Behind The Shot: Peanut Thief

Jaipur, India
Peanut Thief By Sabrina Koehler—Jaipur, India

Photo By Sabrina Koehler

Originally, my friends and I went to India for a wedding. One of our colleagues got married and we were happy to be part of this chapter of his life. Coming all the way, of course, we decided to travel around and have a closer look at this beautiful country of his.

First, our way took us from Thiruvananthapuram, in the South-West, to Madurai, crossing the mountains in Munnar, a beautiful place with green tea plantations. From there we worked our way up to Mumbai and Deli, our supposedly final destination.

Since we heard so much about the beauty of the “Pink City,” and because it lay on our route from Mumbai to Deli, we stopped there for a night. Jaipur has the name “Pink City” because of the color of the stone used for the construction of all buildings in the city. In 1876, the Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria visited India on a tour. Since pink denotes the color of hospitality, Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur painted the whole city pink in color to welcome the guests. The tradition has been followed ever since by the residents who are now, by law, compelled to maintain the pink color.

Exploring the city, we found the usual chaotic bustling activity of an Indian city, with exotic smells of delicious food in the streets, oxcarts intermingled with cars, motorbikes and pedestrians on the roads, and the occasional cow roaming around looking for food. And we found another attraction that Jaipur is famous for—large gangs of rhesus macaques.

First, we didn’t notice that we were being followed, but after a while, we realized that a small family of monkeys tracked us down through the city, drawn by the bag of peanuts we just bought on the street. We started to throw them some nuts, and they were delighted and eager to eat them. After a while, I discovered the youngest member of the family waiting in a safe place, too shy to come down. That’s when I took out my camera to take a picture, trying to lure him out a little more with the nuts we bought. Surprisingly, not the nuts but my camera seemed to pique his curiosity, and he started to climb down from his hiding place. He never so much as blinked an eye, and his view locked focus on the camera and me all the while.

This is the reason why I love photography—especially wildlife photography. Taking pictures of landscapes you can take your sweet time trying to figure out the right settings and wait for the perfect lighting to get the perfect shot. With animals, you never know what will happen and from my experience, the shots you were not anticipating are usually the ones you’ll like most in your collection. For me, that’s how it is with this shot. I aimed for a picture of this little rhesus macaque sitting in perfect fashion on top of his hiding place, shyly looking down at the peanuts and us. Instead, I got this shot of him climbing down, looking straight into my lens—almost self-confident.

Equipment and Settings: Nikon D5100, Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6, handheld at 270mm f/5.6, 1/800 sec., ISO 500

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