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Photographer of the Week – Sushil Chikane


sushil-chikane-profile-webI am a photo artist based out of Pune, Maharashtra, India. I have traversed India extensively and there's nothing I love doing more. With a cumulative experience of 15 years in the field in association with an array of organizations and being trained in biodiversity, I have had the privilege to observe some very fascinating species. My pictures have been published in some leading magazines like Heritage India, Saevus and Sanctuary Asia and in books such as the Reptiles of Western Ghats. I garner deep love for India and try to tell stories through my photographs.

What's in your bag?

Canon 60D
Canon 1100D
Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DI VC
Canon 18-55 mm IS STM f/3.5-5.6
Canon 55-250 mm IS II f/4-5.6
Tamron 90 mm f/2.8 Di
Raynox 250

When did you start photography?

I took to photography with a point and shoot camera to photo document various species during my research products. Having done it for a while, I explored serious photography when I bought my DSLR in 2010. With time I have explored photography with various lenses I could afford.

Favourite location?

Western Ghats, India: Western Ghats are a unique habitat. With most species endemic to it, it has the world biodiversity hotspot status. It is always interesting to explore and photography species here.

Latest wildlife picture

Bamboo Pit Viper. While on a hike in the Western Ghats, I found two bamboo pit vipers in close proximity. One was a male - dark brown, small compared to a female, coiled up in the undergrowth. The other was a big two and a half feet female - bright green with a black pattern on her back, coiled up on a moss grown branch. I was pleased to photograph both the colour morphs and the standard pit viper s-shaped coiled pose.

Who are your heroes?

Yuwaraj Gurjar: He is a leading macro photographer in India and a good friend. He inspires me as he does not let a single opportunity go in the field. He keeps exploring with his gear and subjects and surprises me every time with a new image.

Best piece of advice

I was once told that there is no need to click multiple shots just because you can and then delete some later. The message was to click a few, well-thought through images. This has helped me as I now try to take fewer, more sensible shots instead of clicking multiple images, most of which I will never use.

Favourite subject?

Reptiles. They are a diverse family. Each of the species is unique. Reptiles provide me with the opportunity to click various colours, textures and patterns.

Favourite lens?

My current favourite lens is the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di. It works best to photograph macro. In future I wish to have a canon 70-200mm f/2.8. It will help me to photograph mammals during safaris in low light.

Most memorable moment?

It would have to be a tiger and crocodile encounter. It was a summer morning. We rushed to a river bank where we had seen a dean blue bull killed by two young tigers. To our surprise, the kill was missing. We scanned the bank but failed to see anything. It was then that I spotted a crocodile pop up on the water surface and with it came a dead antelope. As it fed on the stolen antelope undisturbed, a young tiger appeared on the bank. It snarled at the crocodile. Unlike adult tigers, the amateur had not hidden it's kill which then was claimed by the crocodile. The tiger kept growling at the crocodile but the crocodile fed on the kill undisturbed. Its sheer size made it this confident. We saw this interaction for an hour until the tiger finally entered the water and sat next to the crocodile. The crocodile seemed undisturbed and finished the kill. The young tiger, small in size could only sit in the water watch its kill disappear.

Photo caption: Fan Throated Lizard, Satara, Maharashtra, India, Canon 60D, Canon 55-250mm IS II F/4-5.6, f/7.1, 1/400sec, ISO 100

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