How do you picture a wildlife photographer – A person in camouflaged clothes carrying an array of huge lenses and heavy camera bodies, patiently observing the wild, from a distance. What if all those camera innovations could just fit into his pocket? Nothing like innovation packed in a sleek body that slips right into your pocket making not just your movement easy but your shots flawless.
National Geographic Photographer & Explorer, Prasenjeet Yadav captured the cover shot for the March edition of National Geographic Traveller India in the sky islands of the Western Ghats using Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G.
Life of a wildlife photographer can be both exciting and daunting. Here’s our conversation with Prasenjeet Yadav about his adventures in the wild –
You were a molecular ecologist, what made you take up wildlife photography?
Prasenjeet: I grew up in a jungle and wildlife was always a part of my life. I thought I could pursue a career relating to wildlife only if I became a scientist. However, I noticed that people who shared spaces with wildlife had no clue what the papers, publications and journals that scientists put out meant. That’s when I decided to take a sabbatical to figure out ways to explain this science to larger audiences. I became a photographer to tell stories using the visual medium, and what was supposed to be a six month sabbatical has now been on for eight years.
Describe your first experience of photography in the wild? What attracted you the most?
Prasenjeet: It is difficult to remember the first memory because I’ve always been in the wild. I was always exploring the jungle the way no one else did – I was living in the jungle. People would go to tiger reserves, I would just step out of my house (my father’s farm that is 60 kms from Nagpur) to explore wildlife around. The first time I took a camera into a forest was in the Agumbe rainforest in Karnataka and I immediately fell in love.
How was the experience of shooting the cover for Nat Geo Traveller India with the Galaxy S21 Ultra?
Prasenjeet: OMG! This was one of the craziest assignments I have ever done. Not because of the place of shoot or the subject I was shooting, but because of the equipment that I was carrying to tell the story. I was using the new Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G with 108MP lens and great camera capabilities to tell an extensive story of the landscape of sky islands in the Western Ghats and the species living there, over seven amazing days.
At first, it seemed unimaginable to photograph the wild using a smartphone but the results were just amazing!
How did the 8K Video Snap help you in capturing ‘the moment’?
Prasenjeet: When I was told that I could shoot a video in 8K and then extract a high-resolution photograph from it, it seemed hard to believe. But when I started to use it, I realized it delivered incredible videos and photos and I could do much more. I didn’t have to choose between shooting videos or taking photographs. That’s how I got my perfect shot with the 8K Video Snap feature, which became the cover of National Geographic Traveller India.
Which feature of Galaxy S21 Ultra did you like the most?
Prasenjeet: Hands down, the Pro Mode on the Galaxy S21 Ultra! The kind of control it gives you – from changing the aperture to shutter speed to ISO to white balance. These are all the features that I actually need to get a great shot. The camera has its own range and its own algorithm to create these pictures but sometimes you have to override those algorithms to bring in your own creativity. The fact that Galaxy S21 Ultra allows me to make that switch and allows me to add my creativity to the camera makes it extremely unique.
Never before have I used a smartphone camera that has given me this level of control.
How close were the images to what you actually saw?
Prasenjeet: It is tough to compare any camera lens with human eyes, but the reason I enjoyed using the Pro Mode is because it helped me figure the right lighting and controls to get bright lights and colours into the camera lens. That control definitely allowed me to get pictures that are actually very close to what I saw.
Two tips for Wildlife photography enthusiasts?
Prasenjeet: Always read up about the species that you intend to click. If you have missed doing that, then make sure to educate yourself after taking the picture.
Secondly, always maintain a safe distance. Do not go too close to the species that you don’t know about. You might scare them or they might hurt you. A big advantage of the 108MP Galaxy S21 Ultra is that you can take photos from a distance without disturbing the wildlife and their immediate environment.