India - 2018
I would anticipate that a few people are going to ask how we managed to capture this dynamic and high energy image? Did we do anything illegal or stupid - like get out of the jeep and approach this massive eight year old male tiger in his natural habitat, or was it taken in a zoo and then pasted digitally into Ranthambore?
The answer is neither. Before we left London, we had given a great deal of thought as to how to get a camera as low to the ground as possible without risking our safety or the reputation of our long standing friend and guide. Ranthambore is not a place to take any chances - one tiger alone has killed four people there in the last few years.
We found a solution in building a right-angled boom pole with a robust, bespoke camera platform that could be lowered and then operated by remote control from the safety of the jeep. The camera itself would be within inches of the jeep, but crucially, it would lay flat on the ground. Three feet might not seem a big deal, but the change in perspective allows a photograph to become much more immersive.
This is a low percentage approach, as the focus has to be prejudged and the angle of view must be calculated before hand. There is no time to be setting up equipment that gives a live view from an ancillary device - encounters like this happen all too quickly to be over complicating matters with technology. We failed several times on other occasions by misjudging one or more variables. My maths was simply wrong.
In this case, we nailed it. I used the Nikon D850 camera body, because my sense was that we needed as much detail as possible, and whilst the frames per second of a D5 gave us a little more room for error in the focusing, I felt it was worth the risk. This image needs to be at the very least, life size.
Small details have turned a well executed idea, into a big image. The tiger’s left paw surging through the water gives him menace and power. The water shaped around that paw has an intricacy that conveys the force of a man eater.
This five minute encounter was the only time during our entire trip that I didn't feel the heat. It was around about 43 degrees celsius or 109 degrees Fahrenheit.
What a thrill to take this image home with us.