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Bush Warriors Wildlife Photography Workshop: Don’t Cut It Off

Posted in Wildlife Photography Workshop with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2010 by photoafrica

Last week, we started looking at some basic compositional guidelines which will help you to improve your wildlife photography.

Picking up from there, today we going to have a look at one of the most common mistakes people make when photographing wild subjects.  Whether it is due to the excitement of the moment or they just do not know better, many people cut pieces off their subjects.

Sounds strange yeah?

Let me use examples to explain a little better.  Have a look at the following image.

Image by Gerry van der Walt

Not a bad lion image but there is one big distraction.  Whether you know it or not, your mind will always pick up on it.

See it?

Yeah, the foot has been cut off.  Now compare it to the following version of the same image.

Image by Gerry van der Walt

Much better hey?  You get the full picture.

Here is another example.

Image by Gerry van der Walt

Nice sighting.  Great light.  Workable background.

If only the elephant’s feet were not cut off.

The only way in which you can rectify this common mistake is to take note of it when you are looking at your subject through the viewfinder.  If possible, always rather leave a little bit of extra room around your subject to make sure that you get the full picture.  If necessary you can always crop off the empty space afterwards.

Having said all of that, there are most definitely times when you can, and will, cut some of your subject off.  During these times you should try and cut them off at one of the major joints. The knee, the middle or the neck.  In both examples above, the subject was cut off in between major joints leaving it looking a bit strange.  A little distracting.

By cutting your subject off at some of the major joints you can create striking, powerful wildlife images.

Image by Gerry van der Walt

By cutting off this elephant at his middle, I have created an image where there is no distracting elements (such as half a foot or knee) and there is no doubt as to where I want my viewer to focus.

Here is one more example.

Image by Gerry van der Walt

I chose to cut this young lion on the neck.  By doing this I kept the focus on the youngsters face and eliminated any distracting elements.  Also, going back to last week’s post, there is lots of empty space for the cub to look into.

By getting into a habit of checking your composition just before clicking the shutter you can markably improve your images, all of these posts, and others you find on the internet, is purely intended as guidelines.  That’s the great thing about photography!

Go out there and enjoy!

See you next week.

Gerry van der Walt

Photo-Africa

 

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Wildlife Photography Workshop: Eye Contact

Posted in Wildlife Photography Workshop with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2010 by photoafrica

Welcome to the first edition of  Bush Warriors Wildlife Photography Workshop.

Apart from sharing images which will, hopefully, create an awareness of Africa’s natural heritage, this weekly post will also give you short tips, tricks and some inspiration that you can use to better your own wildlife images.

At the best of time, wildlife photography requires quite a bit of luck but by focusing on some basic, and other not so basic, techniques you  can be sure that when you are faced with a potentially great wildlife image you will be ready to capture the beauty that is Africa.

To kick things off, this week the focus is on eye contact.

I am not referring to catchlight, the little specular highlights in an animals eyes which make the image come alive, but rather direct eye contact from your subject.  Don’t ignore catchlight though!  It is one of the most powerful tools you have when creating wildlife images but for now let’s look at direct eye contact.

Take the following image for example.

Eye Contact - Image by Gerry van der Walt

A big male lion walking directly towards us.

Beautiful animal?  Absolutely.

Dangerous?  Sure.

But can you feel that in the image?  Nah, doubt it.

Now take this image, taken of the same animal a few seconds before.

Eye Contact - Image by Gerry van der Walt

Quite a different feel to this one.

The difference that eye contact makes to a wildlife image , especially if your subject is one of the more dangerous species, is invaluable.

So, what is the lesson in all of this?

Well, in order to capture that magical eye contact you might need to wait for your subject.

Patience!

When you look at the work of professional wildlife photographers rememeber that they did not just arrive at a sighting, click the shutter to create an award winning image and move on.  It takes patience to create striking wildlife images with eye contact and, if you are lucky, some catchlight.

And, as a bonus, you will get to enjoy nature at the same time!

Until next week!

Gerry van der Walt

Photo-Africa