w w w . i n d i a w i l d s . c o m
home
about Sabyasachi Patra
diary
forums
image gallery
contact IndiaWilds
Home
About
Diary
Forums
Gallery
ContactUs

User Tag List

Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Food for thought.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    10-12-08
    Location
    Bangalore , India
    Posts
    279
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default Food for thought.

    Do wildlife photographers suffer from tunnel vision ? This is not a question that is asked very often , in fact I do not think anybody has asked this. However as a professional guide I have come to the sad conclusion that this might hold true. Below is a quote from 'Wild Animals in Central India' by A.A.Dunbar Brander , I have used the word " photographing " instead of the original " killing". Food for thought ? I gave up the camera for a year and a half on the advise of my then boss KP and learned what can be broadly called Natural History.

    "For about six years I practically ceased to shoot, and it is to this period that I am chiefly indebted; one can see so much more of an animal , and under such different circumstances if one is not intent on photographing it."

    I would like you to take a minute or so to reflect and then to respond. A lot of thought has gone into whether I should put this up for discussion or not but I finally decided to go ahead as I feel that there has been a substantial increase in wildlife photographers in the recent years and it is important that the right spirit and attitude be inculcated among the newcomers.

    I am a member of a lot of wildlife / nature photography forums but I decided to post here as I find members of Indiawilds are more open to criticism . No malice intended I just want a healthy debate.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    24-11-08
    Location
    New Delhi
    Posts
    16,281
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    2 Thread(s)

    Default

    Fantastic thoughts Vikram!

    I understand your point.

    I have been photographing with a SLR camera since 1992, when I could buy it. I have been trekking and visiting wilderness areas. I have sat alone in water holes through out the night enjoying the myriad sounds and an occasional blurred outline emerging from the darkness to drink water. Those were the days when I had learnt a lot. Some of those learnings came from validations of opinions that I had read in books. I used to have a wide angle lens and a 70-210 lens. Camera Rolls were limited. So continuous burst was out of question.

    Today, with the advent of digital SLRS, fast frame rates and no incremental cost of clicking images, people just press the shutter button as if they are hanging on to dear life. Once my driver in bandhavgarh was heard asking a photographer why he was shooting when only the tigers tail was visible in the bush.

    You all know that I use the 400 f2.8 L IS lens and a 2X converter attached with it. The resulting 800 mm with the 1.3x crop factor of my 1D Mark IV and 1D Mark II cameras make it an effective focal length of 1040 mm. If you are continuously watching through the viewfinder, with such a focal length then definitely you can only see one perspective. Of course you can see lot of details in the body of the animal or bird.

    However, if another tiger cub is a few feet away, then certainly I can’t focus on both of them. Unless, I use a wider lens like my 70 - 200 lens. So at times, I remove my eyes from the view finder and watch the scene. At times I use a remote and fire without looking through the viewfinder, so that I don’t miss out on the scene. At times, one may miss watching a scene while trying to photograph one bird in flight. This is as far as missing on the enjoyment or watching a scene when you are busy photographing. And remember, I am saying all this though I change aperture, shutter speed and ISO without taking my eye off the viewfinder. So if you are fumbling to change the settings of your camera, then you are more likely to miss a scene.

    I do agree that a majority of the photographers suffer from tunnel vision. It means having a particular image in mind and the looking for it instead of enjoying the beauty in the forests. For eg a tiger might be in a bush. However, if you know its behaviour, then you can predict when it is likely to come out of the bush into the open or into a game trail etc. Having said that, I have spent hours waiting for a sleeping tiger to wake up, hoping against hope that it would wake up with sufficient light to photograph.

    Most of the times, I don't photograph deers. However, if you don't observe deers then are you likely to come across a tiger or leopard trying to hunt it? Once I was watching deers in a salt lick and could see langurs mating. Did I expect the langurs to mate? Absolutely not. If I would have moved ahead instead of watching deers, then I would have certainly missed the langurs mating Langur Mating - Indiawilds: Land of the Tiger. Conservation, Wildlife Photography, Communities . So I agree that when you don't have the self inflicted pressure to click images and show it to the world how great a photographer you are, then you can certainly watch and derive pleasure.

    Once, when I was taking a walk in the morning, I had seen a lone jackal chasing an adult female Nilgai. My respect for jackal increased since that day. In this trip to bandhavgarh, I was watching with interest a bonnet macaque chasing a jackal. Interesting behaviours. I didn't try to click, as I knew better to watch the scene rather than wasting time in taking out the camera.

    To be a good photographer, one has to be a good naturalist. Without knowledge of animal behaviour or the relation between the animal and its habitat, one is not likely to click good environmental images. So what results is 100 percent crop of images, with cloning and blurring of backgrounds etc to just show the subject.

    Coming back to the quote of Dunbar Brander. It is so very true. Think of painters or sculptures. They learn the human anatomy. First you learn to see then you paint. If you don’t have the knowledge, then how can you recreate that? In photography, if you don’t understand your subject what are you going to document?

    Now let me confess something.

    After buying the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, I started filming. I was always interested in filming, however I could not carry two systems (and I couldn’t invest in two systems either. I had a EOS 1V film camera costing 1.4 lakhs in those days and there was no way I could invest in a professional video camera). Somehow even after I could afford it, I never went for film camera. After I got the Mark IV, I started delving into the world of sound recording (am still an amateur in this). When I put the earphones and connected it to my microphone, I could hear distant sounds. I just couldn’t believe it. My ears have been tuned to exclude those sounds but the microphone is picking those. Wow! I started thinking of all those years. Why didn’t I have a microphone with me earlier? I could have picked up all those sounds of tiger breaking bones or a bird chirping. One learns much more than peering through the lens. As Jim Corbett had said, the book of nature is vast. I hope we are able to learn a few lines out of it.

    These were my random thoughts. I believe, at times we are too obsessed with a particular type of image. Move into the field. See, hear, click and Enjoy. And ofcourse, help in preserving that wilderness area and wildlife.

    Cheers,
    Sabyasachi

  3. #3
    Join Date
    18-09-09
    Posts
    3,609
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    2 Thread(s)

    Default

    Thought provoking issue raised Sir..…

    My 2 cents on this .The all important question is what difference will personal observation and learning or knowledge of natural history make unless it contributes to the well being of the flora and fauna of this country ? Isn’t scientific observation and documentation best left to Researchers and Scientists ? If observation and wildlife photography are both a matter of personal joy, sense of achievement or simply bloated ego why bother compare??? To me this is why :

    1.Photography is a lot more intrusive than observation. The motive of the photographer is always a question and so is the well being of his subject.This has particular relevance since most wildlife photographs come from protected areas.

    2.Observation is like meditation it awakes you to the wonders of nature and to the intricate and delicate balance of creation which you can’t see in a picture or while trying to make one.It makes you “Holistically Aware” not just to the number of tigers but also to the Heaps of plastic garbage on the outskirts and the black colour of the water in the streams which run in ur city which do not exactly make desired subjects for a wildlife photographer.

    3.Your idea of conservation as a social responsibility becomes more active, practical and encompassing. It will not be associated with saving only the forests and its Mega fauna. It will start with your own actions and habits, it will run through your apartment complex , community , town or village, it will look at those birds, animals and insects you see everday and in doing what little you can for them.

    4.Observation is possible every where, in ur little garden, in the backyard On you jogging track in the park. You don’t have to visit a far away jungle to see a rare mammal spending load of money to indulge in ur passion and with some guidance on the Marvels of nature it starts getting, spontaneous and also infectious. You are doing ur bit to make others aware at no cost.

    5. Finally it will make you ask yourself What am I doing for this cause??? and you will not be satisfied with writing a blogs or posting pictures which get admired by some. I do agree that a powerful photograph will create awareness, generate intrest , bring in positive action etc but in all probability only if you are a good observer and take a keen intrest in natural history will you ever be able to make an image like that and you may get one in your backyard .

    Regards
    Roopak

  4. #4
    Join Date
    24-11-08
    Location
    Bangalore
    Posts
    15,873
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    Vikram,

    I totally agree with what you have said. The first time I sighted a tiger, I didn't pick up my camera. For nearly 2 days I sighted tiger but didn't photograph. I wanted to enjoy every moment of that sighting, I just observed and took all the time to enjoy the total feel of the place.

    What you have mentioned and what Sabyasachi and Roopak have added is truly how all wildlife photographers should be, but we normally don't see that. I think that is what Sabyasachi had in mind when IndiaWilds was started. It is not just about Wildlife Photography but we need to understand the natural behaviour, discuss conservation issues and raise awareness about this. So it wont be just a hobby to take photographs and share, but to actually try to see the bigger picture.

    I hope every wildlife photographer atleast once asks this question to himself.

    Regards,
    Regards,
    Mrudul Godbole

  5. #5
    Join Date
    24-11-08
    Location
    New Delhi
    Posts
    16,281
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    2 Thread(s)

    Default

    I am unable to agree with Roopak that Scientific observation and documentation is best left to the researchers and scientists. That means only experimental methods will get precedence over Natural History and will lead to completely ignore the role of learning through observations.

    The general apathy and antipathy displayed by the masses towards preservation of our wilderness areas and wildlife is because over a period of time they have been weaned away from the Natural world. During our childhood days we used to chase butterflies. However, after that stage a child is asked to stop this "childish" behaviour and focus on other things. After the child grows up into a man, he doesn't understand the importance of our wilderness areas. He doesn't value the environment. The result is inevitable...He approves roads to cut across our wilderness areas....he approves large dams at the cost of pristine forests...he calls for ash spewing thermal power plants in wetlands....he supports setting up of Nuclear power plants in earthquake prone coastal areas and agrees to discharge of hot water into the creeks....

    I agree that at times photography is a lot more intrusive than observation, especially since you find people with an intermediate lens trying to "walk" close to a bird or animal. If you are using long lenses and are sensible, then it doesn't become an issue.

    I also agree that not everyone can go into wilderness areas and observe wildlife for long periods. However, one needs to understand where we stand in the overall scheme of things. When you see the electricity that you waste by not switching off a fan or appliance comes from a dam created hundreds of kilometers away, whose reservoir has drowned hundreds of square kilometers of pristine forests and wildlife, you get the overall picture. There can be number of similar examples.

    All of us have a role to play.

    The moment we stop thinking that we are the best and open up our eyes, we will find that there is so much to learn. Once I had stopped to listen for alarm calls. A herd of cheetal came close. Immediately, the driver told me that they will jump over the marsh and it happened. This knowledge comes from observation and enriches us. This time my driver complained that there has been an explosion of photographers with 7D and 100-400 lenses. They just want to drive continuously inside the forest thinking that in the process they will sight a tiger. I hope people drop their ego and listen to the driver or the guide who can be much more knowledgeable.

    The tiger is so beautiful, I am not amazed that Mrudul didn't photograph the tiger for the first two days and preferred to watch instead.

    Cheers,
    Sabyasachi

  6. #6
    Join Date
    18-09-09
    Posts
    3,609
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    2 Thread(s)

    Default

    Sir,

    I think I have missed driving home my point. Firstly I would like to differentiate between scientific observation and personal observation. In applying scientific observation techniques on the field one has to have an acceptable level of subject knowledge which happens more through an academic process. Not every nature enthusiast can start doing that as neither the law of the land nor logic will allow that, particularly when the Field happens to be nature reserves and the subjects are protected species. With scientific observation the natural presumption is that it will contribute to its purpose be it understanding animal behavior or conservation etc (Whether that is true is an altogether different topic).

    On the other hand what I call personal observation is something which any one can do , almost anywhere and probably graduates to the level of natural history with time and experience. No different from how your driver could anticipate the deers behavior . The question I raised here is if such personal observation does not serve a purpose is it any different from the intents of a wildlife photographer who just wants to take pictures without bothering about field ethics ??? I think it is .

    By its very nature observations tends to contribute a lot more in terms of both Personal joy and also in creating holistic awareness on the need to preserve our natural wealth. And I feel even when benchmarked with ethical wildlife photography it still has certain pros which I tried to list out.


    Regards
    Roopak

  7. #7
    Join Date
    24-11-08
    Location
    New Delhi
    Posts
    16,281
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    2 Thread(s)

    Default

    I agree with you that not every nature enthusiast can do it. Also, I agree that there is a huge difference between casual observation and well trained data gathering and analysis. However, I would like to provide a slightly different perspective.

    An opinion or conjecture turns into knowledge when it is proved to be true or validated in the field (or in the laboratory). Not everything can be validated in the lab. Natural history has a huge role to play. By natural history I mean learning through observations.

    When can these observations can be called as science and relied upon? When the behaviour, or knowledge gleaned through observations are found to be repeatable. There falls the knowledge of the driver I had mentioned earlier.

    I agree that it is important to gather/record data in a robust manner. Hence various protocols and methodologies are used.

    The problem is, in our country in the name of science we have ignored people who have knowledge. Unless and until someone has a PhD, the person would be considered an amateur. In the past during the Cheetah episode, I was reading a letter of the MoEF and it had mentioned Divyavanusinh Chavda as an amateur interested in Cheetahs. There I see a problem. When a person has superior knowledge than a PhD holder and still is not recognised by the system, then it is a sad state of affairs.

    So your point is valid that what will happen to the observations of all the people. Before we think what will happen to the observations of the amateur naturalists, let us ask whether the knowledge of the tribals are tapped. Unfortunately, the knowledge of the tribal communities who live within the forests are ignored. Do you think a person after doing a MSc or a PhD will have superior knowledge than the forest dwellers who have lived for centuries? May be after a rigorous PhD one can have knowledge in certain specific aspects of the topic.

    So what will happen to the observations of the people or amateur naturalists. Unfortunately, those are wasted. We don't have a knowledge bank to capture the knowledge of people. Hope if those can be tapped in raising awareness, then all is not wasted apart from the joy that one gets. In the earlier days, the only way of disseminating information or knowledge was through writing books or delivering lectures. In the internet age, the avenues are more. So perhaps we can do what hasn't been done till date ie. capture knowledge.

    I guess we have veered away from the original question posed by Vikram "Do wildlife photographers suffer from tunnel vision?" However, interesting points raised.

    Cheers,
    Sabyasachi

  8. #8
    Join Date
    10-12-08
    Location
    Bangalore , India
    Posts
    279
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    I recently posted a photograph of Stripe Necked Mongoose feeding on crocodile eggs. http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/sho...1130#post31130 It was a fantastic moment captured, I don't think this behavior has been recorded before. Why did I wait the twenty - thirty minutes to find out what they were up to ? As far as I was concerned they were going about their usual business looking for grubs etc. My boat driver Shivraj however differed he said they were after the crocodile eggs ( we had seen a croc basking at that exact spot the previous day ) . I waited . If I had not I would never have got those shots or observed this first hand. This goes to prove that knowledge does not necessarily come from a PhD.

    Some of the greats of wildlife have had no formal learning . A.O.Hume was a civil servant , M.Krishnan a writer and jack of all trades who could not land a decent job because he did not have good marks, Dr. D.K.Lahiri-Choudhuy has a PhD in English !.... and the list can go on and on !

    However scientific thinking and the scientific method can compliment this " natural " knowledge , in the old days this knowledge was called " expereince " and was given it due.

    Here is another example - I was told by the workers in the Tea Estate I was working in ( situated in the Dooars ) that when the fresh shoots would emerge from the pruned tea bushes , Leopards would come and sit under them especially in the evening . I laughed it off mentally. But one evening as I was returning to my bungalow on my bike I saw a huge male resting under the bushes exactly as they said ! I passed five feet away from him on my bike , I was too shocked to react ! By the time I could comprehend anything I had passed him ! I got home bundled my wife and daughter into my jeep and drove them there . He was still resting peacefully. I have no " reasonable " explanation for this behavior . But the workers had noticed it and made a note of it. Now science can probably take it from here and find a logical explanation. This is one example as to how science can complement local knowledge / expereince.

    Anyway coming back to my original post , the idea was to point out that knowledge of natural history is essential to a good wildlife photographer. A good wildlife photograph depicts a subject in relation to the world it lives in. We very often zoom in as much as our lens allows us to. I am equally guilty of this. Its is time we learnt to zoom out.

    I am attaching a link that you might find interesting

    Birds in Habitat

  9. #9
    Join Date
    24-11-08
    Location
    New Delhi
    Posts
    16,281
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    2 Thread(s)

    Default

    Vikram,
    I agree with you. I had talked about it in the IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 2 Issue IX ( http://www.indiawilds.com/diary/indiawilds-newsletter-vol-2-issue-ix ).

    In the book titled "Outliers - The Story of Success" Malcom Gladwell had emphasised on the need for hard work and he says that expertise comes after spending 10000 hours of honing your skills.

    I am surprised by the theory of leopard appearing under the newly sprouted bushes in a tea garden. Frankly speaking I can't think of any reason. One has to take this observation as starting point and do further observations and analysis to know the reason. Thanks for sharing an interesting information.

    Cheers,
    Sabyasachi

  10. #10
    Join Date
    03-12-08
    Location
    Hyderabad
    Posts
    168
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    Do wildlife photographers suffer from tunnel vision? Absolutely! But what’s wrong with that?

    Many of us have invested considerable amount in procuring & upgrading our camera equipment. The purpose & need for photography are manifold. Photography is one vocation that combines our technical and aesthetic prowess. When you peer through the viewfinder and see that rectangular field, you make hundreds of decisions on how best to capture the scene - would the exposure be right, would a particular element in the scene make things better or worse - I could go on....During those few seconds – you are the master painter / creator of that tiny rectangular canvass – you have to concentrate on how to paint it.

    And don't we all feel good when we create or capture something beautiful? Isn't that the greatest pleasure that man can experience? So when we go out to the wilderness with a complex piece of digital art machine, most often than not the subject triumphs over the habitat. This means often we pursue the subject and not its habitat. And that (often) makes us less appreciative of the bigger picture – the habitat, the ecosystem, the relationship – everything. For example, take a look at most of the images uploaded on Indiawilds - most of them are close-up shot of a rectangular, enclosed scene. If I were a tiger I would sure feel claustrophobic in that frame!! So we photographers are definitely tunnel visioned. On the other hand we have landscape photographers too! For them, it’s the whole landscape - those wide angled shots that cover it all...and many photographers do photograph behavioural aspects – IndiaWilds has always encouraged and appreciated those shots. So just to contradict what I said earlier – are photographers tunnel visioned? Maybe not!

    Often when we go out into the wilderness - especially in safaris - we meet a multitude of people. Most are in their Jim Corbett style camouflaged attire - carrying massive pieces of camera equipment. Many are plainly the typical "bharatia parivar" types - mom, dad & two kids; out in the wild to enjoy a vacation. The kids shriek when they see a tiger and mom takes pics of her kids enjoying the safari – often shouting to her kids that tiger is the national animal of India! Of course some (a growing number) just go with a pair a binoculars and a note pad. They observe and appreciate the nature. I am personally the fourth category. I get so excited by it all; I just sit back and appreciate with a toothy stupid dreamy smile on my face – often dragging my camera with no shots at all!

    All of these people are important for India wilds - India Wilds as a medium or subject to showcase your technical & aesthetic skills, India wilds as a place where kids/adults could whet their curiosity and India wilds as a serious medium for appreciation and education.

    My dear friends - In the 21st century, Flickr is the new Jim Corbett jungle book. People want to share their experiences and photographers want to be appreciated for their art. A picture is amongst the best & easiest ways to do it – it’s far easier than writing tomes. There is nothing wrong with that. Let us treat photography as photography. I agree with all previous comments - knowledge of behaviour is important to be a better wildlife photographer. But if as a photographer you don't - then so be it. Take help of a colleague who is cognizant of that behaviour.

    Which brings me to the question Vikram raised - are photographers tunnel visioned? I hope not. It’s just that in all these years we might have forgotten our roots - remember - your first piece of art as a kid was scenery with mountains, rivers, trees! We all saw the big picture - we all saw the habitat - till we started zooming in!!
    Last edited by Ranbir Mahapatra; 10-04-2011 at 06:41 AM.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •