1. ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ is a very prestigious award. This year (2014), you have been adjudged the winner in the ‘Amphibians and Reptiles’ category. Can you share with our readers how you conceptualised this image?
It was shot one bright day in my hometown, a village near Sringeri. I found this snake just 10 feet away from my home. I’ve always been fascinated by the eyes of these snakes. That day, the position and pose of the snake was ideal for me to try a new perspective. A bright green background too fell into place. All these ingredients resulted in the photo, known as ‘Divine Snake’. I am very glad that this took me all the way to Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
Click here to view the winning image in the ‘Iconic Images’ section.
2. Your picture of the spider web has also won you accolades in the ‘People’s Choice Award’ in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 contest. How did you make this image?
This is a rather unusual story. I was shooting a back-lit bunch of pepper, when I suddenly saw a rainbow-like formation in my viewfinder. I pressed the shutter and viewed it on my camera screen; it took me a couple of seconds to realise that it was a single strand of back-lit web resulting in the spectrum. I could shoot only a few more pictures before the sun disappeared that evening. From then on, I mostly shot spider webs whenever I went out for photography. I started looking for different types of webs in different lighting conditions. Pursuing the experiments led to the image ‘Pure Magic’, which was appreciated in the People’s Choice category. There is more to explore in this and my experiments are still on.
3. You hail from the temple town of Sringeri, tucked away in the Western Ghats. How has this influenced your photography?
Without any doubt, Malnad is the biggest influence for me to start and pursue my hobby of macro photography. More than 90% of my pictures are shot there. And of course, my best pictures are shot in my backyard – ‘Divine snake’ was shot just about 10 feet away from my home and ‘Pure magic’ about 50 meters away.
When I started shooting water droplets with my point-and-shoot camera a few years ago, I wasn’t even aware that there was something called macro photography. It was the dew drops and insects around my home which created more interest in me, which eventually led me explore macro photography. I was fortunate enough to get friends and mentors who helped me in every step, to learn and continue my passion.
CNP is a unique platform stressing on thinking and photographing out-of-the-box. This allowed me to express myself differently. I have been focusing on new ways of seeing and shooting, since the last three years. CNP is the biggest influence behind my winning images. A couple of my images (including ‘Divine Snake’) were selected as ‘Image of the Month’ on CNP, which served as a great motivation.
8. You have been successful in making very powerful images. What are your future plans for photography? Are you planning to try new styles of photography or intent continuing with macro photography, which is your forte?
I want to keep up with advancing technology; I am planning to invest my prize money on a new camera and lens. I want to start all over again and shoot many more macros. Regarding style, I don’t think I have a distinct one, except that I shoot mostly macros. Nothing excites me more than macro photography and I intend to continue that.
After the awards ceremony, one of my mentors told me to forget about the award and just enjoy photography. It’s time to go back to my forte, my backyard!