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When the mind rules...

What is most critical for getting a good photo ? 


Your gear ? 


The opportunities that come up ? 


How creative you ‘naturally’ are ? ( Don’t get me started on THAT ! )


The state of your mind ?


It was my first trip to Amboseli, and I was unconsciously getting worked up about it. I had heard numerous stories of how beautiful the place is. How it is a heaven for making creative shots. That you don’t even really need to do anything to make awesome images. They simply land in your lap.


I had also, naturally, seen countless images from Amboseli and have gasped in awe at the beauty that was captured. 


All this made me wonder.


Would I be able to do justice to the opportunities that the place will throw at me ? Will I be able to come up with something ‘different’ ? Something that I will feel good about ?That would make a viewer pause for a moment to give it a second look ?


Then there were the elephants.


I have never figured how to capture these magnificent beasts in a photo. I have struggled to visualize my image. For some reason, I have almost always frozen trying to answer the simple question – how do I photograph them !


I kept telling myself and to everyone who cared to listen, that I had no clue how to shoot elephants.


And, of course…Amboseli was flooded with elephants. Perfect combo.


This combination was having a raucous, non stop party in my head and by the time I reached Amboseli I was rather nervous about how successful I would be.


As we crossed the famous dry lake bed, we noticed some specks far away. What was initially thought to be a cluster of bushes, was actually a rather large herd of elephants who were crossing the lake bed.


A photo  opportunity just as we enter the place !! Not bad at all.


We had all the time in the world to decide where to position ourselves, to evaluate if it was safe to get out of the vehicles and lie on the ground ( it was ) , to choose the camera and lens and decide on the composition.


I proceeded to screw up every single shot. 


I couldn’t compose well. I was confused about what I wanted. I even got the focus totally wrong in a few images.

It was a disaster. An absolute wreck.


Later that afternoon, we went out and while we didn’t come across a herd of elephants, we did come across a few impressive stragglers. My output continued to be pathetic.


As if that wasn’t bad enough, it became progressively worse. 


We came across a line of wildebeests walking, raising a lovely puff of dust with each step.  It was beautiful. However, while I got decent images, I had just taken a lot of similar images. I had not experimented with composition, I had not tried different shutter speeds. 


The constant refrain playing in my head was that I should not miss the opportunity in front of me. In the process, of course, one wonderful opportunity after another passed unexploited.


I was going through a rather potent mix of pessimism and frustration.


It was a quiet and thoughtful me that went back. I realized that I was not doing myself any good. I was not in the right place mentally and that was coming in my way.


I told myself that I have usually come up with decent compositions. That it comes easily to me. I reminded myself that I usually experiment boldly – if anything, I overdo it. That I just need to stop overthinking and let my instincts take over. 


The preparation is there in my mind. I might not feel confident. But can I try to act confident ?


Secondly, I told myself that I will NOT say even a single time what I was saying ad nauseum – I really struggle with elephants. I told myself, they are just another subject. 


Essentially, I was going back to my favorite line – what is expressed is impressed.


Lastly, I told myself that I will miss opportunities. That is always a given. It would be far better to shrug at a missed opportunity and keep that possibility in mind the next time you pick up the camera. And, even then, I will still miss opportunities. Will always happen.


Another line popped up in my mind – a good photo is always a bonus. Just being out there is magical. Enjoy the feeling. Trust the process.


The next day onwards, my output improved. I am rather fond of some of the elephant images I made. Some of my favorites ones are below.


I tried to refuse to feel the pressure. The results showed. 


Come to think of it…this is true for life too :)


Trust the process

I caught the cute young ones ( a first for me ..that raised foot added so much for me !

Some were a little shy and some a little sleepy and opportunistic

I got pretty decent portraits

...And one stunner !

A few unusual perspectives

Got the famous line and in slightly different ways

Soon I started experimenting as usual

And then a little more...

But my fave one...Craig, the supertusker towering over me


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V Mehta
V Mehta
Apr 02

Embrace chaos, trust the process.

Replying to

Totally :)


Loved the post and the pictures....

'Where the mind is without fear....."

Thank you for sharing

Replying to more ways than one !! Thank you so much for your feedback !

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