Layered Architecture – A term so common in software? Well, when seriously thought about, it was nature who had already created and we just copied the concept and contrived the ‘design’ ! What a wonderful analogy isn’t it? Non-software people – kindly excuse if you are unable to relate what I am talking here. IF you insist and is interested in reading through some basic concepts of what I am referring, you can read through it on the wiki  – here

Western ghats is the place that mesmerises and rejuvenates me all the time. I am really grateful and gifted to be born in the close vicinity of this bio-diversity hot spot. Below is yet another image from Kumaraparvatha and I had written a small blog post about it here. Kumaraparvata in the southern western ghats falls under montane rain forests ecoregion . It is because of the presence of such peaks, the moisture laden winds from the Arabian sea gets intercepted and the region receives rainfall in excess of 2500 millimeters annually!

Dawn Kumaraparvatha Westernghats

Sheshaparvatha

Rain forests contains an incredible variety of different flora and fauna,with the total number of species numbering over 10 million.

When such is the diversity, the fragility of this ecosystem is proportional to the magnitude of diversity.  Destruction of such a fragile ecosystem through human activity alters the environment in a much faster pace compared to the natural destruction like fire or volcanic activities. One of the major causes of extinction of species is increased human activity !

A small snippet on rain forests:

Rain forest is normally divided into 5 layers, each layer contributing to supporting different life forms at each level of the layer.

Western ghats mountains montane rain forest

Western ghats

The layers include:

1. The ground layer

2. The shrub layer – The ground layer and the shrub layers are generally very dark and very little sunlight penetrates to this area.

3. The understory layer – Here the plants contain larger leaves since little sunlight light penetrates through the canopy.

4. The canopy layer – forming the roof of the forest.

5. The emergent Layer – contains a small number of very large trees growing in excess of 40 meters in height.

 

Thoughts behind the presentation of the images:

An important learning for me as a nature photographer was : Dominant wavelength of orange glow of the sunrise is best represented in a color photograph!

When I stood at the slope of the Kumaraparvatha, gorgeous back lighting literally muted the details off the face of sheshaparvatha mountain that you see in the background. I quickly realised that, the silhouetted effect at times can be portrayed at its best under such warm and soft lighting. The light was fleeting and I had to quickly compose a shot and make some images. Such beautiful scenes and ‘effects’ are rare and under pressure and hastiness we tend to falter with our composition skills. Something we should watch out for all the time. That doesn’t mean we have enough time either. Such are the circumstances under which a photo artist and a nature photographer usually works with. There are no second chances and we keep saying to ourselves – make no mistake!

I was fortunate enough to find a fern shrub as a strong foreground and it was all about being at the right place at the right time.  In landscape photography, at least in my experience, it is the foreground that makes or breaks an image 90% of the time. Scale with which we portray the foreground becomes extremely crucial as well – too big or too small, it simply imbalances the frame completely.

Second image is intentionally kept as monochrome to emphasize on:

  • Layers
  • Play of side lighting
  • Gradient nature of gray scale range
With color, I personally felt that I couldn’t have portrayed what I wanted. The greens would have completely dominated the image which would have taken off the elements that I wanted to portray. On the field, it was yet another dawn where I was nestled between the sea on one side and the ranges of the western ghats on the other side. Fortunately, the orientation of the foothills were positioned to range from north east to north west and made the side lighting possible.

Use of light

From these examples you can clearly understand how back lit scenes as well as side lighting ones vary the tones, effects and moods in a photograph. These images also tells the story of how the warm lighting of dawn and cooler color temperatures of “post-dawn” and “pre-harsh” (as I like to call them ) can be utilized to bring about the best in an image.

Understanding the nuances of  light and the reflective properties of the elements in nature is extremely crucial in landscape photography.

After much of my rants about art and science of nature and landscape photography, through this post, I would also like to say – Western ghats is one such place that is gifted with such a fantastic diversity and is heaven for ‘layered architecture’. It is the duty of every nature warrior to fight for the preservation and conservation of this rich biodiversity hotspot. Photography through responsible Eco-tourism is the need of the hour.

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