Kangaroos in Kashmir colours

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Vijay Koul’s pic bounces into first place at the Canberra Times Autumn Photography Comp

Do Canberra and Kashmir have anything in common? They do, according to CSIRO scientist, Vijay Koul who won the first prize in the Canberra Times Autumn Photography Competition, 2014. Probably the first Indian to win this coveted photography contest, Koul’s winning click was (picked out from more than 400 entries) a bunch of kangaroos grazing peacefully amidst the breathtaking orange and red hues of the spectacular Canberra autumn.

A native of Kashmir, Koul has been living in Australia with his family for the past 21 years. He is a scientist working with the Bush Fire Research Group of CSIRO. Koul said that the beauty and magnificence of the changing seasons of Canberra, especially the spring and autumn colours, were highly reminiscent of his homeland, Kashmir, which is often referred to as Paradise on Earth for its breathtaking beauty.

This is the second time Koul has entered this photography competition. Last year, he took part in the Canberra Times Winter Competition 2013; his picture was short-listed to be published but did not win the title.

Photography has always been Koul’s passion, but this interest took flight when he began work with CSIRO, as he regularly captures photographs of his experiments. Even this winning picture was shot as he was finishing work in a nearby CSIRO lab.

“I looked outside my window and saw the beautiful autumn sunset, trees, kangaroos; luckily I had my camera with me, so jumped over the fence and clicked the shot,” he said of his winning shot. And when he is not working, he also enjoys shooting for weddings, birthdays and community-related events for friends and family. At the moment, Koul said that he is not thinking of turning his passion into a profession, due to work and family commitments, but he is keeping the avenues open.

Koul shoots these captivating images using a Pentax with Sigma zoom lenses 18-200mm and 70-300mm. He told Indian Link that he prefers not to use any photo-editing software and if he must, he uses the software provided by Pentax. He does not believe in fancy camera equipment, but rather in the creative eye when it comes to capturing beautiful shots.

“It is always best to use auto-mode till one is confident before migrating to manual focus,” is Koul’s advice for photography enthusiasts and wannabe professionals. It is important to have an in-depth understanding of shutter speed and aperture when using manual mode. He also mentioned that a good way of learning and broadening knowledge is to refer to good journals, books and magazines dedicated to photography. Digital Photography for Dummies and Digital SLR Camera and Photographs for Dummies by David. D. Bush are the two books that Koul would suggest for novices with a passion for photography.

For those into travel photography, Koul’s advice would be to invest in a good camera, a couple of SD cards and spare batteries. “Go ahead and click as many pictures as you like; you can always delete the bad ones,” he explained. “And also remember the best time for capturing good photographs is during the magic or golden hour which is one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset”. He also points out the benefit of using a wide angle for capturing landscapes.

When asked about the presence of Indian photographers in Australia, Koul said that, unfortunately, there are not too many Indian-origin photographers here. He said that the scope and potential for growth in the field of nature and travel photography is immense, as Australia has many scenic locations and breathtaking natural beauty. He also mentioned that the scope for event photographers is also huge owing to the large Indian population in this continent.

Koul is currently in the process of writing a phonographic book capturing the spectacular scenery of the spring and autumn seasons of Canberra. A project very close to his heart, he says this book will be his dedication to Canberra and to its breathtaking natural beauty during these seasons.

To interact with Koul and catch a glimpse of his amazing work, visit www.facebook.com/vkoul