There is only one country in the world, where you can shoot pictures of wild living tigers, bears, leopards and lions - India! As we found out, India offers plenty of animal life, with more than 100 national parks on the sub – continent. One of the leading bird and wildlife photographers of India, and a Canon ambassador, is Sudhir Shivaram.
Sudhir specializes on birds, and he shoots technically stunning pictures with their objects always staged in a perfect frame and a colorful bokeh background. As Indias parks offer an amazing number of animals you would otherwise expect to be in Africa (hyenas, wild dogs, lions, antelopes, very colorful and abundant birds) his pictures look exotic and familiar at the same time.
As almost all wildlife photographers, Sudhir is true wildlife lover and he is worried about the poaching crisis which takes place in Indias today. Government and administration seem to lack interest – or
are bribed by the poachers – to protect wildlife and environment. It is the sad sad story like almost everywhere on our planet, where money corrupts enviromental interests.
As Sudhir helds widllfe photgraphy workshops in the Bangalore region, this might be a good opportunity for some of you for a switch – why not go for Safari and photo workshop to India?!
Es gibt nur ein Land auf diesem Planeten, wo der interessierte Natur- und Tierfotograf wild lebende Bären, Leoparden, Tiger und Löwen in Schutzgebieten antreffen kann – Indien! Sudhir Shivaram ist Canon ambassador und einer der profiliertesten Naturfotografen des Subkontinents.
Sudhir Shivaram spezialisiert sich auf die Vogelfotografie, seine Fotos sind von technischer Brillanz (Schärfe!) und perfekter Komposition geprägt. Grossartig aber auch seine Leopardenbilder, in denen die Katzen wie magisch mit dem Wald im Hintergrund verschmelzen.
Indien erlebt die gleiche Wilderei-Krise wie viele afrikanische Länder, getrieben von der Nachfrage der asiatischen Märkte (die traditionelle chinesische Medizin ist wohl einer der Hauptverursacher) nach Wildtierteilen. Die Zentralregierung Indiens als auch die Verwaltungen der Bundesstaaten scheinen korrupt oder desinteressiert an einer Verbesserung der Schutzbemühungen, was die Lage der Schutzgebiete sicherlich nicht vereinfacht. Insbesondere der Tiger- und Nashornbestand stehen massiv unter Druck, wie Sudhir im safari-photographer Interview zu berichten weiss.
Wer also mal eine etwas andere Safari mit grossartigem Tierbestand, oder auch einen von Sudhirs Foto Workshops in Bangalore erleben möchte – auf nach Indien!
Q: What is your photo equipment, and what is the reason for Canon or Nikon? I saw on your website that you are kind of exotic user of Canon cameras?!
A: I have been using Canon for the last 18 years of my photography. I use Canon equipment for their unsurpassed quality and their impressive line-up of equipment which caters to all genres of photography.
Q: What are your lenses?
A: I extensively use Canon 800mm f/5.6 L IS for Bird Photography and Canon 400mm f2.8 L IS II for all my Wildlife image making. I also use Canon 70-200 f2.8 L and 100-400 L IS depending on the need. The Canon 17-40L is also part of my kit for landscape image making.
Q: What is your favorite lens, and why?
A: It is indeed, without doubt, the Canon 800mm f5.6 L IS lens. This lens is the best thing that has happened to me for my specialization in Bird Photography. It is not too heavy and can be hand held when needed. The reach is superb for small birds. It can be easily used with Canon 1.4xIII converter and you hardly notice any drop in image quality. I have also used that lens on my Canon 1D Mark III stacked with Canon 1.4xII and Canon 2xII converters taking the reach to around 3200mm. The 800mm lens can also be used for Wildlife Photography and the perspective you get from this lens us totally different. The bokeh you get from this lens is something you simply cannot think of getting from any other other lens (for the reach it has). Hats off to Canon for the fantastic job on this lens!
Q: what is your favorite place for wildlife photography in India/Africa/the rest of the world, and why?
A: The backwaters of Kabini river which is part of the Rajiv Gandhi National Park in South India has been one of my favorite destinations. This is considered as one of the top 5 destinations for wildlife in the world. Kabini is also known all over the world for its largest congregation of Asiatic Elephants, where one does not have to struggle to get a glimpse of the majestic Elephas Maximus.
Q: What is your current project you are working on?
A: I have travelled all over India capturing the beauty of nature and the abundant birdlife and wildlife it has to offer, except for one mammal – The Asiatic Lion. I will be traveling to Gir National Park to photograph them.
Q: What is a dream project for you in the future?
A: I have great passion for sharing my knowledge on photography and I conduct workshops and photo tours across India. I want to take this knowledge sharing to the next level where I can create a platform for more number of people to benefit.
Q: What are your concerns for the future regarding protecting the Indian wildlife and national parks?
A: There are way too many issues threatening the Wildlife of India – poaching, illegal mining, forest encroachment, illegal felling of trees – to name a few. Tiger Conservation is one of the hot topics in India. The Tiger represents the ecosystem of our forest. They go, the forests go. There is a lot of political pressure to lease out parts of the forest for mining in the name of development.
Indian wildlife continues to be an easy target for poachers. 2012 has been the worst year in the last decade as it recorded largest number of killings of endangered animals. Out of 69 tigers killed since January this year, 41 have fallen to poaching, 39 one-horned rhinos too have lost their lives in Kaziranga National Park in the northern state of Assam and in a latest report 252 leopards have also been killed during the same period.
The Indian government blames the shortage of manpower to secure country’s wildlife reserves. However, wildlife professionals have blamed lack of commitment in the efforts of the authorities. Wildlife Advisory Committee, which was set up in 2005 under the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has not met even once.
Q: What do you try to achieve with your photography?
A: For me, the singular aim of wildlife photography is to share the joy of nature. I also use my images for conservation related activities and give them away for free for this purpose. It is used by many NGOs to create awareness about our natural heritage.
Q: When it comes to wildlife and to bird photography, what are best spots/national parks in India?
A: There are my top destinations in India for Wildlife and Bird Photography:
Lava And Neora Valley, West Bengal
Eaglenest Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh
Little & Greater Rann Of Kutch, Gujarat
Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Kerala
Keoaldeo Ghana National Park (Bharatpur), Rajasthan
Corbett National Park, Uttarahand
Pangot and Sattal, Uttarakhand
Kaziranga National Park, Assam
Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
Tadoba Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra
Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, Karnataka
Q: What is a typical agenda for one of your workshops?
A: I have a practice of understanding the participants much before they attend the workshop. I ask them to submit their portfolio of images which I review before the workshop. This gives me a good understand on what I need to cover as a part of the workshop. I cover all the basic and fundamentals of photography and take them through advance concepts. Once all the learning happens in the classroom session, the following day I have a field outing where those concepts are practiced. I spend time with the participants helping them practice the learning. The participants are given the flexibility to contact me post the workshop for getting their images reviewed so that they can evaluate how the workshop has helped them improve their photography knowledge.
Q: Do you consider yourself being an artist?
A: I strongly believe I have moved away from taking images to making images. It takes a lot of effort and planning to make images. Most of my images I shoot with the concept of pre-visualization where that image is formed in my mind and I try to execute it in the field.
Wildlife photographer Sudhir Shivaram on location