Sudhir Shivaram Curated

Founder, Sudhir Shivaram Photography

CURATED BY :  


  • What is shutter speed and why it is important in photography?

  • How aperture is related to the amount of light into a camera ?

  • What is the depth of field and how it is controlled by Aperture?

  • What is the solution of focussing a subject which is moving continuously?

  • 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 practicing to get better. If you are a beginner, you can set your camera on auto mode. An entry-level camera with a kit lens of 50-250 mm is good for beginners to try their hand at wildlife photography.

  • Which tiger reserve or national park in India is your favorite and why?

    It will be Bandhavgarh as there you get to see them 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. 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.

  • When did you first develop your interest in wildlife photography and how long have you been taking pictures for?

    I did my Engineering degree at Malnad College of Engineering, Hassan. Hassan is located in the Western Ghats belt of India. I used to go trekking quite often there and that got me interested in nature and wildlife. I moved to Bangalore in 1995 for work and was soon part of a like-minded group of people who introduced me to wildlife photography. We used to frequent the forests of Kabini, Bandipur and BR Hills, as these were quite close to Bangalore. Thus developed my interest towards this genre, and I have been shooting wildlife ever since.

  • What are the most essential items that you carry with you in your camera bag?

    I plan my equipment for each safari based on the destination. Though I have an array of equipment, I may not be in a position to carry all of it. My main two lenses are the Canon EF 400mm f2.8 L IS II and the Canon EF 800mm f5.6 L IS along with the Canon 1DX and the Canon 1D Mark IV cameras. Though I would love to carry both all the time, I decide on one of them based on how and what I want to shoot. For certain destinations I may like to do a lot of close-up shots; for that I carry the 800mm. If it is action and nice portraits, then the 400mm f2.8 is my preferred lens. The standard lens I carry for all my tours is the Canon EF 70-200 f2.8 L IS II. This is one focal length every wildlife photographer needs to have. It’s fast and flexible for low light and animals in the habitat photography.

  • What advice would you give to someone wanting to ‘make it big’ in the nature photography world?

    There are two important points to be noted to become a good wildlife photographer: You need to understand the fundamental concepts of photography: exposure, focusing, composition and execution. You need to move away from taking images and instead of making images. There is a huge difference between the two. Most of the images I make currently are with the concepts of pre-visualisation, where I frame the image in my mind and then execute it based on the opportunity I get. The second important aspect in wildlife photography is to become good naturalist first and then a wildlife photographer second. It is important to understand animal behavior and never cross the line. Understand why animals may be afraid and think about how you can eliminate that factor to make great images of the animals without causing any kind of stress to them. Remember, no image is worth compromising the safety of the subjects, and yourself. A lot of budding photographers come to me and tell me that they want to become like me. They also aspire to be famous, rich and sought-after photographers. The advice I give them is to never chase money or fame; it will eventually come to you, provided you become good at your work. I always advise this budding lot to channel their energy towards getting better at what they do and fame will be theirs. Just go with the flow and be diligent at what you do. Photography is about passion. Do this and you will cherish it for the rest of your life. [Tweet “Photography is about passion. Do this and you will cherish it for the rest of your life.”]

  • What inspires you about wild life photography?

    Nature itself is so amazing that I can spend the entire day in the forest without making a single image. The kind if surprises you get in nature and the number of things it teaches you is fascinating. The other important thing is – Wildlife is not just Tigers and Leopards. The behavior of every single living being in the jungle is different and needs to be studied. To be honest, I am not a Tiger person. I do not go into the jungles to look for Tigers or Leopards. So many times I have spent a lot of time with common subjects like Spotted Deer or Sambar Deers. Of course, the forests have the other favorite subject of mine – Birds. Many of the forest birds are so colorful that you forget about the worries or your concrete jungle and enjoy the beauty of nature. The joy of watching birds and animals in their natural habitat and observing their behavior arouse a lot of interest in nature. Capturing those moments and sharing with friends and family helped me to spread that joy of nature. My passion for wildlife grew and I got involved in a lot of conservation-related activities and projects. I contribute my images free of cost for this purpose and is used by a lot of NGO’s and other organizations all over the world. This makes me happy as I am able to contribute back to nature in a small way.  But above all, the ultimate inspiration is my own satisfaction of being one with nature!

  • What are the difficulties faced by a wildlife photographer on a regular basis?

    Wildlife photography is all about opportunity. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right kind of equipment & settings and with the right kind of people. There are multiple factors and challenges faced by any wildlife photographer: Getting a suitable vehicle with a knowledgeable naturalist/guide and an experienced driver in any of the National Parks and Sanctuaries is one of the biggest challenges a wildlife photographer faces. No matter what kind of equipment a photographer has, if the logistics is not proper, then you end up with no good photographs. Most of the action in Wildlife happens late in the evening, which means less light. In this situation you face challenges with equipment where focusing will be very slow and you may need to increase your ISO to get a decent shutter speed to capture any kind of action. Fortunately, with the improving digital camera technology, dealing with ISO is something which can be handled. But focusing speed is more related to the aperture of the lens being used as you need a lot more light to enter the camera for faster focusing to achieve. And that comes at a cost. To be a good wildlife photographer, you need to be a good naturalist and understand and follow the ethics of wildlife photography. With increasing affordability of DSLR camera equipment, the number of people aspiring to take up wildlife photography has increased dramatically over the years.  This has resulted in dilution of the ethics of wildlife photography, thus discrediting the entire community at times. From a financial standpoint, the cameras, lenses, and accessories along with travel are expensive. No matter how good you are at this, you cannot make a lot of money. It takes several years to build the credibility to make a mark in this genre of photography. The bottom-line of Wildlife Photography is – We are in it because we love it, not with the hope of making a lot of money.

  • Do you have any tips for aspiring wildlife photographers?

    There are two important points to be noted to become a good Wildlife Photographer: You need to understand the fundamental concepts of photography which include exposure, focusing, composition and execution. You need to move away from taking images to making images. There is a huge difference between the two. Most of the images I make currently are with the concepts of pre-visualization, where I frame the image in my mind and then execute it based on the opportunity I get. The second important aspect in Wildlife Photography is to become good naturalist first, and then, a Wildlife Photographer. As conveyed before, it is important to understand animal behavior and never cross the line. Understand the circle of fear and see how you can break that to make great images of the animals without causing any kind of stress on them. Remember, no image is worth compromising the safety of the subjects, and yourself.

  • Can you give a demonstration of how to shoot in a low light situation?

  • Can you share some of your Photography tips regarding taking a good picture of a tiger?

  • How white balance has an impact on the colours while taking a picture?

  • What has been your biggest learning ?

    Actual learning starts when you get down to what you like doing the best. For me, wildlife has always captured my attention. Nowadays I see that tigers have evolved a lot over the years. Their hunting patterns, the way they notice when people enter and leave their territory, all of these things have evolved a lot. For example, in Ranthambore, I have noticed that the Tigress leaves her cubs around to play and this distracts the deer. The deer send out signals to other deer to be aware that tigers are around. The tigress actually goes all the way to the back to attack the deer. So, these behavioral aspects are something that I have started understanding.

  • What are your thoughts on how social media is shaping the course of photography and the way photos are being shared now?

    I believe social media offers a great platform to showcase one’s work. A lot of media houses are also scouting social media sites for content, and it is a win-win situation for both creators of such content and the curators and end-users. Offhand, I can recollect an incident where a guide/ naturalist in one of the tiger reserves captured a unique tiger-sloth bear encounter video and posted it on a social media site. This went viral and garnered so much visibility that a top international channel paid him a substantial amount to air it on their channel. It was also reliably learned that the video earns him a sizeable income after being uploaded on a popular video sharing site. While the video is just an example, the same is also true of photographs.

  • What advice would you like to give to budding photographers?

    What I tell most youngsters, not just photographers is to do what they love the most. If I were to specifically give advice to photographers, that would be to master their basics first; this can be done even with basic, entry-level equipment. I have always discouraged the obsession for expensive, high-end equipment. I also emphasize the need to follow ethical practices; this is all the more relevant in wildlife photography, where we shoot in sensitive, protected areas. I make it very clear to my participants that subject welfare is far more important than getting good shots.

  • Can you take us through which are the places you have visited ion past few months for shooting?

  • In wildlife prospective what you can get to see in Meghalaya?

  • As we are in lockdown so at this time what do you think a photographer will do as we are more confined in this time?

  • How did you developed an attraction in clicking wildlife pictures?

  • Do photographers like you get preferential treatment when you visit these parks?

  • What is the process do you follow before and after of a shoot?

  • Are there any new documentaries you are coming up with?

  • As an amateur how does one really build their social media or instagram presence according to you?

  • Does maintaining timeline effects the likes and number of followers as well according to you?

  • What are your tips for Macro photography?

  • Is it possible to do some of your outdoor workshops to more economical basis?

  • In 2020 what is inside your photography bag?

  • Tell us about some mobile photography tips.

  • Are you a situation driven photographer?

  • Hows it that inflight, specially in bird photography are you able to freeze the moment to capture things to such beauty?

  • How important is understanding animal behavior in this case as well?

  • What are your views on Tiktok for professional photographers?

  • Do you need to carry a heavy lens so in that case is there in specific tripod quality that you prefer?

  • Whats your favorite bird to shoot?

  • Do you still feel nervous when you shoot tigers?

  • Have you ever encountered any snakes while shooting tigers?

  • How much time do you think a photographer needs to give to managing the social media?

  • When did you first develop your interest in wildlife photography and how long have you been taking pictures for?

    I did my Engineering degree at Malnad College of Engineering, Hassan. Hassan is located in the Western Ghats belt of India. I used to go trekking quite often there and that got me interested in nature and wildlife. I moved to Bangalore in 1995 for work and was soon part of a like-minded group of people who introduced me to wildlife photography. We used to frequent the forests of Kabini, Bandipur and BR Hills, as these were quite close to Bangalore. Thus developed my interest towards this genre, and I have been shooting wildlife ever since.

  • What do you find inspires you as a photographer the most?

    Nature itself is so amazing that I can spend the entire day in the forest without taking a single image. The kinds of surprises nature springs on you and the number of things it teaches you are fascinating. The other important thing is – wildlife is not just tigers and leopards. The behavior of every single living being in the jungle is different and makes for an interesting study. To be honest, I am not a tiger person. I do not go into the jungles to look for tigers or leopards. So many times I have spent a lot of time with common subjects like spotted deer or sambar deer. Birds are – and always have been – my favorite subjects. These beautiful, colourful creatures are so captivating that you forget all of your worries when watching their unfettered action.

  • What is your most memorable wildlife encounter?

    Having started wildlife photography around 1995-96, I would frequent the forests around Mysore almost every month. However, it was a good 10 years before I sighted a tiger in the wild. That day is still etched in my memory. On October 25th 2006, during a routine safari at the Bhadra Tiger Reserve, we spotted a herd of gaur, which I wanted to photograph. When I requested the driver to stop the jeep, he asked me what I wanted to shoot. On hearing I wanted to shoot the gaur, he pointed to the two tigers right by the jeep track. My jaw dropped on seeing the two sub-adult tigers staring the gaur in the eye! It was a wildlife moment that I will cherish forever; the image remains one of the best and most unique tiger images shot in a South Indian jungle.

  • We’re great fans of the insight you bring to India and its wildlife through your camera. What would you say are the highlights of Indian wildlife?

    When people ask me which is the best park in India – I have only one answer for them. Every park in India is unique and is beautiful in its own way. The Deserts of Kutch to the Grasslands of Dhikala and Kaziranga; the tigers of Ranthambhore and Bandhavgarh; the leopards of Kabini to the Birdlife in Bharatpur; the meadows of Kanha to the wide variety of wildlife in the Western Ghats and the mangroves. Each wildlife destination in India has its own charm, and the diversity of our country is what I love the most.

  • What is your favourite photo you’ve taken or moment you’ve experienced, and what made it so special?

    My “Tiger Siblings and Gaur” (seen above) has been my all-time favourite image. Many of my friends who are into wildlife mention that it’s probably the best tiger image photographed in India. It was photographed at Lakvalli Forest Range, Bhadra Tiger Reserve. Sighting a few spotted deer was itself a challenge in this forest during those times. We were lucky to sight the tigers and the gaur, not to mention their interaction. For more images and the complete story, see Tale of Two Tigers and a Herd of Gaur. The images proved to be of extreme importance from a conservation point of view when Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) discovered that one of the tigers had travelled all the way from Bhadra to Dandeli Anshi National Park, over a distance of 270 kilometres. This was the first time in history of tiger study that photographic evidence was there to support that a tiger could actually travel such long distances. It was believed that the home range of tiger was 60 sq km. This opened avenues of study, because there was human habitat en route and the tiger could not have travelled as the crow flies. You can read more on this here: Dandeli – Anshi Tiger Reserve.

  • What do you try to get across in your photos and what makes them unique?

    I believe that when I am taking a photograph of any animal, there are many elements coming together to help create a good photograph – just like there are many ingredients that go into creating a good dish. I try to identify and capture these elements. There are two different approaches I take for my images: to get a close-up of the animal to show its beauty, and to show the animal in its habitat, documenting the beauty of the forest it thrives in. Ultimately, I try and show the mood of the whole place.I like to take story-telling images, especially the ones showing the habitat. I try to capture all the moments so that the viewer gets a feel for the place.

  • What are the most essential items that you carry with you in your camera bag?

    I plan my equipment for each safari based on the destination. Though I have an array of equipment, I may not be in a position to carry all of it. My main two lenses are the Canon EF 400mm f2.8 L IS II and the Canon EF 800mm f5.6 L IS along with the Canon 1DX and the Canon 1D Mark IV cameras. Though I would love to carry both all the time, I decide on one of them based on how and what I want to shoot. For certain destinations I may like to do a lot of close-up shots; for that I carry the 800mm. If it is action and nice portraits, then the 400mm f2.8 is my preferred lens. The standard lens I carry for all my tours is the Canon EF 70-200 f2.8 L IS II. This is one focal length every wildlife photographer needs to have. It’s fast and flexible for low light and animals in the habitat photography.As for other equipment, I have come to realise that a mobile phone comes in very handy in certain instances while clicking photographs. Sometimes I come so close to these animals that it is extremely difficult for me to click them with a 400mm or a 800mm. I just keep these aside and start clicking with my cell phone. This is one piece of advice I give to a lot of people – to have a decent mobile phone camera while going on such expeditions.

  • What advice would you give to someone wanting to ‘make it big’ in the nature photography world?

    There are two important points to be noted to become a good wildlife photographer: You need to understand the fundamental concepts of photography: exposure, focusing, composition and execution. You need to move away from taking images and instead to making images. There is a huge difference between the two. Most of the images I make currently are with the concepts of pre-visualisation, where I frame the image in my mind and then execute it based on the opportunity I get.The second important aspect in wildlife photography is to become good naturalist first, and then a wildlife photographer second. It is important to understand animal behaviour and never cross the line. Understand why animals may be afraid and think about how you can eliminate that factor to make great images of the animals without causing any kind of stress to them. Remember, no image is worth compromising the safety of the subjects, and yourself. A lot of budding photographers come to me and tell me that they want to become like me. They also aspire to be famous, rich, and sought after photographers. The advice I give them is to never chase money or fame; it will eventually come to you, provided you become good at your work. I always advise this budding lot to channel their energy towards getting better at what they do and fame will be theirs. Just go with the flow and be diligent at what you do. Photography is about passion. Do this and you will cherish it for the rest of your life.

  • We can’t talk about your photography without mentioning tigers. Can you describe what it is like to see such an impressive predator in the wild?

    Tigers are the apex predators and rule the Indian forests. Everything about the tigers is so unique and fascinating. Their power/strength, hunting styles, habitat, solitary nature, maternal instincts, attitude and not to forget, the royal looks! Every time I see a tiger in the wild, I feel the same excitement as of the first time. When I see the photographs of the tigers I have clicked, I can tell you that every photo has something unique. To be honest, I can’t get enough of this majestic beauty!

  • You’ve traveled the world with your camera. What is your favourite country to photograph in?

    Of course, it’s India. Though I have done multiple tours to Africa and love the wildlife there, it’s the diversity of India, which thrills me. There’s so much to cover in India that one lifetime may not suffice.

  • Do you have any final words of wisdom?

    To be a good wildlife photographer, you need to be a good naturalist and understand and follow the ethics of wildlife photography. With increasing affordability of DSLR camera equipment, the number of people aspiring to take up wildlife photography has increased dramatically over the years. This has resulted in dilution and ignorance of ethical practice, thus discrediting the entire community at times. From a financial standpoint, the cameras, lenses and accessories along with travel are expensive. No matter how good you are at this, you cannot make a lot of money. It takes several years to build the credibility to make a mark in this genre of photography. The bottom-line of wildlife photography is: we are in it because we love it, not with the hope of making a lot of money.

  • Congratulations on winning the 2012 Sanctuary Asia Wildlife Photographer of the year award. Could you share how you got the image?

    Thank you for the wishes. The image was taken at Kabini backwaters in the Rajiv Gandhi (Nagarhole) National Park. During the evening safari at Kabini, we came across this Leopard which was on a tree with a spotted deer kill. We spent around two hours photographing it and finally had to leave at 6:30pm in the evening. Since it would have consumed the kill overnight, we knew that the Leopard would be around the same place the next morning.The next morning we visited the same place and found it resting on a different tree. Its belly looked filled. It was relaxing there and was least bothered with the presence of so many jeeps. We stayed with it for the whole morning and photographed it in different lighting conditions. In the afternoon we came back to this place and still found it on the same tree, sleeping. This Leopard was on the same tree for a whole 12 hours from morning to evening.

  • Why did you select that image for the contest? According to you, what makes an award winning shot?

    The mood, lighting and the habitat is what I liked in this image. The theme of the contest was “Call of the Wild”, and this, according to me, depicts the theme. I personally like this image as it has a painting feel to it. It’s a difficult one to answer about what makes an award winning shot (from a competition perspective). I participated in a competition after a gap of more than 3 years. For me, personally, every image is an award winning shot if it meets the some of the following criteria: Capturing an image which represents the wildlife in their natural habitat and does not show any kind of undue stress on the animal. The image should convey a story and a message. It has to be a natural history moment. It has to be unique and out of the box. The photo need not be a close portrait of the animal. An image showing the habitat and convey the mood of the forest / environment

  • How did you get into wild life photography?

    I owe this to two of my very good friends – Chaitra Ramaiah and Rajesh Puttaswamaiah. In fact it was Chaitra who took me to BR Hills and introduced me to Wildlife. He himself is an excellent wildlife photographer and a good naturalist. All three of us used to frequent the forests around Bangalore and Mysore. During the initial period in 1996, we used to be out in the jungles almost every weekend. Thanks to my twin sister Sunitha who presented me the Canon EOS Elan IIE and the Canon 75-300 IS Lens. That set me up for Wildlife Photography. Later joined India-Nature-Pixs , a Yahoo group and met more like minded people. My interest in nature grew and I have never looked back again

  • What inspires you about wild life photography?

    Nature itself is so amazing that I can spend the entire day in the forest without making a single image. The kind if surprises you get in nature and the number of things it teaches you is fascinating. The other important thing is – Wildlife is not just Tigers and Leopards. The behavior of every single living being in the jungle is different and needs to be studied. To be honest, I am not a Tiger person. I do not go into the jungles to look for Tigers or Leopards. So many times I have spent a lot of time with common subjects like Spotted Deer or Sambar Deers. Of course, the forests have the other favorite subject of mine – Birds. Many of the forest birds are so colorful that you forget about the worries or your concrete jungle and enjoy the beauty of nature.The joy of watching birds and animals in their natural habitat and observing their behavior arouse a lot of interest in nature. Capturing those moments and sharing with friends and family helped me to spread that joy of nature. My passion towards wildlife grew and I got involved in a lot of conservation related activities and projects. I contribute my images free of cost for this purpose and is used by a lot of NGO’s and other organizations all over the world. This makes me happy as I am able to contribute back to nature in a small way. But above all, the ultimate inspiration is my own satisfaction of being one with nature!

  • What kind of equipment you use now, and what did you start with?

    Equipment upgrade is one of the hottest topics of discussion between photographers. I started with a very old German camera. Complete manual exposure and it had split focusing mode for focusing. My first DSLR was gifted by my twin sister – the Canon EOS Elan IIE and 75-300 IS lens. Later my wife gifted (50%) me the Canon 100-400 L IS Lens. Then the rest of the upgrade followed -> Canon 10D-> Canon 30D -> Canon 1D Mark III -> Canon 1D Mark IV and finally now I use the Canon 1DX. On the lens part, it has been 100-400 -> Canon 500mm f/4L IS -> Canon 800mm and finally included the Canon 400mm f2.8 L IS II to my kitty. I started the first lens rental in India for wildlife photographers (based out of Bangalore) that opened up the Pandora box where I had all the key L series lens from Canon which I could use based on the requirement.

  • What are the difficulties faced by a wildlife photographer on a regular basis?

    Wildlife photography is all about opportunity. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right kind of equipment & settings and with the right kind of people. There are multiple factors and challenges faced by any wildlife photographer: Getting the suitable vehicle with a knowledgeable naturalist / guide and an experienced driver in any of the National Parks and Sanctuaries is one of the biggest challenges a wildlife photographer faces. No matter what kind of equipment a photographer has, if the logistics is not proper, then you end up with no good photographs. Most of the action in Wildlife happens late in the evening, which means less light. In this situation you face challenges with equipment where focusing will be very slow and you may need to increase your ISO to get a decent shutter speed to capture any kind of action. Fortunately, with the improving digital camera technology, dealing with ISO is something which can be handled. But focusing speed is more related to the aperture of the lens being used as you need a lot more light to enter the camera for faster focusing to achieve. And that comes at a cost.To be a good wildlife photographer, you need to be a good naturalist and understand and follow the ethics of wildlife photography. With increasing affordability of DSLR camera equipment, the number of people aspiring to take up wildlife photography has increased dramatically over the years. This has resulted in dilution of the ethics of wildlife photography, thus discrediting the entire community at times. From a financial standpoint, the cameras, lenses and accessories along with travel are expensive. No matter how good you are at this, you cannot make a lot of money. It takes several years to build the credibility to make a mark in this genre of photography. The bottom-line of Wildlife Photography is – We are in it because we love it, not with the hope of making a lot of money.

  • What are your thoughts on raw images vs images that have been worked on (photoshop)?

    There is a very thin line between image correction and manipulation. I have been doing photography for close to 20 years and started with black & white photography during my college days. I have spent time in the dark room developing and processing the film negatives. In today’s digital world, that dark room is basically your computer where you need to process your images. The dynamic range of the camera is limited by the sensor technology, whereas our human eyes can perceive a much larger dynamic range. As the term says, RAW is literally RAW – It’s a data file and not an image file unlike jpeg. You need to process that RAW data to get the RGB values to match to what you saw in the field. And that’s where image processing comes in. My fundamental principle of processing is to show what was seen in the field – nothing more, nothing less. There may be occasions where you may have to remove a distracting twig or play around with the image to show the details in a better way which could not be captured in the field due to various factors. Of course, if you start manipulating your images beyond the normal adjustments, then it is no more photography but digital art. But again, there is nothing wrong in doing so if that is your line of interest. In the end, photography and processing are subjective and you want to please yourself.

  • What are the techniques you use?

    Wildlife Photography is all about being at the right place at the right time, with the right kind of equipment and techniques. There is no one single lens available to cover all aspects of Wildlife Photography. You need to get the best from what you have. I typically carry my Canon 800mm f5.6 L IS lens mounted on the 1D Mark IV and the Canon 400mm f2.8 L IS II on the Canon 1DX. This combination gives me the flexibility to make close up images or capturing action and behavior. I have used the double decker technique where I use both the set of equipment at the same time to capture the same scene with multiple focal lengths.

  • How do you plan a shoot?

    Photography, in general, is all about pre-visualization and planning. Most of my images are pre visualized and well planned and I go after those concepts/subjects and execute. There is a huge difference between taking images and making images. Anyone can take an image, but to make an image require a lot of knowledge, both on the technical aspects of photography and your subject. There are more than 10 different tasks you have to do before releasing the shutter. Some of it has to be done in advance (like exposure setting and most of the camera settings) and the rest, which is composition, will depend on the kind of subject and opportunity you get.There are various factors involved in isolating your subject and capturing it – The equipment being used, your distance from the subject, the angle of approach, the background associated and the kind of subject being photographed. One of the key aspects in Wildlife Photography is to understand the behavior of your subjects. The circle of fear is part of that. Once you are able to break that circle of fear and the animal knows you are not a threat, it will continue its normal business and that helps to capture the behavioral aspects. All animals do display emotions, especially when they are in a group. Patience and perseverance are keys to capturing these emotions.

  • Which is your favorite image? Could you explain the background story behind it?

    My “Tiger Siblings and Gaur” has been my all-time favorite image. Many of my friends who are into Wildlife mention that it’s probably the best Tiger image photographed in India. It was photographed at Lakvalli Forest Range, Bhadra Tiger Reserve. Sighting a few Spotted Deer was itself a challenge in this forest during those times. We were lucky to sight the Tigers and the Gaur and their interaction. For more images and the complete story — Tale of Two Tigers and a Herd of GaurThe images proved to be of extreme importance from a conservation point of view when Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) discovered that one of the Tiger had travelled all the way from Bhadra to Dandeli Anshi National Park over a distance of 270 Km. This was the first time in history of Tiger study that photographic evidence was there to support that a Tiger could actually travel over such long distances. It was believed that the home range of Tiger was 60 sq km. This opened avenues of study, because there was human habitat en route and the Tiger could not have travelled as the crow flies. You can read more on this here: Dandeli- Anshi Tiger Reserve Tiger with travelling hitch finds home from home

  • Do you have any tips for aspiring wildlife photographers?

    There are two important points to be noted to become a good Wildlife Photographer: You need to understand the fundamental concepts of photography which includes exposure, focusing, composition and execution. You need to move away from taking images to making images. There is a huge difference between the two. Most of the images I make currently are with the concepts of pre visualization, where I frame the image in my mind and then execute it based on the opportunity I get. The second important aspect in Wildlife Photography is to become good naturalist first, and then, a Wildlife Photographer. As conveyed before, it is important to understand the animal behavior and never cross the line. Understand the circle of fear and see how you can break that to make great images of the animals without causing any kind of stress on them. Remember, no image is worth compromising the safety of the subjects, and yourself.

  • Photography - Why and How? Brief us about your Journey

    It all began during my college days when I was part of Malnad Amateur Photographers Club at Malnad College of Engineering, Hassan. What started out as an exploration of the enchanting world of the camera gradually gained direction and came to focus upon wildlife photography when I moved to Bangalore. I owe this to two of my very good friends - Chaitra Ramaiah and Rajesh Puttaswamaiah. In fact it was Chaitra who took me to BR Hills and introduced me to Wildlife. All three of us used to frequent the forests around Bangalore and Mysore. During the initial period in 1996, we used to be out in the jungles almost every weekend. Thanks to my twin sister Sunitha who presented me the Canon EOS Elan IIE and the Canon 75-300 IS Lens. That set me up for Wildlife Photography. I later joined India-Nature-Pixs, a Yahoo group and met more like-minded people. A few years later we started IndiaNatureWatch.net and my network of nature photographers grew. I also started to travel all around India for my photography. I was always a loyal Canon customer who used to promote Canon products all the time. Later Canon officially contacted me and we signed a contract and that's how I became an official Canon Brand Ambassador. Online social website like Google+ and Facebook helped me reach out to more nature lovers and my contacts grew. During this journey I started my own photography venture called Elephas Creations in 2009 and later co-founded Toehold Travel & Photography in 2010 with my photographer friends Jayanth Sharma, Giri Cavale and Venkatesh. I am currently collaborating with Saevus Magazine to conduct various Wildlife Related Photo Tours and Workshops. The journey has been good so far and I am loving every bit of it

  • You have always been a dedicated Wildlife Photographer. Why does this genre appeal to you so much?

    My love has always been towards Wildlife photography, in particular bird photography. Nature has never ceased to amaze and fascinate me, with surprises and excitement at every twist and turn. The other important thing is – Wildlife is not just Tigers and Leopards. The behavior of every single living being in the jungle is different and needs to be studied. To be honest, I am not a Tiger person. I do not go into the jungles to look for Tigers or Leopards. More often than not I have spent a lot of time with common subjects like Spotted Deer or Sambar Deers. Of course, the jungle is home to different species of birds - my favorite subjects. Watching these colorful beauties is so mesmerizing that all worries tend to melt away and the concrete jungle is all but forgotten.

  • Fancy equipment or On-filed experience What matters the most?

    There are 3 main aspects when it comes to Wildlife Photography: Understanding the natural history of your subjects, having a very good understanding on the fundamental aspects of photography and finally, the equipment. The first aspect helps you to be prepared to anticipate and plan your shots. It is very important to understand the behavioral aspects of your subjects and know when not to interfere in their lifecycle. Having a good understanding of the natural history also helps you to know where to find what kind of subjects and during which season. The migratory birds arrive in India at around Sept-Oct timeframe and stay on until Feb-March. Visiting water bodies on the outskirts of a city will yield good number of birds. April-May is the timeframe to find birds in their breeding plumage. May-June-July is a good time to photograph the Sloth Bears with cubs piggybacking on them. There are so many things to learn from nature to be a good photographer. If you do not have a good grip on the fundamentals of photography, then no matter what kind of equipment you have, the quality and output will be limited by your knowledge. As I say, there are at least 10 to 15 different things you need to do before hitting that shutter release button. That is the difference between taking an image and making an image. That said, equipment also plays a major role in the kind of images you make. During late evenings when the light is receding, you need a fast camera-lens combination to capture images, especially action. This happened to me at Ranthambhore where a Tiger made a Wild Pig kill just about 20-30 ft from our jeep. This was at the exit gate with around 30-40 vehicles. A lot of photographers were struggling to get focus because of the extremely low light and many got shaky images because of improper settings. With the appropriate equipment – the Canon 400mm f2.8 L IS II and the Canon 1DX – focusing and shooting at ISO 5000 was smooth and I was able to capture some fantastic images; of course, practice and skill contributed in no small measure. Similar to the exposure triangle, these 3 aspects are equally important in image making.

  • Do you consider someone as your mentor?

    I am largely self-taught, although I have closely followed work of various photographers including Vijay Cavale, John Shaw, Arthur Morris etc and have been inspired and influenced by their work. The internet has helped me to learn and take my photography to the next level. Interacting with like-minded people, participating in various international photography forums have helped me.

  • Most common mistake you see Photographers doing in their work?

    There are so many of them. First and foremost, many photographers simply lift the camera and start shooting without even thinking what they like in the image and what they want to convey. Every image should have a focus point which draws the viewers’ attention. The eyes should not get distracted and wander about in the image. A great deal of thought needs to go behind every image. The exposure triangle (ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture) depends on the metering mode and lighting conditions and you need to use the exposure compensation based on these parameters. It also depends on what you are photographing and at what time of the day. This basic understanding is lacking in a lot of photographers who simply set the camera in auto mode and start shooting. To get appropriate colors, setting a proper white balance combined with the exposure triangle is a must. Again, not many are aware of this. The camera has different focusing points and focusing modes that need to be chosen according to the subjects and the situation. Once these basic key settings are done in the camera, you need to work on the composition aspects including the shooting angle, using the ‘rule of thirds’ guidelines, checking for background and foreground distractions, placing yourself as per the direction of light, working on the subject to get the kind of image you need and a lot more! Having mastered these fundamentals, you can progress towards ‘making’ images, rather than ‘taking’ images.

  • Post-Processing of images has now become a common trend/ Do you advocate its use?

    Post production software is both a boon and a bane for the current crop of photographers, a common refrain being ‘shoot as it is and fix it in Photoshop.’ In my opinion, that is a totally wrong approach to take. Get the best you can in the field and correct it to match with reality (in case of nature photography). The dynamic range of the digital SLR camera is in the range of 8 to10 stops, whereas that of the human eye is over 20 stops; this being the predominant reason the camera cannot capture what we see. It is here that post-production tools comes into the picture – to correct the image to match reality by adjusting the contrast, brightness, vibrance, and so on. There is a thin line between correction and manipulation. With the right usage, post-production tools can help achieve what you want and match your images to reality. Then there is also Black & White photography which is a totally different ballgame. You have numerous post processing tools which can change the look and feel of an image with a simple click. Depending on how you view these processing tools, they can either be a boon or a bane.

  • A Word of advice for our amateur photoartists.

    The first thing is to get a good understanding of the core fundamentals of Nature Photography, including natural history, concepts of photography and equipment. You need to be a good naturalist first if you want to be a good Nature or Wildlife Photographer. The same applies to other genre of photography as well. The second important aspect to learn and be aware of, is the ethics of Wildlife Photography. This is causing a lot of issues, bringing disrepute to Wildlife Photographers in general. This can be attributed to a lack of awareness rather than deliberate wrongdoing. Spreading awareness, therefore, is the need of the hour. Then there is self regulation which is closely tied to the ethics. Do not expect someone else to control you. Take a step back when you feel the line is being crossed to get a particular image.

  • Best product you recommend in Digital-SLR series?

    To be honest, there is nothing called as the best equipment. The best equipment is the one you can afford. These are just tools which we use to create images. It does not matter if it is Canon or Nikon or Minolta. The healthy competition between these brands works to photographers’ advantage, whereby they can check the specs of these cameras/lenses and then choose wisely based on their needs and budget.

  • Can you name someone who started as a newcomer and has now become a famous Photographer? What were his or her qualities?

    Well, everyone enters this field as a newcomer. There are quite a few photographers out there who have made a mark. I feel the main quality required is to have perseverance and patience. Everyone shoots images that they are not very proud of. The key differentiator is to experiment, work on your subject, pre-visualize, execute your thought process and select the best from that set and present it to the world. The important aspect is to create story telling images or arrive at photo essay using a sequence of images. Setting a bar on the quality of such images and constantly raising the bar are some of the key qualities required to make it to the top. This cannot happen overnight. Skills, practice, patience and perseverance cannot be over-emphasized in the field of Wildlife Photography.

  • Tell us a bit about your journey in the field of Wildlife Photography.

    Nature has always been exciting and amazing for me that I can spend the entire day in the forest with out making a single image. The kind of surprises you get in nature and the number of things it teaches you is fascinating. The other important thing is – Wildlife is not just Tigers and Leopards. The behavior of every single living being in the jungle is different and needs to be studied. To be honest, I am not a Tiger person. I do not go into the jungles to look for Tigers or Leopards. So many times I have spent a lot of time with common subjects like Spotted Deer or Sambar Deers. Of course, the forests have the other favorite subject of mine – Birds. Many of the forest birds are so colorful that you forget about the worries or your concrete jungle and enjoy the beauty of nature.One of the key things which really excites me about my genre of photography is the suspense involved. You just don’t know what around the corner when you are on a wildlife safari. Nothing is guaranteed in wildlife. have spent umpteen hours in the forest at watch towers located near a waterbody and not seen even a spotted deer. The key challenges in wildlife photography is to ensure you have a good understand of your subject, you know their natural history, have a good understanding on photography techniques & concepts and have the right equipment to capture the opportunities. After spending a lot of time in the forest or in the field waiting for that one image, and when you get it, all the pain and the tiredness simply vanishes and brings in a feeling of joy and accomplishment. That’s the reward you get for having that patience and perseverance.

  • You have been working on some amazing projects. Which one has been the toughest so far ?

    In my case, my projects are nothing but teaching. I do not usually take projects for an Institute. I have been into Photography teaching and I really enjoy doing that. So I can say that teaching is such a profession where I constantly have to reinvent myself so that I can give everyone who come to me, the best of my knowledge. Apart from this, I feel the getting the subject for the photos is another challenge. No matter how good a photographer you are, no matter what top of the line equipments you have, what matters the most is actual sightings. Capturing the moment is a big challenge.

  • You have started Friday Photography Chat. How did it all start ?

    Facebook started this application called as “Facebook Live” that is accessible to all those who have a verified page. So, I thought why not make use of this and tried to use this while I was on a trip to Masai Mara. The jeeps at Masai Mara had 3G hotspot. I then thought, why not give it a try and I live streamed The Great Migration using this app. Once I was back, the response was overwhelming. There were 25,000 people on the live broadcast and then the views touched a lakh. So, I felt if I can help people with their queries, then it would be a wonderful thing. That’s how Friday Photography Chat was born.

  • You went to Masai Mara recently. What was the experience like ?

    Masai Mara experience was just out of the world. I can say that The Great Migration is one of the wonders of the world. I stayed there for 5 days. You can always see about 10k-15k animals at any given point in time. The initial river crossing for animals take about 1-2 hours. So, I have had the opportunity to see the entire Migration.Initially, all of us started taking pictures and thinking about all the angles we can explore. But after a while, we just kept our cameras just and just watched all those animals. It was then more about witnessing how they behave, how long it takes for them to take the first leap and so on.

  • What has been your most memorable moment in Wildlife Photography ?

    My favorite picture still is “Gaur and the Tigers”. It was shot in Bhadra Tiger Reserve. I was still in IT company then and leaves were a premium then. Whenever I used to go to wildlife reserves, I used to never see a tiger ever ! After a while, even my friends started teasing me that there is something called as Tiger in jungle ! So like always, on one weekend, I went to Bhadra Tiger Reserve and I was in a jeep. From a distance, I could see that I could notice something in black. I took my camera and zoomed in only to find that a Gaur is standing there looking at something. I was so excited that I immediately started taking pictures. The driver then started asking me if I saw it. I told him yes, I see the Gaur. It was then he said, you should look by the side of the jeep. When I saw it, I just couldn’t believe it. There were tiger siblings sitting by the side of the jeep ! This has been one of the best moments for me.

  • Who is that one Photographer whose work you admire a lot ?

    I have always been a follower and great admirer of Michael “Nick” Nichols who is a National Geographic Photographer. His images of Serengeti Lions is stunning and he has given a new definition to art of wildlife photography. It is easy to make good images in Africa. But to create artistic and stunning images – you need an eye for it and Nick has done it.

  • What has been your biggest learning ?

    Actual learning starts when you get down to what you like doing the best. For me, wildlife has always captured my attention. Nowadays I see that tigers have evolved a lot over the years. Their hunting patterns, the way they notice when people enter and leave their territory, all of these things have evolved a lot.For example, in Ranthambore I have noticed that the Tigress leaves her cubs around to play and this distracts the deer. The deer send out signals to other deer to be aware that tigers are around. The tigress actually goes all the way to the back to attack the deer. So, these behavioural aspects are something that I have started understanding.

  • Who has been your biggest inspiration and why ?

    I do not have a role model as such as I started learning when I was about 20 or 22 years. Back then, there was no Internet. There was no guru to learn from. I have taught myself. Teaching has always helped do things better. Though I teach, the process helps me learn more and give back more.

  • Can you give an overview of the main settings of the camera?

  • Image quality is one of the primary focus in photography. Can you explain how to manipulate camera settings for the same?

  • Can you explain white balance?

  • Can you explain the shutter speed?

  • Can you explain the focusing modes and focusing points in detail?

  • Metering forms the heart of photography based on which the exposure triangle ( ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture ) are decided. Can you explain the same?

  • Aperture is one of the most important pillars of photography as it affects many different variables of an image.Can you explain the same?

  • ISO is one of the most important settings on our camera that is used to take a well exposed photo.Can you explain the same?

  • Can you explain how does the exposure triangle( ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture) work together?

  • What makes an award winning shot?

    For me, personally, every image is an award winning shot if it meets the some of the following criteria: Capturing an image which represents the wildlife in their natural habitat and does not show any kind of undue stress on the animal. The image should convey a story and a message. It has to be a natural history moment. It has to be unique and out of the box. The photo need not be a close portrait of the animal. An image showing the habitat and convey the mood of the forest / environment

  • What kind of equipment you use now, and what did you start with?

    Equipment upgrade is one of the hottest topics of discussion between photographers. I started with a very old German camera. Complete manual exposure and it had split focusing mode for focusing. My first DSLR was gifted by my twin sister – the Canon EOS Elan IIE and 75-300 IS lens. Later my wife gifted (50%) me the Canon 100-400 L IS Lens. Then the rest of the upgrade followed -> Canon 10D-> Canon 30D -> Canon 1D Mark III -> Canon 1D Mark IV and finally now I use the Canon 1DX. On the lens part, it has been 100-400 -> Canon 500mm f/4L IS -> Canon 800mm and finally included the Canon 400mm f2.8 L IS II to my kitty. I started the first lens rental in India for wildlife photographers (based out of Bangalore) that opened up the Pandora box where I had all the key L series lens from Canon which I could use based on the requirement.

  • What are the difficulties faced by a wildlife photographer on a regular basis?

    Wildlife photography is all about opportunity. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right kind of equipment & settings and with the right kind of people. There are multiple factors and challenges faced by any wildlife photographer: Getting the suitable vehicle with a knowledgeable naturalist / guide and an experienced driver in any of the National Parks and Sanctuaries is one of the biggest challenges a wildlife photographer faces. No matter what kind of equipment a photographer has, if the logistics is not proper, then you end up with no good photographs. Most of the action in Wildlife happens late in the evening, which means less light. In this situation you face challenges with equipment where focusing will be very slow and you may need to increase your ISO to get a decent shutter speed to capture any kind of action. Fortunately, with the improving digital camera technology, dealing with ISO is something which can be handled. But focusing speed is more related to the aperture of the lens being used as you need a lot more light to enter the camera for faster focusing to achieve. And that comes at a cost. To be a good wildlife photographer, you need to be a good naturalist and understand and follow the ethics of wildlife photography. With increasing affordability of DSLR camera equipment, the number of people aspiring to take up wildlife photography has increased dramatically over the years. This has resulted in dilution of the ethics of wildlife photography, thus discrediting the entire community at times. From a financial standpoint, the cameras, lenses and accessories along with travel are expensive. No matter how good you are at this, you cannot make a lot of money. It takes several years to build the credibility to make a mark in this genre of photography. The bottom-line of Wildlife Photography is – We are in it because we love it, not with the hope of making a lot of money.

  • What advice would you give to someone wanting to ‘make it big’ in the nature photography world?

    There are two important points to be noted to become a good wildlife photographer: You need to understand the fundamental concepts of photography: exposure, focusing, composition and execution. You need to move away from taking images and instead to making images. There is a huge difference between the two. Most of the images I make currently are with the concepts of pre-visualisation, where I frame the image in my mind and then execute it based on the opportunity I get. The second important aspect in wildlife photography is to become good naturalist first, and then a wildlife photographer second. It is important to understand animal behaviour and never cross the line. Understand why animals may be afraid and think about how you can eliminate that factor to make great images of the animals without causing any kind of stress to them. Remember, no image is worth compromising the safety of the subjects, and yourself. A lot of budding photographers come to me and tell me that they want to become like me. They also aspire to be famous, rich, and sought after photographers. The advice I give them is to never chase money or fame; it will eventually come to you, provided you become good at your work. I always advise this budding lot to channel their energy towards getting better at what they do and fame will be theirs. Just go with the flow and be diligent at what you do. Photography is about passion. Do this and you will cherish it for the rest of your life.

  • How do you plan a shoot?

    Photography, in general, is all about pre-visualization and planning. Most of my images are pre-visualized and well planned and I go after those concepts/subjects and execute. There is a huge difference between taking images and making images. Anyone can take an image, but to make an image require a lot of knowledge, both on the technical aspects of photography and your subject. There are more than 10 different tasks you have to do before releasing the shutter. Some of it has to be done in advance (like exposure setting and most of the camera settings) and the rest, which is composition, will depend on the kind of subject and opportunity you get. There are various factors involved in isolating your subject and capturing it – The equipment being used, your distance from the subject, the angle of approach, the background associated and the kind of subject being photographed. One of the key aspects in Wildlife Photography is to understand the behavior of your subjects. The circle of fear is part of that. Once you are able to break that circle of fear and the animal knows you are not a threat, it will continue its normal business and that helps to capture the behavioral aspects. All animals do display emotions, especially when they are in a group. Patience and perseverance are keys to capturing these emotions.

  • Which is your favorite image? Could you explain the background story behind it?

    My “Tiger Siblings and Gaur” has been my all-time favorite image. Many of my friends who are into Wildlife mention that it’s probably the best Tiger image photographed in India. It was photographed at Lakvalli Forest Range, Bhadra Tiger Reserve. Sighting a few Spotted Deer was itself a challenge in this forest during those times. We were lucky to sight the Tigers and the Gaur and their interaction. For more images and the complete story — Tale of Two Tigers and a Herd of Gaur The images proved to be of extreme importance from a conservation point of view when Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) discovered that one of the Tiger had travelled all the way from Bhadra to Dandeli Anshi National Park over a distance of 270 Km. This was the first time in history of Tiger study that photographic evidence was there to support that a Tiger could actually travel over such long distances. It was believed that the home range of Tiger was 60 sq km. This opened avenues of study, because there was human habitat en route and the Tiger could not have travelled as the crow flies.

  • What are your thoughts on raw images vs images that have been worked on?

    There is a very thin line between image correction and manipulation. I have been doing photography for close to 20 years and started with black & white photography during my college days. I have spent time in the darkroom developing and processing the film negatives. In today’s digital world, that dark room is basically your computer where you need to process your images. The dynamic range of the camera is limited by the sensor technology, whereas our human eyes can perceive a much larger dynamic range. As the term says, RAW is literally RAW – It’s a data file and not an image file, unlike jpeg. You need to process that RAW data to get the RGB values to match to what you saw in the field. And that’s where image processing comes in. My fundamental principle of processing is to show what was seen in the field – nothing more, nothing less. There may be occasions where you may have to remove a distracting twig or play around with the image to show the details in a better way which could not be captured in the field due to various factors. Of course, if you start manipulating your images beyond the normal adjustments, then it is no more photography but digital art. But again, there is nothing wrong in doing so if that is your line of interest. In the end, photography and processing are subjective and you want to please yourself.

  • The life of a wildlife photographer is very interesting. Can you take us through a day in our life? Can you take us with you when you shoot your subjects , let’s say tigers?

  • Can you provide some tips on how to shoot birds in low light?

  • What is the difference between a RAW image and a JPEG?

  • Can you explain how the panning pod works in photography?

  • What is your most memorable wildlife encounter?

    Having started wildlife photography around 1995-96, I would frequent the forests around Mysore almost every month. However, it was a good 10 years before I sighted a tiger in the wild. That day is still etched in my memory. On October 25th, 2006, during a routine safari at the Bhadra Tiger Reserve, we spotted a herd of gaur, which I wanted to photograph. When I requested the driver to stop the jeep, he asked me what I wanted to shoot. On hearing I wanted to shoot the gaur, he pointed to the two tigers right by the jeep track. My jaw dropped on seeing the two sub-adult tigers staring the gaur in the eye! It was a wildlife moment that I will cherish forever; the image remains one of the best and most unique tiger images shot in a South Indian jungle.