Wildlife photographers Rohit and Kalyan Varma share 12 stunning shots from their repository at Nature inFocus, a collective of like-minded wildlife enthusiasts from across the world.
Towards the 29 and 30 of this month, hundreds of wildlife photographers will gather at the Jayamahal Palace in Bengaluru. Armed with shots that could make it to the front covers of the most acclaimed magazines, they will discuss wildlife conservation, share their observations on potential policies, and ideate on how the scope of wildlife protection can be scaled in the country.
The event is one of the many under the umbrella of a Bengaluru-based media and production house Nature inFocus incepted by friends and wildlife enthusiasts Rohit Varma (50) and Kalyan Varma (43). It all began when Rohit — a marketing professional from Madhya Pradesh — and Kalyan — an engineer from Andhra Pradesh — were introduced during a photography expedition in 2011.
“We felt there was no single platform where people who love nature could meet and interact,” says Kalyan. “We felt the need to do more than just click and share images.” The idea was to illuminate the trail for more such wildlife enthusiasts to follow.
Today, not just photographers but also researchers, conservationists, scientists, and filmmakers are a part of the community.
“Over the last eight years,” says Rohit, “Nature inFocus acts as a portal to showcase and narrate stories of nature, and reveal the diversity of India to the world through its body of work such as documentaries, films etc.”
Here’s a glimpse of some astounding shots — each holding a glittering fascination of its own — captured by photographers who are part of the community.
1. Cloaked in Lilac
Clicked by photographer Sanjay Nair in the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, Uttar Pradesh, the shot focuses on the beast against a backdrop of water hyacinths. Nair’s intent behind this particular shot was to convey the nature of the invasive plants, which are notorious for displacing native plant species within water bodies while reducing oxygen levels. “As seen in the image, even protected areas like national parks and tiger reserves are not immune to their impacts,” he notes.
2. A Croc’s World
“This high-contrast, half-and-half image of an American Crocodile in an archipelago in southern Cuba captures the reptile in its element,” says Massimo Giorgetta, the photographer behind the lens. As a member of the World Photographic Cup, Massimo spent days with a bask of crocodiles near a mangrove forest in Cuba studying the currents, the light in the region, the water clarity, etc. At last, the long wait culminated in the perfect opportunity to shoot a close-up of the croc against the backdrop of the blazing sun.
3. Chaos Theory
A brave shot by photographer Nejib Ahmed from Assam, who was in the village of Borsola trying to get a shot of a tigress near the Orang Tiger Reserve. The picture captures the absolute chaos that ensued seconds after the tigress was spotted by one of the villagers. “The villagers panicked and began pelting stones at the field. They also set fire to dry paddy, further agitating the animal. While the tigress ran amok, so did the people trying to flee the area.”
He adds that while the beast eventually retreated into the forest, the image portrays the ground realities of human-tiger conflict and emphasises the need for empowering local communities to manage these situations.
4. A Full Meal
In the picture, a sea snake can be seen engulfing its prey. Photographer Joshua Barton, who spends a great deal of his career capturing the magic of marine life, notes that while many might feel sorry for the prey in this picture, finding food is quite a task for this species of snake. They are lucky when they manage a meal.
“While these marine serpents are surrounded by their prey, in a world of coral reefs, rock crevices and quick manoeuvres, to make an actual catch requires additional skills,” notes Barton, adding that, however, being highly venomous works to their advantage. One bite and the prey dies instantly.
5. Where the Giants Roam
Lalith Ekanayake, the photographer who captured this fascinating shot in Dambulla, Sri Lanka, is a gastroenterologist by profession while being an avid wildlife photographer. Elephants are a common sight along the river and in the paddy fields of Sri Lanka’s north-central province and while the farmers in this region are happy to allow these “gentle giants” to enter their paddy fields after harvest.
“But they do everything possible to chase away the pachyderms during the crop season. This aerial shot of a massive tusker beautifully captures its larger shadow against the riverbank decorated with the footprints of his herd,” says Ekanayake.
6. Heart of Pink
Elongating their necks and moving their heads from side to side, the birds’ unique walk style is described as a ‘march’ and rightly so. This isn’t merely a way of striding, but rather a way of sending a message that they are ready to breed. The march of the flamingoes is seen in May indicating the start of the breeding season and that the birds will soon be pairing. The female chooses the male with the best dance moves. Photographer Raj Mohan managed to capture this flamingo formation at Pulicat Lake, Tamil Nadu. Alongside the busy flamboyance, one can spot a sea of green made by quickly accumulating algal populations.
7. A Tale of Two Cities
When photographer Sarang Naik from Mumbai spotted a colony of Zoanthids glowing under the light of an ultraviolet flashlight, against the backdrop of a lit Mumbai city skyline, he couldn’t stop himself from capturing it. “Zoanthids are commonly found in coral reefs,” he shares, adding “This long exposure shot brings together two sides of the city of Mumbai: the bustling metropolis that we’re all familiar with and the wildlife haven that hides in plain sight.”
8. Nothing to See Here
In the middle of the wild of the Sundarbans of West Bengal, photographer Sounak Dutta captures an estuarine crocodile waiting in ambush for its next unwitting prey. “The mud is maybe unimpressive make-up, but camouflage remains one of the most impressive weapons in the predator’s arsenal,” he notes.
A few more shots from the collective:
Edited by Divya Sethu