In search of a perfect shot

Friday, 21 January 2011 - 9:08am IST

Photography holidays are the latest trend in travel, with many groups taking amateur photographers on visits to some of the most scenic and out-of-the-way spots in the world for them to test their skills.

So what’s getting more and more people out of the city, venturing forth with their camera in one hand and notepad (presumably) on the other? “It’s a balance of two things.

On one hand, people get to learn about the technical details and on the other, a scenic location helps them develop an eye for details that would normally evade people,” says Amoghavarsha, a professional photographer who regularly takes groups out on photography expeditions.

People get better acquainted with their cameras and figure out, with the help of a professional, how it can be used to its fullest potential. And since they have time and are in photogenic spots, it helps them get comfortable with their equipment. “On each expedition, we hold a review session at the end of the day. We go over what went wrong, what could have been shot better and the practical aspects of the shoot and the camera in question,” says Amoghavarsha.

Ashish Parmar of Bangalore Photography Workshops says he finds about 80% of people attending these workshops are wildlife enthusiasts. “But wildlife photography requires skill to get those action shots right. So we’ve seen amateurs struggle with really nice equipment to get a shot right. That’s where we step in to help them with the technicalities.”

And it seems the whole city is out to get that perfect shot. If Amoghavrasha is training kids as young as eight years old and their 80-year-old partners in this passion, then Mukta Darera, of iReboot, is seeing working professionals with an interest in photography. iReboot helps people pursue their passion for many disparate hobbies, of which wildlife photography is one. iReboot not only takes people to the appropriate spots but also ropes in different professional photographers for the training part of it. “It helps to get a different and a fresh perspective on similar subjects,” says Darera.

The equipment is the least important aspect of these trips. “A basic DSLR would suffice,” says Amoghavarsha. “I have been photographing wildlife and landscape for more than five years now and try to put out a message for conservation through these workshops. It is important for people to appreciate the beauty of small things,” he says. A fairly decent camera which costs about Rs8,000 to Rs10,000 has a whole host of features that an amateur photographer can use to great effect, he feels.

People who take these holidays are already interested sufficiently in photography. “They usually have their own equipment, if nothing a basic DSLR camera. Usually people coming for these holidays have pretty nifty equipment but they need guidance on how to use their cameras for the best possible effect. The theoretical lessons get reinforced when they are left to shoot their own photographs with a professional telling them about the tricks of the trade,” says Darera.

Parmar says he was shocked to find the fanciest equipment being handled by an eight-year old. He gets people from all walks in life attending his workshops in the state or outside and says, “The one thing that people always say is that photography is a major stress-buster for them. Be it doctors, lawyers, teachers or IT professionals, they are so passionate about this, that they invest time and effort beyond belief.” With nifty digital cameras loaded with all the works, Parmar says, it’s easy and cheap to get started on this. For fancier stuff, Bangalore Photography Workshop rents out equipment. They are the official Canon Image Lounge and stock all equipment launched by Canon till date.

The world is the oyster for these intrepid shutterbugs. iReboot has on the cards a trip to Masai Mara National reserve in Kenya. Slated to be held in August, the trip would cost Rs1.6lakh per person, including airfare, travel and accommodation.

The USP of the trip is not only the fantastic location and wildlife, but also the chance to work with internationally-acclaimed professional photographers like Gerry van der Walt, Andrew Beck, Paul McDougall. Closer home, they have a two-day photography boot camp scheduled to be held at the Bannerghatta National Park. Parmar and his partner AB Apana also take people to Masai Mara during August, during the great migration and they charge about Rs1.2 lakh inclusive of food, travel, airfare, accommodation etc.

Amoghavarsha, on the other hand, prefers to take people to lesser-known spots for an idyllic session of photography. A basic workshop may be held in the city or in Bannerghatta National Park, but for a proper photography holiday, the location has to offer more. Nature and wildlife being his first passion, rainforest expeditions like in Agumbe holds a special place in his heart.

“I usually arrange the rainforest expedition in monsoons. People always talk about shooting the Big cats. But what about the smaller animals? There’s as much beauty to be found in reptile or a butterfly, a frog or even a plant in lush, rain-soaked forests,” he says. A landscape expedition to shoot the Sharavati valley is also a close favourite.

“These places help people develop an eye and see beyond the immediate,” says Amoghavarsha. These expeditions usually cost between Rs5,000 and Rs10,000 and covers travel, accommodation and food. Parmar too holds workshops closer to the city in Bandipur or Kabini for around Rs16,000 inclusive of travel, food and stay.

The reason why people are taking to this, says Parmar, is “because these holidays provide them with a platform of like-minded people to share their passion with. And it works both ways. Not only do the amateurs get an intensive training, a helping hand and a community of co-enthusiasts, the professionals also get to spend time doing what they love most. What could be better to a wildlife photographer than spending his days out in the wild with a group of people who are equally interested in pursuing that perfect shot for hours?”

Well, for somebody who’s been nominated one of the best wildlife photographers in the country and is being covered by the Time magazine and Lonely Planet, he should know.

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