Saturday, October 27, 2001

Romancing nature with the lens
Aditi Tandon

THE snowline slowly recedes and streams burst forth bringing with them gifts of water and silt from the surrounding white-capped mountains. Villagers pack away their weaving looms and turn to flowering apple orchards, while the fields remain tinged with the green of early crops. Herdsmen drive flocks of sheep and goats, with attendant dogs and pack horses up to the higher slopes....

These, and numerous such images, form a very brief section of Sanjay Kumbhkarni’s photographic repertory. The man, who had earlier captured the majesty of Lahaul and Spiti, is back with another strikingly-fresh ensemble. Titled ‘The dew of Kinnaur,’ the show is about all aspects of life and longing in the sleepy Himachal region sitting pretty in the lap of the grand Himalayas. Moments in time have been beautifully encountered, captured and laid out in 45 frames for lovers of nature. The photographer has walked past nothing. In fact, he has shared space with nature and brought back the entire romance which the hills have given him. Naturally, his pictures are more than plain statements in time. They are a celebration of existence in the real sense.


Sanjay Kumbhkarni has captured the beauty of hills in his frames
Sanjay Kumbhkarni has captured the beauty of hills in his frames

And while the eyes join these images in a visual celebration, some words return in the back of the mind, some words which William Albert Allard had so rightly uttered about the "art of viewing and of capturing the view." In fact, words and pictures can work together to communicate more powerfully than either one of them alone. From one frame to another, this statement comes true. And, finally, one realises that the show is all about matters of the heart and nothing else. Ask Sanjay, who claims no great standing in the field and puts the entire effort in simple words, "I am a geologist. All this comes as a part of my job." What does not come as a part of the job is the man’s rapport with nature. That comes naturally to him and shows in all his work — right from the ones which reflect the joyous calls on the occasion of birth to the ones which capture the precious heirlooms, the breathtaking dew drops and sometimes the clouds reaching a dawn rendezvous to make love to the mountains.

No wonder, the elements of romance are now filling the ambience of Punjab Kala Bhawan art gallery in Sector 16 where the show is in progress. Techniques are also evident but they take a back seat. As Sanjay explains,"Technique is important, but it is less important than the feeling. I work more from the heart. I have been working with a 20-year-old camera all this while. My feelings have never failed me," he says. One of his captions aptly describes the force which drives him to follow a photograph intuitively so that finally it does nothing expect touching the spirit. This caption reads: Nature makes its own picture postcards where it chooses to. And all you have to do is to first feel the vision. Only then you begin to see..."

So Sanjay begins with raw evidence, which can range from twigs floating on a pond’s surface to a lone mushroom sharing light with nature. He then adds ingredients of beauty to breathe a deeper emotion into each picture. The sense of compassion is palpable in every frame; so is the sense of time, space and beauty.