"Light and Shadows"
By Captivating Photography Journal profile image Captivating Photography Journal
4 min read

"Light and Shadows"

Akhil's story is one of passion, growth, and the pursuit of beauty in the natural world. Join us in exploring his journey and be inspired by the magic he captures through his lens.

Interview with Akhil Prakash

Akhil, could you tell us about yourself and how you got into photography?

I am originally from India and came to New Zealand to pursue my Master's in International Business at the University of Otago. Despite my academic focus, my true passion lies in landscape and nature photography, which drew me to this beautiful country. Growing up, I was captivated by images of New Zealand's stunning landscapes on calendars, sparking my desire to explore and capture its beauty through photography.

My journey as a photographer began in my childhood, where I eagerly captured moments with any camera I could access, often starting with my father's mobile phone. Then, when I received my first phone, a Samsung S3, I started taking more photos. This period was during my time living in Saudi Arabia, where there wasn't much to photograph, but I made do with what was around me. Over time, I honed my skills and eventually received a Canon 80D APS-C sensor camera as a gift from my father, further fuelling my passion for photography.

Purakaunui Falls by Akhil Prakash

What is in your camera bag?

Currently, I primarily shoot with basic kit lenses – a Canon 18-55mm and a 55-250mm – along with a Samyang 14mm f2.8 lens for some special shots, including astrophotography and landscapes. I also utilise a Benro tripod for its flexibility and lightweight design, ideal for travel. My latest addition is a Sigma 85mm Art lens f1.4, which I used to take the “Light and Shadows” photo.

Additionally, I use a Mavic Mini 3 Pro drone for aerial photography and a Samsung Note 20 Ultra for my mobile photography. It's an excellent phone with a great camera, and the best part is its S Pen, a fantastic tool for editing on the go.

Now, let's discuss your captivating 'Light and Shadows' photograph. Could you take us behind the scenes?

By Akhil Prakash

The "Light and Shadows" photo was taken during a trip to the Catlins, a 1.5-2 hours drive from Dunedin. The track towards Purakaunui Falls is located in the Catlins Forest, one of New Zealand's untouched natural landscapes. The unique landscape and flourishing vegetation are sights to behold. Before taking this photo, I walked past a quiet stream on the track through mature beech forest, then beech and podocarp, leading to the South Island's iconic, and most photographed, Purakaunui Falls.

Summer had already partially dried the stream, hence the falls were not as magnificent as in autumn or spring. Despite the harsh summer conditions, I was captivated by the ethereal beauty of the scene. Usually, this stream is intense and moves at a much faster pace. However, this was a sight to behold as I could see the light passing through the water and the rocks within the stream beds.

The silhouette shadows of surrounding native trees (ferns, rata, kahikatea, rimu, and more) allowed partial sunlight to pass through. This created a beautiful layer of light and shadow on the clear water. It was a magical sight for me, so I took my camera out to capture what seemed like a different world to me. My partner, who had accompanied me on this trip, saw the photo and mentioned that it was a stunning photo and it looked like the galaxy, as if you were looking out into space with colourful galaxies. I could relate to her as I was stunned by the beauty myself!

The white bits of bubbles/foam are natural and are formed when molecules act as 'surfactants', interfering with the tension of water, allowing air and water to mix more easily. This, in context, looked like stars. I manually focused on the stream bed, and, while taking this fortunate shot, I could feel the fresh air surrounding me in the forest, the sound of the stream falling off the cascading rocks behind.

Did you do any post processing for this photo?

The colours were enticing to me - the dry leaves on top of the stream, the colour of light and shadow within a forest is different from that of our home.

I felt I did not need to edit this photo for Instagram. But then I realised my camera colour setting was favouring a warm tone slightly. I knew that posting this photo on Instagram would drastically reduce the sharpness and quality. So, I increased the shadow depth and the contrast between black and white while reducing the highlights. I colour-graded the shadows and highlights to blue to preserve the originality. In addition, I increased the sharpness and texture.

I was very happy with the image when I clicked it and after post-processing. I believe I did justice to the originality of the scene. I would not have done this any other way, even if given a second chance. I aim to post the photos I take with originality, or my perception of it.

What’s next for you?

By Akhil Prakash

I wish for my photographs to inspire everyone who dreams of being a photographer. I do not have a high budget for my work. I never had the option to afford quality gear, so I did my best with what I have and learned everything through hard work. I am a self-taught photographer, and I am committed to continuous growth and improvement in my craft. While I may not consider myself a professional yet, I am dedicated to refining my skills and pursuing opportunities to showcase my work. My dream is to work full-time as a landscape/nature photographer/videographer for a magazine/media company.

By Captivating Photography Journal profile image Captivating Photography Journal
Updated on