It took Himadri 3 years to get the perfect shot of the Nohkalikai Falls in Meghalaya. His award-winning photograph has 3 different shots that he later merged and converted into a masterpiece that took him on the list of top 100 Landscape photographers of 2020.
Born and brought up in Guwahati, Himadri Bhuyan became a professional photographer seven years ago, but since his childhood, he has had a passion for photography. He was 10 when he started capturing people in events, later he found more inspiration from a photography magazine, and the next year he gifted himself a DSLR. “I saved my pocket money for 6 months and then I bought the camera for myself. It would always be the way that either I’d have money to buy a roll or buy the magazine. This kept happening for 7 long years.”, says Himadri.
In 2006, after completing his Master’s in Geography, he got his first job as a mapping specialist and got busy with it. But he remained in touch with photography as he had to visit certain locations to capture and cross-check the satellite images. Later, he did his second master’s in Environmental Planning and started working for a government organization. There too, he kept capturing for the work. Finally, in 2014, he left this job, and returned to Assam, and did what he always wanted to do.
During all these years, Himadri kept working on his photography skills, and most of it was self-experimentation and a lot of hard work. “There was no one to guide me and I had a hard time learning it. I used to keep a diary of all my shots and used to examine and learn from them. It was a painstakingly long process.”, he says.
After leaving his job in 2014, he did wedding photoshoots and then tried his hands on different genres such as portfolio, events, documentary, food, and product photography. But, his heart always had a special place for landscape photography. “It is my passion. But, since it doesn’t have much money, and it is still a niche, I had to learn different genres. I am also a photography mentor, so I ended up learning different genres.”, he explains.
Last year, he won 4 international awards for one of his exceptional waterfall pictures. He received The Night Sky Award at ILPOTY 2020 (a global competition to showcase the best landscape photography). The same photograph made him the winner of Landscape Night at the 6th ’35 Awards’ and the 3rd rank for the Fine Art at Chromatic Awards 2020. It was indeed a year of celebration and great recognition for him. But, the hard work behind this iconic photo wasn’t of a year or two, but it was the patience, work, and efforts of 3 consecutive years.
The photo was not captured all at once and is made of 3 different shots. The story behind the photo is pretty interesting too. Himadri got the inspiration for the night shot from one of Ryan Duyar’s waterfall photos. “I and my friend, Fayn Chakrabarty and I were discussing what if we capture a similar shot in Meghalaya, and then we both started working on it.”
The duo couldn’t capture anything for a year, but in 2017, Himadri finally decided to capture ‘Nohkalikai Falls’, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Meghalaya. He had already captured this waterfall back in 2015 and posted it with the name By the power of Greyskull. But this time, it was a night shot that later won him various international awards. “The water flow was not enough but I still managed to capture a shot and later merged it with the final image. The next year, it was comparatively a dry monsoon, and I ended up taking a shot of the sky. Finally, in 2019, I got the shot that I wanted. It had both, the stars, and the water in motion.”, he explains.
This award-winning photograph shows the very scenic waterfall with a breathtaking view of the sky. The sky has beautiful star trails, and it’s a treat to the eyes. “The earth rotates, and that’s why we see stars in different positions. The star you see in the centre is the north star and the rest of the stars move around it. So, the more distant the stars get from the North Star, the lengthier the trails get. If you keep your shutter open for more than 30 seconds it’s called Startrails.”, he explains. This is a widely used technique in the field of landscape photography and gives a mind-boggling effect. It took 4 hours for Himadri to capture these star trails, while the composition of the final image took 20 minutes.
A critique of his own work, Himadri says, there is still a small error in the photo, and next time he is going to work on that. His photograph was selected among the thousands of pictures by photographers across different countries. “ILPOTY is one of the most prestigious awards in landscape photography. But, I never thought about it as an international award, rather it was an international platform to test my skills. I had submitted 3 more images and I lost with a small margin. But, this one won it, and I got a score of 85.9 out of 100.”, he says.
There’s no doubt why he won the award. His work is great, especially when it comes to Landscape photography. Sharing a few tips on night photography, he says that knowing the limitations of your camera and then working accordingly is important. “Night shots are done with a higher ISO, so work on that. You can do night photography with any camera, there is no need to buy a new one.”, he adds.
As a landscape photographer, Himadri has to hunt for unique and hidden places. He is always on a location scouting with his friend Wamm Majaw. “He is from Cherrapunji and helps me with locations. Most of the locations are far away, require trekking for several hours, and are really risky.”, he says.
Sharing one such adventurous journey that he did with Wamm and other 2 friends in Cherrapunji, Himadri says, “It was for a hidden waterfall in a very remote area. It took us 2 hours, and it was pretty terrifying. We climbed a hill, then reached a forest that had wild branches, venomous snakes, and stinging caterpillars. We had to cross 2-3 streams, and it was difficult as I did know how to swim. I even used my tripod as a walking pole, and somehow we reached there.”, Himadri says.
Himadri still doesn’t know the name of this waterfall, and he did not even ask Wann. He feels the moment you put a name to a location, it becomes a point in the map, and people eventually will go and spoil the beauty of the place. “I call it our secret falls”, he says.
Advising aspiring landscape photographers, Himadri says that it will take years, and one will have to invest a lot in learning and make a name for yourself. “You can either become a Landscape photography tour guide or sell your work. But, as it is still a niche, I’ll suggest you go ahead with the tour guide.”, he adds.
Follow Himadri Bhuyan for his amazing work here.