Bears fighting at Safari World in Bangkok Thailand

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/250th  120mm  ISO 100


Successful photography has as much to do about being in the right place at the right time as anything else.  If you're not out there with a camera in your hands how do you expect to get great images?

Last week I felt like relaxing a bit so I call up Stick on the red phone I keep just for such occasions to see if he was up for a drive through Safari World.  There's something about this oasis of tranquility in the middle of busy Bangkok that appeals to me and keeps me coming back.  The next morning we fortify ourselves with some breakfast sandwiches from the corner McDonald's and head on across town to Safari World.  Arriving before 10am we're sure to get the good seats.

On this trip I arm Stick with the 300mm F2.8L IS and he couples it to his Canon 5d Mark II with a big smile on his face.  I selected the 70-200mm F2.8L IS because I want to do a series showing the readers what quality of images they can expect from a more common and much less expensive lens.  Safari hats in place we set out on our trek.  Well, it's really a drive, the last guy to try trekking through the tiger area didn't fare too well.

Mostly it was just another average day at Safari World.  Some new migratory bird species were visiting, others had left, and everything seemed ordinary.  In the tiger and lion pen where I've never been given so much as a yellow warning flag, all of a sudden I've caught their attention and they're showing me the big yellow and threatening to red flag me!  It must have been because I pulled up just a meter or two from the tigers (Stick's side of the truck, not my side...).  We backed off a bit and observed.

Most just drive through really quickly and if the tigers aren't up on the stage doing a hula dance and live show when they arrive they just keep going.  While I was explaining to Stick that with wildlife, even at Safari World, you will often be rewarded for your patience.. all of a sudden we both hear a loud ROOOAAARRR and we're both twisting our necks trying to figure out from where.  As luck would have it the action was outside my window.  A tiger had caught a big sea bird and the other tigers wanted to share.  A few seconds later the main skirmish is over and we move on to the bear area.


Bengal Tigers at Safari World fight over an unfortunate stork

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/500th  200mm  ISO 100


The bear area is usually a dud.  Bears tend to sleep and not move much this time of day and when they do move they're usually playing, but being lazy "playing" means they waddle for 10 feet and are soon snoozing again.  They remind me of overweight rich kids.  Regardless we stop a few times for the obligatory bear images.  All of a sudden (for the second time in 30 minutes) we hear this insanely loud ROOOAAARRR, almost a scream, and we're once again twisting around looking for the source.  And again it was right outside my window.. :)

This weeks feature photograph is significant because it very much illustrates the reward for patience.  Its also important to note the fight was over in just a few seconds and it was an exciting fight and I made approximately 20 captures which I'll share at a later time.  The important thing to take from this is that I only had time to stick my camera out the window and push the shutter release.  The camera did the exposure and focusing for me, so the shots aren't "studio quality", but they are decent nonetheless.  Always have your camera ready, as you enter an area make whatever settings adjustment you think you might need if an opportunity arises.  That way if an opportunity does present itself you'll be prepared.


Siberian Bear relaxing at Safari World, Bangkok Thailand

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/80th  ISO 100


Usually all you expect is a sleeping bear.  Occasionally they'll play.  But we were ready and were able to get 20-25 shots of fighting bears and another 20 of fighting tigers.  How cool is that!  Plus, we had a great outing between friends and that's what photography is all about.  Having a great time while collecting great images as memories.


Wounds suffered during a bear fight at Safari World Bangkok Thailand

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/60th  200mm  ISO 100


I know there's always some skeptics out there.  The above shot is for you.  I managed to get this out of focused shot before they disappeared to lick their wounds and it shows gaping open wounds.  You'll understand more when I show you the entire sequence.  Look for it!