August 4, 2016
When a brown headed gull swooped down into the river to catch a fish and another tried to snatch its prey, it was a moment frozen in time for amateur photographer Ramu M.
The photograph taken in December 2015 from the banks of the Bhima river near Solapur in Maharashtra won Ramu a prize money of Rs 3 lakhs at the DJ Memorial Photography Contest held in Coimbatore.
The wildlife enthusiast shot this prize winning photograph with a Canon 7 – D (Mark 2) camera borrowed from his friend as he needed just a 300mm F/4 lens to shoot this picture.
“I’m a Nikon man,” Ramu said with a laugh, “and it just happened I used a Canon as I didn’t have the right type of lens for this particular bird.”
Ramu uses Nikon B 300 S with lens varying from 70-200mm and 200mm to 500mm to capture tigers, elephants, birds and butterflies in his camera.
“Birds keep moving, and lens and shutter speed play an important role in getting the picture right,” said Ramu, who engages in macro (insect) photography.
A lot of preparation and planning goes into photography, said 36-year-old Ramu who has been pursuing his passion for photography for past 10 years.
Photographers follow animal movement and bird migration with the help of guides and by traversing wildlife parks and sanctuaries, and study their habits and behaviour in detail, Ramu said.
“For instance, I zeroed in on the Solapur location after a three-year long search, and research on the brown headed gulls’ migratory pattern.”
“I clicked many pictures of the brown headed gulls that day and only when I scrolled through the photos on my return to the hotel, I saw this perfect picture.”
Photographers set the camera for composition, angle, lighting, shadow, background and many more, and wait for their subject to arrive. Then the moment they spot it, they shoot in quick succession.
“This is especially true in the case of birds, which move quickly,” Ramu explained.
Ramu, who works as a layout artist with Deccan Herald, Bangalore, said he accompanied by friends travels with guides to wildlife parks and sanctuaries across India in summer and winter to photograph wild animals.
“I have clicked images of tigers, lions and once the long-tailed macaque belonging to the monkey family.”
In summer, the thirsty tigers and lions can be sighted near waterholes, he said.
Safety when amidst the wild animals is never an issue, says Ramu. “They don’t harm you as long as they are not disturbed, and most importantly keep off their cubs.”
The photographers avoid using flashes while clicking pictures, and headlights for vehicles, he said.
Photography is a hobby that needs a reasonable investment though the digital era has been a boon for photographers, Ramu said.
“Sometimes out of the 300 photographs we click, we would be able to select just one good image.”
Besides that we need computers with specific monitors to process the photos and other accessories.
Ramu is planning to buy a B 5 full frame Nikon camera with the prize money he got and continue to click with nature.
“I will continue photography as a hobby, so I don’t need to pursue it for money,” said Ramu.
Ramu has travelled far and wide in his journey to capture wildlife. Ranganatittu Birds Sanctuary, Bandipur National Park, Kabini Tiger Reserve, Badra Tiger Reserve, Gudvi Birds Sanctuary, Dandeli Tiger Reserve, Ganesh Gudi Bird Sanctuary, are some of the places he visited in Karnataka.
Outside the state, he has been to Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, Tadoba Tiger Reserve near Nagpur, Jim Corbet Tiger Reseve – Uttarakhand, Bikaner Bird sanctuary and Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan.