Dubai-based Nisha Purushothaman is a nature lover who freezes moments in bird and wildlife photography. Through her pictures, she wishes to share stories with the world. You can find some of er work at www.nishas.info
As told to Tanika Godbole
Play of light Indian Roller
How did you get introduced to photography, and how did you choose wildlife as your field of expertise?
I am a Fine Arts graduate, specializing in Applied Arts. This was how I got introduced to photography. I love traveling and after college wherever I travelled, I used to carry a camera. I was born and brought up in a remote village of Kerala, which means I was always very close to nature. After I moved to Dubai, I got introduced to a group called Shutter Bugs Creative Forum that was led by Mr. Arfan who is a pharmacist by profession and also a hardcore photographer. Every Friday we used to visit a pre-decided location and shoot for 2-3 hours. I got addicted to photography and started doing the same on Saturdays too. The time I dedicated to photography went on increasing. Dubai’s culture and rules of conduct impose a lot of restrictions on street or people photography. This is why I got into birds and nature photography.
Majestic Seat Hoopoe
You are not a full-time photographer. What do you do when you’re not out clicking pictures?
I was working with an advertising agency as a Project Manager. Photography makes you want to Lion Cub travel more but it was quite difficult to request for leave every month. Finally, last September, I left the job and started working as a freelance web consultant in order to dedicate more time to photography and travel. I earn money from this and spend on equipment and travel. Recently I, along with three likeminded friends, started a Photo Tour company called Ynot Escapades. To do our bit for the Green movement we have also started the Shades of Life project 18 months back, which is an international movement to plant trees. Now we combine Shades of life with Ynot Escapades to spread awareness and inspire our cotravellers to plant trees at the places we travel to.
Cheetahs Feasting Superb Starling
How do you manage to capture the moment so well in your pictures of birds and mammals?
When I started taking pictures, I clicked everything. After a while, I tried different angles and techniques. Then I started to look for moments and action. I am a very active person by nature, sitting idle is something which I can’t do for very long. But wildlife photography needs a lot of passion, time, and patience in observing the behaviour of a bird, mammal or an insect. This lets you predict their action to some extent. Photography and nature really moulded me into a better person, with a higher tolerance level and patience. I believe I am still in the initial stages of an endless journey.
What are the things that you keep in mind before going on a shoot?
As a woman, are there any specific things that you need to take care of?
Thanks to Google, I do a proper search about the place, species and weather conditions. Then I take a look at pictures that others have clicked at the same place. Every image teaches you something. I try to visualize a few frames that I wouldshoot. Then I check the camera settings, keep the cards formatted and batteries charged. As a female I am not very worried but often, my parents tend to worry. Thankfully I haven’t faced any dangerous situations so far during my photo trips.
Digital editing is becoming increasingly common as a way of improving image quality. Do you spend time editing your photographs?
In nature photography highend editing is not promoted to preserve the reality, at national and international level contests. The only changes permitted are colour correction, noise reduction and cropping. Adding an element or removing an existing element is strictly not acceptable in nature photography, for any competitions. I only do the basic editing as it helps present a picture in its true value.
What do you enjoy the most about photography?
I get to see the connection between nature’s elements, the way animals communicate and their behaviour. I feel every species has an invisible circle around them, including us. The moment we cross that circle they become alert, and depending on their mood, they either move away or become aggressive. But if we visit one particular location again and again, in the long run we can make a connection with the fauna there. This creates a bond and lets us freeze some amazing moments from their world. This feeling is beyond words.
Any pointers that you would like to share with budding photographers?
Photography is all about practice. The more you practice, the better you become. In the beginning, don’t bother about any specific genre. In due course, you will have some idea about what your area of interest is. Then you can start to concentrate on that and upgrade your gear according to your convenience. Once you buy equipment, understand it well. One must also study the subject, its behavior and its environment. This too helps a lot in predicting actions or behavior. Everything requires a lot of patience along with passion and love.