Because You can’t get a tiger to say cheese. Tips from the team at Going Wild on taking wildlife photographs, and suggested India-wide itineraries
Everyone is an amateur photographer these days. From artistic tableaus of one’s babies and pets to attractively arranged images of the sandwich we are eating for lunch, our generation is obsessed with capturing every ephemeral moment of their existence on lens. It is almost as if one hopes that by clicking we will make a transient world more permanent. And if the old wives’ tale about each click of the camera taking some of your soul away is true, then it’s little wonder that the world is populated by seemingly soulless beings.
It is refreshing therefore to come across a team which takes the business of photography seriously. Going Wild is a unique travel and photography company set up by three enthusiastic engineers. Even when they worked in the Real Estate and IT sector Soumyajit Nandy, Tamanud Mitra and Dibyendu Ash always found time for their shared passion of wildlife photography. And in 2012, the three decided to take the plunge and set up an absolutely fantastic travel company that specializes in wildlife photography excursions. The team helps both first timers and experts travel all over India to both experience and capture a phenomenal diversity of wildlife.
We spoke with Soumyajit Nandy to find out more about this. Soumyajit was also kind enough to share some of his vivid images for this piece, which you can enjoy along with his useful tips towards becoming a better wildlife photographer/traveller.
On what amateur photographers should keep in mind when photographing birds and wildlife.
- First of all, it is essential to remember that to be a good wildlife photographer one needs to be a good naturalist. It is important to know and understand the behavior of wildlife and the natural history of the place where one is going to do a photo shoot. A thorough understanding of various jungle signs is also important.
- Safety of wildlife always comes first, and the photographer needs to respect the comfort circle of his/her subject. Once the subject is comfortable with the photographer’s presence, natural events can captured easily. Just to get a good image, a photographer should not indulge in unethical practices like tampering with the natural environment and behavior of the subject, using a flash light on the subject, or playing calls
- Patience and perseverance is the key to getting good wildlife images. At times one may have to wait for a long time or even visit a place repeatedly to get “that” image.
- Always maintain silence when in the wild. This helps in picking up and understanding the various signs of the jungle.
- Always wear colors which blend with the habitat. Avoid smoking inside the forest. Perfumes and scented oils/talcum are a strict NO-NO.
- Often, it is advisable to avail the services of a good local guide as they may have a better understanding of the places from where you can see particular animals.
On the best equipment for a beginner photographer.
A D-SLR with a minimum of 200mm focal length lens is ideal for mammals like elephants and tigers. For birds a minimum of 400mm focal length is advisable. A 100mm standard Macro lens is also a good investment is you wish to take some detailed macro images. As wildlife sighting often happens in conditions of low light, some kind of support for the equipment is advisable. Tripod and beanbags come very handy in these situations.
Nowadays the image stabilization option which comes for various lenses also helps. Again, the requirement may vary depending upon the mode of travel inside the forest. For example, a 200-300mm focal length might be good enough to photograph an elephant from a Gypsy whereas a longer reach may be required if one is on foot!
On some of the camps they’ve conducted (Here’s an entire new wishlist for the MBRB reader!)
Our camps mostly concentrate on wildlife photograph. However, we did conduct one tour to Ladakh which was a mix of landscape and wildlife photography. So far we have conducted camps in Satkosia, Tadoba, Ghatgarh, Corbett National Park, Bandhavgarh, Sattal-Pangot, Ladakh, Bharatpur, Neora, Varsey and Sunderban.
Apart from these commercial camps we have also explored a few other interesting places such like Buxa, Kaziranga, Manas, Pakke, Nameri, Eaglenest, Chopta, Valley of Flowers, Tal Chappar, Devidhura and Pangolakha.
In all of our camps we do our utmost to utilize the conditions in such a way that our participants come back with maximum number of quality images. Hence our stay options, safari guides, vehicles, camp season – everything is planned keeping that in mind.
On some of his most memorable sightings in wild
There have been so many such sightings. Some that I will never forget are:
A Fire-tailed Myzornis sighted in Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh
A stoat sighted in Jispa, Himachal Pradesh
A tigress on a hunt at Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve Madhya Pradesh.
In addition, I’ve been lucky enough to have sighted- Malabar Trogon in Satkosia, Odisha, A Tibetan Serin in Varsey, A Bay Woodpecker in Lingtam and 7 different tigers on a single safari to Bandhavgarh.
On the best place and time and to see Tigers in India
Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, MP and Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan are both very good places to see and photograph tigers in their natural habitat. The best season is the summer when there is water scarcity and the thin vegetation allows good sightings near the few left over waterholes. However, during the winters can also sight tigers walking on game tracks.
Lastly, we noticed you have extensive experience in wildlife tourism across the North East of India. If one wanted to travel through the North East what itinerary would you recommend?
Traveling in the north-east can be tricky. Most of the travel needs to be done by road and conditions are not very good here, so make sure you’ve got plenty of time in reserve. Also sudden insurgency problems and weather changes can hamper any planned itinerary. A good idea to explore the North-East is to lay base at Guwahati and travel from there. A few itineraries are suggested below below; mix these based on how much time you have.
- Guwahati – Kaziranga Tiger Reserve – Nameri – Eaglenest – Sella Pass – Tawang
- Guwahati – Kaziranga Tiger Reserve – Dibru Saikhowa – Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary
- Guwahati – Dibrugarh – Kohima – Khonoma
- Guwahati – Nameri – Pakke Tiger Reserve
- Guwahati – Shillong – Cherrapunji – Garo & Khasi Hills
- Guwahati – Aizwal – Dampa Tiger Reserve
Alternatively, one can also set base at Agartala and explore the forests of Tripura.
(We are not including Sikkim and North Bengal in these itineraries)
Have you had any close encounters of the wild kind? Share your experiences with visiting and capturing fauna (on film), in the comments below.