Oh shoot – is it 2015 already?!?!
A Tiger cub stares in awe and curiosity at a cameratrap in Kaziranga National Park, Assam.
This image was shot at the end of 2014 – a year full of ups and downs, that passed by so quickly that I find it hard to believe its 2015 already!
This year started in the dumps – literally. We started out this year trudging through the garbage dumps of Guwahati documenting the life of the Greater Adjutant Stork for National Geographics’ Urban Jungle. This shoot came in right after documenting the leopards in Mumbai
So things only had to go up from here! I headed off to Kaziranga soon after to do a recce of Kaziranga with Chadden Hunter about Grasslands for @BBCEarth – One Planet. The tallest grassland in the world – so tall that even elephants are hard to see!
A new beginning and an old Curse.
2014 also shows the expansion of Felis with new recruits and enthusiastic folks joining the team. The first of those was an old friend Robin Conz. We were heading out to interview ace naturalist Sarath Champati in Bandipur about tiger tourism. Robin told me that it would be a bad idea for him to come along if I wanted to get a shot of a tiger. Robin lived most his life in the south indian wilderness and had never seen a wild tiger. Sarath and I told Robin that his curse would break and not to worry so much. But Robin in his own German mannerism, reiterated that he was cursed and to date he had never seen a tiger in the wild. On the first drive into the forest in the evening we ended up seeing nothing, not even peafowl. This was strange since it was one of the best times of the year to see wildlife in Bandipur. The next morning we went out again, this time the curse that Robin had mentioned started playing in the back of my mind, since we came back again empty handed, with seeing close to nothing. In the evening rethinking my strategy (now the curse that Robin had told me about was looming evening bigger in my head) I sent Robin in a different vehicle along with some tourists to get some tourist perspectives of going on a safari. One hour into our safari we came across this lazing tigress about fifty metres from the vehicle. I got my two-shot with Sarath in the frame and zoomed out to get his reaction. I was relieved to have gotten the one shot that would help tie the whole thing together. As we waited and watched we noticed a second tiger approach, this time a male. More and more safari vehicles gathered to watch the courting pair. A half hour later, and still no sign of Robin’s vehicle. As soon as Robin’s safari vehicle arrived, the two courting tigers disappeared into the bush offering not even a fleeting glimpse of the two tigers. All Robin got to see was the mini-traffic jam – a sure sign that there’s been a tiger around. Now Robin was more sure than ever that he’s been cursed to not ever see a tiger in the wild! I felt bad for Robin, but at the same time happy that he wasn’t with us, or else we too may have been cursed! For Sarath & I this was the most amazing sighting of a tiger from Bandipur.
In search of the Snow Leopard … well for one day. Just a quick trip to Hemis to drop off a lens to the BBC team –
Started work on what was to be a short-term film project about climate change for ATREE. Hiked across the Singalila range with the highlight of seeing a Red Panda crossing the trail behind us. An incredible sighting, but unfortunately no photographs. The short film will be completed soon.
The new Felis office officially kick-starts with an address in Sadashivnagar. Do drop by for any specialized filmmaking equipment you may need & meet the TEAM
No 480, 11th Cross,
Upper Palace Orchards
No 480, 11th Cross,
Upper Palace Orchards
– Recce trip looking for the Sitana in Satara.
Felis goes 4K Having used a C300 and a C500 on several shoots for the BBC, we decided to jump in to the 4K madness and went on to buy the Canon C500. With its super clean 35mm sensor, High ISO capability and with its ability to shoot up to 120 Frames per second, I decided it was time to enter the new era of modular cameras with this camera.
A little before this, in April the BlackMagic 4K was added into the Felis inventory. With a global shutter, touch screen, and very simple, easy to use interface, this solid camera capable of internal 4K recording is one of the most popular cameras being rented out on a regular basis.
But one of my favorite and most exciting new toys for 2014 has to be the Panasonic GH4. Internal 4K recording on a micro-four thirds camera, with all the bells and whistles that I wish the 5Dmark 3 had! So in 2014, this tiny little mirror less camera, capable of superb still images as well as being able to do in built time lapses and 4K recording has pushed out all my other cameras from my kit bag and taken a top spot in my ‘always with me’ kit. So kit-wise, 2014 has no doubt been exciting and we will continue to stay abreast of the latest in technology and have cutting-edge equipment with us to work with at all times.
The Golden frogs! or better know as The wild bull frog chase
Being out in the field is not all what it is gloated out to be according to Nitye. Felis newest recruit.
One of my very first shoots as an intern at Felis was what has now been dubbed as the ‘wild bull frog hunt’. This was almost a month spent in the western ghats (of which I was a part for about 3 weeks) looking for the great indian bull frog orgy – possibly a once a year occurrence. At the outset, the expedition was a failure because we never found what we were looking for. What we found was scores of these frogs caught by local farmers and stored in buckets, ready to by shipped along the coast and sold at restaurants as a delicacy. This was my first such experience and it struck home for me really how delicate an issue conservation in the indian context is.
The wild bull frog hunt did take us to several places up and down the coast, bringing with it new experiences, and finally culminated in the discovery of the never-seen-before mating practices of the common indian toad. Literally hundreds of these toads gathered by a forest stream, all turned bright yellow for this special occasion. I think we shot there for about 6-8 hours, which to this day remains one of the most intense days of shooting I’ve ever experienced. So we may not have found the bull frogs, but really, by no stretch of imagination was the shoot a failure.
Felis Focus kicked off again. With it’s first workshop in Bangalore It was an intense and action packed 2 days were participants learned about photography, equipment and film.
Over the last two years, since June of 2012, I started work with the BBC, on a project to document the Monsoon. The first shoot was in Kaziranga, when the big flood hit The two-year long project was aired in October in the UK on BBC2 and in the second episode I got a small role in the behind the scenes of
Here’s a quick look at the making-of video.
Okay, there’s been a couple of crazy, cool things in between September and December that we unfortunately can’t share yet due to contractual obligations – but look out for it later this year!!
The year ended almost where it began, luckily not in the dumps, but on a high in the tall grasslands of Kaziranga. On Christmas day, my field assistant in Kaziranga sent me this images of three tigers feeding on a buffalo carcass right in the central zone of Kaziranga National Park.