Underwater, camera trap, and drone images – Nature inFocus founder Rohit Varma on wildlife photography trends of 2021

In our photo essay series on this annual nature photography competition, we feature more stunning images along with creative insights.
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Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 555 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

Award winners of the annual Nature inFocus Photography and Film Contest were recently announced in Bengaluru. The annual event has been held online in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

Nature inFocus was founded by wildlife photographers Rohit Varma and Kalyan Varma. See our coverage of the 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017 contest editions, and Part I of the 2021 edition here.

With permission from Nature inFocus, PhotoSparks has reproduced some of the finalist and winner images in this article series. Award prizes are Rs 50,000 (category winner), Rs 25,000 (runner-up) and Rs 10,000 (second runner-up).

This year, the contest received about 18,000 images from more than 2,000 competing photographers across 40 countries.

A Bush Elephant - Staffan Widstrand

“The challenge over the last two years has been the virtual nature of the contest and the festival. Online events cannot replicate the excitement and energy of a physical event,” Rohit Varma explains, in a two-part interview with YourStory.

“All the participants being physically present at the award ceremony, the thrill of not knowing whether they have won or not, or what they have won, and being able to meet the judges in person – that is a completely different experience,” he enthuses.

The jury this year comprised Andy Rouse, Bahar Dutt, Dhritiman Mukherjee, Navaneeth Unnikrishnan, and Rathika Ramasamy.

As trends in the field, Rohit points to photographers exploring new territories and techniques. “We have been receiving more underwater, camera trap, and drone images,” Rohit observes.

After ‘While Crocodile! —Rajat Subhra Pramanick

“More than species portraits and natural history moments, it is the aesthetically appealing and creative images that have been dominating the list of winners this year,” he adds.

This time, the images highlighted key issues like plastic pollution and deforestation. They also shone a light on some lesser-known species and animal behaviours.

The pandemic has been a hard time for the arts and photography communities. “Wildlife photographers and filmmakers love to be in the field, and in that respect, the last two years have been tough,” Rohit laments.

“As we slowly come out of the pandemic, they will certainly get to spend more time in the field. We will surely see more participants for the contest next year, with a wider and new portfolio of submissions,” he affirms.

 “Do your research. Learn and understand your subjects. Shoot as much as possible. Be creative,” he advises aspiring nature photographers.

“We will be back with a physical Nature inFocus Festival in 2022 and we look forward to meeting all of you,” Rohit signs off.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues for your creative core?

Cut To The Chase—Kushal Guttedar

Dhanu Paran

Najish Ali

Chiranjib Dutta – The king falls

Damith Osuranga Danthanarayana - Shaking heads

Entrapment—Adityakrishna S Menon

Fishing For Rubbish—Srikanth Mannepuri

Mandar Ghumare

Manish Vaidya - Flamingo nesting site

Neon Night—Ian Wade

Nitin Sonawane

Rajarshi Banerji

Shivang Mehta

Swarm the Sun—Jackson Johnson

Thomas Vijayan - The rarest amur leopard

The Old Man And The Forest—Thomas Vijayan

Rohit Varma

See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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