A tale between the lens and wildlife

Wildlife

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:

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Greens of Mara – March 2017

Just conducted a caracal expedition in Kenya. Though the focus was on small cats and the expedition resulted in 2 caracals and 15 serval sightings, but the week in the lush green plains of Masai Mara was action packed. The wildebeests were out of action and the river was calm. However action in the green pastures was supreme as usual with lions jumping around in the rains, servals scouting for morning meals and some excellent work with the rare and elusive caracals – one of the most elegant small cats of the African bush.

Here are some images to summarise my photo safari for March 2017.

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Nature… Devoid of colours

Black and white imagery looks stunning because of their artistic and dramatic appeal. I am frequently questioned about why I converted a particular image black and white. The process starts much before the image is shot as in my opinion shooting black and white images requires perceiving and pre-visualising a particular frame as black and white even before pressing the trigger. Here are some basic aspects which go through my mind during before shooting a black and white image:

  • Tonality & contrasts
  • Flat light and bland skies
  • Would the subject stand out without colour?
  • Textures and details
  • Leading lines and geographic compositions
  • Positioning of the light source

Do all images make good black and whites? I wouldn’t agree as a monochrome image is surely created in your mind and there are quite a few images that are meant to be photographed in colour.

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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.

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Canon Wild Clicks – Season 6

Canon Wild Clicks Season 6 – India’s Only Live Photography Contest concluded in Dudhwa National Park. With identical shooting conditions, defined themes and a defined timeframe, over 100 contestants came together to test their creativity and think beyond tigers during the 4 day competition. The event was conducted in partnership with Uttar Pradesh Government and Forest Department of Dudhwa.

 

It all kickstarted with the Honourable Chief Minister, Mr. Akhilesh Yadav flagging off Canon Wild Clicks as Nature Wanderers along with the Government of Uttar Pradesh welcomed 100 chosen photographers from all corners of India to be a part of the mega event from Nov 17-21, 2016. The entire group was divided in 3 parts to be mentored and guided by ace photographers – Shivang Mehta, Tejas Soni, Sandeep Dutta and Saurabh Desai.

This year jury comprised of award winning photographers Ganesh H Shankar and Jagdeep Rajput who spent countless hours judging over 500 images being submitted as per 5 themes given to the contestants.

CWC 6 has always been a great platform for knowledge sharing and this year the contestants got to be a part of talks on photographic compositions by Ganesh Shankar and some interesting panel discussions with Jagdeep Rajput.

Pratik Pradhan from Mumbai was judged the overall winner of Canon Wild Clicks Season 6 and won a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and some exciting goodies from our sponsors WulPro & Sirui.  Along with the Grand Winner, Canon Wild Clicks – Season 6 had five themes winners & 12 honorary mentions.

Presenting  brief visual gallery from Dudhwa:

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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

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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

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