As a photographer who enjoys shooting landscapes, I have often wished to live in higher latitudes and away from tropics. Tropical weather and light doesn’t yield well to landscape photography: it is often colourless, hazy and harsh. The window of good light is very small, often limited to a few minutes during sunrise and sunset hours. But when you enjoy doing something, you would rather work with what you have than spend time with wishful thinking.
It was with this spirit that we–some landscape photographers from Bangalore–decided to head out a few weeks ago and explore the neighbourhood. We approached this meticulously, researching the places and assessing the opportunities beforehand. A couple of phone calls were made to regular travellers, seeking information. We looked up Google Earth to zero-in on precise locations that may offer good landscape photography opportunities.
After much discussion and contemplation, a plan was hatched to photograph Savandurga, a large monolithic hill to the west of Bangalore, about an hour’s drive away. But deciding on a subject wasn’t good enough. Given the limited window of good light we were getting, we wouldn’t have the luxury to go there and randomly lookout for locations. Instead, we studied the terrain in detail on Google Earth, shortlisted a few precise points from which the photographs could be shot. We also charted out a small areas where we would do reconnaissance for a future visit.
After completing all the homework, we headed out the next day towards Savandurga, leaving home at 4am to catch the early morning light, passing through a reservoir for an early morning shoot before reaching Savandurga. That day, we would only do some opportunistic photography around Savandurga, but spend time studying the place and return again later.
After the early morning at the reservoir, we arrived at a lake near the monolith. The location turned out to be better than we expected. There were a few wildflowers blooming on the lake shore with butterflies buzzing around them. We spent some time photographing in the area, trying to get butterflies as well as the monolithic hill in the frame.
Later, once we were done shooting and the light was no longer conducive, we walked further west of the lake and examined a few more places to shoot from. We located some smaller water bodies and dilapidated structures that made good foregrounds to photograph Savandurga from.
A week later, we were back again, this time in the evening, to make images from the places we had scouted in the first visit. This time, knowing the terrain better, I had already worked some compositions in my mind. Although we spent about two hours in the area, I made exactly one image that I had come prepared for, taking time to perfect it with a few variations.
The homework we did helped make the best use the limited good-light window and come back with the images I wanted. Without any preparation, we may have wandered these landscapes for hours and allow much of our photography to depend on luck.