79, and off to chase a cheetah

Published: Jun 20, 2010, 08:15 IST | Aviva Dharmaraj

Seventy nine year-old Pune-based wildlife photographer Kunj Trivedi's photo albums are packed with snapshots taken at expeditions in the tiger reserves of India and sanctuaries in Africa. Out on display for the first time in Mumbai at an exhibition this week

Seventy nine year-old Pune-based wildlife photographer Kunj Trivedi's photo albums are packed with snapshots taken at expeditions in the tiger reserves of India and sanctuaries in Africa. Out on display for the first time in Mumbai at an exhibition this week

"If you are passionate about anything, the rest is subsidiary," says wildlife photographer Kunj Trivedi over the phone from Pune. After passion, it's patience that comes a close second on the list of prerequisites for a wildlife photographer. "And curiosity, I suppose. Read, study and observe the behaviour of animals," adds Trivedi, who showcases his photographs for the first time in Mumbai at an exhibition at the Jehangir Art Gallery.



The 79 year-old has been more than patient. He's waited practically five decades to pursue a passion that was kindled when his father gifted him a secondhand Kodak folding camera in 1946. "I started taking wildlife photography seriously in the '90s when I was relaxed in my business and had more time," says Trivedi, who recalls reading John Alexander Hunter's autobiography. The book had a tremendous influence on him. 

In the time between discovering his passion and pursuing it, Trivedi moved from Tanzania, where he was born, to Baroda to earn a commerce degree, then to Mumbai to study chartered accountancy. He then migrated to Mombasa in Kenya to practise as a CA, and moved to Hong Kong to join the family business, finding time somewhere in between to get married and be father to three children.

"One of my sons is interested in wildlife, but he doesn't like photographers accompanying him. He only wants to observe wildlife through his binoculars," laughs Trivedi, who says he prefers going on wildlife expeditions on his own since there are fewer distractions and opinions exchanged.

Trivedi's passion has taken him around the world, including East and Southern Africa, parts of America and Europe, including the UK, of which he says, "You won't find any wild animals there; only the people are wild."

Trivedi hopes his next stop will take him to Antarctica, this December. 

Keeping abreast with the advancements made in the field of digital photography is thrilling for Trivedi, who says, "I am on a continuous learning process, especially now with photography going digital, which allows me to have more control over what I can produce. Digital photography has more scope for artistry."

His favourite subject is, without a doubt, "the big cats". "Tigers, leopards, cheetahs, I'm always interested in animals in action � capturing those moments is the most challenging aspect of this profession." Given how enthused Trivedi is by his passion for wildlife photography, one wonders whether he wishes he had started earlier. He says, "Fortunately, I never look back."

This photograph was taken in March 2008 at the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya. The she-leopard and her cub (not seen here) kept running up the tree with the kill: an impala (African antelope), which kept falling off the branches


Just six weeks old at the time this photograph was taken, this leopard cub had been hidden by her mother inside a dead tree to protect her from baboons. Her name is Legadema in Tswana, which translates to 'light in the sky'. She was the star of a National Geographic documentary Eye of the Leopard, directed by Derek and Beverly Joubert.


This photograph of the African elephant was taken at the Amboseli National Park in Kenya, which is spread across the Kenya-Tanzania border. The snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro is in the background, often referred to as the Ladies' Mountain since it is considered an easy climb.


A few wild tips

Make eye contact with the animal
"There has to be eye contact for the picture to create an impact. Usually, I don't take a photograph of the animal, unless there is eye contact," says Trivedi, whose closest brush with a wild cat has been at four feet. He has captured all the images on a Canon 1D Mark II and a Canon 5D Mark II. "They give me the option of shooting eight to nine frames per second. When you shoot with a long lens, you get used to the animal looking you in the eye."

3-point plan

1. Be patient

You have to be willing to wait for the 'right' moment. Accept that there will be days when you will return without having taken a single photograph. Learn to brace yourself for disappointment.

2. Respect nature

There is no point in pursuing wildlife photography if you don't have an inherent love for nature.

3. Use the 'P' mode

I find it useful to put my camera in 'P' (programme) mode since it automatically takes care of under-exposure or over-exposure issues.

On view at The Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda, till June 24. From 11 am to 7 pm. Call: 22843989

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