The DJ Memorial Photography exhibition held by Lakshmi Machine Works displayed an impressive collection of photographs

Machli, one of the oldest tigresses in Ranthampore, was faced with the prospect of fighting a young tiger one day. She battled hard to save her territory, but lost eventually. Photographer Dhritiman caught the action in his camera. “The fight lasted seven seconds,” says Dhritiman. “Had it been any other tigress, she would have been killed. But Machli survived. She was tough.” The photo of Machli and the tiger striking at each other won the first prize in the Nature category of the DJ Memorial photography contest held by Lakshmi Machine Works.

From over 3000 entries from India and abroad, the jury, consisting of ace photographers K. Maruthachalam, T.N.A. Perumal and Rohinton Mehta of the magazine Smart Photography, short-listed about 100 for the exhibition.

A leopard and her cub looking hard at the camera, rat snakes mating amidst a lush backdrop, a lapwing with her shy young-one, boars chasing a wild dog, a peacock in flight…photographs in the Nature category were all about colour and action. But it was those under the ‘Open’ category that were like poetry.

A wizened old man surrounded by children, all smiles, an old lady walking on a winding path with a basket on her head, a little girl shepherding cattle along a mountain path, a shrivelled old man feeding water to his wife inside their hut…each photo was eloquent.

“I actually wanted to photograph a rainbow that day,” said Deboraj, speaking of his black-and-white photograph of a bolt of lightning taken during a thunder storm. The sky was ominous that evening and Deboraj sailed on a boat to a wetland with his camera. He balanced his tripod on a small island and waited, when lighting struck. Deboraj got his prize-winning photograph.

Light streamed in from a window and steam rose from the tumblers in the photograph of a tea-master ‘cutting’ tea in his shop. There was also a shot of a man and a dog floating on a plank of wood in a flood.

The first prize in the open category went to H. Satish from Bangalore for his photograph of snow-capped mountains in Nainital. Shot in black-and-white, the photo was the result of several days of trekking and overnight stays in tents in the mountains.

The exhibition also had photographs taken by D. Jayavarthanavelu, the former chairman and managing director of Lakshmi Machine Works. It will be on till September 9 at Kasthuri Sreenivasan Cultural Centre, Avanashi Road. For details, call 98941-55111.

Today’s photographers have a lot of potential. But with all the latest digital equipment, some of them are not concerned about the basics. I would still insist on taking prints. You can appreciate the contrast, colour and quality of a photograph better in print than in the digital form. To me there is no such thing as a perfect picture. There will always be something lacking in it. : T.N.A. Perumal

Some of the photographs we got were of excellent quality. We had to judge over 3,000 photographs. One has to remember that for a good photograph, you require good photographic technique; you need to be alert and patient. You need to know your subject and above all, you need luck. : K. Maruthachalam