Wildlife photo safaris with India's leading photography guide

Tiger Photo Safaris in India

Tiger Marathon 2020 Schedules

 

_K9A6995tm

My annual Tiger Marathon photo safari schedules are now up on Nature Wanderers Photo Safaris

4 back to back photo safaris have been planned for Ranthambore and Bandhavgarh – 2 of India’s best tiger habitats. At Tiger Marathon you can either pick up one batch or club multiple batches to spend longer time in the field and go back with an amazing portfolio of summer images

Schedule of Tiger Marathon 2020

  • May 7 – 10 : Ranthambore National Park – 6 regular safaris
  • May 10 – 13 : Ranthambore National Park – 6 regular safaris
  • May 14 – 17 : Bandhavgarh National Park – 6 regular safaris
  • May 17 – 20 : Bandhavgarh National Park – 2 full day safaris, 2 regular safaris

Tiger Marathon 2019 Field Notes

The 2019 edition of my Tiger Marathon photo safari series just concluded in Bandhavgarh National Park. A fortnight filled with tiger action as we worked with Dotty and Solo – the two devoted mothers of Bandhavgarh who have been raising their litters in the park this season. From cubs playing to some charismatic males, Bandhavgarh always throws up surprises every day. Here are some of the many moments witnessed in the past 15 days.

_K9A6135_K9A6161_K9A5278_K9A5332_B5A6603_B5A0502_B5A9820_K9A5370-2_B5A9748


Tiger Season Opener 2018

We started a brand new tiger season in a green rejuvenated Ranthambore. The park was in a bad state during the last season because of lack of water and animals were in distress and a good monsoon was critical for Ranthambore. September turned around the fortunes of Ranthambore as the park received heavy rains filling up all the water bodies of the park and the dazzling green vegetation along with the rain water accumulated in every corner of the park made Ranthambore gorgeous like never before. The tiger sightings gradually picked up and the highlight of the first week was the mating of the ever charismatic Noor (T39) and T57. Will the reigning queen of Ranthambore gear up for her 5th litter in the coming months?

The tigers seen in the first week were T8 & cubs, T97, T98, all 3 of Noor’s separated daughters. Machali Junior (Arrowhead), T19 and cubs, T41 and cub, T34 and T73.

Good news poured in from Bandhavgarh as well we ended week 1 as Spotty’s new litter of 4 was seen. With multiple breeding females Bandhavgarh would surely be a park teaming with tiger action this season.

Here are some images summarising the first week of the new season in Ranthambore.

 

_B5A9382_B5A9454_B5A9731_B5A9821_B5A9826_K9A6802

 

 


Preps for a new Tiger Season

It is monsoon time and my team is busy working on the plans for the next season. To start with we have already announced a few fresh photo safaris in tiger parks like Ranthambore & Bandhavgarh. The annual Ranthambore Opener schedule is up to enable you get a glimpse of the first stripes of the season in the lush green forest post the monsoon showers. With multiple breeding females in the tourism zone, Bandhavgarh would be in the thick of action through the new season and we kickstart our Bandhavgarh photo safaris with a winter schedule in December.

Visit http://www.naturewanderers.com for details

 


Tackling “Tiger Boredom” 

_V5C2115
One of the most photographed cats the “Tiger” though can trigger a rush of adrenalin, but what if you are one of those who think  “Been there done that”? You empty your pockets doing the flurry of game drives in Indian parks at times paying a premium with special all zone access to venture out in the scorching heat of the cruel Indian summer only to be faced with scenes which are dull and boring, forget adrenalin rush your body produces melatonin, inducing sleep…..so much so for a tiger safari then.
We as photographers are constantly looking for tiger action in the form of hunts, play sequences, interactions or shooting the cat in the soft morning or evening light. These are rare moments and happen once in a while. But what do you get instead on 70% of the occasions? Tigers sitting in cemented water tanks, Tigers in the bushes, Tiger sleeping under tree shades. The subject you go out seeking is smarter than you , they give you an half opened eye look with a perplexed look as if saying go chill in a swimming pool , sit in the shade, it’s too hot to be cooking yourselves alive.
_74I7802
Summer sightings like these are considered to be below average owing to harsh light or man-made structures and the drooping shoulders of a lot of camera owners around me just display signs of what I term as “tiger boredom”! Over the years I have been bitten by this boredom way too often but have tried to come up with ideas to overcome it by experimenting with such tiger sightings.
As I write this note a lazy (or rather a smart) tiger is sitting in front of me in a cemented water tank cooling himself as we roast in the sun. I have my doubts if he will get up in the next couple of hours. But I love the commitment level of the photographer and the subject! Just like I have committed myself to be burnt alive, this tiger is committed to chilling in its pool and we both haven’t given up on each other. And while I hope he gets into action at some point eventually, let me pen down some thoughts on how to encounter this tiger boredom 🙂

Shooting Portraits

We all start off with shooting tiger portraits, some graduate to learning how to zoom out and capturing the majestic feline in its environs, some never do. It’s after all the world’s most photogenic cat.
But in a scenario where you can’t do much with the environs have you thought of doing an extreme portrait of the cat. Stacking up all the glass in your kit for a tight close up of the eye if it’s open, or the nose or experimenting with the depth of field by keeping certain parts of the face in focus and blurring the rest. IMHO these are some engaging exercises that can keep you engaged while your body cooks itself, making the stepping out in the sun a little more worthwhile.
_K9A1701
_74I2867_K9A1862

The Dissection Technique for Portraits 

From head to tail the tiger is by far a charismatic subject and as a photographer I see frames and perspectives in every part of its body. What better than a lazy tiger sitting out in the open to hone your observation skills. Stripes, paw, powerful back hunches, nose,  whiskers – each and every body part of the tiger has a hidden image which is fun to explore. Never went to a Zoology practical class, try that out with your camera and lens on the most majestic subject available.
_K9A1842
_K9A1851
_K9A2161
_K9A0986

The Cement Issue

We crib about our cities being a concrete jungle but then we encounter concrete in the jungles too, what a bummer that’s what you ran away from to begin with.
Tigers in cemented water tanks has become a critical national problem for photographers. The joy of a sighting simply evaporates in minutes with the sight of a cement. Even I didn’t pick up my camera many years ago to photograph something which isn’t natural. One fine summer around 6 years ago, I noticed something during one of my safaris in Bandhavgarh which changed my thought process. Extreme portraits are of course an easy way to deal with the cement issue, but what else can be done. What caught my eye was the trail of water dripping from the belly when the cat got up from the water and ever since I have been thinking of images around the belly waterfalls.
_74I5859
Tiger Falls

Tiger in cemented waterhole – Bandhavgarh

Reflections

Cement water holes have a unique feature. Before the tongue of a tiger touches these water bodies the water is still and the stillness gives a mirror like reflection and there are plenty of opportunities which can be explored around reflections. Even once the process of water going in the system is on, the ripples in the water can create some great tiger abstractions.
_K9A1028
_74I0509
So the next time you spend a bomb to venture on a full day safari in peak summers risking a sunstroke , don’t doze off to give the sleeping cat company. Tigers have been widely photographed in today’s time but in my opinion there are tons of tiger images yet to be taken. Make the best of what you have, challenge your brain cells, trigger those creative juices and make the adventure out in the sun worth your while.
And once you are through with your experimentations you can also think of more ideas and sit in front of a lazing tiger to kill your boredom by writing a similar note for the benefit of mankind 🙂

From Snow Leopards to Tigers

I have been on the road since the first week of March. From a fortnight in high altitude terrains of Himalayas in search of Snow Leopards to shuttling between Corbett & Ranthambore guiding guests from South Africa, United States & United Kingdom. Here is a quick round up for March 2018.

The Snow Leopard Expedition was a memorable experience with 6 sightings of 8 individual cats. The tender mother and cub moments enthralled our guests and the bold male gave some excellent photographic opportunities.

Paro’s young cub in Corbett has been looking in great shape and being the lone cub he is growing up fast. His antics around the river and river beds of Dhikala would be etched in sighting records of Corbett for years to come. Ranthambore on the other hand has been going steady and the major turn of events has been the sudden surge in sightings of Krishna (T19) and cubs post March 2018. Machali Junior or Arrowhead littered in the last week of February but the cubs have not been seen post the first report and the survival of the young cubs is questionable. The other consistent sightings have been Laila (T41) and her Blue Eye male cub. Noor (T39) and her female litter of 3 cubs are now showing signs of separation. Ladli (T8) and the cubs have been regularly seen along with the separated male cubs of T60.

Stay tuned to this space for some more exciting summer reports from Wild India in the coming months.

_K9A0986_K9A0894_74I3253_74I2989_74I2578_74I2659_74I2743_74I2229_74I2341_K9A0680_K9A8332_K9A8800


Feb Marathon Runs…

February has been all about hopping between various tiger habitats of India. The month started with Ranthambore where my guests spent some productive sessions with Noor (T39) and cubs and the T60 separated male cubs. Glimpses of Machali Junior (T84) raised hopes of her pregnancy. The lakes have been drying up gradually the effects of a scanty monsoon is now clearly visible.

We then moved on to the action area of Dhikala in Corbett National Park where the winter mist continued to fascinate our guests. The elephants have dwindled as compared to January but still there were sizeable numbers considering we are still in the fading part of winters of India.

Post the sad demise of my friend and elder brother Rajwardhan Sharma, I had to gather a lot of courage to go back to Bandhavgarh. I avoided it for the past few months but work commitments have got me here again.

I have just arrived amidst memories of Raj saheb and as I am gearing up for the week out here in Bandhavgarh, his pleasant memories and the hours of time we have spent together are reinstating my belief that Bandhavgarh will never be the same without him.

_74I0628_74I0802_74I0999_74I0509_74I1225_K9A0502_K9A0585


Winter Magic Continues in Corbett…

I just wrapped up the second Corbett schedule for January 2018. This time it was a photo safari with a young talented bunch of shutterbugs in Dhikala. The highlight for this schedule was yet again elephants in the cloud of mist floating over the grasslands. It is very critical to value the importance of simple moments in the wild and focus your energies on them. I am glad that my guests realised the importance of photographing elephants in winters and some outstanding perspective were created every morning.

And yes we did bump into a few tigers in our quest for light and mist…

Here are few more images depicting the winter moods of Corbett

_74I0189_74I9982_74I0219_74I0352_MG_895526758175_1875412422500695_365228837482558759_o


2018 opening @ Corbett

Just wrapped up the first leg of field visit to Corbett at the start of 2018. I was scouting locations for a filming team and there wasn’t enough time to shoot any stills but the dappled light emerging from a mystic saal forest along with the presence of elephants in the grasslands and a couple of tigers walking on the dazzling riverbeds made the visit special. The pristine locations around the park also kept us busy with ghoorals, Great Indian Hornbills and otters were seen over the period.

Heading back for the first Nature Wanderers photography expedition tomorrow. Stay tuned for more field updates from the magical winter woods of India.

Till then here are some images from Kumaon at the start of the new year.

_74I9672-l

_74I9463IMG_8939_74I9679_K9A0358


Winters are back in India

Winters, in my opinion, is one of the best seasons for photography in India. The morning light mingles with the soft mist to produce a dramatic impact that gives a mystic punch to the woods of India. The golden grass of the meadows supplements the saal forests standing tall against the rising sun with rays filtering through the canopies.

Here are some winter moods of Indian jungles. The mesmerising orange coat of a tiger amidst this environment is a sight to behold.

_K9A3099_K9A3103_K9A298513 2


Photo Safaris – Updates

Planning for a wildlife expedition in 2018 with a focus on wildlife photography?

Join Shivang Mehta for an exciting line-up of photographic safaris in various destinations of India and Africa. Here is a brief list of programs you can register for:

Migration UNCUT 2018 Photo Safaris

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Migration photo safaris at prices like never before. Register before December 31, 2017 to avail the special early bird offer in order to be there for the biggest wildlife spectacle in the planet at Masai Mara in Aug-Sep 2018. 3 back-to-back photo tours with small batch sizes of 4 photographers per batch in unbeatable stay locations in the Mara.

Batch 1 – Aug 14-20, 2018 – Register Now

Batch 2 – Aug 21-27, 2018 – Register Now

Batch 3 – Aug 28-Sep 3, 2018 – Register Now

Tiger Marathon 2018

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Are you willing to boost your tiger portfolio by maximising field time doing tiger photographic safaris this year? Be a part of Nature Wanderers annual Tiger Marathon photo tour series. Tiger Marathon is a back-to-back series of photo safaris where you can pick one tiger location or club multiple locations enabling you to customise your tiger safari schedules as per your convenience.

Every year we at Nature Wanderers carefully analyse the tiger dynamics of various tiger hotspots of India in order to plan the popular Tiger Marathon series. A lot of factors go behind this planning and presence of tiger cubs is one of them. For Tiger Marathon 2018 our focus parks are Corbett National Park and Ranthambore National Park – 2 of the most prominent tiger habitats of India teaming with tiger cub action in the summers of 2018.

Batch 1 – Ranthambore – Apr 28 – May 2, 2018 – Register Now

Batch 2 – Ranthambore – May 3 – 6, 2018 – Register Now

Batch 3 – Corbett – May 7 – 10, 2018 – Register Now

Batch 4 – Corbett – May 11-14, 2018 – Register Now

Wild Namibia

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You have experienced African destinations like Kenya and Tanzania with Nature Wanderers over the past decade and with that experience, you must be aware that Africa is the mecca of wildlife with loads of photographic opportunities. We have been asked questions by a lot of photographers like you on how to diversify your African portfolio beyond Masai Mara and Serengeti. We feel a key difference in images can be changing the backdrops and trials with new photographic techniques like usage of external light sources in order to bring about a uniqueness in your African portfolio.

Join Shivang Mehta (Canon Photo Mentor) for this unique tour to experience the highlights of one of the most diverse photographic destinations in the world – Namibia. This tour offers some of the most breathtaking landscapes together with an unbelievable bird and wildlife spectacle. Expect some of the best photographic opportunities imaginable both day and night..! Shivang will be accompanied by BBC award winning photographers who have worked extensively in Namibia as their home turf to give you the opportunity to boost your portfolio of African images using techniques seldom used in Indian scenarios.

Register Now for Wild Namibia


A Decade with Tigers – Curtain Raiser

In the past 14 years I have documented the lives of some of the most iconic tigers of India. I am pleased to announce the launch of my book – A Decade with Tigers – which is a compilation of images and stories depicting love, romance, motherhood, rivalry and revenge in the world of tigers in the past decade. Here is a curtain raiser to the book.

Stay tuned for launch updates…

 

 


Post Monsoon Tiger Safaris – Opening week update

Ranthambore National Park and multiple tiger reserves opened for tourism after a 3 month monsoon break on October 1st. I just wrapped up my first photo safari session in Ranthambhore and week 1 was very exciting as we saw the first few tigers post the monsoon break in lush green backdrops of Ranthambhore. The monsoons this year were bad and unless it rains in winters, Ranthambhore water sources would be drying up very soon this season.

Machali Jr. / Arrowhead was the first tiger to be seen for the season. Noor (T39) and cubs have been seen regularly in the last week and the young brigade looked in great shape. T8 and cubs have been sighted consistently in the monsoons as well and the trend continued in October first week. T57, T41 and cub, T73 and cubs were some of the other tigers that were seen during this week.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Tiger Showers – Summers 2017

Have been constantly on the field of the past couple of months and haven’t had much time to sort images. Just back from back to back Corbett and Bandhavgarh photography tours and I must say both locations are teaming with wildlife action. While Paro – the river mermaid of Corbett – has been enthralling photographers with a consistent appearances in majestic Himalayan backdrops, Bandhavgarh has had some outstanding action with tiger cubs as Spotty – the reigning heartthrob of Tala – is in command with her young battalion of cubs who have made the grasslands their playground this summer. In the other areas of the part Bamera’s son (T37) has been displaying his affection for his offsprings as the 3 cubs of Kankati Jr. have been keeping shutters busy in the lone water body of the area.

 

Here is a quick preview for April and May 2017:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Ramganga Musings

Nothing could have been a better start to a new year. Reliving some magical mornings of Corbett… the music of a Himalayan river with sparkling waters cascading down the white stones which slowly get lit as the sun peeps from the horizon and fumes of mist mingles with the first rays of the sun to create a seraphic landscape which has been forever embedded in my memory for more than a decade.

Over the years, while photographing this splendour a variety of subjects came and added a flavour to the glowing ambers of the Ramganga on a daily basis. Days normally start with redstarts, storks, greenshank and slowly graduates to a pied kingfisher and finally on one of the days a crested kingfisher takes over the misty throne of the Ramganga. However that particular morning of January 2017 was steaming with a thick layer of mist which made the light softer than usual. As I was waiting for my routine kingfishers, a group of smooth coated otters distracted me on the opposite direction as I observed their morning chores while they merrily swam braving strong river tides in search of a meal. For quite some time, I avoided the distraction but the otter antics were hard to resist and for a change I prioritised subjects over light and changed the direction of the camera. As soon as I looked through the viewfinder of my camera, behind my back, a ghostly figure royally stood on the smoking orange stones of the river. The subject was 200 times the size of the expected kingfisher and as soon as I looked back, we both stared at each other in shock.

At the blink of an eye the ruler of the Ramganga – a huge male tiger – traced back and ran back towards the bushes from where it was making up its mind to cross the glowing river. Some photographic opportunities remain edged to your memory even when you miss them. The frame was blank but the memory of the soul of the river in that dramatic set-up will remain forever.

For the records, here are few images from the year-opening photo tour to Corbett National Park.

_74i7692_74i7897_74i7502ev5c0473_a9r0248


October Expeditions Recap

It started with a brief photography tour in Ranthambhore wherein we inaugurated the post monsoon season with some lush green images of tigers in a monsoon forest. The sightings in both the batches were awesome and the greens added a punch to the images. It rained heavily during batch 2 but photographing a young male tiger in the rains was absolute fun for our guests.

I then changed gears and moved to Eastern Himalayas in the Indo-Nepal border to track down red pandas in the wild. A bunch of photographers who roughed it out in the tough terrains to photograph the elusive red panda and the efforts yielded rich dividends in the form of 5 individual sightings over a 3 week period.

Getting ready to judge the Canon Photo Marathon in New Delhi as of now before setting of to Easter Himalayas yet again for some more hardcore sessions with the pandas.

Here are some images to sum up the month:

Shot with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at ISO 4000

Shot with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at ISO 4000

_74a9824

_74a9877

_74i3081

_74i3383

_a9r7098


Countdown to Tigers…

India is geared to welcome a fresh tiger season as most of the national parks of India would be opening after a 3 months monsoon break by October. While Ranthambhore National Park will be commence tourism from October 1st, central Indian tiger parks like Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Pench, Satpura and Tadoba would be operational for tourists from mid of October. The popular Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand would be back in business by November.

What is in store in the world of tigers for the 2016-2017 season? While a lot of mysteries are yet to unfold, as per June tiger sighting trends, the graph for Bandhavgarh was at its peak with multiple breeding females and cubs in various zones of the park. Ranthambhore also had an impressive summer and so did Tadoba and Pench.

Stay tuned to this space for updates from various tiger lands of India and in case you want to plan a photo safari or join a photographic expedition, drop me an email at shivang@naturewanderers.com

_74i9307_a9r5525


Tiger Diaries – June 2016

It has been a hectic but productive June till now. We started our work in Ranthambhore working on T60 and cubs when a news from Bandhavgarh caught our attention. A tigress called Spotty in the Tala zone of Bandhavgarh had given birth to her first litter. Weighing various pros and cons we changed gears and rushed to Bandhavgarh to start some extensive tracking for the newly seen cubs. A 7 day project resulted in some brilliant images of 2 month old tiger cubs for our guest who showed remarkable patience and perseverance in extreme weather conditions.

Monsoons showers have started hitting tiger parks and as we enter the last 10 days of the season lets wish the wild denizens of India a safe monsoon.

_74I0402_74I0454_74I8940_74I9098_74I9135_74I9213_74I9509_74I9609

 


Summers @ Tadoba

Experienced Tadoba summers after a gap of 4 years. May 2012 was the last I spent a fortnight in the blazing sun and scorching heat of Tadoba. 4 years down the line, I led a small group of photographers who braved the heat to spend hours with the Sonam and Maya family – the current heartthrobs of Tadoba. The cubs have been shaping up quite well since I last saw them in December 2015. It was also a first experience for me with the majestic Bajrang male who is fathering Sonam cubs. He for sure is a charismatic tiger and would be instrumental in propelling the dynasty of tigers in Tadoba.

Recharging at home after a hectic 45 day travel schedule. Stay tuned for June diaries as we enter into the last month of the tiger season in India before the monsoons…

_74I7802_74I7997_74I8165_74I8227


Tiger Marathon 2016 – Field Updates

The 2016 edition of Tiger Marathon – the annual back to back tiger photography tours by Nature Wanderers – ended this week with some exemplary sightings in Ranthambhore and Corbett National Park. While the lakes were productive again in Ranthambhore, we also got the opportunity to photograph the newly crowned mother T60 and her 3 cubs. Sessions with Noor (T39) and T57 were equally intense and productive.

Corbett on the other hand along with expected elephant action was ruled by Paarwali sightings as the river mermaid of Ramganga gave multiple opportunities for photography in typical Corbett habitats. Here are a few images created in the past fortnight.

_A9R7210-2_A9R6836-1_A9R6608_A9R5432_A9R5250_A9R5196_A9R4939_A9R4811_A9R4677_74I7556_74I7318_74I6795_74I6669_A9R6425_74I6333_74I6270_74I6149_74I6070_74I5826_74I5908


Mystic Corbett…

Have blogged about mystic forms of Corbett in the past and here is another brief update from the foothills from the Himalayas where early morning rays mingles with the mist to create some divine light with a midas touch which sparkles any subject in such majestic backdrops. This time it was some deer species like the hog deer and in search for mist and light, we bumped into a tiger sitting in a dramatic saal forest.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Jan 2016 Travel Diaries

The beginning of the new year has been a bit low on travel as a lot of work is being done around some exciting wildlife programs to be conducted in the coming months of 2016. Though my colleagues Sagar Gosavi and Jagdeep Rajput conducted some extensive programs in Corbett National Park, I squeezed in time for a photography tour commitment in Kanha and did a impromptu game drive in Ranthambhore.

Here is a brief visual diary of some images created in the first fortnight of 2016. Stay tuned for some exciting updates this February and March.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 


December Marathon with Tigers

Winter photography in tiger parks is always special. The magical morning mist and the soft light filtering through the forest canopies makes you as a photographers look of images rather than tigers. I just completed a 1800 km marathon in central India covering various parks of Madhya Pradesh. The experience was not just about the Rajbehra cubs in Bandhavgarh or the Baghin Nala cubs in Pench but creating some awesome images in the stunning winter backdrops of central Indian forests.

A lot of work is yet to be seen and processed… sharing some of the images. This would probably be my last post for the year 2015. Wishing you all a very happy new year and great luck and light for 2016!

_74I3495

Rajbehra cub – Bandhavgarh

_A9R4883

Bandhavgarh

_74I3720

Leopard – Bandhavgarh

_74I3783

Baghin Nala cub – Pench

_74I3363

Rajbehra cub- Bandhavgarh

_74I3185

Spotty (female in Tala zone) – Bandhavgarh


Tadoba Nostalgia…

I love challenges being thrown on me… specially when it is around finding and photographic young tiger cubs in the wild. The failure rates are high but the taste of success is sweeter.

This time it was in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Central India. I was visiting the park after a gap of 3 years but the memories of my early days in Tadoba were still fresh. It was a great team of friends and photographers I worked with during that time and as I traversed through the bamboo thickets of various areas of the park, the nostalgic moments of the past full of fun and hard work were bringing a smile on my face. The females I worked on during those days were all devoted mothers now and the Tadoba legacy continues…

Here is some work we did on Maya (the current breeding female in Pandherpauni) and her cubs during the 1 week marathon in Tadoba.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.