The images wildlife photographers make are a reflection into their own lives. They are not only a mere presentation of their subject but a reflection into a photographers connection to them, their style and to a large extent their perception of their own reality – Gaurav Mittal
The very words from this young and talented photographer Gaurav Mittal gives an indication to his vision and unique take on photography. These words are so meaningful and thought-provoking.
Very few bird photographers have achieved the success that Gaurav has achieved in less than 2 years.
His thoughts and techniques would reveal more about his success in bird photography. So, without much delay, let’s explore the story behind Gaurav Mittal’s bird photography.
Prathap: Welcome to Nature Photography Simplified. I am very excited to have you here.
Gaurav Mittal: Thank you Prathap, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you about my photography.
Prathap: Your journey as a Bird Photographer began in 2011, when you visited Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico. Were you photographing anything else before that? When did you start your journey as a Photographer?
Gaurav Mittal: Prior to Bird Photography, I was photographing landscapes and wildlife in general. In 2010 I took up a course and started learning the basics of photography and camera use. As a young boy I always had an affection and fascination for wildlife and as I grew older my desire to spend more time outdoors and be able to photograph nature’s wonders grew stronger. The opportunity to work under some of the best wildlife photographers has given me invaluable experiences.
Prathap: You believe that “Bird Photography is an art which cannot be mastered until you have a vision”. Would you like to throw some light on this?
Gaurav Mittal: I believe that you need to have a purpose for your photography, without which you cannot set goals and aim for what it is that your images are conveying. I consider the “mood” of an image as a good vehicle for conveying that vision.
The Foggy afternoon in Bharatpur was very atmospheric; as I wandered along a trail I came upon this scene of a lonely Stork. The soft light and a single stork standing in this vast foggy scape immediately had me thinking of the solitude and somber nature of the scene. I then composed this image and placed the stork close to the Rule of Thirds, including enough area on top to convey the overall mood of the scene.
Prathap: This stunning and intimate photo of the Sandhill Cranes pair, “Kissed in the Mist”, was an eye opener for you to explore bird photography with a new-found vision. What exactly did you feel at that time? What was your immediate reaction?
Gaurav Mittal: In the process of evolving as a photographer, there are those moments where you discover the niche that you should focus on. The atmosphere and the hundreds of Cranes all around, got me to focus and wait patiently to capture this moment.
Even at the infancy stage of my bird photography career, I was able to sense and capture the behavior. I found my keen sense of observation and concentration here, as a discovery into my own sense and that is very special.
A photographer’s romance and feeling for their photography should reflect in their images, this moment gave me just that.
Please note that this image was processed in Color Efex Pro for color enhancement.
Prathap: From 2011 to till date, you have published only handful of images. Most of them are very unique and noteworthy. Do you always look out for something unique or do you take some photographs that you love?
Gaurav Mittal: I have found that I’m taking more time between each image making as I look for the unique moments; yes I do photograph just for myself too. That helps my growth in improving my skills.
Also, Photography is an Art, and Art takes time to create.
Prathap: “The Rising”, is probably a mirror to your photographic vision. Killer composition, subtle colors, perfect exposure, realistic processing and the mood of this photograph shows the perfect craftsmanship. Could you describe the making of this exceptional photograph?
Gaurav Mittal: I look to create images that not only capture a fleeting moment in nature but also generate an emotion. What makes Keoladeo National Park very unique is the scattered presence of dried up and petrified trees. The Peafowl, national bird of India, can be found roosting on these trees which yields some wonderful photographic moments.
The rising sun and the calls of the Peafowl brings forth the park to life and sets a very ambient mood, this is where patience and persistence plays a key role in successful image making.
I spent a week trying to capture this moment however the right elements: the rising sun, the peafowl and the right tree, which helped in creating a balanced framing, did not come together till the last day. It was only after many failed attempts that I was able to capture the moment that defines the feel and mood of this park.
Planning, patience, persistence pays off.
Prathap: Yet another exceptional photograph of a Sandhill Crane. Superb clarity, complementing and clean background, wonderful wings position, just enough post processing make it such a brilliant photograph. Can you tell us how you get superior clarity and quality in your images?
Gaurav Mittal: The clarity and quality of an image depends largely on the color and quality of light. In nature photography, you are rewarded if you wait for the time when the natural light is at it’s sweetest.
Early morning and late afternoon are best times to photograph birds.That being said, knowing your equipment, proper shooting techniques and just the right amount of post processing are also important.
Prathap: Whenever I look at this photograph of Long-billed Curlew, I feel as if I was there watching the bird. It is very lively and intimate photograph. How did you achieve such perspective?
Gaurav Mittal: As one of the moderators of a birds forum on a nature photography portals, I critique images and I often tell people to get down and get low. Getting to eye level with your subject helps in making the intimate connection. Whenever possible, I like to get down to eye level with the bird.
Prathap: This intimate photograph of Cormorants is so beautifully composed. The post processing job is commendable here. Could you suggest basic composition and post processing techniques to our readers?
Gaurav Mittal: Composition is a very personal preference; there really is no wrong composition. The rule of third is a good place to start but I suggest not becoming a slave to it, you will limit your creativity.
The courting behavior of the Flightless Cormorants was a lovely sight, the crossing beaks was very special. I chose to put them in the center and fill the frame because I wanted to direct the viewer’s attention to this behavior.
A proper workflow is necessary for processing an image. In short, I begin by shooting in raw as it gives me flexibility while editing, I use Lightroom for cataloging and Raw conversion, I then do my basic white balance, minor cropping and color correction. From here I open my images in Photoshop and when called for, will use plugins such as Color Efex Pro for any enhancements. Finally, I will resize the image and then sharpen as a last step.
Prathap: Do you conduct any photography workshop? It might be of interest to some of our readers.
Gaurav Mittal: I’m presently in the planning stages of my first workshop; you can expect to see my first one in Bharatpur in December this year. More information will become available on my website in the coming months.
Prathap: You have a wonderful blog on bird photography. Would you like to give some information so that our readers can learn more from you?
Gaurav Mittal: I will be launching my revamped website in a few weeks, it will provide larger images with a better viewing experience. New images will also be added. I will also be adding more blog posts with the launch of the new site, including more on post processing techniques and my travel experiences and field reports.
I thank Gaurav on behalf of Nature Photography Simplified for this wonderful and insightful interview. I hope you enjoyed this interview with Gaurav Mittal as much as I did.
I would recommend you to check out Gaurav’s website http://gauravmittal.com/to see his fabulous portfolio. Also check out his blog http://gauravmittal.com/blog/ to learn more about bird photography. I really like Gaurav’s friendly and down to earth writing style.
Follow Gaurav Mittal on his facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GauravMittalPhotography.
Gaurav is a Moderator in Naturscapes.net bird forum where he critique images and offer advice on improving shooting techniques as well as processing tips. It is a very useful resource for the bird photographers.
Now is your turn to let me know how useful, inspiring and thought provoking this interview was. I am sure Gaurav will be happy to interact with you if you have any questions.
Talk to you soon