Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Best Tiger Photo

Although I still have a lot of photos to sort through, so far I think this is my favorite/best tiger photo.  This is a young female I saw in Bandhavgarh National Park one evening near the end of the drive.  She was, I think, the most beautiful cat I have seen.

I wish I could say that this was an awesome sighting, but again it was a bit marred for me because of the circumstances.  On the upside, there was only my jeep and one other.  On the downside, I was not with my usual driver and I did not like the way this driver handled the situation.  When this tiger was very near the car and wanting to cross the road, he kept driving back and forth in front of her, causing her to hiss at us and generally be annoyed.  I really wanted him to STOP this and just sit and watch the tiger.  There was actually so much movement it was quite difficult to get photos, but the far more important thing to me was that I do not believe we should harass animals, ever, in wildlife parks - not for photos or good viewings, not to get closer, not for any reason.

At one point when I had said "stop" several times and that the tiger was not happy with us, he said he was trying to drive her to the nearby watering hole.  Again, I feel this is wrong.  We should not be driving wild animals anywhere - we should take what we get from them in the way of sightings and be glad for anything at all.  Although this was not as horrific as driving lions with sticks as I saw at Sasan Gir, I was not at all happy about this interaction.  I felt we were not sufficiently respectful of the tiger.

She is a gorgeous animal, approximately 2 years old.  It was very lucky to see her, and even to get a few good shots of her.  Another interesting thing happened this drive.  I had let a professional wildlife photographer join me in the jeep.  I have always been happy with my point and shoot cameras - I do not want to think too much about camera settings, and I like to just be in the moment with the animals, and I enjoy getting some good shots to remember the trip by - but not getting a shot doesn't diminish the experience for me.  I have been with the "big lens" photographers, ranging from SLR professional photographer want to-bes to guys who just want to show off and act serious...but even when they have bragged about their photos I have found mine to be just as good or better in comparison.  There have been some hilarious examples actually.

However, this photographer (Michael Vickers) and I had the exact same view, time and access to this tigress and when I saw some of his shots I was blown away.  Far, far more awesome than mine!  He got a lot more shots and a lot better shots and he had to adjust the settings - granted he has years of practice and an ungodly expensive camera but still, I was so terribly impressed.  His website is  His version of this same shot is here.  However, he showed me a couple of his other shots, close ups of her face, and they blew mine away.  On this particular shot I am actually happy with my photo vs. his, my point and shoot did fine - but on some of the other seconds we had to work with he got some fantastic photos and I hope he posts them on his site so I can be jealous again.  WOW they were good.

All in all, great tiger, glad to have seen her, but feel guilty about the driver's behavior and if I were this tigress I would leave with a less favorable impression of jeeps than I arrived with, which I think on the whole is not a good thing.  However, living where she does, there is no doubt far more to come in the way of aggressive jeeps in her future.  I am still sad to have been in one of them though.  This trip was for sure a struggle with wildlife viewing as I believe it should be vs. the way it was - there was rarely a match up.


Anonymous said...

I'll look at his shot later. Yours is outstanding. The light, her expression. It helps that she is such a beautiful subject. This makes your search for tigers all worthwhile.

Herding tigers to the waterhole. Bad idea. Tigers don't herd, they just get pissed.

Anonymous said...

I'm not just flattering you, but I beg to differ on the quality of the 2 shots--yours and the pro's. Very equal. I think he is an expert at post processing as well as capturing the best image in the field. Maybe his other shots were far superior to yours but the one you linked was very comparable IMHO. You both were able to take advantage of the ideal conditions.