By Sandeep Nayak
It has been 10 years on my journey with a DSLR camera, but my passion for photography dates back to my childhood. I grew up in an agriculturist family from a heavy rain region of southern India, in a village near a town called Koppa. This place is part of western Ghats and has tropical rain forest vegetation and is home for beautiful flora and fauna. As this place is remote from any town, we had power outages and only one TV channel. The lack of such typical entertainment made me and my brother spend most of our time biking around the village and our farmland. On Sundays I used to watch Ringneck parrots by my house, they were eating Guava fruit, plucking them, and holding them in their claws. Kingfishers catching fish from streams, peacocks dancing in the rain.
I always wanted to capture such moments but we had no budget for a camera. Finally my brother and I summed up INR 500 ( big deal when I was 12 years old )which is about $15 and bought a 35 mm Kodak KB 10 camera. Since film was costlier we were trying to get cut films or half used films in any possible way; beg, borrow, or steal.
Having no knowledge about zoom, focal length, and shutter we were taking pictures of birds expecting they can be developed with magnification to look bigger, but never realized or understood how feasible it is to do so. Seeing constant failure and with lack of funds we dropped our plan of taking parrot pictures.
Almost 10 years later after being employed as an engineer, I bought a Nikon D3100 and tried experimenting my skills with the kit lens. I tried watching YouTube, reading National Geographic photographers’ articles, learning from other photographers, to improve my skills every day. This helped me understand the basics and how to do what I wanted to do.
After moving to the U.S. I had the opportunity to buy a Nikon D850. Now I cannot blame the camera for bad pictures as it is one of the flagship models, which helped me to experiment and understand where I am lacking in my skills, and I could not take failures anymore. Only way out I found was to go out and start shooting as much as possible to get what I want.
I love nature and national parks. I visited Yellowstone last year , camping there for 3 nights and had planned to spend a full day at Lamar valley to take some unique pictures of Bison. As a photographer I believe understanding light and the subject we shoot is really important. So I read about bison, bears and elk before my trip and during my flight which really helped me to capture the picture below, as I knew bison would definitely cross the river before sunset, for my luck after waiting for about 50 minutes in Lamar Valley hiding behind wooden log beside skeleton of dead animal, I finally got below picture of the herd leader and calf.
The journey from how subjects appear in my camera as a picture to creating how I want a subject to appear as a final picture is fun and I am enjoying this journey.