Wildlife photography | Tigers at Bandhavgarh National Park

This is a story about a sub-adult tiger called “Banbehi-male-cub”, one of three cubs of “Banbehi-female” and “Mangu” from that generation. There was some unusual tiger behavior going on at the time when we saw Banbehi-male-cub and one of his siblings.

This vlog also tells us how tigers get their names, and what it’s like to go on safaris to Bandhavgarh National Park during summer.

The morning safari at Bandhavgarh starts at 5:30 during the summer. It had stopped raining at 5 o’clock when our safari jeep came to pick us up and we were on our way!

The sun came out angry after the rains that morning and Bandhavgarh went into a state of sublimation.

After four and a half hours of driving around in the heat we hadn’t seen a single tiger—and were on our way out. Then our luck changed. 

”Banbehi-male-cub” appeared. He had turned two years old, and was at a stage in his life when tigers leave their parents and siblings and embark on their own independent journeys—proclaiming territories and seeking mates.

A few days earlier, his mother, “Banbehi-female” had another litter. 

Tigers get their names either from the area where they were first spotted, or by their appearance or behavior. Banbehi is the name of a river that flows in this female tiger’s territory—and that’s how she got her name.

Now tigers don’t meet their cubs from previous litters when they have a new litter but Banbehi-female would meet these subadult cubs from her previous litter.

These meetings continued for about a month after the new cubs were born.

Mangu, a large male tiger was the father of both these litters—that’s the only reason why this was possible. 

Of course the newborn cubs were away in a secret  cave far away from Banbehi-male-cub and his siblings otherwise they would have been killed by the previous generation. 

The almost burnt out areas of this photo remind me of the heat that morning.

I have more wildlife vlogs on my Youtube Channel, The Open Image.

Learn photography with Girish Menon

I teach photography online via live video calls—not pre-recorded videos that you sit and watch by yourself. You can be based anywhere in the world, own any camera, and still learn photography from me—HOW COOL IS THAT!

Please see www.girishmenon.com to know about the courses that I offer.

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Bird photogrphy | Spotted owlet at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

I had a Nikon D7200 camera with a 200-500 lens — and not a single photo was sharp. I had shutter speeds in excess of 1/1000th of a second, I tried holding the camera in different ways, using a monopod, adjusting my stance, pressing the camera harder against my cheek but the photos did not improve. The stabilisation on the lens couldn’t be faulty, could it?

In spite of being kitted out in thermal innerwear, a warm jacket, two pairs of gloves on each hand and a faux fur aviator hat on my head, I was still cold. 

Bhupendar showed up outside my hotel on time, at 6 o’clock. It was still dark and we were the first people to roll into Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary that morning. There was a thick fog in the air, and we couldn’t see very far into the distance.

There was no bird activity anywhere around us. Birds start getting active once the sun is out—because that’s when insects start coming out of their burrows to feed and birds can prey on them!

The occasional creaking sounds of Bhupendra’s pedals disturbed the silence as we continued to roll along the thoroughfare waiting for the sun to come out. 

When it got brighter we saw a spotted owlet sitting inside a hollow branch of a bare tree.

It looked very comfortable sitting there, and seemed unlikely that it would come out on a morning like this. I stood there making a few photos hoping that it would hop out—even if it were for a few seconds. I stood there under the tree and turned in the opposite direction to look at some green pigeons. 

“LOOK…LOOK…” there was a buzz in the air!

Our little owlet had flown out and perched in the open on the adjacent tree. And I gathered my wits and started clicking some photos, it did a little jig, as if it were grooving to a dance number of the nineteen nineties.

Wonderful! However my photos were not!

I had a Nikon D7200 camera with a 200-500 lens—and not a single photo was sharp. I had shutter speeds in excess of 1/1000th of a second, I tried holding the camera in different ways, using a monopod, adjusting my stance, pressing the camera harder against my cheek but the photos did not improve. The stabilisation on the lens couldn’t be faulty, could it?

It was a beautiful day for photography but I couldn’t make a single decent photo—and I couldn’t understand why! All my photos were out of focus.

A few months later, I went to Bandhavgarh National Park to see tigers — and even there I couldn’t get the sharpness that I expected out of my lens—no matter what I tried.

It was only when I got back from this trip that I realised what the problem was—it was the poor quality ultraviolet filter! I cannot tell you enough how important it is to use a good quality UV filter—what’s the point in using cheap filters on good lenses? It’s like driving around in a Ferrari with flat tyres!

I have more wildlife vlogs on my Youtube Channel, The Open Image.

Learn photography with Girish Menon

I teach photography online via live video calls—not pre-recorded videos that you sit and watch by yourself. You can be based anywhere in the world, own any camera, and still learn photography from me—HOW COOL IS THAT!

Please see www.girishmenon.com to know about the courses that I offer.

Continue Reading