On 1st Jan, I landed in the front seat of the safari van for my maiden safari of the year.
As the vehicle turned onto the track leading to the closest waterhole, our driver Siddhu suddenly stopped the van and loudly whispered “Kittu Sir! Kittu Sir! Leopard!! Leopard!!” Having slept in the wee hours of morning after welcoming New Year 2016, I was fast asleep. I woke up with a start wondering what was going on! He then thrusts the camera on me and points towards the leopard.
In my groggy state, I focused and fired away! Thankfully the leopard was stood still, contemplating his next move. A minute or less later, he decided to walk beside the track. Disinterested as he was with our presence, he walked casually into the bushes and disappeared. Everybody in the van rejoiced… a fantastic beginning to the year!
Two things here, the image was shot with the same settings applied at the birding hide earlier that morning. Exposure -1.3 (yikes!) and ISO 400 (thank god!). Lesser ISO resulted in retaining the details and hardly any noise in the image.
Way before I started photography, I heard the song Lose Yourself by Eminem, and the starting line has stuck with me ever since. It goes-
“If you had one shot,
to seize everything you ever wanted
would you capture it or just let it slip?”
This line is a constant reminder and the closest description of what I feel when I’m out on a safari or walking/trekking photographing birds.
Fondly known as Kittu, I’ve been a resident of Mudumalai for three decades. I manage and run Forest Hills Farm and Guesthouse; a family run resort near the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve.
For as long as my memory goes, I have been an ardent lover of wildlife. Growing up on tea estates and Forest Hills, has played an active role in nurturing my love for nature and wildlife. During school holidays at Forest Hills, I made full use of safari and trekking opportunities that came my way.
In 2005, I decided to pursue photography with a Canon film SLR and in 2007, I went digital. The love of wildlife has taken me to various national parks both in India (Bandhavgarh, Ranthambore, Tadoba, Kaziranga to name a few) and other esteemed forest reserves such as Masai Mara (Kenya). While I keenly keep a track of birding activity at home (Forest Hills Farm and Guesthouse), one might just bump into me during a safari at my favourite forest reserve i.e. the Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
View all posts by Sameer Jain (Kittu)