He is an Mechanical Engineer by qualification, heads global recruitment for an IT major but is known to many because of his photographs. Meet Praveen Siddannavar who was born, raised and did his schooling from St.Paul’s and BMS in Belagavi. He did his pre-university from RLS and his bachelors in engineering from BV Bhoomraddi college of Engineering and Technology. An engineer by profession, and a Natural History Photographer by choice. He loves travelling into the wild both in India and abroad, he believes that luck has always been with him when it comes to capturing some rare Natural History Moments that he shares with the entire world.
Particularly passionate about the Tigers and wildlife photography, he says spotting this elusive cat in the wild is never easy, but he has been lucky to see many Tigers at various tiger reserves and national park across India. However his favorite forest has always been the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka, With the amount of time spent studying behavior patterns and their natural habitat, he feels that he has established a close bond with these animals and says that this connection helps add more life to his photographs, but to him they are meaningless if he doesn’t create the necessary awareness about the tiger’s difficult plight.
An accomplished photographer & a good narrator Praveen has got a several accolades in the photography world both at National and International levels. In the year 2012 he won several awards, one of his images was adjudged as finalist for The Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012. This is one of the most prestigious awards co-owned by BBC Wildlife Magazine & the Natural History Museum, London, UK. He won the Winner title in Predators Contest organized by Saevus Wildlife India LLP. One of his Tiger images won the Viewers Pick award, during the recent NDTV’s “Save our Tigers” Campaign Tiger Contest. He is active in several wildlife conservation forums and is member of World Wildlife Fund (WWF). His images have been published in leading wildlife magazines accompanied with his photo stories.
On Professional front Praveen currently Heads the KPIT Cummins Infosystems Limited Bangalore Center & Global Recruitment, he spent several years in the UK and has successfully setup two Indian subsidiaries in London. He has also been instrumental in setting up KPIT Cummins at Bangalore. He lives in Bangalore along with his wife, and 2 daughters.
Some exceprts from his interview:
Briefly describe a Day in the Life of Praveen Siddannavar?
Praveen ———–> Working for a growing IT company like KPIT Cummins and at a senior level position one has to stretch quite a bit, no excuses whatsoever. The day starts early morning with US calls and ends quite late in the night with US calls. But I’m passionate about my work so it’s fun, stressful at times.
How did you first get into photography?
Praveen ———–> I believe we all do a bit of photography in our own way, but one gets into serious photography when he or she invests both in time and money. After having lived in the UK for over 6 years, I relocated to Bangalore in 2004 and started visiting various forests like Bandipur, Nagarahole (Kabini), BR Hills and few others. Being born a Nature lover, these beautiful animals mainly the Tiger fascinated me a lot. No wonder it is one of God’s most beautiful creations on Earth. Gradually during these frequent visits to the forests I would meet lot of wildlife photographers who insisted that I invest in DSLR + Lens, so my journey as a wildlife photographer began in 2009.
What is your favourite kind of photography, and what is it that interests you so much?
Praveen ———–> Wildlife, wildlife and only wildlife. I am passionate about tigers, spent quite a lot of time in understanding their behavioral patterns and habitats. I feel I have developed a special bonding with these tigers especially the ones in Bandipur. We all really need to create the awareness to save our national animal, I am doing my bit through various forums, share my tiger pictures that is also one way to create the required awareness. However in general I love the wild cats and have not only been fortunate in spotting them but have captured some great Natural History Moments. My luck with cats continued from India to Brazil, where I was extremely lucky to have spotted quite a few Jaguars. Even recently when I travelled to Tanzania I had great time with a Cheetah family that included four 30 days old cubs. I also do a lot of bird photography & have a wide range of collections of different species.
What kind of equipment do you use now, and what did you start with?
Praveen ———–> I started with Canon EOS 40D with a Canon100-400mm f4.5-5.6 lens & 17-85mm lens. Currently I use wide range of equipment’s – Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon EOS 7D, Canon f4 500mm telephoto lens, Canon 16-35mm Mark II L Series wide angle lens, Canon 1.4x tele-convertor, Benro GH2 along with Manfrotto monopod and last but not the least a bean bag.
What’s your favorite ever image, and why?
Praveen ———–> Without a doubt, the Wild dog (Indian Dhole) chasing a Spotted Deer (Chital). I was blessed to have not only seen it live, but to capture the entire sequence of wild dogs chasing & finally hunting down a spotted deer. The chase that began in the forest at Bandipur, in state of panic the deer jumped into the water body and the alpha male dog too jumped in the water. One shot in the series that is very unique is, where both wild dog and deer are looking at me, the eyes tells us the story. The dog is confident and assured of his victory whereas the deer is in fear, so helpless and her eyes tell us that she has sensed her death. Co-incidentally this image is appreciated by many & has received recognition both in India and abroad, it has gone even further to win few awards.
What has been your most interesting or dangerous assignment?
Praveen ———–> Wildlife photography is always interesting as well as dangerous at times. Most of the animals can be unpredictable in some cases; I have shot tigers, leopards, lions and cheetah as close as 10-15 ft. But the most interesting cum dangerous assignment was at Brazil. I visited North Pantanal in Brazil to spot & photograph Jaguars, pound by pound these cats are the most powerful that I have ever seen. Pantanal is the largest wetlands in the world; I was put up in a tent close to the Cuiaba River and in the middle of Jaguar territory. With mosquitos and bugs all around me, I hardly slept in the nights, nor could I go out of my tent with Jaguars around. The safaris unlike in India are on a small boat that starts at 6am in the morning and ends at 6:30pm. With temperatures soaring over 42 degree Celsius I had to bear this heat for almost 10 hours and in addition take on the mosquitos and bee sting. I spotted quite a few Jaguars and other animals, however on the last day in fact last hour of my safari we spotted an Anaconda basking on the bank of the river and she was being attacked by a caiman. We went so close to the Anaconda that at one point I could see my reflections in her eyes. I was so keen to get a low angle shot at water level and I decided to go even closer, I was filming and taking still shots at just less than 15 ft. distance and there was a time where the Anaconda started hissing as she was not comfortable with me getting in closer and other reason was that the caiman too was trying to launch an attack. This is by far was one of the best moments that I ever had in the wild. But honestly I have witnessed plenty of such incidents that I can narrate some other time.
What are your favorite places for shoot?
Praveen ———–> Bandipur & Kabini, both have never disappointed me, also it’s a 4 hour drive from Bangalore quite convenient to visit it frequently. When I visit Belagavi, I make it a point to visit Ganeshgudi near Dandeli, its heaven for birds especially in winter.
Favorite time of day to shoot…morning or evening?
Praveen ———–> Each time has its own advantages and disadvantages, but I like both as long we spot any animals/birds. During winters early morning are difficult to shoot with mist around but the beauty lies there, for instance during the recent winters that is early January 2012, I was at Rajeev Gandhi National Park (Kabini), as we entered through the hoskere tank gate, I could barely see that something was moving ahead of us. Due to thick mist the visibility was very low, and finally I managed to spot it and more importantly made some unique shoots of a Leopard in mist. This is the first time ever I captured a leopard’s behavior of scratching the tree trunk that is a sign of marking his territory.
What is the one piece of advice that you would give to other budding photographers?
Praveen ———–> Patience & Persistence is the key in photography. Budget & plan your spend, as this is quite an expensive hobby and it is also sort of addiction so don’t over do it.
How do you think photography will change in the future, if at all?
Praveen ———–> With Digital SLR’s the photography today is already advanced, did you know that most of the documentaries are filmed using DSLR’s and Canon is one step ahead, most of the cameras of Canon having excellent HD video capability. With this you also get the reach with telephoto lenses and now we see many of the documentaries in Natgeo & Discovery use DSLR for filming. Photography is an expensive hobby and today India has a lot of talent in this field. Very soon we will see our own photographers at international level. Just to give you an idea we have over 7000 + hobbyist photographers in Bangalore, by far the highest numbers in India.
Tourism has been recently banned by Supreme court in the Core areas of Tiger Reserves your thoughts?
Praveen ———–> I am not fully against it; however complete ban on tourism is not a solution to protect our pristine forest and animals. We have to create “Responsible Tourism”, and let’s wait for the 2nd hearing on 22nd August 2012, until then each state has to submit to the Centre the clear demarcation of buffer zones (tourist zones), based on which the Centre will take a call. I am sure we all are sensible enough to come up with some solutions in the interest of protecting our forests and animals.
Some memories of Belgavi military school
Praveen ———–> I started my schooling at St Paul’s right from kinder garden up to 5th class and then moved to Belgaum Military School. Belagavi has one of the finest schools and colleges, and at BMS I believe that I really became strong both mentally and physically. It is a real hard and physical work, typical military trainings, unfortunately due some reasons I didn’t continue beyond 10th else I would have actually joined NDA & would have been in Army.
Your favorite place in Belagavi
Praveen ———–> I normally spend time with my friends and my cousins at Union Gymkhana Club.
In your view is this website(AAB) doing good for Belgaumites in the past 9 years
Praveen ———–> Of course yes, I must congratulate you and your team for this excellent effort that you guys have put in. Irrespective of Belgaummites living in India or abroad we are updated with the happenings in and around Belagavi through AAB; you ensure that we always feel at home with your lively & most happening website. Keep up the good work.
More photos from Praveen Thanks Aziz