The art of dedication

August 14 - 20 , 2019
Gulf Weekly The art of dedication

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Amateur Photographer Dr Ajay Kumar Singh’s perfect picture of pink flamingos wafting on the waves of Bahrain out at the coast of Askar has won him an international award and praise in Nature’s Best Photography Asia 2019 competition (NBP).

The contest focuses on capturing images of landscapes, wildlife, birds, oceans and other environmental surroundings taken by amateur and professional photographers from across Asia. The grand prize winner and runner up both receive cash rewards, a plaque and will have their award-winning images displayed within NBP’s annual exhibition opening in September at the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri, US.

A selection of winning images will also be showcased and viewed by up to two million people there.

While the 51-year-old may not have won the grand accolade, achieving a high honours finalist award plaque in the bird category after years of attempting to capture his prize picture was thrilling enough in his books. It’s particularly pleasing because only five of these plaques are awarded to photographers after being chosen from hundreds of entries. Also, he has put the kingdom’s flamingos on the international map.

“I wish I would have been at the top of the list,” said Ajay, who works as a geographical information systems specialist at the Ministry of Interior. “Nonetheless, this is the first time I have received this award in NBP Asia and I am delighted.  I have been selected several times in the final round of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and NBP Africa. It gives me immense pleasure and satisfaction to see all my hard work getting recognition. 

“Plus, I have been trying to snap this dream shot of flamingos in the sea at sunrise since 2015. I have taken hundreds of shots at this particular location and in my opinion – this is one of my best photographs yet!”

The image entitled Greater Flamingos during sunrise at Askar coast, Bahrain, was snagged using his Canon EOS 1DX Mark II with a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L + 2X extender, a shutter speed of 1/1000, an F5.6 F-number and film speed (ISO) of 800.

He took the photograph in February 2018 after a lot of patience and dedication. He said: “Usually the sunrise at the horizon is rarely visible in Bahrain due to frequent dust storm so that was going to be tricky in itself. Also, I have been following a flock of 10 to 15 flamingos for the past few years. 

“They come to this coast often during high tide. The structure of the coast having gentle slopes allows for a perfect ground to eye level shot that can only be captured during high tide. On the day I took this photograph, I could see the presence of all the parameters that I had in my mind on the ground. It featured the perfect sunrise, the high tide and the presence of flamingos at a suitable distance. I was lucky to execute this frame by lying down on the muddy ground to take a perfect eye-level shot.”

Ajay’s adoration for nature and photography had guided him to publish a book on Greater Flamingos: Images from the Wilds of Bahrain back in 2017 and he is now planning on releasing another on wildlife. His flamingo book is available as paperback and there is a digital edition on Amazon.

“Photographing nature, especially wild animals is challenging and thrilling,” he said. “I like to capture the animal behaviour and its habitats and try to present it with an aim to create awareness of wildlife among people.”

Perhaps he will be able to use some of the photographs he took during his visit to Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in India back in May. He is also planning to visit Masai Mara, Kenya as well as some wildlife parks in India in the near future.

Ajay would like to thank his wife Dr Puspita Roy Choudhury, who is associated with GIS at the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, and his artistic daughter Ipshita Singh, who is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in design in India, for all their encouragement and support. Ipshita’s paintings were inspired by her father’s work and the shutterbug doesn’t fall far from the tree as she too has joined him on his nature expeditions, capturing her own photographs of a tiger in the woods and a Reshus monkey.

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