He grew up watching his mother feeding birds. “It’s over 40 years now, mom has not missed a single day doing this. I inherited my love for nature from her,” says Gurugram resident, Varun Khullar, who heads out to a wildlife sanctuary every two-three months, armed with his camera.
Impelled by the wish to turn everyone into a nature lover, Varun Khullar, for the past four years, has been turning his wildlife photographs into calendars and distributing them among friends and family. “I hope doing this will create awareness about nurturing nature and the animals.” The tiger holds a special place in his heart, which explains the many wildlife safaris he has undertaken to Ranthambore in Rajasthan, and his wish to join the ‘Save the Tiger’ campaign in a more meaningful way. “I have my retirement plan ready,” says the 42-year-old. Excerpts:
From being a corporate professional to a wildlife photographer, how did this transition happen?
It began 12 years ago, when I first visited the Ranthambore National Park, and fell in love with the place. To watch the tigers, sambhar, deer, birds, in their natural habitat is an incredible experience. I had new stories to tell after each visit, and what better way to tell a story than through pictures? So, I bought a DSLR camera with a telephoto lens and started capturing the wildlife in its abundance. The appreciation from friends and family has kept me on this path.
You also photograph birds...
It happened gradually. I could not go on a safari every weekend. So, I started visiting parks in and around Delhi like Sultanpur National Park, Bhondsi Nature Park, Basai Wetlands, Rajiv Gandhi Park and Biodiversity Park to capture these birds.
Do you need different lenses for capturing birds and animals?
I use a Canon 7D Mark 2 with Canon 70mm-200mm and a Tamron G2 150mm-600mm lens. Yes, one needs a telephoto lens, no less than 200-500mm or 150-600mm, and also a fast body with a fast shutter speed as birds have erratic movements. For animals, a normal lens up to 200mm works.
Which software programmes do you use to edit your pictures?
Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.
How was the lockdown period for you?
While national parks and sanctuaries were shut, nature blossomed during the lockdown. It was a golden period. I spotted as many as 20 different species of birds in the neighbourhood; some of these were never seen here before.
What’s on your bucket list of photographs you want to click?
I recently saw a video of a tigress cuddling her two-three month old cub and realised I have no photograph of such a lovely moment, and I want to capture it and other such candid moments of birds and animals someday.