Whenever I come back from a trip, I share the good stuffs first but let me take you through three different incidents this time which I call as ‘lost opportunity’ from my recent visit to Bharatpur
Rosy Pelicans are currently the biggest attraction in Bharatpur –Keoladeo Ghana National Park. They are making quite a bit of noise among the photographers since the last winter. Hoping for few good photographs, I sat near the edge of a pond where few of them were fishing along with some cormorants and darters. Out of the many photographers around one caught my attention instantly. A lady wearing a bright florescent pink jacket. She was sitting on a bench and taking photographs with her camera and a Canon 100-400L lens mounted on a tripod. Although photographers were distracted by her bright apparel, the pelicans were quite unmoved by that. In fact two of them were swimming quite close to her.
The guide gave me a heads-up by saying that the action begins when a cormorant catches a fish and then the pelicans fight to snatch the fish from the cormorant. I was waiting for similar moments and in between trying few shots by changing the settings on my camera. The moment came minutes later. A cormorant emerged from the water holding a big fish in his beak, a pelican saw that too. He declared a war against the cormorant by making a sudden noise and flew towards the little bird making big splashes. I was about to catch the moment but a sudden movement towards my left distracted me and I looked that way.
Seeing the pelican flying (or running on the water), the lady in pink couldn’t control her excitement. She got up and standing tall on her feet she pressed the shutter button in a continuous mode. It was her sudden movement that distracted me. The legs of the tripod were hanging in the air, a foot above the ground. It was like a Bollywood scene where the villain (for example Tangaballi in Chennai Express) holds the hero by his neck, lifts him into the air and our hero will swing his legs left and right to seek ground beneath. It was more amusing to me then the fight for feast. When I looked back towards the pond everything was pretty normal. Losing the fish to the pelican the cormorant dived into the water again to look for more.
A bird on a clutter free perch with a clean background is a photographer’s delight. In such settings a common bird also makes a beautiful frame. While taking a rickshaw ride inside the park we saw a white breasted kingfisher sitting on a branch few feet above the water. The water was full of green algae which was perfect for a clean background. Spotting the bird my friend asked the guide-cum-rickshaw puller to stop and go back few inches. The idea was not to get down from the rickshaw to avoid sudden movement which could have distracted the bird. A visitor riding a bicycle ahead of us heard my friend and decided to give us company. He parked his cycle and rushed towards us. He was like General Zod from Man of Steel who would say, “You are not alone… My name is General Zod. I come from a world far from yours”. So he did what an alien would have done. When I was almost ready with a frame, I heard him shouting, “WOW…WHAT A BEAUTIFUL BIRD!!”, which the kingfisher mistook as “BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG”. The man looked at us with a plain face and said, “Udd gaya”. Even if he would have said that in some alien language we would have guessed rightly.
We murmured what best suited at that moment. Both of us managed to click one picture each. When I reviewed the picture I found a clear perch with a clean background minus the kingfisher. My friend who was little faster than me managed to get the same picture plus the tail of the bird.
Many of you know that common kingfisher maintains a territory and within that territory the bird selects few favorite perches to sit. During the day the bird keep flying from one favorite perch to the other. Our guide told me of one such place where a common kingfisher is seen regularly in these days. When we reached the spot the bird was not there. The guide asked me to wait for few minutes. I positioned myself few meters away from the spot and decided to wait for the kingfisher to return. It was by the main road itself. There was a wooden bench quite close to the spot. I was worried that someone might come and sit there. Guides and rickshaw pullers were coming and going. Looking at the empty perch they would say, ‘Aaj nahi hai’, ‘yahin bethta hai’, ‘subah yahin tha’ etc etc.
My worry turned into reality when a young couple decided to rest on the bench. The girl was wearing a Salwar-kameez with a pair of sports shoe and a red woolen cap. They sat close to each other. The girl held the boy’s right hand and placed her head on his shoulder. Ignoring my presence completely he planted a kiss on her forehead. Feeling little uncomfortable, the girl looked at me. There was a complaint in her look. So I decided to abandon my plan. When I was walking away from the spot, I heard the striking ‘tee tee’ sound of the kingfisher. I looked back for the last time. The perch was still empty. The girl was giggling. I noticed something written on the back of the bench which I thought worth taking a picture.
* Although in the above three scenes I have put the blame on to others, let me admit that most of the time I miss an action or a shot due to my own limited knowledge of the camera and subsequent settings used.