December 13, 2016
A perfect picture of a green vine snake captured in its habitat in the Amboli rain forest in Maharashtra on a cloudy morning in July 2016 managed to catch the eyes of the editors at National Geographic. The picture fetched city-based Varun Aditya first place in the Animal Portraits category in the magazine’s ‘Nature Photographer of the year’ contest.
However, despite the beauty of the image that won it the first prize, the effort behind the lens by Varun (25) contributed to the victory by and large. He is the first Indian to win the first prize in the contest ever.
“I had to crouch as much as possible to get eye to eye with the snake after approaching it very cautiously. The ground was filled with slippery mud and I was soaked in it. I shot a sequence of 23 shots to get the perfect picture and hoped that the result would be better than my mud-spoiled looks,” Varun said.
Varun was in fact in the place to capture the Malabar gliding frog, endemic to the Western Ghats, and found the snake when he was searching for the florescent coloured tadpoles of the frog. “It was then I found this snake and quickly managed to change my macro lens with a wide angle lens, with which I clicked the pic,” he told The Covai Post.
The trip, despite winning him the much-coveted prize along with a cash award of $2500, also damaged one of his cameras. “Getting a professional camera was very tough in the early years, so losing one is always sad. Yet, it is because of that sacrifice that I won the award,” he opined.
Varun has visited more than 25 sanctuaries around the world and named the Masai Mara in the Kenyan savannah as his favourite spot in the world. “The people there respect the animals a lot; there are a lot many animals so you can get a better shot,” he said, adding that a picture he took at Panama of a pelican diving to catch a fish was his all-time favourite.
“I had to be very patient to take the shot as the boat we were on was shaky. The bird was fast too, but I managed to take the pic. It was a special feeling as it also happened during a Nat Geo expedition,” Varun said.
Varun has been taking photographs for the past five years and is also involved in share trading.