Last December, I had the pleasure of meeting Gaurav Mittal in person in Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary – A Birder’s Paradise. It was such a joy to meet passionate person like him, especially because we share similar interests.
We spent several hours discussing about bird photography, our likes and dislikes, and spent few good hours photographing together. Overall, it was a great experience!
Today, I bring you yet another interview of this very talented bird photographer from Delhi, Gaurav Mittal. If you missed his previous interview, I recommend you to read the article Interview with Gaurav Mittal: A Young and Talented Bird Photographer.
Prathap: Hi Gaurav! I am very glad to have you here again. I know that you are one of very few guys who visit Keoladeo National Park (Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary) several times a year. Would you please describe why you are so attached to this place?
Gaurav Mittal: Hello Prathap, thank you for inviting me back for another interview. Yes, in the last year alone I have been to Bharatpur just about every month on an average. First of all, Bharatpur is amongst the few places where my bird photography began, there is that sentimental aspect. Then, I’m also involved in conservation projects for the park. Obviously, I really love the feel of this place and the birds. Over the years, I have also become close to the locals here.
Prathap: You seem to be guide the birds to sit on branch so that you can get the Sun disk behind J What’s your secret?
Gaurav Mittal: Unlike in setup situations, there is no possible way for me to guide the birds in wild to fly to a location of my choice. As I always tell others, knowledge about your subjects as well their habitat helps in locating the whereabouts of the birds.
I pre-visualize the kind of images I like to make before I get to the location and approach accordingly. Finally it is important to decide the elements you want to keep in your images. As I like to create silhouettes of birds with them in front of the sun, I have to move myself around to bring the elements together.
Prathap: Since you visit Bharatpur often, do you keep something in mind like specific composition, bird, background, or something that you want to create? Or you would be more open to what nature has to offer that day?
Gaurav Mittal: As I have mentioned above, I like to pre-visualize the kind of images I would like to make. It gives you a clear sense of direction and purpose for your photography, that being said; in nature there is nothing certain, subject behavior, elements of weather can play role in making or breaking the image making process.
I do however like to embrace whatever nature has in store for me and try to come up with different images by using various techniques, for example on dark and cloudy days, I like to use fill flash on birds. Fill flash adds endless possibilities to the creative process.
Shooting bird portraits is something I absolute enjoy, they give the birds a human touch and lets us look through to their soul, moreover, it adds grace to them. Bird portraits to me are similar to human portraits for the above reason.
Prathap: “Kissed in the Mist” photo of Sandhill Cranes that I featured in your previous interview was so very beautiful and unique. This time around, you have this beautiful pair of Drongos, what inspires you to take such photographs?
Gaurav Mittal: Being a bird photographer, I would say that I have a passion for birds and I will often spend hours and days photographing one bird, even if it is a common Drongo. We like to create images, which invoke emotions and very often we look to relate a birds/wildlife behavior to that of ours, it is also one of the ways to make a connection with our subject.
I look for the extraordinary in an ordinary situation, which requires patience and commitment.
Prathap: You seem to photograph lot of silhouettes; do you recommend some useful tips and settings to our readers?
Gaurav Mittal: Silhouettes are a great way to convey a mood of a particular situation. When executed properly, they convey drama and leave a sense of mystery about the subject, leaving the viewer to imagine and create their own interpretation of the moment or the subject.
Some basic tips to keep in mind when shooting silhouettes are; source of light should be from behind the subject, meter the brighter parts of the image and not the backlit subject as this can fool the camera into over exposing the bird. Silhouettes are best executed with a good overall composition and more dramatic when the subject is in front of a setting sun as well as a clear background.
Prathap: Congratulations on your new website http://www.gauravmittal.com. You are conducting your first workshop exclusively on bird photography in Keoladeo National Park this Jan 29th. Why did you choose Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary for conducting workshop?
Gaurav Mittal: Thanks Prathap. Yes the new website is a labor of love and has a host of information on it, there is a workshop tab (http://www.gauravmittal.com/workshops/) to look for current workshops and this will also be the place for listing of my future workshops. I also have an active blog with field reports, post processing techniques and product reviews as well.
As I have mentioned in the beginning, Bharatpur is one of the places where I began my bird photography, so it only apt that I launch my first workshop from there, it really is an honor that I take participants and showcase the beauty of Bharatpur.
Prathap: How different is your workshop compared to the other workshops? What are the key takeaways for anyone who is interested?
Gaurav Mittal: Prathap, I firmly believe that a professional wildlife photographer leading a workshop should spend minimum amount of time behind their own camera and maximum amount of time standing besides or behind the participants, helping them understand the concepts of bird/wildlife photography.
My first workshop in Bharatpur caters to a small group of six and all future workshops will be the same setup, this will allow me to provide attention individually to all participants.
Ultimately, my goal is group satisfaction with the images they take back from my workshops and knowing that they came away with valuable knowledge.
Prathap: If our readers are interested to join your workshop, where can they find the complete details?
Gaurav Mittal: There is comprehensive detail about my workshop in Bharatpur including a frequently asked questions section on my website. Participants can register thru the website or email me at email@example.com for further details. Here is the link to workshop: www.gauravmittal.com/workshops. Click on the Bharapur workshop schedule once you reach the page from the above link.
To further explore the kind of images one can expect to make in Bharatpur you can also see some of my blog posts at:
Prathap: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule and sharing your thoughts with us, Gaurav. On behalf of our readers, I wish you good luck for all your future endeavors!
Gaurav Mittal: Again, Thank you Prathap for inviting me back to Nature Photography Simplified. It was a pleasure speaking with you.
I hope you enjoyed this interview with Gaurav and got inspired. I aspire to bring you more and more such interviews in the future to get you a new perspective on photography.
Do let me know if you have any questions for Gaurav, in comments. I would try and get them answered.