Ever tried bird watching?
I started bird watching almost two years back. It has been a whole lot of fun. I began to think I was getting to be quite a pro. I could spot and identify quite a few birds from around Bangalore. But just last week I had my comfortable bubble get busted!
I was a part of the Naturalist training program by S. Karthikeyan on the 8th to 10th of this month. The best way to put what I did there is this: I learnt how to observe more about the natural world. It’s been a couple of years since I decided I wanted to be a naturalist amongst other things. But where does one start? There is a crazy amount to learn about the ecosystems around us. I don’t think I can ever stop learning. There isn’t a syllabus, there isn’t a test, there isn’t even anything close to a textbook!
Karthik taught us a remarkably simple trick when I was at the training. It actually is one that others have been telling me to start doing for some time now. He says that when you go out to the field, what you see, you should write down or draw out. It helps in two ways. One, it makes you remember what you saw. Two, just because you want to fill the page up with fancy stuff, you start observing a lot more! For example, does a myna hop, or walk? Don’t worry, everyone thinks twice when first asked that question
The amount of difference that this made to my observational skills was incredible! I had two and a half days on this trip, and another fellow student even offered to lend me his super fancy telephoto lens to try out. But, I left my camera behind on our trips and took with me only my sketchbook and pencil.
There’s lots of learning to talk about from the trip, and I’m sure I can go on and on, but, I wanted also to tell you how this helped my photography. How does the idea of quality, not quantity affect photography? A few days after the program, I went to Hebbal lake, and spent the entire morning studying a group of cormorants.
Apart from learning a lot about these interesting birds, I also tried a few things with my photography. One was to visualize the photograph I wanted, and then shoot a maximum of three times before I got it. That was the image above.
I then tried shooting the bird while flying. My lens is a slow one, so I kept having trouble focusing, but I got a few neat images, and I like the feel to this one. The space makes it slightly contemplative, don’t you think?
The next thing I tried, was to stay put in one place for an hour or so until the birds started getting used to the idea of a human being there and came closer to where I was. This fellow started fishing just 10 feet away from the place I was sitting at. I keep wondering sometimes how long I can sit at a place and wait. While the two hours that I was here didn’t seem like any effort at all, the 6 days that Sandesh Kadur waited at a place for this footage must have been quite the exercise in patience. Can I do that? I’m not sure…
I’m looking forward to spending one day a week that I’ve promised myself out in the field. If what I’ve learnt in the brief hours I spent at Hebbal is anything to go by, I’m going to learn tons about the nature around me. Karthik, thank you for that wonderful, wonderful workshop. It was a home-coming experience.
If anyone is interested in more details about the actual workshop, check out Badri’s blog here.
Have you tried bird watching? Do you ever sketch birds?