Photography in the Wilderness.
From the moment I got hands on my new digital camera, a Canon Powershot A530, I’ve always wanted to take it out into the wilderness to give it a try. So far all my experiments have been in well controlled or at the least, a partially controlled environment, that was till today.
Today I had the unique experience of doing some trekking on the outskirts of the city and managed to give my camera a test drive. And to say the least, I am happy to report that it came out with flying colors and some cool shots without any problems at all. But this post is not about the photos. Its about the experience of taking photos in the wilderness, or at least the semi-wilderness that I ventured into today.
The day started fine, a lazy Saturday with great weather and no clouds. When I came to my senses after waking up and seeing the bright sky, I was cursing myself for missing the golden hour in the morning. The golden hour in the morning is sometime after dawn (around 6 or 7’o clock here) where the sun isn’t too bright, the air isn’t do dusty and the weather is just right for clicking all the great shots you ever wanted.
Without loosing hope, I dressed up, strapped on my camera and headed out into the wilderness. You can always count on public transportation to get you there and that’s what I did. After landing near the outskirts of the city, I walked for sometime randomly on the highway between Ahmedabad and Gandhi Nagar, until I found what one could call wilderness, or at-least semi-arid shrub land with a smattering of trees on the edges and a nice green ceiling cover further inside. This is kind of rare in the burgeoning urban sprawl that has mostly destroyed such areas. I guess I was just lucky to find it.
One thing that I learned today, and which I should have already thought about is the importance of good shoes. The wilderness is swarming with bugs and many-legged slimy creatures from hell of all sizes, shapes and colors. Many of them are narcissists in their own way that they leave a potentially allergic trail of acids and other odd oozes. You wouldn’t want one to leave its trail on your feet. So I had to not only watch what I step on, as in the undergrowth there is a lot of things that you can step on, but also be cognizant about what is trying to step on me.
The second important thing I learned today is that when you are in insect territory using the flash is not such a great idea. These insects have adapted to the natural lighting around them that a flash always gets them disturbed. Its not good to use the flash indiscriminately with wasps with nasty stings buzzing around. But some times, the flash is good and can create great lighting effects. Since you have no control over the surrounding lighting, some kind of flash is helpful but one has to be pretty careful not to get stung.
Apart from lessons in practical wilderness photography, there were a whole bunch of other things that I got to know. But lets get back, to our semi-arid shrub land. I walked around near the outskirts fearing that I might get lost, but since there wasn’t nothing interesting that really caught my eye, I started to aimlessly wander around there and sometime later, I found an amazingly beautiful yet thickly forested area. With lots of tall trees, odd flowers and some nice surroundings overall. This was literally a godsend.
The first thing that caught my eye was this bright riot of yellow and orange. A marigold bush out in the wilderness. It seemed out of place that I concluded that it was a feral. It was in full bloom, spreading its brightness all over the place. Something that you couldn’t stop clicking at. So how could I? After a few shots, I managed to wean myself of the addictive beauty of the marigold bush and started ambling around. Then I found a bunch of trees, all tall strong, with flat and bright green leaves, laden with fruits. The green top of the lone piece of vegetation in midst of the urban sprawl. I found a red flower which I couldn’t identify then, but my guess for it is a hibiscus. The backdrop against the setting sun made it just beautiful.
Only after I took the shot I realized something, the setting sun! I had ambled around this place for so much time that I had spent almost four hours clicking!. And evening was fast approaching. With my feeble knowledge of Hindi and an even dimmer knowledge of Gujarati I knew there was no way I could get home after dark. So I had to reluctantly leave this wonderful wilderness to the monotony of urban life in Ahmedabad.
Ahmedabad, for all its monotony is still a unique place which is not without its opportunities for some one with a keen eye and a willingness to click. But that’s another saga for another day!
You can also check out some other great photos of mine here.