INTERVIEW WITH CLEMENT FRANCIS
Clement Francis from Bangalore, Karnataka, India is one of the senior most Nature and Wildlife Photographers. He is a self taught artist. He always feels that good images and great bird sightings happen only when you are there at the home of the species and going there again and again to better the opportunities.
He is here with us to share his experiences and expertise.
When did you start photography? What inspired you to get into it?
• I have been photographing for around 3 decades now. From the time of the manual focus SLRs to the current digital cameras.
• My inspiration comes from watching wildlife magazines like National Geographic and Reader’s Digest.
• When I was young (during school days), I always wanted to capture birds and animals the way I saw them in those magazines.
• My dad and I used to take long walks around lakes and open fields and used to love watching birds (even though none of us know their names). We loved the way they lived a care-free life and how well adapted in the web of life. We used to discuss a lot about how God has created them so beautifully and perfectly flawless to our eyes. My dad was also a big inspiration in my journey.
How did you learn this art? Do you have a Mentor?
• I never went to any school or was under any guidance, it was a self-taught hobby that just clicked for me out of experience.
• The more I went out in to the wild to capture my subjects and failed, the more I was taught to get better the next time.
What is your area of specialization? Why do you like this genre?
My area of specialization is Birds.
Because of the fact that they can fly, birds have conquered almost all the possible habitats that exist on planet earth. You go to the Himalayas or the Thar Desert or Riverine habitats or Grasslands, you always find bird species living there. Their flight just mesmerizes me. Also one cannot define freedom better than birds… they migrate across continents at will, they appear in the most unexpected places and they just consume you by doing the things that you least expected them to do. You can see the smallest of the warblers, for example, the Greenish Leaf Warbler which is a common winter visitor to almost all over the Indian subcontinent breeds in the Arctic Circle. It is only one third of the house sparrow. When you see one chirping during the month of October in your garden, the common man finds himself looking at it most of the time, but for a birder and photographer like me, it is breath-taking a sight. How could a tiny bird of around 10 grams migrate 10’s of thousands of miles?
I am definitely fascinated more by the raptors. Raptors are species of birds that prey on other animals and birds. The Eagles, Hawks, Falcons belong to this group. The peregrine falcon for example reaches speeds of more than 300kms during its dive while hunting. The Bonelli’s eagle, for example is very close to my heart among raptors. If you see one hunting large prey like Black-necked hare or Grey Heron or even peacock, you are overwhelmed by their powers, tenacity, focused approach and commitment. So when you get a good picture of them, it is such a satisfying feeling in itself. You would literally be on top of the world.
Who/what has been your biggest inspiration?
I would surely say that the love for wildlife in me is because of my dad. To say it in a much broader way, certainly eminent people like Sir David Attenborough and his work has been a great inspiration to me. I have watched and learnt a lot from almost all of his work. I would be the biggest liar if I don’t admit that all those birds have been my greatest inspiration and among birds, specifically the Raptors.
List of photography equipment you like and possess?
• My favorite is the Nikkor 500mm FL lens. Almost all my work is through this lens. I could afford a Nikon D4 camera nearly 4 years back and that’s what I have been using even now. So these are my most loved tools of photography.
• Apart from the above, I have a Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 lens as well, which I use for photographing mammals in Africa.
• I also have a Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8 wide angle lens.
Click on the pictures to view them larger
If you would like to try something different in this field (that you have not tried before), what is it? How would you create the unique set of images?
• The things that I would love to try out in the field is shooting wildlife by hiding the Camera and wide-angle lens and shoot some images using the Remote Release. Really low angle pictures of mammals with sky backgrounds.
• Also if possible, shooting wildlife from a helicopter or bush plane.
Special thanks to Clement Francis for sharing your experiences with us.
With Love & Passion
Smile Art Beats