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Capturing the tiger on one’s lens is every wildlife photographer’s dream come true and calls for a lot of ground work and patience. Sudhir Shivaram, one of India’s most respected wildlife photographers, had to wait for 10 years before he spotted his first tiger in the wild. However, since then, he has captured several stunning images of this striped beauty on his camera. We caught up with him to understand what really goes behind getting a great shot and how he became a wildlife photographer. Excerpts from the interview. Also Read - CREDAI Seeks Urgent Support For Realty Sector in Letter to PM Modi
1. Why did you decide to become a wildlife photographer?
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Becoming a wildlife photographer was not a planned career choice, it rather took its course on its own. In ’93 when I was in college, many students would go trekking as we loved nature. We soon started a photography club and would regularly go out in the wild to photograph nature’s beauty. My passion grew and after I finished my engineering course, I joined HP yet continued wildlife photography. Somewhere down the line, it became my career and I left the corporate jungle to go into the real one.
2. What is the longest time you’ve had to wait to get the perfect tiger shot?
To be honest, I had to wait 10 years to spot my first tiger in the wild. This is also because I wanted to see a tiger in the jungles of south India so I did not go for tiger safaris in Madhya Pradesh. It was in Bhadra Tiger Reserve and it was a shot of two tiger siblings looking at a gaur or Indian bison. The shot went on to get selected in the finals of a BBC photography competition.
3. Which tiger reserve or national park in India is your favorite and why?
It will be Bandhavgarh as there you get to see tigers in their natural behavior. I always have a good time capturing them on my camera doing the most natural things without being bothered about their surroundings.
4. How do you go about clicking photos of tigers in action?
Wildlife photography requires one to be extremely patient yet prepared to capture the shot just as it happens. You have a window of about three seconds to get the shot or else you’ve missed it. But the planning and preparation stage is very important. When I shoot tigers, I have a guide and naturalist who help me frame the shot from the right angle. Being in the jungle, they know the behavior of the tiger. However, you need to be extremely patient. I have waited for days to get a good shot. Once on a full day safari, nothing happened till the end and then there was a fight between two tiger siblings that lasted for 10-15 seconds but I got to capture it on my camera. Another time, there was no action for five days and on the sixth day, I got to capture a hunt. So, it is a waiting game but you need to be prepared to be able to capture it when it does happen.
5. What tips would you give wildlife enthusiasts who want to get a good shot of a tiger?
The first and most important thing to remember is to respect the wild animal. Don’t get too close to them. The welfare of the subject and your safety are equally important so make sure you maintain safe distance.
Don’t hurry, it is a waiting game. If you want the perfect shot, be patient.
Equipment plays an important role as you need to be ready when the moment is right.
Learn the basics of photography and keep practising to get better. If you are a beginner, you can set your camera on auto mode.
An entry level camera with kit lens of 50-250 mm is good for beginners to try their hand at wildlife photography.
Sudhir Shivaram conducts wildlife photography courses. To learn more about it, visit his website learn.sudhirshivaram.com
Photographs courtesy: Sudhir Shivaram
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