Bat at Night




Ganesh H Shankar
Bat at Night
During last 10 days of 2009, I tried to make some images of these fruit bats that use to visit a papaya tree in a remote village near Western Ghats. Needless to say making an image like this at night is not possible using regular techniques. We need some sort of automatic shutter triggering mechanism. Different kind of devices are available in market for such photography. What I use for such remote photography is a heat+motion sensing device made by Trailmaster (TM550 to be specific if any of you want to try this out). Let me caution you however it is not easy and you may not make lots of good images. The fundamental challenge is your eye is not behind the view finder when camera gets triggered !! We need to answer questions like - how will I focus ? where will I focus ? how can I compose ? what focal length to use ? how will I use flash ? how many flashes ? where to keep them ? on shoe/off shoe ? Some of these remote triggering devices are programmable. For example the one I have several parameters that can be programmed to time the shutter release. For example I can set when 2 heat/motion pulses are receved within 1 second then hold down the trigger for 2 seconds. This programming varies with subjects - faster birds would need some kind of setting while the slow moving mammal may need different kind of setting. These settings help in controlling the composition. As you can see there are several parameters that can go wrong. There are several others which I have not talked about. I can assure you they all will go wrong :) Unfortunately you can act on them only for next night's experiement since you don't know when bats come to trigger your camera :) Essentially it is several days of experiment. With some informed experiements and of course luck you *may* end up with an image or two. I thought I had just one from 10 days of experiements, on a second look I found one more. Exposure on this was off by about 1.5 stops (so I had written it off), fortunately I could compensate the the exposure in s/w to recover the lost details.

Summary being, it is quite challenging and interesting. Your task may be easier if you find a subject which has a well defined movement (path) at night. If any of you are interested in trying such techniques shoot me a mail, glad to share whatever a little I know (I am still learning these techniques and not an expert of course). My mail response may be very slow however :) so please be patient.. Slightly larger and better version of the above image is at my site.
Thu Jan 07, 2010 7:57 pm
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Ganesh H. Shankar
Wishing you best light,

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Ganesh H Shankar  Joined CNP On 24 Apr 2008    Total Image posts 540    -   Total Image Comments 5319    -   Image Post to Comment Ratio 1:10    -   Image Comment Density 40     -     Total Forum Posts 775

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Commentby Pramod Viswanath on Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:10 am

I really don't know what to say! Everyone you go ahead by a step, beating you own challenges and come back with some amazing learning and stunning, unbeatable images. This is one such image. Class image this and what an effort behind this! Hats off Ganesh.

Pramod Viswanath
Frames from wild | My Blog
Our only limitation is imagination !

Commentby Nilanjan Das on Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:18 am

Looking quite nice Ganesh. Yes, making images involve so much except for just pressing the shutter :). There's never a perfect image, something or the other is always missing, from objects to ideas. Good learning process, its always such a great feeling to learn something new and then try to execute in a creative way. Thats what I think is the meaning of life. Failure can never touch a person who is not afraid of failing whiling learning. I am very happy and excited about this work of yours and wish you all the very best for the future. I think this is just the beginning from you :). Thanks for sharing both the info and the image. Looking forward for more.

Nilanjan Das Photography

Commentby Sriharsha Ganjam on Fri Jan 08, 2010 11:56 am

Wonders of the nocturnal world! Brilliant shot sir and the learning behind this image would have been tremendous. Thanks for sharing the info. I still remember your efforts from last year trying get these kind of shots. I cant believe that a year has already passed, but more than that I cant believe that such a steep learning curve has been tackled so masterfully. Cant even imagine how next years images would look!

Cant put a phrase in place to appreciate the efforts behind such images. VMR's bat images and this are truly ground breaking in this regard.

» Last edited by Sriharsha Ganjam on Fri Jan 08, 2010 12:05 pm; edited 2 times in total

Commentby Ganesh H Shankar on Fri Jan 08, 2010 12:25 pm

VMR's images can't be compared with this one Harsha :) Hope those are available for public viewing after a deserving award !!

Ganesh H. Shankar
Wishing you best light,

Personal Websites Fine Art Nature Photography
Facebook Pages Ganesh H. Shankar | Fine Art Nature Photography | Art Of Life

Commentby Shivakumar L Narayan on Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:11 pm

Am at loss of words Ganesh after seeing and hearing the behind the scenes for those 10 days ( rather nights ).
Your effort really shows off in this one.
This is a clear example of "Hard work pays" !
Looking forward for more such experiments and learning that you would share with us.

Shiv | +91 97390 36563 | | twitter | facebook | instagram | youtube

Commentby Vijay Mohan Raj on Sat Jan 09, 2010 6:02 pm

Considering this was shot with a TM550 it really warms your heart that we are really waking up to the challenges of the nocturnal world. Every evening a drive into Bhadra puts me in a trance of so many lurking and flying creatures that have not got its due of the limelight. Now that Ganesh has shown us a lot of patience and great planning can really throw up such gems. Thanks a lot Ganesh for showing challenge is something we are not afraid of.

A creative mind is a restless soul...

Commentby Ashwini Kumar Bhat on Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:30 pm

This is sheer brilliance! Amazing effort and wonderful pay off. Those words of yours and the assertive tone in which they are written really shows the mammoth effort that you have put and the enormous amount of learning that you have got out of it. Thanks for sharing those with us Ganesh. It really inspires all of us. Thanks for being there as a Guru!

Ashwini Kumar Bhat
My scribblings | My Portfolio

Commentby Trivedi Vatsal on Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:06 pm

Amazing is the word for this image. Can't say more...:) Thanks a ton for sharing....

Commentby Shankar Kiragi on Thu Jan 14, 2010 7:40 am

Technical knowhow and planning besides patience can produce such images. These rare images of noctornal creatures are available for studying creature, nature etc. Truly another bench marking in Indian photography

Cheers, Shankar Kiragi

Commentby krishnan v on Sun Feb 07, 2010 6:47 pm

Interesting comments and kudos on opening up a new frontier in photography :-) Look forward to many more such images ! The night has many mysteries !

Best Regards