Capturing it all in a click

Some of the pictures of sights and events captured by Basak for his exhibit titled Thousand Words—ASIAN AGE

Some of the pictures of sights and events captured by Basak for his exhibit titled Thousand Words—ASIAN AGE

In one frame, the yellow-white spring tulips gaze at the vast, limitless bright blue firmament overhead in Geilo (Norway). In the other, a female blackbuck scampers away from the camera lens in Vetnoi, (Orissa).

Moving on, a farmer cuts a solitary figure in the backdrop of a long way to the far horizon, thus overlooking the mountain-peaks in Panchalingeshwar (again in Orissa) and an hilltop view of the Taktsang Monastery from beyond the rock in Paro (Bhutan) greets your eyes with the sheer magic of photography.These are some of the shooting stills worth noting, perspicaciously captured by talented shutterbug Mithun Basak.
Recently, a solo show of his works compiled as Thousand Words, was exhibited at Kolkata’s reputed Birla Academy of Art and Culture. Presented by the Third Eye, this was Basak’s maiden single creative splurge as a professional lensman. Earlier, he has participated with several groups at different national and international competitive arenas.
With his cardinal subject being travel and wildlife, Basak traipsed to over 100 places in around 24 countries. The first destination was the neighbouring Himalayan nation of Nepal — the land of the gods and mystery — which had proved to be a huge trigger for this travel-thirsty man in 2006. “The tour was a trial of sorts for me with no prior experience of a foreign trip. We as a bunch of common friends just ganged up to hit the road and backpack to the higher, cooler altitudes,” he shares. After that, his unstoppable wanderlust took him to various places and then, there was no looking back. Watching the natural flow life in the cityscapes of Europe or the striking desert dunes of Egypt or even the dense wilderness of Africa, Basak was inevitably cruised into voyage photography forever. Occasionally shifting his gears from landscapes to nature, from wildlife to the architectural splendours, from the close-up angles to extreme long distant shots, this ardent cameraman got hooked to his lifelong addiction called photography.
But, such wasn’t the beginning for this low-profile artist, who has keenly nurtured a silent passion for the art of photography since childhood. “When we were kids, we were never allowed to pursue photography as a career option. But the globe-trotting fixation has remained in my heart right from my formative years. Back in our school days, from teachers to parents, everybody had persuaded us to focus only on studies. As a result, I was all set to become an engineer and apply for competitive tests. However, I couldn’t clear the entrance exams, which I consider as a fortunate outcome of my life. Otherwise, I’d have ended up doing a run-of-the-mill white-collar job for sure,” argues the 35-plus graphic designer, shrugging nonchalantly.
As Basak remembers purchasing his first brand new camera by selling his old books, he fondly associates the moment with clicking an array of beautiful objects around him. “Owning that gadget was like a prized possession for me. I instantly jump-started to freeze a few good frames at one go. See, you need to inculcate a keen eye for detail and catch that element of elegance in everything via your observation mode,” he advises.
For greater clarity and better composition of pictures, the photographer employs a full-frame camera as opposed to the usual cross or half-frame one. “This works wonders in dispensing an absolute picture-perfect, refined quality without any hazy jerks, noise or a hint of disturbance creeping in,” he suggests. Armed with two Cannon cameras (of 1DX and 5D MarkII models, respectively), Basak picked up the basic skills of his craft from the internationally acclaimed photographer Atanu Paul. And it is at the behest of his mentor that he could further polish his vision and photographic perspectives from the renowned lensman Girish Mistry later on in Mumbai. Even though he did a short stint of only two months under his aegis, it was more than enough to unearth his inner talent to surface with recognition. “I feel hugely privileged to be Girish sir’s disciple as it’s been able to put me on a different plank altogether,” he recounts his learning phase, which he calls “enlightening”.
A self-employed person, Basak transacts his snapshots through a slew of photo-agencies and online portals. Shutterstock, Getty Images, Fotolia, iStockphoto are some of the reputed names that he deals with for parading his stuff on the virtual platform. With positive feedback pours in the appreciation which he feels, is priceless. Besides, catering to the annual calendar issues during New Year’s or other festivities and delivering a flurry of greeting cards, plus serving up the orders to big corporate houses for their resort interior-decor, this man knows how to keep his hands busy round the clock.
While it is difficult for him to generate and recycle funds from his own pocket, Basak confirms that often organisers sponsor his junkets for his convenience. With more offers trickling in the camera-freak informs of already having a tie-up with a Delhi-based company for furnishing the residential homes and hotel rooms with his arresting vignettes laminated as wallpapers.
Also, talks are on with an Australian enterprise for seizing a clutch of sites and scenes from India to present it as a hotbed of tourist spots. “It will be a countrywide shoot, but I haven’t yet given my nod or signed on the dotted line as the contract is still at the negotiations stage,” he reasons. This apart, his works will be put up for print in both Century Asia and Lonely Planet magazines., the very famous and largely circulated travel guide book publishers around the world.
With plans to cover up the entire Northeast zone, Basak now intends to zoom in his gizmo on all seven sisters. “I’m heading to Arunachal Pradesh first. I’ll set my foot in the Ziro Valley on September 20 and then spend the rest four-five days exploring the whole region. The local Apatani or the Tanii tribal race, the bird sanctuary, indigenous culture, cuisine, costumes, customs and traditions of the provincial populace — every subject would matter to me and my camera as I trudge ahead as an alien in anonymity. From there, I’d like to proceed towards Nagaland, Sikkim, Bhutan and Nepal to complete the whole expedition. For the time being, I’ll solely concentrate on the state of Arunachal,” he declares. Before stepping out on his photographic vacation, Basak always does his bit of research work to be on the safe side. “I surf the Internet or Google a particular place in question and then carry a roadmap to know the route from beforehand. Besides booking hotels in advance, it’s always better to rope in a local guide for conveying a cultural empathy and smoothen the communication process in specific languages,” he says.
Come spring 2014 and the shooter will be ready to unveil yet another collection from his kitty at Kolkata’s Academy of Fine Arts. So which part of the global map, will then he set his sights upon? “China is on my mind for the overseas sojourn. And within India, the charming Chilika Lake in Orissa will be an ideal haunt to take a dip in for more discovery,” he concludes. Way to go snapper!

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