Sunday, August 09, 2015

Nightmare in Bandipur - Part 2 : E-M1 finds a Leopard!

25th January, 2015

Link to the previous post here

How I passed the night of the 24th January I will never know, but it was a really long, restless one. A photographic catastrophe is something that cannot be put in a few words. Your best lens is like your girlfriend! You are so smitten by her that you take her for granted and when she leaves you in the lurch rather unexpectedly, it is a truly deflating experience! I'm sure no one will disagree on that count!

My Photographic Journey has been an interesting one and the the high point was the day I got my 'girlfriend', the Zuiko 300mm f2.8. That was sometime in December of 2011. It was the best 300mm f2.8 anywhere by any manufacturer and  Olympus' Zuiko lenses are legendary for their rendition of colours. So when my lens broke, I was shell shocked.

Luckily, I had carried my Zuiko 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 SWD another rugged lens that was doing duty before the 300mm  came. It had itself suffered a breakage on a trip to Nagarahole in the summer of 2012. From that experience I had learned that getting these fine lenses repaired, meant shipping them to Singapore or Japan, because Tatsuno did not trust them in anyone else's hands!

I had somehow managed to remove the broken mount ring of the 300mm from the E-M1 and with a prayer I mounted the Zuiko 50-200mm SWD. It worked! So I was not totally handicapped after all. With the digital 2x teleconvertor in the E-M1 I had a 100-400 f 2.8-3.5 now. It would never replace my favourite 'girlfriend' but at least I had a new mate for the E-M1. My previous trip was in December, just before Christmas and for just a day. That was because I had got my E-M1 and wanted to test it out in the field. There were not many photo opportunities because it was raining and I was on a one day trip.

I never knew God's were kind to sad people! The morning safari was all about birds and a lone tusker. The Zuiko 50-200mm SWD was doing a reasonably good job but it would never replace a 300mm f.2.8.

A hoopoe looking for snacks in burnt grass

Streak throated woodpecker (female)

Brahminy starling

Langur with her little one


The evening drive was monotonously uninteresting. Forests have never ceased to amaze me in any season but this was an unusual trip. I had lost my 'girlfriend' and I was in depression. It was around 5.00 PM, half way through the safari and we were waiting outside the anti-poaching camp because someone wanted to answer the call of nature!

Suddenly, behind us, appeared a Duster! We backed up to stop them and ask how they got in and our driver realized that one of then was some forest official.

They seemed to be looking at something to their right and when we looked in that direction this is what we saw! A leopard slinking across the track!

It all happened so fast and in a moving vehicle, I did not have time to react. The leopard disappeared into the lantana.

We raced back to our position in front of the anti-poaching camp. There was a waterhole in front of it and the leopard was obviously making a beeline for it! The adrenaline rush that accompanies the sight of a predator is something that defies description. My fiasco of the previous day was forgotten and I only had eyes for a magnificent creature that would make its appearance any moment now!

A few minutes of anxious waiting and a head popped out of the undergrowth.

 It looked around, up into a tree, at us and at the waterhole.

Then decided that this was not a place to be in and walked off into a nullah and disappeared.

For an evening without even a gaur or elephant, this was a bonus. As the excitement settled and we started on our drive back I was reviewing the photos. I suddenly realized that the leopard appeared too small!

I had completely forgotten that I had a different lens attached to my camera and I had not zoomed in! I had shot at around 125 mm and also failed to use the 2x digital converter! A slight disappointment but something I'd have to get used to till my 300mm was repaired.

That was not the last of the leopards on this trip. Watch this space.....

1 comment:

R Niranjan Das said...

That is a wonderful sighting.