I escaped into the jungles of Karnataka recently and walked right into a jugalbandi of Nikons and Canons. For someone like me who’s a rookie at travel photography, it was exciting to be part of a gathering of seasoned professionals, hobbyists and budding enthusiasts, all kitted out with lenses ranging from the regular 18-55mm to the bazooka-sized 600-800mm (click here to see more camera lenses) ready to take pictures of a forest in motion.
I plan frequent escapes from Bengaluru to renew my spirit and senses; this time, I picked a jungle safari, organised by Jungle Lodges, at Kabini, one of the best wildlife sanctuaries in Karnataka.
Next to me on this trip was Kalyan Chakraborty, a media professional who got behind the camera over a decade ago. Photographing wildlife is his passion, so I was happy to get the low-down on travel photography and how to get the best pictures of subjects in motion.
Here are his tips on capturing great photos:
Do Your Homework
Travel Photography is as much about the place as it is about the photographer. “The reason I’m here in the jungle is because I connect with it. Before each shoot, I research the terrain and weather, chat with naturalists, drivers and fellow photographers and identify the dynamics of animal movements. The same applies to travel photography. Research is your best tool. Understand the place, people, attractions, vantage points for best pictures, local traditions and culture. You will find it builds the foundation for some great picture stories.”
Pack to Shoot and Dress to Scoot
“That probably sums up your packing guide,” says KC with a smile. Take clothes that are comfortable, functional and easy to move around in. Spend time and money on good footwear, especially if you’re into travel photography.
Moments unfold every second, but the window of opportunity to take pictures of them are always limited. Having a camera with you at all times means you will never miss an unplanned moment. “I was taking a lazy walk after lunch when I saw two cobras mating. I crawled as close as I could to capture this rare moment, only to invoke the rage of the male, who bit me. I had worn the right footwear and it saved my life.”
Go, Go, Go
“To be on the move is your best move,” KC says with a twinkle in his eye. He recommends that you develop a love for early mornings, the outdoors, as well as silence (or noise). The only way to capture the beauty of a place is to experience it. While static subjects are easier to shoot, life in motion is what you should aim to capture. “The photograph should reflect the emotion that you felt while capturing the moment. That first impression cannot be recreated.” There is always a story to capture, if you connect to the adventure.
On a trip to the mangroves in the Sundarban, I walked a good distance before I spotted these colourful crabs.
To Light or Not to Light
“It’s not a Shakespearean quote,” smiles KC, before adding that there’s as much beauty in light as in the absence of it. While that warm, golden glow of the sun can transform a setting, it’s a challenge to capture moments when natural light fades. Moonlight adds a character of its own though, he adds.
“This picture of a Sambar deer was taken at Kabini on a full moon night. Unlike the details that are visible in bright sunlight, this black and white image of the deer gives it an almost ethereal beauty,” he says.
Shift Your Focus
Understand your subject; it’s as important as understanding the technicalities of the camera. By shifting focus to events that surround the subject or by blurring the background, one can enhance the details of the subject in focus.
“I shot this jackal at Kabini early in the evening and chose to blur the vegetation in the background to keep the focus on this beautiful animal,” he says.
Play Candid Camera
Travel, people, experiences and culture are best captured in candid moments. Use your camera skills, artistic bent of mind and lace the candid moments with a story, you want to reflect. Every moment captured in the wild is a candid moment.
“This picture of a yawning leopard, taken candidly, brings forth the power of his presence,” he explains.
Look for the Extraordinary in the Ordinary
“There is nothing mundane about nature and travel. The jungle feels different each time I visit it. I always capture a new emotion on the same route. Placing items indicative of the place, adding human interest to a scenic background or focusing on individual details speaks as much about the place as the big picture.”
PS: A RAW setting enables you to edit the picture and process it in dynamic ways. Retain your pictures in original RAW format.
Like this article? Also read: Inside The Eye Of The Tiger
Cover image courtesy: Shutterstock
Photographs by Kalyan Chakraborty