A Challenge and Risky Fun !
MISSION: SAVE INNOCENT SNAKES AND IGNORANT PEOPLE WITH MY CAMERA
So, I decided to accomplish my mission by educating people about snakes and snakebite, basically to make them comfortable with the presence of snakes, through good quality photos. I strongly felt that good photos will project snakes as beautiful creatures and handsome, thus hoping that the hostile attitude of common man may get friendlier towards snakes after seeing their beauty through my photos. I strongly believe that good quality images of snakes will bring out their attractive features to the fore i.e. colours, eyes, skin texture, shape, flickering tongue, etc. So far, I have been encouraged by the remarks and comments of the viewers of every quality snake image I have shown to public.
I am sure, our endeavour through photography shall bring people closer to snakes to understand them and save the snakes from being misunderstood, as most dreaded animals. There are reports that in pre-independence India, British government promoted extermination of venomous snake species from certain areas, though futile effort. This indicates how hostile we can be against innocent creatures, without even making an attempt to understand our neighbours who cohabit this beautiful planet Earth. I do not blame the Indian commoner squarely, as he struggles to have access to basics for his living. It’s the government agencies who have to organise the right type of educational material and effective strategy, which has had glaring failures in the field of `nature conservation education’ so far; ‘will-to-do’ quality work is missing at all levels.
My endeavour will be to bridge the gap between `innocent snakes and ignorant people’, through literature containing good information about snakes alongwith high quality images; common man needs it the most to join hands to `SAVE OUR BEAUTIFUL PLANET’.
In fact, my interest in snake photography germinated out of necessity. About a decade ago, when I commissioned the Snake Cell (not an NGO) at Chandigarh, I felt that I need to produce literature which could educate common man to understand snakes & snakebite. The first thing that came to my mind is a poster, which should have photos of the Big Four and some other snakes to make people comfortable with the looks of snakes. I also realised that this literature will not draw attention of majority of readers, unless its a high quality production. As I have mentioned in my first line itself that `an image is worth thousand words’, I further say that `high quality image which is esthetically done is worth million words’. At that point I was doing very basic photography and had NOT done any snake photos. So, I decided to take help of snake experts and snake photographers, whom I knew, to acquire snake photos for the purpose. At that stage, I underestimated own capabilities, thinking that if I tried my own camera for snake photography, the images will not come out to my expectations in quality. I tried by appealing almost to all snake experts whom I knew, I did not get any photos of quality from anyone. Though, I would like to mention here that Dr Indraneil Das, was more than willing, but he had signed a contract with few publishers for his books, so he could not contribute.
Finally, I said, “What the heck, why I can’t do photos of snakes, so what if I am poor at this stage if I start now then one day I will create good snake photos”. That was enough to motivate me. I started trying my hand with snake photography, my models have always been the rescued snakes, and as the time passed by, with practice I started getting reasonably good photos, eversince I have been improving. I am happy with the results.
Here, I would like to advise you to be careful about buying any camera equipment `on line’, especially the one you have not used before, one must refer existing users. I bought Canon macro lens 180mm L series and a 2x converter to compliment it, along with a Canon Ring Flash MR 14-EX. Soon, after some photography with snakes, I discovered that ring flash had no role in snake photography for me. Also, I realised that snake photography can be done with other lenses i.e. tele-lens, wide angle lens, etc. Most people think that snake photography means macro lenses.
Now, I love doing snake photography, though I have a long way to go, before I can make my snake photos stunning for quality. I am dreaming to do some quality shots for the `snakes & snakebite poster’, which should be able to attract and stop any onlooker with its quality of images.
In the past, whenever I posted my snake photos to my Flickr account, I used to get mails from viewers, who were curious to know how to go about snake photography. So, I decided to publish it on the internet, in stead of writing individual mails. I have explained about snake photography on my own blog and websites, as much as I know, nothing has been hidden. I love to share my experiences and knowledge with everyone. So, this will be a sincere endeavour to disseminate knowledge about snakes through my camera lens.
Snake photography is not at all difficult, provided you know the snakes well (you are supposed to know your subject well, in any case for good photography), one should have a competent snake handler for the snake shoot, follow the safety instructions, suitable camera equipment, etc.
Many Flickr viewers have commented on my snake photos there that I am gutsy, bold, brave and what not. I do not agree with all that. Fact remains, when you know about snakes well and about the consequences of snakebite, you are more scared and respect snakes more! Its just a matter of practice and knowing your subject, keeping in mind the safety. In this case, self discipline, planning the shoot and clarity are most important.