The backyard shot that won worldwide acclaim
Bengaluru-based techie SS Raviprakash won the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) award in the Amphibians & Reptiles category, organised by the Natural History Museum, London, and BBC Worldwide. Excerpts from an interview with the guide
Q. You shot the award-winning image in your backyard. Tell us how the shot happened.
A. The Green Vine Snake is one of my favourite subjects. They are more visible pre and during monsoon seasons in my hometown/village. Normally, they camouflage beautifully in cluttered green plants; however I spotted this snake on an isolated plant. After shooting a few portraits from the usual side angles, I shot this frame of the snake with popping eyes, from behind.
Raviprakash SS World Photographer of the Year winner
Q. What do you think worked in favour as far as this frame goes? What was the X-factor that helped you win this award?
A. The snake’s crystal clear popping eyes and a unique angle were the X-factors. Shallow depth of field and a clean green background also blended nicely to offer a good result, overall. I feel proud when I hear from experts that this is a very unique angle as far as capturing snakes go.
Q. You’ve said in earlier interviews that being an IT professional, photography is a weekend hobby. Did you imagine winning such a prestigious award?
A. I had dreamt but not imagined winning such an award! It was one of my mentors Shankar Kiragi, who felt that my picture — Pure Magic belongs there. I submitted my best pictures based on this encouragement. The imagining began when seven of my 18 images made it to the final round of judging. The dream became a reality when I received an email from WPY stating that I was the winner in the Amphibians and Reptiles category! To my surprise, I got another mail saying ‘Pure Magic’ had been shortlisted for the People’s Choice Award. It was the icing on the cake.
Raviprakash who became the first Indian in 26 years to win the BBC award, received a cash prize of £1,250 in London. This frame, Divine Snake, with a Green Vine Snake, was captured in his hometown, Sringeri in Karnataka
Q. What next, after winning this award? Will you be compelled to give more time to photography?
A. This award has compelled me to give more importance to my hobby. The unbelievable experience of attending the award ceremony at London’s Natural History Museum will serve as motivation for the rest of my life. I have started sharing this experience with many friends and photography enthusiasts; I’d be glad if it helps them.
Q. What is your advice to city photographers who are keen to capture wildlife in and around their backyards?
A. It’s important to develop a keen eye to spot tiny subjects and become flexible to capture subjects that can be in very challenging/awkward positions. This will definitely help to capture good macro pictures. Anyone who has not tried macro photography should certainly give it a shot. Photography is an expensive hobby; not only does one have to invest a lot in equipment, travel also burns a big hole in the pocket. Macro photography has the unique advantage of cutting down the travel cost. Backyard and city outskirts serve as great locations. Skills developed here, can go a long way to shoot in macro havens like the Western Ghats.