Inspiro India: Tell us something about yourself and How you create Amazing Night Sky Shots?
– In the corner of my room is the thinking chair. What intrigues me the most the chair wouldn’t have been there if a star hadn’t exploded and created the elements needed to form it. Not a Bollywood or a Hollywood star, but a real one. Everything that we see around us is made of stardust. Millions of years of cosmic evolution and the mysterious ways of nature formed Stars, galaxies, planets, comets and asteroids. These stars are so far away that light takes several years to reach us. So one looks at things the way they were several years ago. Twinkle Twinkle little star. Now I know what you are! Mystery solved, but what next? We live on a tiny dot we call home ( a.k.a Earth )in this vast cosmic ocean and we don’t even know if there are more intelligent civilizations in the Universe. The mystery grows on you and the answers need to be found. These answers are not for one person to find or know. Fortunately, the youth of India is energetic and the children have more questions that ever. They are our real treasures and for them sky is the beginning. I am working on two Projects (philanthropic) currently with my friends o Astronomy Guru – A free online portal for people interested in learning Astronomy o Starlight – A free service for people who have never looked through a telescope Both are in their early stages but have started picking up as the interest of people grows. My other interests include Writing, Playing the guitar, Street Theatre, Batman a degree in computer applications and a search for crazy minds to join the madness. Astrophotography connects me to nature and travel keeps him humble. This keeps the engine running on my Duke 200 and the pedals kicking on my KHS. To capture the beauty of the night sky, I travel away from the city as far as I can with my camera and tripod. My knowledge of the sky helps a lot in planning my shoots. I generally have to wake up whole nights and face near freezing temperatures for long durations to get these photos. Several times I have to hike and trek to get to a desired point.
Inspiro India: How did you develop in this field? Did you face any kind of problems while pursuing this field?
– I am a self taught photographer. The basic camera handling was taught to me by Mr. Pankaj Sharma, my mentor. Since then, I have met a lot of people and have exchanged notes on technique and discipline and have added it to my workflow. Constant exposure to clear night sky, Discovery, Nat Geo and the internet kept me hooked. My parents have been the most supportive and have helped me in creating opportunities which helped me go further. There have a few hurdles but it doesn’t really bother me now. I am now working towards making astronomy more accessible to people through telescope watches and astrophotography workshops on a regular basis. There is lack of education in India and a change is needed. When you do it free, 95% of the challenges disappear and the rest 5% are mental blocks. Funds are a constant trouble because I do it for free but that’s how it is now ( I put this under the 5% category ). I learn by teaching people and answering their questions. I get to meet and work with the best people. Everything else follows. The authorities can be a little interfering at times, but I guess they are just doing their job. ” What are you doing here in the middle of the night. Pack up your stuff and move. ”
Inspiro India: What does photography mean to you? And what Inspires you ?
– Photography for me is expression and showing my creativity. I travel to new places and old places and meet new people, experience different cultures. I find new meanings to things and every time I am back home, something changes for good. My real inspiration is the wonders nature has created for us to enjoy. There are subtle clues for us to find and puzzles for us to solve. Life is like a playground. I am highly satisfied working as a photographer. There is nothing better than picking up your camera and going out early morning to create your own art. Pure bliss!
Inspiro India: We can see your photographs are mostly of Sky, why have you chosen to present them in this form?
– My folks are avid travellers and since I was a child I was part of their pilgrimages and tours across India. The more I would see, the more I would question things. The sky and everything else was better. More birds, animals and more STARS. By now the bug had docked deep into my conscience and had dropped anchor and the summer of 1995 changed everything for me. Forever. On a clear moonless night in Rishikesh, I was lying down on a KHAT ( a traditional Indian bedstead ). I looked up and saw a fuzzy cloud running across the sky. The breeze was constant all the others did but this cloud won’t move. I had never seen this before. Fortunately, I was in the company of photographers, our fellow companions on the trip. ” You are looking at the galaxy you live in and it’s called the milkyway. See it is as white as the milk “. A good deal of my questions were answered and from that day onwards Photographers = Cool, Mountains = Home, No electricity = Stars,Travel = Knowledge. Pretty soon, my parents and teachers were running out of answers and my fascination and curiosity was gripping me and others around me. Desperate, my parents around me, they took me to the planetarium and I saw my first sky theatre show and decided that this needs further attention. Later I joined the astronomy club which gave my passion further discipline and a computer degree and a job later I joined the organization which ran it in my school. It was also here that I decided I will teach astronomy and will maintain it as a lifestyle. 25,000 students and 6 years later, I quit my job to spread my passion on a larger scale. Astronomy connects me to the Universe. I continue being a disciple of Nature. Night sky photography keeps me close to everything I have learned till now. The beauty of the night sky is unparalled.
Inspiro India: What kind of Camera Gear and Equipments do you use when shoot when working in field?
– I generally carry a Camera, a tripod and some wide-angle lenses. Occasionally, I use a sky tracker to take long exposure shots without creating trails. I also keep a telescope handy for close up shots of the Moon and visual observations of planets and deep sky objects. A laptop and some extra batteries make things convenient.
Inspiro India: What did you want to become as a child? What dream is still on your bucket list?
– It would be really cool to fly a hybrid plane to the Moon.
Inspiro India: What inspires your photography?
– Nature is full of surprises and that keeps me interested in doing what I do. As a child, I would spend hours in the field and use to climb trees to get a closer look at bird’s nests ( Fell a couple of times during my adventures ). I would also look up in the sky and see the Moon and used to wonder why does one see it during the daytime also. It changes shape and size as time progresses and this bug bit me hard as the moon will rise at exactly the same time on Karva Chauth, year after year ( well a couple of minutes here and there )The stars fascinated me even more and on nights when there used to be power outages, we would go on the building terrace and see the stars and I would wonder till how far I can see. What will see if I see if go close to the stars, I had so many questions.The more I travel, the more I learn, my questions get answered.
Inspiro India: If not this, What would have Rishabh Jain been doing ?
– I would have definitely become a forest officer.
Inspiro India: What advice would the artist inside you like to pass on to our readers?
– Practice. The art will follow.
Inspiro India: What do you think about Inspiro India Magazine ?
– This is a great effort. Art is appreciated in India but only in small pockets and it is great to be part of a portal which connects artists and the rest of the world together. I wish the team great luck in this endeavour. Let there be Art!