About Soumitra Datta, Ruskin Bond says, “His exquisite landscape photography” captures the tides of the sea shore and the lush underground comes alive. He also says that the clever and imaginative use of his camera makes the hills of Sikkim come to life. Raghu Rai calls his work abstract and imaginative. He admires them for being like paintings. While his pictures make nature come to life, which he does in a nouveau way –so that the onlooker feels a sense of déjà vu. He captures the ever-changing moments of nature so that his photos not only appear aesthetically appealing but also make you look at them time and again. His photographic knowledge is vast for his age for someone who was educated as an engineer.
Ed Kashi of National Geographic, New York feels that Soumitra has mastered photo techniques in many ways. The grandeur of nature, he says, is seen in his panoramas, his love for his subject eggs him on, as he captures the vignettes of life, which others might ignore, he says—specially the monsoon atmosphere of Sikkim for example. One understands Soumitra’s adoration of nature through his work, he adds.
How did Soumitra — with his pencil moustache and dark, luminous eyes –get into photography? He had the chance to travel a lot with his family. In the University, which he attended for his engineering, he picked up quite a bit of the mastery with the lens. It was in 1980, and today he is 52. Having won awards both inside and outside his country, he was encouraged to carry on with photography. Awards from Unicef, Unesco and the Indira Gandhi Award in India, the Tourism Show—arranged by the Indian government–also won him a prize. At one time he did all types of features except for press photography. After travelling for several years, he found that elements of nature, like birds, the water against the cliffs, ranges of hills, trees and rivers and clouds gave him the pristine form of nature which he wished to capture.
Waves, rivulets, oceans. mountains with the mist and fog, the sun peeping through the clouds fascinated him. “Rocks” have the natural rock form popping through rivulets.
In the rocks illuminated by the moonlight there is the chiaroscuro of darkness and light–naturally sculpted rocks, peeping out in a Kranataka river. The waterbed and the water are found in visual harmony. The picture was taken from the top .We get a splash of waves in this scene from Karnataka. One is amazed with the grass over the rocky soil bed. This is focused in Jharkan in Bihar. In another photograph we see the water paths, created by the delicate looking travel boats over the sea water, says Soumitra. The net of the boats are framed by poles which are a part of the dainty and peaceful image of harmony and contentment
Another photograph, taken in Shilchor, shows undulations in the backdrop with iron content in the soil, and gives its beholder a romantic swirl. This picture is taken in Assam. The undulations of the area is said to be typical of the Shilchor area. There is then the depiction of the paddy lands with moving clouds where the trees are emerald and the clouds mauve. The water is blue and brown where the land division comes in, and the paddy grows.
One sees next the reflection of the clouds over the Diana River. The monsoon cloud is reflected on the water body, “And so we feel the magic,” says the photographer. Leaves are broad—green in front and dark at the back appear gold, mauve, black and green. We get a touch of the monsoon atmosphere in north Sikkim. The backdrop is snow-clad mountains, with clouds swimming above, and in front is a dried-up tree trunk. There are also the monsoon clouds over vast paddy fields—showering the hillocks. In Orissa, the rain clouds are seen in all their glory. We get a feast of panoramas of the unsurpassed beauty of India, seen through the eyes of lens.