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Newsletter 98
27/07/14

The power of the picture

John Varty interview with Sizie Modise:

SM: JV, Tiger Canyons is now rated as the best place to photograph wild tigers. How have you achieved this? 

JV: I believe the light at Tiger Canyons is one of the factors. The light especially in the afternoon is some of the best I have ever filmed and photographed in. Also the landscape is so diverse. One can photograph a tiger posing on the rocks, stalking through golden grass or swimming in a river. This is special. The ability to shoot high angle and low angle is a big advantage. 

SM: You have filmed and photographed all the big cats, which photographs the best? 

JV: You can't really compare them. A cheetah running at full speed should be shot on movie at 100 frames per second. A tiger glowing in the golden afternoon light is a better still shot. The advantage with the tiger is it is a very diverse cat. It will swim for fun, it will hide kills in water, it will take kills into trees like a leopard and it will quite happily stroll across a plain in the open like a cheetah. Tigers have varying personalities, so they do a variety of things which provides diverse opportunities for photography. 

SM: You describe some tigers as ambassador tigers. What is an ambassador tiger? 

JV: An ambassador‎ tiger is one that instinctively knows that it's survival and future is tied somehow to the camera. Julie was the ultimate Ambassador Tiger. Many times she would bring her cubs out of the dense reeds into the open to be photographed. Ussuri is another Ambassador Tigress. Ussuri goes out of her way to share her cubs with the photograpers. 

SM: Give an example of a non-ambassador tiger! 

JV: Sariska doesn't like being photographed. He will often move away or simply turn his head away from the lens. His sister Panna also moves into tall grass or heavy bush when the photographic jeeps arrive. You must remember that a black lens represents a large round dark eye, this is a very aggressive object in the tiger world. 

SM: How important is the behaviour of the photographer to getting good pictures? 

JV: It's very important. The tiger will pick up the energy and the mood of the people in the jeep. Loud, aggressive demanding photographers generally don't get good pictures. 

I always tell the photographers, "be patient and let the pictures come to you". 

I always greet the tiger when I find it, to calm them and reassure them and I always thank them for the sighting when I leave. I encourage the photographers to do the same. 

SM: Do some photographers demand to see tigers &‎ to get good photos? 

JV: It is not a right to see tigers at Tiger Canyons, it is a privilege. The tigers are not obliged to give up their time and their space for human beings to take pictures. Photographers should rather see themselves as joining a giant experiment which documents the lives of wild tigers.  

SM: How big a photographic attraction is Tibo, the white tigress? 

JV: She is a very big attraction. People are fascinated with any animal that is different. Her blue eyes make for some riveting photos.‎ 

SM: How often can you find her? 

JV: Mostly we can find her, but recently we did a safari with people from the USA and in 5 game drives, we were unable to find her once. 

Tibo can be quite moody, if she feels like being photographed, she will pose. If she doesn't, she goes into reeds and thick bush and remains hidden. 

SM: When will she produce her first litter of cubs and will they be white? 

JV: I am hoping to mate Tibo with a normal male so that all the cubs will be normal coloured carriers. Our objective is wild born, wild raised, normal coloured tigers. We would like to preserve the rarity of the white tiger. 

SM: When your 3 areas become one large area, won't it become more difficult to find and photograph tigers? 

JV: It will be more difficult to find tigers, but not necessarily lesser photos. The new area is big and scenically beautiful.‎ 

SM: How will the tigers cope in the big area as far as hunting goes? 

JV: I think initially, they will find it more difficult to hunt. On the other hand, with more land we can stock more prey and a wider diversity of prey. There is no doubt, to capture high action hunting sequences will remain a big challenge for the filmmakers‎ and photographers. 

SM: There seems to be many international film crews visiting Tiger Canyons recently, why is this? 

JV: I think the demise of the tiger in Asia and the bureaucratic attitude towards tourists and filmmakers in Indian parks means that filmmakers that previously went to India and Nepal are coming to us. Also we have been researching the tiger for 14 years and much new behaviour has been filmed and documented at Tiger Canyons. Film producers want this new information to give their film an advantage in the marketplace. 

SM: Do you photograph and film everyday? 

JV: The good, the bad and the ugly is filmed and photographed every single day at Tiger Canyons. 

SM: The good photographers and filmmakers that visit Tiger Canyons, what are they like as individuals? 

JV: Generally skillful, tenacious, creative, inventive, patient, sharing and knowledgeable...a pleasure to be with. 

I have learnt a huge amount from the photographers and filmmakers and the best pictures circling around the world are not taken by me, they are taken by visiting photographers. 

SM: You have described digital photography as a major step forward in the conservation of the tiger. How so? 

JV: It's not just the conservation of the tiger, it is by extension, survival of all cats, all wild animals and wild places. Any person today with a digital camera can capture a unique picture. So their interest in photography leads them to an interest in the subject of photography, which leads them to the tiger. 

Should the wild tiger become extinct, the photographers would have lost a major opportunity for photography. Therefore the photographers join the fight to save wild places and wild tigers and photography is the catalyst which brought them there. 

SM: Which is the better camera - Nikon or Canon? 

JV: I have no idea. In truth I know almost nothing about cameras. I get other photographers to set my cameras for me. The challenge for me is the ability of the picture to communicate. Before a government could destroy a tiger's forest, now they can still destroy that forest but I can film and photograph that destruction. In addition, I can communicate that destruction instantly around the world. This for me is the power of photography. 

SM: Where is the future for wild life photographers? 

JV: Photographers must not compete, they must complement. They must expose their pictures to a global audience. The pho‎tographers are the cog in the global brain, the gears that drive the communication revolution forward. We are already seeing photography as a powerful tool in the war against rhino poaching, the tiger body-parts trade, cruelty to animals, pressure on wild animals in circuses. We are the first generation of photographers to have Facebook and YouTube at our disposal, we must use it to our full advantage. Pictures can embarrass governments, change attitudes, influence decisions. Gone are the days when your pictures collect dust in some cupboard. They must work to influence for a better world. 

Our failure to use our images will result in a world with no wild places and no wild tigers and nothing wild to photograph. A world of man-made concrete and steel overrun by one species... human beings.

Tread Lightly on the Earth
JV


Video: Tiger Ice Break

 

In the coldest winter ever at Tiger Canyons, Ussuri's cubs try to break the ice on la Vea Dam to reach the water underneath. Ussuri teach the cubs how to do this.

Tread lightly on the Earth

info@jvbigcats.co.za
Copyright 2007 @jvbigcats  All rights reserved


Newsletters


Newsletters 148
09/08/17
Open letter re schools plus Panna cubs

Newsletters 147
17/07/17
It's Finished

Newsletters 146
31/05/17
Hunters

Newsletter 145
20/05/17
King Corbett

Newsletter 144
08/05/17
Hunting versus Non Hunting

Newsletter 143
14/03/17
If it Pays, it Stays

Newsletters 142
14/02/17
Best Photographs at
Tiger Canyons

Newsletters 141
16/01/17
Lady Hunters

Newsletter 140
10/12/16
Londolozi and Love

Newsletter 139
23/11/16
Life is Not Fair

Newsletter 138
17/11/16
The Trump Card

Newsletter 137
22/10/16
Most Admired People on the Planet

Newsletters 136
13/10/16
Captive vs Wild

Newsletter 135
08/10/16
To trade  or not To Trade

Newsletter 134
08/08/16
A Defining Moment

Newsletter 133
08/07/16
I Have Lost A Friend

Newsletter 132
13/05/16
The World is Changing

Newsletter 131
08/04/16
Icon Cats

Newsletter 130
31/03/16
Sylvester the Lion

Newsletter 129
22/03/16
An Open Letter to Head United Nations

Newsletter 128
15/03/16
An Open Letter to Carte Blanche

Newsletter 127
28/11/15
Satellite Tracking

Newsletter 126
12/11/15
Lightning strikes 3 times

Newsletter 125
28/10/15
The Break Out

Newsletter 124
05/10/15
Bad Tigers

Newsletter 123
01/10/15
Tiger Boy's Journey

Newsletter 122
13/09/15
Give it a Name

Newsletter 121
10/09/15
Driven Hunts

Newsletter 120
01/09/15
Creative Conservation

Newsletter 119
12/08/15
Sariska from birth till death

Newsletter 118
11/08/15
Real Hunters

Newsletter 117
07/08/15
An Open Letter to the President: Operation Wild Lion

Newsletter 116
03/08/15
An Open Letter to Theo Bronkhorst

Newsletter 115
28/07/15
Cruel Nations

Newsletter 114
08/07/15
Subspecies or no subspecies

Newsletter 113
11/06/15
Tigers Moving Forward

Newsletter 112
13/04/15
Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Newsletter 111
26/03/15
Don't Shoot the Messenger

Newsletter 110
22/03/15
The Hunters

Newsletter 109
09/03/15
Gaia or God?

Newsletter 108
26/02/15
The Healing Power of Cats

Newsletter 107
18/02/15
Goddess Gaia

Newsletter 106
03/02/15
Ambassador Cats

Newsletter 105
24/01/15
Blondes have more fun

Invitation
09/01/15
Gaining ground for tigers

Newsletter 103
14/12/14
Tibo's Dilemma

Newsletter 102
05/12/14
Wilderness Man

Newsletter 101
25/11/14
Sariska fathers cubs with white Tigress Tibo

Newsletter 100
20/11/14
Cheetah Survival

Newsletter 99
30/09/14
Extract from JV's speech on Corbett's Freedom Day

Newsletter 98
15/08/14
The Power of the Picture

Newsletter 97
18/07/14
Tiger Corbett's Release

Newsletter 96
11/07/14
Corbett's Journey

Newsletter 95
18/06/14
Bush School: Where are they now?

Newsletter 94
12/05/14
Open letter to Jani Allen: Oscar Pistorius

Newsletter 93
07/05/14
John Varty interview with Sizie Modise

Newsletter 92
20/04/14
Marion's Big Cat Safari

Newsletter 91
24/02/14
Full energy flow

Newsletter 90
10/02/14
Investing in wild tigers

Newsletter 89
05/02/14
Where are the Champions?

Newsletter 88
27/01/14
Managing the Genes

Newsletter 87
16/01/14
Capture the Moment

Newsletter 86
07/12/13
The Princess Diana of Tigers - Julie:
 Sept 1999 - 5 Des 2013

Newsletter 85
26/11/13
The Communicators

Newsletter 84
26/11/13
A Letter to All Conservationists in SA 
Sparked by the whole Melissa Bachman Debacle
by Maxine Gaines

Newsletter 83
16/11/13
Tell me what happened

Newsletter 82
04/11/13
Profit is the Name of Your Game

Newsletter 81
30/10/13

Big Cat Cub Safari


Newsletter 80
18/10/13
In the Jaws of the Tiger

Newsletter 79
11/10/13
Open letter to Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa about rhino crisis

Newsletter 78
06/10/13
Open letter to Min of Defense, South Africa about rhino crisis

Newsletter 77
30/09/13
Digital Photography

Newsletter 76
06/09/13
Zoochosis

Newsletter 75
20/07/13
Rhino Horn Trade - Response

Newsletter 74
09/07/13
Raw Power

Newsletter 73
02/07/13
The Evolution of the Tracker

Newsletter 72
02/07/13
An Open Letter to the Honourable Edna Molewa, Minister of Water Affairs and Environmental Affairs

Newsletter 71
06/06/13
Using flash or spotlight on cats at night

Newsletter 70
14/05/13
Mirror mirror on the wall, who has the best eyesight of them all?

Newsletter 69
12/04/13
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fastest of them all?

Newsletter 68
25/03/13
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the best fighter of them all?

Newsletters 67
07/03/13
Wild Cheetah return to the Free State after 100 years

Newsletter 66
28/02/13
Seeking the genes

Newsletters 65
06/02/13
Corbett's Journey

Newsletters 64
22/01/13
In Search of a Mate

Newsletters 63
11/01/13
Rumble in the Jungle

Newsletters 62
30/10/12
Voronin Big Cat Safari Breaks All Records

Newsletters 61
09/12/12
A Journey to Nowhere

Newsletter 60
03/10/12
The John Hume Approach

Newsletter 59
28/09/12
Response to Rhino Horn Auction

Newsletters 58
24/09/12
A Letter to John Hume, SA biggest Rhino Breeder

Newsletters 57
05/09/12
Newsletters 56
01/08/12
Indian Government -
the wrong decision

Newsletter 55
11/07/12
What price must beauty pay?

Newsletter 54
21/04/12
Corbett's Freedom

Newsletter 53
15/04/12
Lethal injection or Freedom

Newsletters 52
04/04/12
The anatomy of an aggressive tiger

Newsletters 51
14/02/12
Majestic, breathtaking pictures

Newsletters 50
04/11/11
Tigress Calendar

Newsletters 49
19/11/11

Let your pictures do the talking

Newsletters 48
26/09/11

Rhino Wars

Newsletters 47
06/09/11
A Letter to the President

Newsletters 46
08/08/11
The Body Parts Scam

Newsletters 45
11/07/11
Tiger Subspecies

Newsletters 43
01/05/11
Your future and the Tiger

Newsletter 42
08/05/11
Talk to Me

Newsletter 41
26/01/11
Gaian Reminder

Newsletter 40
18/11/10
Ron's Journey

Newsletter 39
20/10/10
"Descreprimate"

Newsletter 38
06/09/10
Beauty comes at a price

Newsletter 37
18/08/10

The Light Has Gone Out


Newsletter 36
08/07/10
The Beautiful Game

Newsletter 35
05/07/10
The Ethics of
Tiger Green Hunting

Newsletter 34
21/06/10
Tiger Hunt

Newsletter 33
26/05/10
The Year of the Tiger

Newsletter 32
11/02/10

Riding the Tiger


Newsletter 31
24/01/10

Runti's Journey


Newsletter 30
12/01/10

To intervene or not to intervene -
that is the question...

Newsletter 29
07/12/09

Lion - Tiger - Human Communication


Newsletter 28
12/11/09

Emotional humans, emotional cats


Newsletter 27
03/11/09

Julie gives birth to 5 tiger cubs


Newsletter 26
24/09/09

International Tiger Day


Newsletter 25
17/08/09

To all Photographers


Newsletter 24
16/07/09

A Shot in Anger


Newsletter 22
24/04/09


Newsletter 21
24/03/09


Newsletter 19
14/01/09

Tiger Birth
at Tiger Canyons


Newsletter 16
10/10/08

Tiger Courting


Newsletter 11
29/01/08

Privatizing the Tiger


Newsletter 9
27/10/07

Newsletter 8
28/09/07

Newsletter 7
14/09/07

Water Cats


Newsletter 6
14/08/07

Tiger Intelligence


Newsletter 5
16/05/07

Tiger language
Tiger Boma


Newsletter 3
09/03/07

Interspecies communication


Newsletter 2
06/02/07

Cub relocation


Londolozi
Newsletters

Death of a Legend
17/08/09


Newsletter 20
10/02/09

Newsletter 15
17/08/08

Painted Wolves


Newsletter 13
11/04/08

Response to Elephant Trust
by Daryl Balfour


Newsletter 12
09/04/08

Elephant Trust