WPY 2013

Photograph Details

Commended 2013

Botanical Realms

Kalyan Varma, India

Cocoon of life

Veins reach across the wings and around the embryo of the seed of the Andaman redwood. Kalyan had searched through the leaf-litter beneath some of these magnificent trees to find the perfect seed. 'They are only slightly larger than a coin and very delicate,' he says. 'It took me a while to find one that was not torn, crushed or old.' It is, he says, difficult to do justice to the grandeur of these trees - also known as East India mahogany and found only on the Andaman Islands of India - and to the amazing engineering and design of their wind-dispersed seeds. He wants people to pause and puzzle over what they are looking at. 'It could, at first glance, be the roots of some strange organism, or the veins of part of an animal or a leaf,' he says. 'I want people to slowly realise what it is and marvel at the intricacies of nature.'

Technical specification

Nikon D700 + 105mm f2.8 lens + flash diffuser; 1/60 sec at f16; ISO 400; Nikon SB-800 flash.


Andaman Islands, India: latitude 11.7401, longitude 92.6586 Andaman Islands, India: latitude 11.7401, longitude 92.6586

Andaman Islands, India

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Kalyan Varma

Kalyan Varma, India

Kalyan Varma is a wildlife photographer and cameraman specialising in environment, science and ecology in India. He freelances with many of the world's leading magazines, environmental NGOs and television channels. Although he started his career in the technology industry, he quit his job 8 years ago to pursue wildlife photography and filming as a profession. He collaborates with wildlife scientists, researchers, policy makers, activists and educators on conservation action, activism, documentation, books and film projects. He is also active in fostering a community of photographers. He co-founded India Nature Watch, the largest online community of wildlife photographers in India and also shares his knowledge of photography, wildlife, and people in various platforms. Kalyan believes photography is a powerful agent of change, it makes one curious, and curiosity leads to engagement and conversation, which in turn may lead to action.