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Techie Shutterbug Rathika Ramasamy



By Suneetha
"Every time, I press the shutter, it takes me one step closer to Mother Nature", says this personable young woman, whose work has been showcased in a number of national and international publications. She travels widely in search of ‘wild’ subjects and conducts Wildlife Photography workshops. Meet Computer Engineering trained techie turned super shutterbug Ms Rathika Ramasamy.
Radhika specialises in birds but her pics are certainly not typical frozen shots with a celebrated excellence that originates in an expensive camera. She rather looks for the story in the subject and enjoys capturing action shots. The result? Her photographs have the rare touch of life.
Techgoss found that this techie loves reading and travelling as well. Rathika has traveled through most of the National Parks in India, and also been to Tanzania’s National Parks. Here is our conversation.
 
Techgoss (TG): Rathika, we all know you as an acclaimed lenswoman. Tell us more about yourself as a person please.
Rathika Ramasamy (RR): My native town is Theni, Southern Tamil Nadu. I did my schooling there, and then went on to my (B.E) Computer Engineering and M.B.A at Chennai. In 1998 I got married and shifted to New Delhi, where my husband Sridhar works. Apart from birds, I love travelling and reading.
   
TG: How long have you been interested in the camera and its possibilities?
RR: My photography hobby started with the point and shoot film camera. But it was when I was in school I got my first camera from my father. Photography was a serious hobby & passion initially. My interest in Photography started with taking travel holiday pics of places I visit and people I meet there. My uncle was an amateur photographer and he gifted me with his Minotla XGI film SLR camera after seeing my passion for photography. In 2004 I got my first DLSR camera D70.
   
TG: How about the lean towards wildlife? Has it been an interest for a long time, how did you come to combine the two?
RR: My wildlife photography started around 2003. New Delhi where I live is surrounded by many Bird Sanctuaries and National Parks. The close proximity these places offered made it possible to do more wildlife photography and I never looked back. Since New Delhi is the main route of migratory birds, every year for 4 or 5 months we have good bird activity in Bird Sanctuaries. Though I do shoot mammals and other animals, I specialize in bird photography.
   
TG: How has life been post-techie days, in the sense how do you manage routine and shutterbug days smoothly?
RR:  The shooting timing in a career in Photography is completely different from the time definitions of a corporate job. We start quite early in the morning, and we probably shoot from about 6am to 10 am. There is no shoot usually during midday. Then again we go for it around 3-6 pm. This is a very flexible routine which suits me. To be sure the job isn’t very comfortable, you have to out in the field in the sun, but the compensations for the hard work lie in watching nature and in the process of photography. I balance home and travel, with support from family; otherwise it would certainly be a tough profession for a female. An understanding family and their support is a must to be able to take up this profession, I am fortunate to have a continued encouragement from my husband and the family in which I am married into.
   
TG: Where all have you travelled, tell us about the odysseys?
RR: I have been visiting most of the National Parks in the Northern part of India like Ranthambhore National Park, Kanha National Park, Sultanpur National Park, and Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. In South India, I have visited the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and the Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Thattakad, Kerala, the Eravikulam National Park, Rajamalay, Kerala, the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary, Mangaljodi, the Chilka Lake in Orissa and so on.
My best experience had been at Jim Corbett National Park, on the banks of the Ramganga River, where the jungle camp is fully accessible. Kanha tiger reserve is one of the best places to spot tigers; my last visit was a great experience, I spotted a Tiger near a water body, and grabbed my chance to photograph it. As for shooting birds, I prefer Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Bharatpur.
I have also been to Serengeti National Park — world’s largest wildlife reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site — in Tanzania to photograph lions, cheetahs and other animals. I visited the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania. Lake Manyara — a shallow freshwater body — hosts more than 300 migratory birds and animals. I have travelled through Europe (UK, FRANCE, SWITZERLAND....), South Asia etc in search of good photographs.
   
TG: What are the hindrances in the life of a woman photographer in India? Are you accepted in the capacity on an equal footing here?
RR: So far, I never come across any hindrances as a woman photographer. In this field people see the portfolio of your work, if you are good and best then no one bothers if you are a woman or man.

TG: How did the book happen? Are there more coming up?
RR: I was planning to bring out coffee table of my bird photographs, and in Feb 2010 I published “BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY- Birds of Indian Sub-continent" which showcases my very best shots from my collection. It’s targeted for bird lovers and photographers. I am currently working on a coffee table book of my collection birds and my African safaris photography.

TG: What are the other plans in the pipeline?
RR: I have assignments to shoot birds of Chilka Lake (Chilka Lake is a brackish water lagoon) Orissa, covering all seasons of birds. I have just finished winter season, and will be going to shoot summer season soon. So far I was shooting in the bird / wildlife regions of North, South and Central India. This year I am planning to cover the East Indian parks. In July, I will be going Yala national park Srilanka to shoot the Leopard. I am also planning to bring out a coffee table book of my collection of bird photographs. Other things coming up are more wildlife photography workshops for budding photographers and nature lovers.

TG: What advice do you have for people who want to adopt a career in wildlife photography?
RR: Wildlife photography is the most rewarding challenge; if you love wildlife then it’s a very satisfying work. Only love and passion keeps you going. The advantage you have is the chance to explore and enjoy nature best in its form, and photographing it. Good technical knowledge plus in-depth knowledge of the subjects helps to be good photographer. Three Ps are important to excel in this field passion, patience, and perseverance.
   
Techgoss note: Check out Rathika’s repertoire at rathikaramasamy.com

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