FROM HAVING DREAM GEAR TO TAKING GOOD PHOTOS
Forewarning : This is not meant to be a blog on Rathika Ramasamy’s workshops but about my journey. However the impact of her teachings is such that it is very tough to not mention either my Guru’s name or her ways of teaching in every paragraph. Please bear with me for this.
It all started sometime in July / August 2016 when I was gripped with the urge to buy a “good lens” and a full frame camera. Mind you I had no inkling what I will shoot but I was certain that getting better equipment ( I had D90 and kit lens and was shooting on auto)will make me take the perfect picture that will catapult me into a famous photographer. So I got this Nikon D750 and Sigma 150-600 c lens after lot of YouTube watching only to leave them in the cupboard for few weeks!
One day I decided I needed to start wildlife photography and was browsing for workshops on wildlife photography as I already knew that I had good equipment and I was ready to produce award winning photographs but only needed to know where to start.
I turned to the trusted “Google Chacha”. I was presented with exotic and expensive tours and workshops mainly Masai Mara and couple of India destinations. This is when I stumbled upon Rathika’s workshop announcement in Bharatpur in November 2016. I knew about Rathika Ramasamy’s work and class and needless to say I was really surprised that the cost was very affordable (especially compared to the ones I looked at earlier). I got myself registered and got included in an exclusive whatsapp group of participants. This is when reality stuck me that I am going to bring into the workshop my total lack of knowledge of photography and birds. Those were the days when my bird species list started with crow and ended at Dove. Any small bird was a sparrow and scaly breasted munia was a very rare bird!
I took the courage after few weeks and revealed to my Guru that I know nothing of photography expecting that I will get a cold mail rejecting my participation and that would be the end of my producing those BBC-worthy photos. To my surprise I got a call from Rathika telling me that she will run an exclusive session on skype to bring me upto the mark before the workshop!! That one hour session ensured that I did not make a complete fool of myself at the workshop.
Cut to Bharatpur – My individual education session complete and here I go into the Keoladeo Ghana National Park Bharatpur on a cold misty morning. Rest is full of memories and photos.From the workshop I remember Rathika madam somehow managed to spend quality time with each of the participants during every session sharing invaluable insights about the nitty-gritties of photography. I must say I was pleasantly surprised that a top photographer was willing to share her experience without any inhibition with everybody equally.
I still remember (if you have been to Bharatpur you will know this and I am sure this is a familiar scene there) the first sighting was a group of Red Crested Pochards (female) swimming and I was capturing it (as you guessed right) sitting on the rickshaw. Suddenly comes this voice from behind “ Anantha get down and lie down on the bank! Get to level” ; a tip which I haven’t forgotten till date.
I know at that time I was beginner enough to miss the reflection fully. But then imagine this photo taken from a Rickshaw seat level!As a beginner you tend to click everything and think you have done extremely well if you happen to get the subject in focus. You end up with several hundred may be more than thousand shots in a day and you do not want to delete any hoping that somehow over time the out of focus shots will manifest into very sharp images. But then Rathika Madam ensured that you get into the discipline of reviewing your images the same day and delete mercilessly. I must say I still ended up bringing home 3000 odd pictures from 4 days of workshop and after 2 years I still have 200 odd left though I know there is probably 2 pictures that are worth showcasing in the context that it was my first outing of wildlife photography.
The daily evening review sessions for all participants with Rathika Madam is something any beginner will look forward to I am sure for the richness of learning this provides. She provides frank feedback and gives you useful tips to correct the shortcomings. The best part is you get opportunity next day to practise your learning and an immediate feedback on site since the mentor is always available on field to clear your doubts. Focus always used to be on Composition. Our Guru insisted on Original Composition and not rely on cropping and post processing. Several times getting original composition means extremely quick thinking. This comes with focus (pun intended) and practice.
As a beginner you tend to click everything and think you have done extremely well if you happen to get the subject in focus. You end up with several hundred may be more than thousand shots in a day and you do not want to delete any hoping that somehow over time the out of focus shots will manifest into very sharp images. But then Rathika Madam ensured that you get into the discipline of reviewing your images the same day and delete mercilessly. I must say I still ended up bringing home 3000 odd pictures from 4 days of workshop and after 2 years I still have 200 odd left though I know there is probably 2 pictures that are worth showcasing in the context that it was my first outing of wildlife photography.
Would like to share few images from the workshop and video.
Thank you for reading my first bird photography outing experience.
*** Photographs & Video @Ananthakrishnan Srinivasan