Saturday, March 24, 2012

Raju The Lion / A Photo-story

Wow, look at that Lion, he is royal, he is just royal, I said.

He is massively giant, can’t believe he is so majestic & extreme; Swati (My wife) could not prevent her words of thrill & elation with wide open eyes

His name is ‘Raju’ & we call it ‘Rajiyo’, our guide lalit murmured, who was sitting in the front sit of the open jeep in Gir National par, which is the only place for Asiatic Lion in the World. It was when, my wife, my friend Dhaivat & my self were enjoying our long holidays at the place of kings.

We saw this lion Raju for the first time, and found him the most handsome male lion in the jungle; at least I had never seen such huge male like this before. He was calm & enjoying his evening in golden light sitting the open flat parch on the ground. Unlike most other animals in the forest, he was least concerned with our vehicle out there & absolutely fine with the continuous shutter chucks. Man, he is not even looking at us, I said. We understood why this animal is called the ‘King of the jungle’.

When I was busy burning my sensor while making his images, from the far end bushes, we saw a cub approaching him. Our guide Lalit & Dinesh both said together, look his younger brother is coming, and I swung my lens towards the cub. He is the younger brother from the same group of lions called ‘Kankathi’ group. Later on I came to know that the lioness of this group is famous for its temperament and size, amongst all.

Cub came even closer to Raju, and we thought now he has to pay for it, because most male lions do not tolerate cub’s mischief at all and get irritated very hastily. But what is this, Raju and his younger brother are sharing some playful moments together. What a great moment it was. Then the cub went inside the buses again to their mother and the ‘Gentle Giant’ was got itself busy in cleaning his coat.

 He was at the age of 4 and a half years that time, without having much of those facial marks of conflict with other mails.

Almost spending some 15 minutes, we decided to leave them to the evening & drew back to ‘Motabhai ni Vaadi’.

It was now almost 2 years since when I visited Gir, when I again reached the same tea-stall where we used to have our tea after photographic sessions, however I was still arrested within the same sentiments, like it was just few days back. I was waiting for our guide, the jam Lalit, who was supposed to come there.

By the time I was talking to other local people there and inquiring about the last year’s castle in Spain ‘Raju’. And I was shocked when some body told me that Raju died last year due to snake bite. I could not respond to the person I was talking, decided not to talk about it now.

And we started our routine jeep safaris in the forest area; we reached the same place where we saw Raju last time before 2 years. I could not dump my words in, asked my guide about Raju and his unfortunate death, and said ‘who told you all these claptrap? With red hot face. Before I said anything he again started talking and told me that Raju is still alive and left his group and area to make his own group. Without having second thought, I said, ‘I want to see him, if we get the permit for the particular route’. And just after a day we got the permit where there were chances for the ‘Royal Raju’.

My wish was blessed with his appearance on that route; He was walking straight down the road towards our jeep, & I forgot to make pictures. He was now even larger & regal then before. As if he knows us & wanted us to greet him, he set himself beside the road just few yards away. Now he was changed like anything after 2 years, having many marks on its face, telling story of conflicts with other bigger males in the jungle.

Now he was alone and was looking for chance to get into conflict with other Alfa males to defeat them in the war of territory. He was roaring at its highest pitch & throwing challenge for the other males in that area. He is no more a ‘mama’s boy’ by this time. He was alert all the time, carelessness disappeared from the body language.  

That was the first time I felt the roaring of a Lion. My heart sunk deep into my body & blood got chocked up in arteries for a while. I could feel the vibrations through my camera monopod although I was in a jeep. The Definition of a King was proven. He was stretching all the force through his well built muscular body & pulsating the throat to roar at high & broad pitch. People can listen to its roaring even from the miles; It was a life time experience for me & will always remain as one of the best moments through out my life.

The body language of this ‘gentle giant’ was all changed now & adrenalin was pushing this gentleman to become furious. He was now more confident & moral was giving the impression of being even higher. Raju was now an real ‘Adult’ & all set for lioness to complete the low of nature. Attitude was totally transformed. He was not the same Raju we saw 2 years back. Innocence revised as arrogance & pride of being a Lion.

There are certain moments in the career as a wild-life Photographer which connect you directly to the nature & Raju was a medium this time. We left the Gir with all satisfaction & collected some unforgettable memories of ‘Raju The Lion’

Here I would like to thank Swati(My Wife), Dhaivat, Yogendrabhai, Nirav, Shaival, Abhishek,  Lalit, Motabhai, Bharat, Dinesh for their support during my trips to Gir.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

If I don’t have telephoto lens!

& He said; Wow! What a lens? Look at the zoom; if I have such a set of glasses, I can create wonders out of it.

But believe me friends; Wild-life & Nature Photography is not just about getting animals in closest figures. Even many times people expose their thoughts in a way; ‘I don’t have telephoto lens, thus I can’t get into Wildlife & Nature Photography.’ I always reply, you don’t need it, do you? & they respond with a polite & strange question-mark on their face. So here I would like to extend my opinion about making a picture without approaching animals very closely with long telephoto lenses.

adequate knowledge of Composition; When you don’t want to bother your shoulders with heavy & long telephoto lenses; An adequate knowledge of Composition, will play a vital role in making good pictures, Just place the subject or point of interest in correct place, which is now-a-days, called ‘sweet-point’ or ‘golden-point’, with equally balancing background. Although the subject is very small in the frame, image will be a treat to your eyes. 


Rule of One-Third; While selecting your ‘sweet-point’ or ‘golden-point’, the basic rule of One-third works most of the time.

Selection of Background; Symmetrical & Clean background or rendered with some patterns, both cases are useful, perhaps the color combination must be selected very carefully to complement the main subject. The overall contrast between background & subject have to be little bit more then it is required, to fetch the subject separate in the frame.

Use of Negative Space; The overall impact of your image depends on how do we keep the balanced between positive & negative space in our frame. Apart from rule of one-third, negative space in the frame should not over-rule your vision from the subject. Sometimes it is very difficult to explain in terms of words, & even difficult while you are executing the image.

Use of Balancing Element in the frame; In case when you find lot of empty space in your frame, just try to find some element in background or foreground which can be smartly incorporated along with your subject, at the same time it does not over-rule the main subject. If possible try to incorporate the element, which can co-relate the theme & the subject. If you can purposefully add an element in such a way that it can convey the habitat in its crucial situation, nothing can be better than that.

Selection of Location; Selection of places has to be made very carefully, to avoid unwanted elements in your frame, because in such type of images, sometimes background & foreground become more important than the subject. Background & foreground give the actual feel of that particular terrain & you can get connected to the mood of that place. 
Selection Shooting Angle; Shooting angle is any way important in any type of image you are making, but here eye-level does not work all the time, rather inclined from the top is most useful. If possible you can try every possible angle in case situation allows you to do so. 

Include or Exclude Horizon; It is quite obvious that inclusion of horizon will create the limit to your vision & restrict your mind, and exclusion of horizon will provide your image with infinite background area & your image will look limitless.


Orientation of Subject; The orientation of the subject plays very important roll to figure out the basic composition & leads you to beauty of background colors or elements you have included. Space towards the orientation of animal or bird should be more than the space in either direction. This is applicable to most images in my opinion.

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