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Bharatpur Wildlife Filmmaking Masterclass

You walk a path that winds pristinely through marshy vegetation. The curtain of mist rises slowly off a huge flock of greylag geese as you approach a large lake. Golden sun-rays filter through from the horizon, lending an ethereal glow to the scene.

In this natural theatre, this Masterclass will help you uncage the filmmaker in you, and open your mind’s wings to seed the skies with your moving stories. Because as powerful a medium as photography is, there are things only a film can say.

Masterclass Highlights

  • A three-night/four-day field workshop that’s perfect for getting started in filmmaking, by professional and awarded filmmaker, Prakash Matada
  • Overview of DSLR and mirrorless cameras, settings, profiles and shooting configurations
  • Everything about stabilisation using tripods, sliders and gimbals with hands-on training
  • Approaching wildlife, understanding wildlife and anticipating action
  • Shooting effective sequences for a story
  • Cinematography crash-course including how to compose, shoot for the edit and break down a scene into shots
  • Optimising audio setups for recording interviews and atmospheric sound in the field
  • Editing with professional free-software, ‘Da Vinci Resolve’, and how to construct an effective pictorial story

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Upcoming Departures

17-20 FEB 2019
Prakash Matada

Video opportunities maximised

Led by ace filmmakers

Immense experience

Hands-on assistance on and off the field

Video reviews and presentations

Photography gear on rent

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How Is It?

One of the world’s best bird areas and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

To the nature lover, winter is synonymous with misty horizons, frost-capped grass-flowers and…birds. Hundreds of them. Some foreign, some local; some big and many small; but all of them fascinating to watch and photograph. And synonymous with birds in the winter is a small swampy paradise called Keoladeo Ghana National Park.

Made by man and replenished by Nature, this centrepiece of the little town of Bharatpur is the result of a bund constructed 250 years ago. Subsequently its rich and eventful history witnessed large-scale hunting by the maharajas and the visiting viceroys. But upon the establishment as a national park in 1982, the sanctuary, named after the Shiva temple at the midst of its network of swamps, received the protection it much deserved and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.

At its best, the variety, density and the sheer number of birds on show here will rival the world’s biggest fair of any kind, and the beauty and scale of its bird life will leave even a great orator hopelessly spellbound.

What You Will See and Film:

Bar-headed geese, gadwalls, shovelers, grebes, and ducks among many other birds.

When Sir Peter Scott described Keoladeo Ghana as “the world’s best bird area” he wasn’t given to hyperbole. For such are the treats in store here that it’s hard to think of a place that is more rewarding to the seeker of winged wanderers.

A wader’s paradise, Bharatpur lets its feathered guests have a field day, and its long list of winter-meet attendees features the bar-headed goose, gadwall, shoveler, grebes, and ducks, including the comb duck and the lesser whistling duck, which are in large numbers.

Northern pintails and greylag geese roost in the thousands while marsh harriers prowl the air looking to eat one of them. In the quest for fish, kingfishers perch patiently on a branch near water, black-necked storks walk through it hoping to stun one, and Oriental darters snake in and out trying to scoop one out.

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The list of hooting callers features the brown hawk owl, collared scops owl and dusky eagle owl, and to photograph the spotted owlet, hardly a better place can be conceived, as they welcome the rising sun . Steppe, tawny, greater and lesser spotted and crested serpent eagles constitute the distinguished raptors, while so do the black-shouldered kite, shikra, white-eyed buzzard and Oriental honey buzzard among others.

Storks are aplenty, and come in the open-billed, painted, black- and woolly-necked format, while herons are purple and grey, and ibises are black and glossy. Greenshanks, stilts, sandpipers and jacanas hang out at the waterfront along with common coot and common moorhen, white-eared bulbuls adorn the bushes, and yellow-footed green pigeon and Eurasian wryneck decorate the trees.

Coppersmith barbets are not averse to approach, common hoopoes pose delightfully with erect crests, and white-breasted waterhen can often be shot with a wide-angle lens!

The smaller birds are not left behind either. European and Indian rollers abound, while Indian nightjars perch still on discreet branches, white-browed and red-throated flycatchers show themselves endearingly, and citrine wagtails, bluethroats and brown shrikes entice with their eponymous colours.

But saying that Bharatpur is all about birds is like claiming that the Himalayas are all about snow-clad hills. Never short of surprises, a day’s walk in the Ghana can yield cherished sights of jungle cat. Besides, jackal and Bengal monitor lizard encounters are exceedingly common, nilgai (blue bull) are commonly seen, and the park is one of the best places in the world to photograph the Indian rock python.

Tour Itinerary

Please note: This Masterclass begins at Bharatpur at around lunchtime on 17 February 2019, Sunday, and ends at Bharatpur after breakfast on 20 February, Wednesday. Road transfers between Delhi or Jaipur and Bharatpur will be arranged in shared cabs at extra actual cost. Please talk to us for special needs.

17 February 2019, Sunday

Tour participants assemble in Delhi or Jaipur as per their preference (we recommend Jaipur), and at around 09:00 a.m., we leave for Bharatpur, completing the journey and checking in to our hotel for a lunch.

After mutual introduction and a quick briefing by the Skipper about the park, we make our first foray into it, familiarizing ourselves with the terrain and enjoying our maiden exploration of it. We return to the resort after a fulfilling introduction to the park and spend the rest of the evening discussing the basics of filmmaking. A scrumptious dinner precedes retirement for the day.

18 February, Monday

Before sunrise, our cycle rickshaw drivers are waiting for us at the lodge and we’re taken to the park when we’re ready. The Mentor will introduce the group to the various equipment and support systems used in filming and how best to employ them to make great films.

In the winter the light is excellent nearly throughout the day, with the quality of photography opportunities peaking at dawn and dusk, so by midday we start taking videos to support the story we have in mind.

Exiting the park after sunset, we return to the lodge and after a refreshing round of tea, gather for a discussion. The Mentor will review the day’s work and make a presentation on some artistic aspects of filmmaking.

After a productive day full of fun and learning, we dine and retire for the night.

19 February, Tuesday

This is a critical day on which the Mentor will help give shape to your story by making videos coherent with your vision and really stringing together all the various perspectives needed to put your film together. By the end of the day you have enough high-quality material to edit.

In the evening, you will learn all about editing your film using DaVinci Resolve, before dining and hitting the sack.

20 February, Wednesday

You spend this morning editing your film from what you learned the previous evening, and giving it final shape. The Mentor’s review and comments will follow, where everybody will get to learn from each other’s triumphs and mistakes. It’s always exciting to show that you crafted through the Masterclass and present your baby, as it were, for all to see. Following this culminating session, we check out of our lodge and drive to our airport of choice ready to change the world with our films.

Cost & Terms


INR 39,000
  • Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation


INR 76,000
  • Per Couple on Twin Share Accommodation

Toehold Patrons

INR 37,500
  • Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation

All prices above are excluding taxes. 5% GST would be applicable.

Toehold Patrons: Customers who have participated in at least three previous Toehold Photo Tours.

What’s Included?

  • Twin-sharing accommodation in comfortable rooms unless single occupancy purchased at extra cost
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and hot beverages (coffee and tea) for Tour duration
  • All rickshaw rides and entry fees

What’s Not Included?

  • Travel between your home and Bharatpur, including airfare and transfers between Delhi or Jaipur and Bharatpur
  • Any kind of personal expenses or optional tours, and extra meals ordered
  • Insurance, laundry and phone calls
  • Bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
  • Camera fees if any (participants will be advised of the estimated fees in advance)
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Anything that is not included in the inclusions list
  • All applicable taxes

Payment Terms

  • 100% of the Tour fee as booking amount

Cancellation Fees

  • 100% of the Tour fee upon cancellation

Please note: The date of written (email) communication of intent to cancel is the date considered for calculation of the cancellation fees.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should participate in this Masterclass? Are there any eligibility criteria?

Anybody interested in birds, wildlife and/or filmmaking and is above the age of 18 (unless accompanied by an adult) can participate in this Masterclass. There are no eligibility criteria.

I have absolutely no filming experience. Is this Masterclass useful?

Absolutely! This Masterclass is designed for complete beginners in filmmaking, and doesn’t need any experience.

What sort of camera should I have to do this Masterclass?

You can bring any camera you have as long as it has video shooting capability, including of course DSLRs. The purpose of this Masterclass is to help you make great films with whatever camera you have, so anything is welcome. Of course the Mentor will be exposing you to professional gear during the Masterclass so you’re aware of what delivers best results.

Why aren't onward and return journeys included in the Tour itinerary?

Since participants of our Tours converge from various parts of the country – and sometimes even abroad – it works best to originate Tours from the destination itself. However, we provide all requisite assistance with onward and return logistics at extra actual cost to ensure your transit is smooth.

How sure are you about filming birds on this Tour?

Considering the meticulous attention to timing we pay while scheduling Tours and the local expertise we leverage, we believe that it would be extremely unfortunate if our sightings and filming were unsatisfactory. However, since we will be in an uncontrolled environment, we do not claim that sightings – especially of specific species – are guaranteed.

By what mode will filming be done on this Tour?

Motorized transport is prohibited inside the national park. We will be using chauffeured cycle rickshaws to get around, and much of the filming will be done on foot.

What do I do if I do not have the requisite equipment?

If you do not have appropriate equipment, there is no need to fret. Toehold offers an exhaustive array of cameras and lenses for hire, so you can always hire what you need. Visit our Rental Store to see what we offer. What’s better, you enjoy a 10% discount on all equipment hired for our Photo Tours!

Reviews by Tour Participants

Interested? Make a Booking Enquiry

It’s easy. Call us on 1800 1200 901 (Monday to Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m.) or simply fill this form, and we’ll get back to you like the whirring wind.

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