Every photographer stumbles upon their art in their own way. Sudhir Shivaram, a well-known and award-winning wildlife photographer today, had his first tryst with it as an engineering student in Karnataka.
Shivaram found a natural sense of belonging in nature, and before he knew it he was spending most of his time exploring the sanctuaries around Bandipur, BR Hills and Kabini. The more he discovered this genre of photography, the more he was fascinated by what the jungle had to offer him. What he loves most about wildlife photography, he says, is the encounters with everything from tiny insects to mighty beasts – their behavior fascinates him.
And when he isn’t photographing wildlife, he spends his time campaigning to raise awareness about nature and wildlife protection.
We spoke to this wildly passionate photographer about his work and play in the wilderness and here’s what he had to say about it.
Tell us about your favourite wildlife shoot.
I have been into wildlife photography for over two decades and have shot tens of thousands of images of a wide range of animal and bird species. However, it took me over 10 years of frequenting wildlife destinations in and around Karnataka to sight and shoot a tiger in the wild. So, when lady luck smiled upon me for the first time, it was in the form of an image of two sub-adult tigers making eye contact with a gaur in the Bhadra Tiger Reserve. During one of the routine safaris, I was engrossed in capturing a gaur herd, when my driver signaled to me and pointed toward the two tiger siblings and the gaur staring at each other. It was a unique image both from a photography and natural history perspective.
What equipment did you use to take this photograph?
Canon 500mm f/4 IS with 1.4x Canon TC and Canon EOS 30D shot hand held from safari vehicle.
One piece of equipment you cannot work without?
The Canon 70-200 f 2.8 L IS II. This is the one lens you really need to have in your kitty. This is a very fast lens and excellent to get animals in their habitat. This is also used for any kind of photography in very low light situation. Very flexible, very sharp and a must-have lens.
One piece of equipment you want to buy right now?
The Canon 100-400 L IS II lens. This is a very versatile lens and is capable of getting you some excellent images. It works well with the 1.4x II converter on my Canon 1DX Mark II. In most of my photo tours, it becomes difficult to carry my big lens as I keep guiding the participants to make good images. I need to have this lens to make some quick images without compromising my teaching.
Share 1 tip for those just starting out in this profession.
It is imperative to get the basics of photography right. This includes exposure, focusing, composition, and execution. If I have to speak from experience, I apply the concept of previsualization, where I frame the image in my mind and then execute it in accordance with the opportunity I get. This is ‘making’ an image as opposed to ‘taking’ an image. Working on this will enable aspiring professionals inch closer to their goal. Also for a wildlife photographer, it is important to be fully aware of and be sensitive to animal behaviour. Being knowledgeable about animal behaviour will help anticipate and compose better images, while being sensitive to the animals and their surroundings will ensure that their safety is not compromised on.
To get that perfect wildlife photograph, you can browse through the photography equipment below.
Cover Image and image by Sudhir Shivaram