Thinking versatility? Ask Yaduraaj Singh- the professional hotelier, passionate photographer and part-time off-road driving instructor. Hailing from the Tiara village of Himachal’s Kangra belt, the thirty-four year old is an ex-employee of the Oberoi Group of Hotels, which had the pleasure of availing his exemplary services for twelve long years before he returned to his family business of a hotel in Dharamsala.
Having been hosted by Yaduraaj and his team at Oberoi’s Vanyavilas during my various family trips to Ranthambore, I had come to firmly associate his presence in the hospitality industry until last year, when Yaduraaj arrived as a guest at my hotel in Manali. He was accompanying some of my relatives on a road-trip to the iconic Ladakh valley, en route to which the group had made a pit stop at Manali. It was only then that I had the opportunity of learning about Yaduraaj’s proficiency as an avid photographer. Having had flagged off my Ladakh-bound guests, I was awestruck a week later to find the photographs that Yaduraaj had clicked on his trip. I instantaneously invited him to grace the photography section of my magazine’s upcoming edition, and the gifted lensman jovially obliged.
In his first feature with Rajputana Collective, Yaduraaj shares his photographic experiences, insights and select clicks from two of his favourite genres- wildlife & landscapes.
To begin with, Yaduraaj’s twin intrigues towards wildlife and landscape photography bear significant origin to his personal and professional roots; and are also fuelled by the same. In other words, the intimate proximity that the tenure at Vanyavilas afforded him on the one hand, and his sustained interaction with his Himalayan homeland on the other. The parallel strengthening of this duality is supplemented by Yaduraaj himself, who says, “seeing the tigers and leopards in their natural habitat and getting up close to them in this process was an amazing experience and gave me a different adrenaline rush. The Himalayan landscapes, mountains, valleys and rivers, on the other hand, seem like an entirely different world; and I took on to my camera to capture these unseen wonders. Just driving through the harshest of conditions to see the most beautiful sunrise or sunset or even a meandering river through rugged mountains is what I love to capture through my camera.”
Yaduraaj’s prolonged exploration of the diverse fauna in Ranthambore’s thickets, and the pristine beauty of various Himalayan terrains comes to life through a series of photographs from his personal collection, some of which are featured herewith. Not only do his clicks display the vibrant facets of natural magnificence, but also the impeccable skill and precision that it takes for lens-carrier to derive the masterpieces that he does.
Yaduraaj makes evident the contrasting set challenges borne by his two favourite genres, thereby expanding the scope of photographic principles for him to adhere to. He elaborates on this by speaking in a comparative frame, “the patience level required in wildlife photography is extremely high. You can just wait and wait for hours at a stretch and nothing can happen; or you can be waiting and in a few seconds everything can occur and finish, especially if it is a kill of a chase. Landscape photography, in comparison is much simpler as you have all the time to set your camera and wait for the right moment. You can frame a frame in your head before shooting it whereas wildlife photography does not give you that opportunity all the time. Here, you have to be quick with your camera, knowledgeable of your surroundings as well as the animal’s behaviour. With this information, one can be a little better prepared to get better photos. Compared to wildlife photography, landscape is much simpler as you have all the time to set your camera and wait for the right moment.”
The extremities offered by different terrains is another factor that Yaduraaj highlights. “When you are in nature, the natural surrounds are a challenge in themselves. Be it the cold winds of Ladakh or the hot temperatures of Ranthambore, keeping your equipment safe and clean is a big challenge in itself. I remember visiting Ladakh in February to capture a snow leopard and experiencing temperatures as low as -25 degrees Celsius. It is not easy to ensure that your equipment is ready when the time to execute shooting arrives. Similarly, to be in Ranthambore during the summers amounts to experiencing temperatures as high as 47 degrees Celsius when you are out in the afternoon. It gets difficult to manage your camera because it is extremely hot to hold”, he accounts.
His extensive exploration of the two photographic genres through recurring visits to Ladakh and Ranthambore have enriched Yaduraaj’s photographic collection to a great extent. Looking ahead, the photographer seeks to pursue his passionate lens excursions through alternate regional and international locations as well. He sums this up in his concluding lines, where he states, “I am very keen on travelling more and more for wildlife and landscape photography and increasing my knowledge in the field. There is just so much to explore and learn in this sphere. I will be going to Kenya soon for wildlife photography and I also have plans to travel to different parts of the country in the near future. I would love to do an exhibition too. I am jus waiting to get some more great pictures for everyone to see and enjoy.”
Most memorable photographic experience: In Ranthambore, capturing the litter of T19, a tigress called Krishna. Seeing her cubs when they were 6 months old all the way to the time when they attained 3 years of age.
Most iconic photo series: The Ladakh Series & the Ranthambore Series
Yaduraaj’s photographic equipment at a glance: Canpn 6D full-frame DSLR; Canon 100-400 mm lens (for wildlife) ; 24-70 mm lens (for landscapes); a 300 mm prime lens with f2.8; and a 2 X convertor Yaduraaj’s dream DSLR & lens: The Canon IDX Mark 2 and a Canon 600mm f4 lense
SOME OF YADURAAJ'S WILDLIFE SHOTS
SOME OF YADURAAJ'S LANDSCAPE SHOTS