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Using my camera I try and show not only the beauty of the natural world but also the suffering within that world. My hope is to give all those species a true and meaningful voice around the world with my photographs.
All of my one day workshops, photo tours abroad and here in the UK have all been updated.
Wildlife Photography isn’t a competition, it’s something very personal to the individual.
The Tiger is one of the most, if not the most beautiful creature on the planet. The following slideshow from a recent visit to India will show you why.
Ranthambhore National park, India, a place of great beauty, colour, and vibrance, its somewhere I first visited several years back now. Its teaming with wildlife all living alongside one of natures most feared and respected predators; The Bengal Tiger.
Just typing those words there at the end of my two week title brings a sad smile to my face, yes is home time nearly and 24 jeep safaris and countless Tigers and other wildlife sightings sadly have come to an end. In five years of running this trip it has been the best so far for overall Tiger sightings with both my jeeps and different sets of clients all seeing Tigers at least once a day and capturing some beautiful images of this beautiful cat.
Three days have passed since my last blog and it will be so hard for me to display all the amazing moments both of my jeeps have caught during that time. So the following images will appear in day order as our routine has always stayed the same so I don’t want to repeat this as I have in previous blogs. I will start with a wonderful Leopard sighitng my jeep had, the other jeep was in another area so we had a few moments with this amazing big cat.
They aren’t the dominate big cat in Ranthambhore , the Tiger is. So they are very jumpy as the Tiger will hunt them down and kill them if they get wind of them. This make the Leopard very nervous and the following image really does capture that. We were very lucky to even see him let alone get a few images of that chance meeting.
Soon after we carried on searching for the Tigers there but my jeep wasn’t lucky that day, but my other jeep with clients in came back that evening with more Tigers sightings. Not a single day in two weeks had yet passed where one or both of my jeeps didn’t see a Tiger which I was totally over the moon for all my clients on both weeks. The jeep I was in late that day had some wonderful moments with a Black-tailed Mongoose.
I love these animals, they take on anything and aren’t scared of nothing.Here seen relaxing and cooling off on the cool stone, his pose really was a picture with his legs, arms and paws flat out. He then moved on and went hunting where I was luckier enough to capture him almost catching a large fly in the late evening light.
An incredibly time we had with this normally very shy animal, all the images where shot from my jeep with the engine turned off. We headed back that evening and once again all clients had seen some wonderful Tigers and other animals and birds that day.
The following day started as it always had, an early morning start, my morning exercises, shower and coffee then we all head to the Ranthambhore National park and both jeeps were in the same zone on this morning. We followed each other into the zone, and not long after we heard alarm calls from Samba Deer, a Tiger was around. As we turned a sharp bend there he was, the Sultan of Ranthambhore, a male Tiger named after a famous ruler in Ranthambhore.
Smelling the trees and the scent marks of other Tigers. We followed him on that small dirt track, keeping a safe distance from him. I could see his massive feet and pads under each paw and took the following image which I love. Capturing a bit of dirt being thrown u, adding movement, the most beautiful feet in the world.
We then followed him over the next twenty minutes while he hunted and just smelt, listened and watched for anything. Both jeeps got some amazing images as he walked, hunted, watched and passed by our jeep. The following images capture that amazing encounter with this the future ruler of Ramthabhore.
Another truly breathtaking encounter with a Tiger called Sultan, young male that will rule this place one day. Both of my jeeps couldn’t get their thoughts that morning at how close we’d all came and what we’d seen. The rest of the day yielded not much,one jeep seeing and the other not but our luck just carried on and on and it was like- ” is this really happening..?”
The following day was our last day in the national park, two weeks had passed, almost twenty-four, four hour duration safaris had come to an end. Same routine as it never changes and both of my jeeps headed to the national park as the sun was just starting to rise. The jeep I was in was given one zone and my other jeep had another. We got our permits and off we went. Once again we bumped into the Sultan that morning really early. The morning light just illuminating the rocks and his head as he sunned himself in that light.
Soon after he moved out of view and we couldn’t see him. We waited in hope that he would show but he wasn’t to be seen again that day. The time in between searching for the Tigers though is always put to good use photography wise as I always impress to clients there is always an image to be captured around you and the wildlife in Ranthambhore is far more than just the Tiger.
The final hour on our final day blew me and my client away. I always change jeeps during each day, I go with one jeep in the morning and then the other in the afternoon. Im on hand to help and to get the angles alongside my guides. That last afternoon though I chose through luck the right jeep to be in as that final hour was the best I’ve ever known during my whole time in Raanthambhore.
The first hour is always tough the temperature was touching 42 degrees and its hot, dusty and very challenging with your heavy camera gear. We then headed to a nearby watering hole and heard a Samba Deer alarm, and from nowhere a female Tigress came from cover and headed to the watering hole. Right time, right place it really was.
She sat there, bathing in the late evening light, it was amazing to see. You are only allowed a certain time limit during each visit to Ranthambhore Natianl park and that evening we were reaching our cut off time and we had to leave this beautiful Tigress where she was soaking. It was around a forty-five minute drive back to our check point driving fast on very tough and small dirt tracks. We set off, looking over my shoulder to say goodbye to my last Tiger for this year I thought.
Thirty minutes or so had passed as we were covered in dust as the temperature that last drive had dried every bit of moisture in the air and the dust was thrown up from the front wheels as we almost flew to our check point in time. As we turned a tight corner, a small pool of water was to our left..”Tiger” Salim my guide said. We looked over and there was Noor, a female Tigress just sitting in the water very calmly.
Salim my guide said we have to leave to make the time, otherwise you get into real trouble by the guards there. She got up and walked past us as we slowly drove of, another unbelievably moment. We held our heavy cameras tight and headed to the main gate, driving like a rally car would. Stones flying everywhere from the wheels, pinging noises rang out as I just dipped my head to avoid the dry dust kicked up.
We carried on along a small dirt track, “Tiger..Tiger” Salim said at first I thought it was a joke as we often joke around with each other, I slowly looked up and there was indeed another Tiger to our front walking quietly on a small, lonely dirt track. I could’nt believe it, in the space of less than an hour we had seen and photographed three adult Tigers out of Ranthambhore on our very last safari for 2014. The following images capture that amazing moment when we bumped into T28 a massive dominate male Tiger, we just managed to make it to the gate.
He vanished over the top of this small raised hill, we had no time to even think about what we had just witnessed as we heading home. Once back in my room, I finally let go of my heavy lens, as I looked at the palm of my hand, the lens handle embedded into my skin I just couldn’t believe what had just happened during that last hour. I collapsed into the chair, covered in dust with a big smile on my face.
I still, as I write truly haven’t had chance to put all that into context and digest it. We head home very soon and our adventure has come to an end for another year. Each year gets better and offers so much more and you just dont no what you will encounter. The place, the sights, the smells just never fail to knock you off your feet. I’d like to thank every client from the first and second week for your company, I hope you all enjoyed it and I no you all have some wonderful images to take home with you. Ranthambhore never fails to deliver, a truly wild place taken over by nature that offers the best place in India to see wild Royal Bengal Tigers.
I hope you have enjoyed my blog post,I have tired to take you here to this magical place with my words and images. Most days I have worked between eighteen and twenty hours and I’m completely exhausted, with editing images, writing my blogs and making sure my trip, jeeps and guides are all as good as they can be. My aim was too show everyone that reads my blog this place I love so dearly and those Tigers. I hope I have achieved this at the same time showing the true beauty of Ranthambhore, its Tigers and other wildlife that choose to live in this magical place.
My 2015 has a few places already sold, so if you’d like to join me on my trip there next year then please click here to be taken to the Tigers Of India photo tour 2015. Many thanks for reading my blogs and I wish you all the best from India.
As the second day since I last wrote an entry into my blog closes I finished the day reflexing on the story of a much loved Tigeress Machali and her struggle to stay alive. Its been a mixed bag of sucess over the last two days, one of the main zones for sightings and where the cubs are living has been shut by the forest department. There has been no clear answer but one of the four cubs from T19 hasn’t been seen for several days which isn’t good.
The mornings in Ranthambhore are truly beautiful, the light, the smells, the forest noises and the wildlife make it one of the most spectacular places to be on earth at that time of day. The two images above I hope convey my passion for the mornings here, showing those small dirt tracks we have to stay on when trying to find the Tiger.
We have also had a few storms which fills the forest pools so the Tigers dont move around the forests so much to find water. Our routine always stays the same and once more new and old clients from the first week and my second week have had some wonderful images of Tigers. We all set off once more on that morning and entered the national park of Ranthambhore. My two jeeps spilt up going their various routes in search of the Bengal Tiger.
The jeep I was in with my new client on that first morning was not so lucky at first so we stopped off for a brew with one of my friends there.Gaffer, one of the forest guards. 27 years he’s worked at Ranthambhore looking after the Tigers, watching out for poachers and anyone that wants to kill the Tiger. In 3 years he retires and his daughter gets married next month he told me. These Chowki’s as they are called are the frontline against poachers. He made me some amazing Chai tea and it was good to see him it really was.
We then set off and we came across Machali soon after, my client had never seen her so he took some nice images before we moved on, she looked a little better and I decided not to photograph her that day because of my strong views I have as I had found out they had started to leave prey out for her once more after saying they weren’t going to do this.
We carried on looking for Tigers that morning but weren’t lucky again. After a wonderful breakfast and a few hours kip we were back out at 3pm. The thing in the afternoon that hits you is the temperature and boy was it hot. We set off, both jeeps once more going to their own zones. For the last few days sightings had dropped, various reasons for this, weather, rain and just Tigers not hunting due to having killed in the night and not being hungry.
On the way out of the national park I stopped my jeep at a place where the Black-langur Monkeys gather. The sun was setting in the background and I could see the opportunity for some great images for my client. Underexposing, strong shapes create a wonderful effect and there were many of them playing and having fun. Some in the trees hiding and the following images here capture that late light and their antics.
As we headed home that evening, the wind in our faces from the drive the sun was just almost set to our fronts and it was special to see. Today came upon us really quickly and once again I was up, exercises done, showered, dressed and ready for 4am. I go out on the road and always have a routine of coffee and banana, morning sir greets me as I come down the stairs from the night watchman I always have a laugh with before heading to my favourite spot on the road.. Time to reflex, time to think, peace and quite so many things i get from those moments alone.
We then headed to the national park and the guard house for our permits and once again both jeeps headed to their different zones. It wasn’t long before my jeep came across Machali once more. This time she was on a kill and looked so different from the pervious time we meet properly last week.
She looks alot better than my encounter with her last week where she looked frail. The forest department are putting dead Antilope out for her ( unofficially of course) to help her as she finds it hard to hunt. I personaly dont agree with this and it should never have happened in the first place. But as someone who loves aninmals way, way, way before photography I would never want to see an animal suffer and last week she was suffering and I wished she had passed away.
Today her spirt, her strength and some of the old skills she has displayed over the years where there to see and I have to admit putting the food out has helped and once again will prolong here life. Its a topic that will run and run, I have heard and spoke to so many so-called experts about her over the last several days. Its funny how people that have never been to Ranthambhore all of a suddenly become an expert on the place and its Tigers and in this case Machali.
My viewpoint is from the welfair not as an expert. Aditya Singh who we stay with at The Ranthambhore Bagh is one guy I listen too more than any so called expert when it comes to the Tiger. People are divided on what is right and what is not but I have to say seeing her pull, wrestle and slowly eat this Antelope today was a clear side that sometimes that helping hand from man can help. I’m just very against playing god with nature, changing nature for your own gain and this is my own feeling.The light was tough here but the image shows her strength, her rear claws standing out and a look you wouldn’t want to see while walking alone in the forests of India
She was the star of today really and one jeep saw another Tiger in the afternoon and my jeep didn’t but theres so much to see and witness in the national park you’re never left without a great view or something to see or photography. My love of a good brew is well known and we finished today off at one of my favourite places, right by the lake. What I’d give to camp out with this as a view, complete with my little india mug.
We have three full days of safaris left before my two week Tigers of India photo tour is over, fingers crossed all clients carry on seeing this amazing animal. Hope you’re still enjoying my blog posts, after the busy days we are having they are keeping me up late to finish them and show you what we are encountering. All the best from Ranthabhore, India until my next blog.