Photo rules to follow in jungles

It is important to know the basics of wildlife photography before you go clicking

With accessible and affordable equipment, today photography is a favourite activity among Bengalureans. Many step into the jungles in search of good pictures.

It is important to know what to do and what not to do when out there in the wild. Bengaluru’s wildlife photographers share some experiences.

Understand pic ethics

Kalyan Varma, wildlife photographer, filmmaker and conservationist, has been doing photography for two decades and wildlife documentary for about 13 years.

“The habitats vary. Most photographers like travelling to central and southern India to spot tigers but I like visiting a variety of places: the North-East for its rainforests, the Himalayas for its snow leopards, Gujarat and Rajasthan for their antelopes and snakes, Andaman and Nicobar islands for their amazing marine life and coral reefs. Each area has its own ethics,” he says.

The one thing to remember is not to leave the trails and stray into animal terrain, says Kalyan.

“Debates about the ethics of wildlife photography keep happening; how far should one go to get the perfect shot is often a discussion. When one gets too close to the animal, one disturbs it,” he says.

The key to being an ethical photographer, he believes, is to not come in the way of an animal’s daily life; if a lion is hunting for prey, one shouldn’t disturb it.

When clicking a nest picture, some photographers move the leaves or branches around it, and that exposes the birds to predators.

Flash photography is another worry, he adds.

“Flashing light in front of a nocturnal being can make it panic. Thankfully, technology has advanced so much that there are cameras to click images in low light,” says Kalyan.


A giraffe captured by
Parag in Tanzania.

Don’t disturb animals

For Sarath Chandra Mouli, quality analyst and nature photographer for a decade, clicking nature and framing it “is the best feeling”.

“We need to remember two things: never disturb the wild and never leave plastic behind,” he says.

Sarath regrets most people are not informed enough about wildlife.

“When I was in Agumbe to photograph snakes recently, I got to know how ill-informed people are. We kill them without understanding them. One day, we encountered a king cobra just a few feet away but it went its way. Unless we disturb wildlife, they don’t harm us,” he says.

Photographs and people with them often try to clear the environment around the animal for a better shot, which is an absolute no-no.

Sarath insists humans do not have the right to disturb natural habitats. He says, “Recently when I was on my way to work in Electronic City, I spotted a green-vine non-venomous snake on a tree and wanted to click it. It was hiding behind the leaves. A couple of people tried to help by getting the snake to come out. I told them not to disturb it, and left the place quietly.”

Parag Kulkarni, who has been clicking wildlife for a year, says, “Being prepared with the right gear is a must. Carrying multiple lenses with separate camera bodies is ideal for varied shots in the wild, as you don’t have much time to react. Often an animal could be so close that a zoom-in lens might not work, and you may need a wide-angle one.”

When you enter the wild, check the camera for the right light and shutter speed. “Make the adjustments required as there might not be enough time to do so when you see a subject worth capturing,” he says.

Parag, managing director of AO Smith India Water Products, says light is an important element in wildlife photography.

“When on a vehicle, determine if the subject is in the right light. When the light is coming from behind you and the subject is in front of you, good shots can be captured.”

“Not always does everything happen at one’s will so when the light is coming from behind the animal, the photographer can click a silhouette shot. In certain situations, when light is coming from behind the subject (say a furry animal like a langur or lion), one can explore a rim lit image,” he says.

His set of rules: “Do not wear bright costumes. Sport earthy colours. Be as quiet as possible and do not make any sudden movements that would excite, distract or confuse an animal. Don’t wave at them,” he explains.

“Trust the driver and the proximity he keeps between the animal or subject and the vehicle if you are in a national park. Do not overstay beyond the time specified in the jungle. Do not litter or throw any plastic around in the forest,” he adds.

Always remember

Dos                                                                                        Don'ts

Respect natural habitats. Avoid flash photography.
Take your plastic back with you. Don’t make animal sounds or speak loudly.
Be patient and alert.

Don’t wear bright coloured clothes. Earthy colours are best.

Don’t wear strong deodorants and perfumes.

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