be combined. The biggest challenge with pursuing astrophotography is the equipment required for it and the costs incurred in importing them. Apart from that, in the cities we live in, there is a lot of light pollution (excessive use of artificial lighting for homes, buildings, etc.), which makes it hard to see the stars in the sky. So, I head down to towns on the outskirts to access clearer skies. Astrophotography requires a lot of patience and long hours of exposures to the sky. It can be pursued only from December to April as cloudy skies act as a hindrance,” explains Arun. He also attempts to capture the rocket launches by our country on his frame. “Hours of planning go into it, as capturing a fast-moving rocket can be quite challenging,” he adds.