Nikkor 200-500 VR/TC 14 III @550mm, f8, ISO 800; Nikon Z 6


The chital is a skittish, and incredibly agile smaller deer. We failed (me specifically) to get a shot a day before where the marshes blend into a drier land. We could see them resting in groups on small islands and patches of dry ground several times. We didn’t stand a chance, we saw them always too late. If you keep moving, walking, in a car or boat all is fine but once you stop, you look again and there is nothing.

Zlatka was following a troop of macaques. I stayed a little behind and turned to the side, just in case it would help to relax the macaques. Though all over India, we didn’t shoot the rhesus macaques in the wild yet.

At one point I heard some splashing and saw a doe wading towards the trees where Zlatka was. She flew past her like a ghost. Zlatka was looking into the camera. Then I see a buck is following her. Zlatka thought it’s the macaques who are doing the splashing behind the bush. She checked where I was. I couldn’t move so made a grimace, something like when a small child trying to steal a forbidden item, a bit exaggerated, and some slow movements with my fingers saying, come forward/get out of those trees. I moderated that with ‘stops’ if she was moving too fast.

She slipped carefully just past the cover. The buck was unaware of our presence and moved slowly on, checking closely the vegetation as he went. It was clear this will be quickly over as he’s soon going to be just too close, so I made a sharp, brief sound. The mechanical shutter would do this on D750 for us. The buck froze.

Was it the micromovements Zlatka was making with the camera (on the tripod), sniffing the wind, or he noticed the obvious, though motionless, that he had missed? Hard to tell. That’s the beauty of these stories. But the next second he did what the chital can, he sprang back 180 degrees from where he was and with enormous leap disappeared in the jungle.

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