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Thursday, July 15, 2021

Grey-headed swamphen


Grey-headed swamphen
 (Porphyrio poliocephalus) is a common inhabitant of marshy, vegetated freshwater bodies. The male has an elaborate courtship display, holding water weeds in his bill and bowing to the female with loud chuckles.

The Grey-headed Swamphens are generally seasonal breeders, but the season varies across their large range, correlating with peak rainfall in many places, or summer in more temperate climes. The Grey-headed Swamphen breeds in warm reed beds. In the western parts of the range the pattern of social behaviour tends to be monogamy, but cooperative breeding groups are more common in the eastern parts of the range. These groups may consist of multiple females and males sharing a nest or a male female pair with helpers drawn from previous clutches.

*The image was made at Mote Majra, Punjab in 2020.


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Secret behind an excellent photograph!


What is the secret behind an excellent photograph or how to make an outstanding image?  It sounds like an interesting question, which generates curiosity in our minds and  makes us think of possible answers. There is no scientific method to answer this simple question. Also, the reply of a seasoned professional will differ from that of a photo-enthusiast. Peoples’ perception  varies from person to person because of many factors including socio-cultural outlook. So does the perception of jury may vary which can turn an award winning image into an ordinary one. But what is the secret behind an excellent image.

While discussing the “secret”, no ace photographer will ever talk about his photography  gear  because he knows its not that important. What do you think ? Does the gear matter the most? No. What matters the most is the insight  into what  one thinks  while composing the shot and pressing the shutter release button.

Its a fact that the most powerful sensor to record an outstanding image is not in any camera, but in yourself. You are to understand and explore it. Therefore, the secret lies in your ability to recognize what your sensor  can record better. If you are very keen to create your own visual signature, please look within yourself. Yes, within your-self.

There is a word of caution. One should not get misled by marketing gimmicks of camera manufacturers and the so called “wow” factor on social media where even the novice comment like a master.

The desire to make an outstanding photograph emanates even before buying a camera. But did you ever think that all great photographers have one thing in common. What is that which makes their works inspire the viewers and makes their images highly different from others. Its their ability to tell a story. Yes, a visual story with a difference.  Even the images of wild life having a story make lasting impact. Remember an image with a story, one that evokes emotions and curiosity will certainly over ride other images.

Some bird photographers are so much obsessed with the concept of story- telling that once  while reading some of the reviews of images of wildlife including those of birds at a website of nature photography, I found a few of the photographers who had clearly mentioned that before going out to photograph birds they had a story in their minds. This also underlines the significance of going out well prepared not only with the equipment, but also with thorough knowledge of behavior of the species that you may encounter.

Making only record  images of birds  or animals, when they are not in action or not showing any behavioral trait,  is a useless exercise. Look at images posted in social media sites and you will see a majority of these appear to be record shots because they do not have a story. One must try to understand  how a  “visual story” is scripted ? One must learn to observe the subject and surroundings. Yes, with patience.

Get the factors like desire and curiosity infused in yourself. Just think of great adventures, all these were conceived and planned  with ‘desire’ and ‘curiosity’. The way you view your subject impacts your style of photography. Therefore, one has to think like a visual story-teller, and not like a photographer. While making photographs, let desire and curiosity guide you. Lay emphasis on details and capture moments that most would let pass by. Do it with confidence, you may have a super zoom, but lack of confidence will get you a blurred or shaky image.

If you feel stagnation in your work flow, try to learn like a fresher. Remember, the limitations in your photography are within yourself. You have to  “unlearn  to learn” or say reboot the computer. Make a point not to follow the prevailing trends, but try to  pave your own way. It will make you realize that the secret to outstanding image is short  and easy to achieve.

Subhash Sapru



Wednesday, May 5, 2021

PSA-PJ IDG Group 02 General


When I joined the Photographic Society of America (PSA) in 1998, thanks to my brother Mr Brij M, Sapru and his wife Dr. Krishna Sapru, I also sought membership of its both Study Groups of Photojournalism and Human Interest. I did so because in those days my main interest in photography used to capture the element of human interest.

Thereafter began a series of my participation in world-wide exhibitions and in many exhibitions my PJ images bagged awards and appreciation for their high journalistic content. Then in 2003 I was assigned to author a book on photojournalism in Hindi language for the students of journalism in Hindi speaking states of India.

Later on, around 2015, I found myself motivated towards bird photography and did it with ease and pleasure. I was doing it , am still doing it in 2021, despite some health issues. It was in April 2021 that the Administrator of the PJ Study group of PSA sent an email to the members of the group that as he has been elevated in PSA, he will join the new position in October but the new group will commence in May,’21. To keep the group functional, the PJ Division of the PSA sought volunteers. A few days later I received a proposal from new Director of PJ Study Groups asking me if I shall volunteer to be the Administrator of the Group. I agreed for General PJ Group as I do not have much experience for Sports photography, the other group. The PSA has new PJ groups with new software.

It was in the last week of April ’21 that I got all the basic instructions and guidance from the new Director and the Webmaster to run the Study Group. I was a little hesitant in doing it because I am not much familiar with such softwares . Anyway I am getting good support and have started my work. Hope it will be a good experience and my fellow members will enjoy it.

Interestingly, the members of the group include two women. I am keen to see the women perspective in photojournalism. In our country I have neither seen many women photojournalists nor are their many women having photography as a hobby. But at present their number is gradually increasing and its very encouraging.