Aishwarya Sridhar, 23, has become the first Indian to win the ‘Highly Commended’ award at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020. The winners were announced on October 13. Her photo titled ‘Lights of Passion’ is the picture of a tree illuminated with fireflies. The stars and firefly make it look like a surreal galaxy. Sridhar took the photo during a trek in Bhandardara, a village in the Western Ghats of India, last year.
Sridhar’s photo was competing against 50,000 entries from more than 80 countries. She is also the youngest and the first girl to win the highly respected award from India in the adult category.
Her win comes under the Behaviour-Invertebrates category. Invertebrates are animals without backbones. The Invertebrates category in the Photography awards counts photos that show the most memorable or interesting behaviour of any small animals which do not have a backbone.
The National History Museum’s description of the award-winning photo says, “After two hours of hiking, she found a tree dusted in gold from the bioluminescence of thousands of fireflies. Shooting 27 images over a 24-second exposure and combining them using focus stacking software, she highlighted the vibrancy of this scene.”
The photograph was captured using one of Canon’s premium DSLRs- EOS-1DX Mark II cameras. The camera was instrumental in capturing the image in a low light setting.
"It was a dream come true when my name was announced at the virtual awards ceremony on Tuesday night. I had decided to click fireflies but hadn't planned any particular frame. It's a very short two-week window when one can find fireflies in the Bhandardara area,” Sridhar has told the media.
Apart from being a wildlife photographer, she is also a writer, filmmaker, and a conservationist. Her works have been published in national and international magazines like Guardian, BBC Wildlife, Hindustan Times, and Saevus, to name a few.
The Mumbai girl is also a recipient of the Princess Diana award given to youngsters who bring positive change to the society. She had also won the Sanctuary Asia Young Naturalist Award when she was 14.
(Edited by Athira Nair)