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  • Sumesh Lekhi

TIGER framed by TALL GRASS by the banks of the RIVER


Pipartola at PTR, is one grassland habitat full of wildlife excitement. The tall grasses are a haven for herbivores, birds and rare thrilling sightings of tigers, leopards & the nonchalant attituded-jungle cat. Scanning over the grasslands, sometimes only the highest vantage from a jeep makes the cut.

Even when not filming, the best spot to just park the jeep and enjoy the sounds and visuals of this fantastic habitat is at the tip of Pipartola. Next to the Ken river under the sparse shade of a berry tree. Shrieking francolins, peafowls meowing and distress calls of spotted deer going off regularly at a distance. From this point onwards, the river's edge has huge clumps of tall swaying evergreen grass that stand out amidst the typical dry grassland that cover much of Pipartola. These grasses are almost always brimming with spotted deer and peafowl. Whenever we reach these grasses, my mind always imagines the visual of a tiger framed by the grass, with the glittering river behind it. As we study and film this stunning habitat and its wildlife, we spend time at Pipartola, either before ascending or then after descending the gorgeous plateaus. One late afternoon, we amble through the grasslands, reaching the swaying green grass at the glittering river's edge. Just the frame imagined.

And then we see it. The magical sighting of this male TIGER, framed by the grass. As magnificent as he is, he is in contrast to most monarchs who always want to announce their presence to the world. A Tiger King lives in solitude, preferring to remain a phantom. This magical scene, cloaked in the tranquility of the riverscape, could change, the moment he decides to go after prey or just stroll out.

Talking about the male tigers here, like in the wildest of tiger areas, the topography and vastness allows tigers to retreat within gorges, caves and the dense jungles, just like the way they have been depicted in jungle legends. Coming across a male tiger here, especially inside the core jungle is extremely rare. Sometimes just a handful of times through the year. You then just put down the camera, and take in the scene as the king settles down on the bed of grass. A frame visualized since a long time Filmed by Sumesh Lekhi For more wildlife videos and our upcoming Natural History motion films, Follow us on: https://www.instagram.com/sumeshlekhi/ https://twitter.com/sumeshlekhi https://www.youtube.com/.../UC6axw-TJUh.../featured TECHNICAL NOTE | Exposure: Fix the shutter speed at twice the frame per second(FPS) of your video. So, if you are filming at 25fps, fix the shutter speed at 1/50. Another method is to set your camera to "angle"in the menu, instead of shutter speed if your camera has this function. The value of angle is to be set at 180, so that no matter what your FPS is, the shutter speed value will always be 1 /(fps x 2). All other exposure parameters ie aperture, ISO etc should all be set manually depending on the lighting. For example, due to manual exposure, the tiger shaded by the grass is bright enough, or else the lighting info received by the camera due to the bright river in the back ground would have given made the rest of the video including the tiger dark and details would have been lost. Tend to also keep the exposure a tad brighter than the meter so that no information is lost and any exposed area can be looked into in post-production. For example, the blue of the river has been regained in post. But if the tiger was dark, then it would be very noisy(ie grainy) when exposure is picked up. DSLRs/Mirrorless are popular for videos these days, but if you have a video camera, then the ND option can be used. As a rule, even with trained assistants, when they are using the B camera or wide angle cameras or BTS, I ask them to always adjust exposure only manually (only the angle as mentioned above is preset)

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