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Stunning images: Nature at its WILDEST!

Last updated on: February 15, 2012 08:57 IST

Nature at its WILDEST!

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Rathika Ramasamy, India's first woman wildlife photographer, talks about how she developed her passion for photography and the numerous amazing encounters of the wild kind she has had while tracking mighty but reclusive beasts and birds

When I was in Standard 10, my father gifted me a camera and I started clicking photographs with that. Photography became a hobby after I went to college. Whenever I travelled, I enjoyed taking photographs.

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Image: Mongoose
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy
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Nature at its WILDEST!

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With this, I became passionate about photography; I started exploring and learning more.  I learnt everything on my own.

I got interested in nature photography and started that around 2004, with my digital DLSR Nikon D70.  I then upgraded to Nikon D2x and D200 with assorted Nikon lenses.

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Image: Framed spotted owlet basking in the sun
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy

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Nature at its WILDEST!

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All this took some time.  It is not easy to take up a field that is so different from one's education (I had done a BE in computer engineering and then MBA), but I wanted to pursue my passion.

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Image: Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus Roseus
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy

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Nature at its WILDEST!

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Though I love other genres of photography too, I was more fascinated with photographing birds and animals. 

It gave me an opportunity to be close to nature and observe it in reality. The feeling is wonderful.

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Image: Bar-headed Goose Anser Indicus
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy

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Nature at its WILDEST!

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When I first visited the Bharatpur bird sanctuary, I wanted to shoot the birds there so that I could enjoy the experience of seeing them later in the photographs.

I found that a small lens was inadequate, and I brought a long telelens for the first time. There was no looking back after that.

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Image: Rosy Pelican Pelecanus Onocrotalus
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy

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Nature at its WILDEST!

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As New Delhi is surrounded by many spots with a variety of birds and several national parks, I had plenty of opportunities to carry on with wildlife photography.

While documenting birds through photography, I always look for a story in the subject. I enjoy capturing action shots the most.

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Image: Egyptian Goose Alopochen Aegyptiacus
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy

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Nature at its WILDEST!

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I have been to many national parks and sanctuaries like the Jim Corbett Park in Uttaranchal, Kanha in Madhya Pradesh, Ranthambore and Keolodeo in Rajasthan, Eravikulam, Periyar and Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in Kerala, Vedanthangal in Tamil Nadu, Nallapattu in Andhra Pradesh and Chilka Lake in Orissa.

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Image: Zebras at the Serengeti National Park
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy

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Nature at its WILDEST!

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I have also visited Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania.

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Image: Brown-headed Gull Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus at Pongong Lake, Ladakh
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy

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Nature at its WILDEST!

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It is difficult to choose my favourite photographs.  But one of my favourites is the photograph of a spotted deer that I took during early morning hours at the Kanha National Park.

I was on the lookout for tigers and then I spotted a small deer standing with backlit trees in a misty background.  The early morning mist gave a dreamy effect with a painting-like feel. I captioned it 'Golden Morning'.  

This photograph has been printed in canvas several times.

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Image: Spotted deer at Kanha National Park
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy
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Nature at its WILDEST!

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Another favourite of mine is a photograph of lion cubs sleeping on a tree that I shot at Serengeti. 

The lion cubs were looking so adorable and serene. The tree had the background of a cloudy sky.  I tried high key photography so that the background comes out completely white.

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Image: Lion cubs at Serengeti National Park
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy
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Nature at its WILDEST!

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Another favourite I have is the silhouette of a pair of Spot Bill Ducks in water taken just before sunset at the Okhla Bird Sanctury. I was waiting for the moment when the water reflects the golden sunset. 

The picture has a symmetry that makes it look the same when turned upside down.

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Image: Spot bill Ducks at Okhla Bird Sanctury
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy

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Nature at its WILDEST!

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I have had many memorable experiences.

During my recent visit to the Jim Corbett National Park, when I was in the jeep, a tiger came out and went on walking in front of the vehicle for around half an hour. 

It was a rare experience for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed clicking several photographs of the king of the jungle.

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Image: A tiger with its kill at Jim Corbett National Park
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy
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Nature at its WILDEST!

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Though I have taken many pictures of Sarus cranes, I wanted to capture them dancing. Sarus crane pairs perform elaborate courtship dances, combining leaping, prancing, and calling in duet.

I finally got a chance to click a photograph of their dance at the Bharatpur bird sanctuary. It was a real joy to watch them dancing.

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Image: A Nilgai with a Sarus Crane
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy

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Nature at its WILDEST!

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At Mangalajodi, Chilka lake, I was clicking pictures sitting in a small fishing boat.

It was a treat to watch thousands of migratory waterfowls at one place and shoot them.

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Image: Sun bathing turtles
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy

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Nature at its WILDEST!

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A wildlife photographer should have good technical knowledge and an in-depth knowledge of the subjects he/she is going to photograph. It is important to read about wildlife and their behaviour patterns. 

This helps in foreseeing possible action and capturing pictures at the right moment.

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Image: Spotted Owlet
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy

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Nature at its WILDEST!

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Four Ps are important to excel in this field -- passion, preparation, patience, and perseverance.

Last but not the least, a wildlife photographer should care for wildlife and their conservation and strictly follow the ethics of wildlife photography.

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Image: Indian Roller Coracias Benghalensis
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy

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Nature at its WILDEST!

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Of animals, I think tigers and elephants are more photogenic. Among birds, kingfishers and Indian roller are very photogenic and the most colourful birds. They never fail to amaze me.

Whether it is a tiger or a lion, it is always exciting to spot and click them. But they behave differently.

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Image: Common Kingfisher Alcedo Atthis
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy

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Nature at its WILDEST!

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As tigers are found only in national parks with dense forests, tracking and spotting them is half the battle won. 

You have to wait patiently and sighting them is often a matter of chance. You may sometimes have to make several trips to get a sighting.

A tiger has its own territory and roams around alone except during the breeding season or when it is having cubs.

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Image: Tigers at Ranthambore National Park
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy
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Wildlife animals can of course get wild if they sense that we are going to disturb them. We have to keep a distance, be alert and watch their body language. 

If they feel disturbed by your presence, move away from that place.

In national parks, we should follow the rules, such as not getting out of the vehicle.

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Image: Spot-billed Duck Anas Poecilorhyncha
Photographs: Rathika Ramasamy

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