How This Camera Car Captured The Perfect Tiger Close-Up

It took intimate pictures of big cats—until a curious female got too close.

Every photographer has a dream shot. For Steve Winter, that shot was a tiger’s face seen from below. The challenge, says Winter—who has long covered big cats and other wildlife for National Geographic—was getting that perspective in a way that didn’t end with his own face inside the animal’s mouth.

Enter this apparatus, a camera mounted on a four-wheel, remote-controlled vehicle. The “camera car” had been built by National Geographic engineers but never used. Winter saw its potential to capture that looking-upward view and asked if he could take it to India for a project on tiger conservation.

Photographer Steve Winter tries out a unique gizmo to get an in-your-face view of tigers.

In Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh, India, male tigers ran from the camera car, but this one paused long enough to be photographed.
PHOTOGRAPH BY STEVE WINTER

In the field, the contraption didn’t last long. Though male tigers “ran away” from it, Winter says, a curious female batted it with her enormous paw. That probably did the camera in—but not before it caught the shot Winter was after.

 

Lead Image: Steve Winter took this custom-made camera car on assignment to document tigers in a new way.
PHOTOGRAPH BY MARK THIESSEN

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