The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Off to shoot game, camera in hand

The two men run their own businesses on working days, but during holidays, it’s off to the countryside, to shoot the wildlife. Be it three days or 30, as many times a year as possible, Joydip Kundu and Rajarshi Banerji escape, to capture the flora, fauna and animal life, on film. It’s not just a hobby, but a passion with a purpose — appreciation of beauty, awareness and conservation.

From venues nearer home, like Salt Lake and Narendrapur, to Bharatpur in Rajasthan, and everything in between, such as the Sunderbans, Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Orissa, Bihar, Uttaranchal and even Nepal. The images on display at Gaganendra Shilpa Pradarshashala are a study in the diversity of birds and animals found in India; perfect portraits of them stolen in brief moments.

The Kiss (two tigers nuzzling) or Clash of Titans (two deer locking horns), a leaping langur or a pair of lotus buds, painted storks with a sunset in the backdrop or a lonely coot on the water — each frame captures the essence of nature in all its wild glory.

For Rajarshi, it’s been a ‘pastime’ for over 20 years. His particular favourite is the tiger. “I have seen them from as close as a few feet. I don’t really get scared anymore. They are magnificent creatures, but apart from in the Sunderbans, they don’t attack you unless you threaten them. It’s never easy shooting wildlife though, because nature never waits for you. So, composing a picture is nearly impossible. It’s usually a question of chance and luck, and being at the right place at the right time. Just one frame, in a split second.”

The man with a food-processing business says he would love to make wildlife photography his full-time occupation, but has “too many responsibilities”, including a few hundred employees, a wife and daughter. In fact, his wife, he says, is his constant companion. “Although it has been more difficult since my daughter was born, we have taken her along on occasion, too.”

Joydip, who has been practising photography for about six years, was “drawn towards wildlife” by his wife, an active conservationist and his travelling companion. “I just love the beauty. Besides, I’m always learning something new. That’s part of the fun, because you’ve never seen it all. Every season has its own magic. That is why I keep going back to the same places, at different times of the year,” he smiles.

Rajarshi adds that even after 20 years, he’s still learning. Camping trips in freezing winters or hot summers, carrying lenses that sometimes weigh more than a normal person could tolerate, waiting patiently for hours for an animal who might not even show up… These are just some of the hazards. But the end result of one well-captured image makes it all worthwhile, declares the duo.

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