Unearthing the secrets of wildlife photography at The Desert National Park
~ by Dhritiman Mukherjee
PUBLISH DATE: Dec. 31, 2021
There’s more to wildlife photography than meets the eye. It’s not just about shooting an animal, but about narrating a story through the moments you capture. It’s about a unique perspective that you offer your viewers about the place, its inhabitants and the relationship they share with each other. For a wildlife photographer, perhaps the most challenging part is not to find something to shoot, but to be able to shoot it in a way that truly captures the essence of the moment. This is easier said than done. Especially, if you’re depending only on a telephoto lens for your wild excursion.
Sony Explorer Dhritiman Mukherjee, recently visited The Desert National Park in the north-western part of India. The fascinating moments he captured throughout his trip, explains exactly why other lenses such as wide-angle and macro, can be equally handy for a wildlife photographer looking to tell a story through their clicks.
“Desert is not an empty place as many of us think. Desert has its own life forms which cannot be seen in other places. Whenever I come to explore desert it never fails to surprise me with different things.” - Dhritiman Mukherjee
For his trip to one of the largest parks in India, Dhritiman brought along two cameras; Sony Alpha 1 and Sony Alpha 7RM4. He also packed a set of sharp, lightweight lenses, including Sony FE 600-mm F4 GM OSS, FE 12–24 mm F2.8 GM, FE 28 mm F2 and FE 90 mm F2.8 Macro G OSS lens. Sony 600mm lens is great for long shots where animals and birds are at a distance. With a telephoto lens they can be captured in action without being disturbed. For wide angle shots to give viewers a sense of the habitat, Sony 12-24mm lens can work wonders. And to find beauty in the details, Sony 90mm lens helps take in-depth micro shots of insects, amphibians and reptiles, revealinghttps://www.sony.co.in/electronics/camera-lenses/sel600f40gm their beautiful hidden world.
One of the first few pictures taken by Dhritiman at the national park, was that of an elusive desert fox out to scavenge some food. Using the amazing speed, resolution and real-time eye autofocus of Sony Alpha 1, combined with the zoom-in power and performance of the Sony FE 600-mm F4 GM OSS lens, the Sony Explorer was able to capture a stunning picture of the animal frozen in time. The perfect timing of the shot made the fox appear as if it was floating through the air. This is a great example of how tele photo lenses like the 600mm from Sony, can capture subjects at a distance with ease and accuracy.
Another moment where the 600mm lens came to Dhritiman’s rescue was when he spotted a falcon hunting a spiny-tailed lizard. Right before the predator could snatch away the prey in its talons, the Sony Explorer was able to capture them in action, revealing a rarely seen event.
Animals and birds aren’t the only residents of this part of the desert, there are some amazing reptiles here too that are waiting to be discovered. But to experience their world, one has to get down to their level to see things from their perspective. This is where a macro lens, like the FE 90 mm F2.8 Macro G OSS lens becomes your best friend. It helps a wildlife photographer capture the minutest of details that are invisible to the naked-eye.
The Sind Sand Gecko seen below, may look like any ordinary lizard from afar, but when captured through a macro lens, that’s when the true uniqueness comes out. The shot taken by Dhritiman below, shows the reptile with leopard-like patterns on the back and spongy feet that help the gecko move fast on the sand without sinking into it. This detailed story-telling is only possible with a macro lens when your wild subjects are tinier than your finger.
Meet the wild cousin of the common cricket found in most cities. This larger-than-life picture reveals a lot of details about the creature, its habitat and how evolution has helped it adapt to its surroundings. When you look through a macro lens you see how the feet of the insect have adapted to the desert habitat, making it easy for the cricket to move on the sand. This is quite different from crickets found in other habitats around India. This unseen side of the wild is a story in itself, unveiling a perspective that would be hard to come by, had this picture been taken with a telephoto lens. The FE 90 mm F2.8 Macro G OSS lens was Sony Explorer Dhritiman’s choice for this shot.
A tele lens is quite useful for moments where there’s a need to catch something in motion, without having to go too close. A macro lens is suited best for smaller creatures that need to be captured from up-close. However, in situations where there’s a need to give viewers a sense of the habitat they reside in, a wide-angle lens can do the trick.
This one below was captured using another wide-angle lens by Sony called the FE 28 mm F2 lens. It shows a saw-scaled viper slithering on the desert floor looking for its next meal. The sand and the night sky with the moon gleaming in the background, gives this picture a dramatic feel. Like a silent killer prowling for its next victim in the quite of the night. This is the change in perspective, possible with a wide-angle lens like the one Dhritiman used. The story is told not only by the subject but by the environment that surrounds it too.
Here’s another shot taken with the wide-angle lens. Sony Explorer Dhritiman Mukherjee photographed a Persian Gecko perched on a rock. The shot was taken in the late hours of the evening with the moon in the background and the city lights shimmering to create a splendid bokeh effect. The picture brings to life the harsh world these creatures live in and the craggy rock surface, they call home.
The Desert National Park has an abundance of life, both in big and small forms. Some animals and birds are native to this land, but several migratory birds also visit the place every year. The place may look empty and desolate, but you can find a treasure trove of wildlife if you know where to look.
Wildlife photography is all about understanding the story that you want to tell your viewers and the tools you can use to bring it to life. Knowing your camera and different types of lenses that are available at your disposal, can make all the difference. With Sony cameras and lenses, you can bring out the hidden gems of the natural world out in the open, just like Sony Explorer Dhritiman Mukherjee.
If you’re planning a wildlife photography trip anytime soon, here are a few things you should keep in mind.
- Always take fast, lightweight cameras like the Sony Alpha 1 (ILCE-1) that are easy to carry & manoeuvre.
- Keep a variety of lenses to capture different types of flora and fauna.
- Carry tripods, hoods, extra batteries and cleaning equipment.
- Make the most of the golden hours of the day (sunrise and sunset). You can spot most animals during these hours.
- Ensure your camera/lens has AF, image stabilization, bokeh effect and other advanced features that can enhance your shooting experience.
- Respect the habitat and the animals at all times.
Keep your explorer spirit alive and stay tuned for the next adventure by Dhritiman Mukherjee.