Archive for photography workshop

Bush Warriors Wildlife Photography Workshop: Hope for the Future!

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

Only two weeks left in 2010!  It really is amazing how quickly time goes by.

With this, the last photography post for the year, I wanted to look back at the past year and also start looking ahead to 2011.  This year saw the Bush Warriors Photo of the Day grow in leaps and bounds and it has been amazing to follow along and see all the images that people have uploaded.

Image © Gerry van der Walt

Apart from the obvious visual beauty of the wildlife and nature image there is a larger issue that we need to be aware of and, if at all possible, hold on to and grow even more in future.

Every time anybody shares an image of animals in the wild they are creating an awareness.

Every time anybody shares an image of a natural landscape they are showcasing the beauty of our natural world.

Image © Gerry van der Walt

The reality is, and this is looking past the atrocious rhino massacre we have seen during the last year, that the animals and places we photograph and share might not be there for ever.  Human greed is unfortunately destroying our natural heritage and, if we do not do anything about it, the only thing we will have left one day are the images of a lost world.  A place we used to visit.

Now, go and take a look at some of the images that have been uploaded to the Bush Warriors Photo of the Day contest.  These images show the natural world we all love.  It shows that there are many, many people out there that care enough about nature that they create images of its subjects and landscapes.  These images, and all the other ones we share in books, magazines, and on the internet will stand the test of time!

Image © Gerry van der Walt

So, looking back at 2010 I would like to applaud all of you who have taken the time to not only photograph nature but, and this is almost more important, share those images.  After all, why create photographs if you are not going to share them with people.  Whether you intend it or not, you are helping to create a visual celebration of the fragile beauty that is nature.

Since we are almost at the end of the year, and most of you are on holiday, here is a list of wildlife photographers who share their work on a regular basis and serve as amazing ambassadors for wildlife photography.  Check out their work for inspiration or just to marvel at the beauty of nature!

Andy Biggs
David Lloyd
Etienne Oosthuizen
Grant Marcus
Greg du Toit
Morkel Erasmus
Shem Compion
Wynand van Wyk

Image © Gerry van der Walt

What does next year hold for wildlife photogrpahy?

Who knows. What we can be sure of that many people, like the photographers mentioned above, will keep on pushing the boundaries.  They will keep on producing images that inspire and make us all want to grab our cameras and head out into the wild places of the world.

Image © Gerry van der Walt

I also believe that photographic safaris will keep on growing in popularity.  These safaris give you the opportunity to, not only shoot alongside a professional wildlife photographer, but to go to the most amazing destinations, while being presented with the best photo opportunities anywhere.  To that end, next year will see a few interesting partnerships take place so make sure to watch this space!  What?  Did someone say Bush Warriors Photo Safaris?  Like I said, watch this space!

Image © Gerry van der Walt

On that note I am going to say goodbye and wish you all the very best for the holidays!

This festive season I wish you the tenderness of the past, courage for the present, and hope for the future!

See you all in 2011 and rememeber to keep those shutters clicking!

Gerry van der Walt

Click here to see ALL of our Bush Warriors Wildlife Photography Workshops!

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Wildlife Photography Workshop: Slow It Down

Posted in Wildlife Photography Workshop with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2010 by photoafrica

If you follow my blog, you will have seen this image.

Motion Blur Zebra © Gerry van der Walt

(Nikon D300, Nikon 80-400 @ 320mm, 1/5 sec, f/11, ISO 320)

I have had quite a few requests, from people wanting to try this techinque, asking… How?

So here goes…

First off, in order to get a sharp image you need to make sure that your shutter speed is as least 1/your focal length.  This means that at  focal length (zoom) of 50mm you should have a shutter speed of at least 1/50 sec and at a focal length of 200 you should have a shutter speed of at least 1/200 sec.

Got it?  Good.

Now in order to create motion blur images, like the one above, you need to break that rule and select a shutter speed that is way slower than you would normally use.  As a guideline, you can start with a shutter speed of 1/10 and then slow it down from there if necessary.

With shots like this, your aperture is not important as your background, which will normally be affected by the aperture, is going to be blurred anyway.

Now, once you have your slow shutter speed you are ready to start.  The idea, and ultimate goal, is to focus on your moving subject, click the shutter and follow along with their movement.  Objects moving from one side to the other in front of you will give you the best results.

To get the image above I had to give it a few goes, as I never quite got the zebra’s head sharp.  By doing this you will give your viewer a starting point in the image, as our eyes will always start on the sharpest point, and then the motion blur will tell the story of your moving subject.

The slower your shutter speed the more dramatic your background will be but the more difficult it is to get the subject’s head (and shoulders) in focus.

Go and give it a bash this weekend!  Motion blur images are great fun and will add a whole new dimension to your low light photography.  Then, when you are done, add a few of then to the Bush Warriors Photo of the Day site to share with all of us!

If you have any questions please leave a comment on this post and I will get back to you!

See you next week!

Gerry van der Walt

Photo-Africa

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Wildlife Photography Workshop: Show the Beauty

Posted in Wildlife Photography Workshop with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2010 by photoafrica

If you look around bookstores and the internet, you are bound to find quite a bit of black and white wildlife photography.

It’s easy to see why.

By removing color from an image, especially with a wild subject, we cut through all the emotion and distractions.  You see a world of textures and shapes.  You see the real subject.

Black and white photography also brings with it a sense of the past.  A sense of nostalgia.  It reminds us of a bygone era or, if things keep going like it is, a species that we used to see in the wild places of Africa.

Black Rhino © Gerry van der Walt

As of 14 November 2010, 285 of these amazing animals have been poached in South Africa this year.

That means that one rhino gets killed every 27.5 hours.

One rhino… every 27.5 hours!

White Rhino © Gerry van der Walt

As wildlife photographers, I feel it is our duty and privilege to photograph these amazing animals, not only to show the beauty of these ancient-looking members of Africa’s Big 5, but also to raise awareness.  We must show the beauty that is being destroyed all around us.  Our images might soon be all that is left of an amazing animal.

For me, black and white images show the real subject and brings emotion.  It shows what we have now.  Let’s try, and hope, that we can keep it that way.

White Rhino © Gerry van der Walt

If you have any images of rhino why not share them on the Bush Warriors Photo of the Day facebook page.

Let’s show the beauty of the animal, the beauty of nature.  Let’s show the fragile nature of an animal we will hopefully see in the wild places of Africa for a long time to come!

Yeah, not our normal wildlife photography post but I have just returned to the Madikwe Game Reserve where I manage a lodge and the reality of the rhino poaching hits home hard after being away for a few weeks.

Share your images.  Show the beauty!

I’ll be back next week with a, hopefully, more upbeat post!

Gerry van der Walt

Photo-Africa

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Wildlife Photography Workshop: Go Wide

Posted in Wildlife Photography Workshop with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2010 by photoafrica

What piece of photo equipment do you think of when someone mentions wildlife photography?

Yeah, a weapon sized telephoto zoom lens.

If you own one of theses lenses, with a focal length of more than 300mm, you will know that you can create some amazing wildlife images  by bringing your subject closer but, and this is a very big but, it can make you lazy.

The reality is that with a big zoom lens composing your images can be a lot easier because it  becomes easy to remove distracting elements of your images.  Look at the example below.

Image by Gerry van der Walt - Springbok

By using a focal length of 500mm I was able to get nice and ‘close’ to the Springbok and remove an distracting elements.  There is no doubt as to what I want my viewer to look at.

This is all fine and well but to really tell a story with your images you need to put your subject in it’s natural environment by using a wider angle.  The image below was taken a little earlier when the Springbok was looking for some shade under the lonely tree.

Image by Gerry van der Walt - Springbok

Also a great image but it shows a lot more of the environment.

The bottom line?

Falling into a run and always using the same lens will not help you improve as a photographer.  You need to keep mixing things up to keep growing and getting better!

Don’t be lazy.  Don’t always zoom in and use your big lenses.

Grab that wide angle lens, include the landscape and environment in your images and create different wildlife images.

When you next head out in to the field try different things.  Try different compositions.  Keep on looking for different angles and then upload your results to the Bush Warriors Photo of the Day Contest.

See you next week.

Gerry van der Walt

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Wildlife Photography Workshop: Be Ready for the Moments

Posted in Wildlife Photography Workshop with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2010 by photoafrica

I am sure you have paged through a photography magazine, looking at the work of some or other professional wildlife photography and thought to yourself , ‘How did he get that shot?’

The answer is actually quite simple:  you have to be ready – always.

In nature things can happen very quickly and sometimes you can consider yourself lucky to see a certain animal or behavior, nevermind actually photographing it.  In order to photograph these moments you have to be ready.  When the action goes down you cannot be struggling with your settings or changing lenses.  The moment will be gone.

Check out a few of these examples.

Image © Gerry van der Walt - Elephant Drinking

A moment like this generally lasts quite a while.  The elephant will drink, stand around, perhaps splash a bit of water around, but generally he’ll be there for a while.  In situations like this, you will have the time to play with your equipment and settings.  Photograph, experiment, and enjoy.

Image © Gerry van der Walt - Diving Kingfisher

An image like this is most definitely a moment, but you can normally predict when to click the shutter.  When a kingfisher is busy diving, he will do so very regularly.  So, if you have the patience to sit and wait, you stand a very good chance of getting the shot.  Yeah, yeah, your equipment and settings do play a par,t but we’ll look at that in a little while.

Image © Gerry van der Walt - Elephant versus Buffalo

As with the kingfisher image above, a scene like this has the potential to produce a photographic moment.  Young elephants tend to be quite possessive of whatever waterhole they find themselves at, so when the herd of buffalo started arriving, I knew there might be something special coming up.  I did not have to wait too long as the young ellie took exception to the buffalo wanting to drink ‘his’ water, and proceeded to chase them all over the place.  Great moment, especially with the dust in the background.

And then you get moments like this.

Unplanned.

Unexpected.

Awesome.

Image © Gerry van der Walt - Charging Lioness

We were sitting watching a pride of lions, including three very young cubs, as the played around in the early morning light.  They started crossing the road in front of us, and suddenly, out of nowhere, this lioness gave us a mock charge.  Impressive stuff, very impressive.  As this happened, I clicked the shutter and captured this moment.  As we arrived at the lion sighting, I checked light and dialed in the settings.  I was hoping for a nice close up portrait of the lioness as she crossed, so I was ready.  Not quite ready for what happened, but photographically, I was ready to click the shutter.

There is so much that can happen out there that it is almost impossible to be ready for everything.  You can, however, put yourself up with a good chance of capturing some amazing moments by having your equipment on ‘standby’ mode.  Every morning before heading out into the field I check all my cameras and place them in ‘standby’ mode.  This is what the basic of my standby mode looks like:

– Camera Mode:  Aperture Priority
– Aperture:  f/8
– ISO:  400

These setting allow me to pretty much grab my camera and fire away.  Depending on my subject, and what I want to do with an image, I can change my aperture up or down with the simple turn of a dial.  It takes a few seconds to get your camera ready before you head out, but when you capture that moment, it is most definitely worth it!

I’ll leave you with one more moment.

Image © Gerry van der Walt - Wildebeest Sunset

This moment was one I had to wait for.  I liked the look and feel of the scene, but I had to wait for the wildebeest to walk into the right position before clicking the shutter.  Patience!

If you have some moments that you have captured, why not take a few moments and upload them to the Bush Warriors Photo of the Day Contest.  Share your moments!

I’ll see you all next week!

Gerry van der Walt

Photo-Africa     Workshops & Photo Safaris

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Wildlife Photography Workshop: Check Your LCD

Posted in Wildlife Photography Workshop with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2010 by photoafrica

What is the best thing about digital cameras?

Easy answer – the LCD screen!

No, really.  The ability to see the image you just created is something that not enough people use.  I am not even referring to the histogram, which we will cover in future posts, but just the ability to see the image.

Look at the following example.

Image © Gerry van der Walt

Not a bad image.

Nice detail.

Interesting light.

But something is missing…

Image © Gerry van der Walt

The tongue!

It makes the image pop and come alive.  It gives a slightly flat image a more dynamic feeling.

It might be a very small thing but when you start taking your photography serious you will find that it is the small details that can make the difference between a good and a great image.

The above two images are a part of a series of about 8 images I shot specifically with the intention of including the tongue in the image.  I knew from experience that including the tongue of a drinking animal lifts the image to the next level, so after every couple of frames I would check the LCD screen to see if I nailed the shot.

In the days when we were still shooting film this was impossible and you would have to wait to see if you captured the moment.  That precise moment.

Here is another example.

Image © Gerry van der Walt

Image © Gerry van der Walt

The bottom image is the shot I wanted, even though I would have liked the big guy to open his eyes a little more.

The top image was the result of me just aiming and shooting.  I was convinced that the lion’s eyes were open when I clicked the shutter but when I checked my LCD I saw that he closed them at that precise moment.  It’s amazing how often wildlife subjects subjects seem to do that! 🙂

So, what is the bottom line?

Always check your LCD screen before deciding whether you have your shot.  Just because of that, digital rocks!

I’m off to Bangkok for a few days, but I’ll be back again next week!

Get out there, photograph wildlife, check your LCD and then post your images to the Bush Warriors Photo of the Day contest.

See ya next week.

Gerry van der Walt

Photo-Africa

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Bush Warriors Wildlife Photography Workshop: A Story in Three Parts

Posted in Wildlife Photography Workshop with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2010 by photoafrica

Watching other people’s home movies and pictures from their holiday can, at times, be quite an ordeal.

The same can be said for looking at other people’s images from a recent safari.

Image © Gerry van der Walt

An image like this might remind you of the amazing leopard sighting you had when you were in the bush, but… your friends and family might not share your enthusiasm for this amazing sighting if the image does not really convey the spectacle you witnessed.

So what can you do?

Since wildlife photography is about telling a story, do it in threes.

By doing this, and presenting your work in threes, you will be able to much better share the beauty of the amazing sightings you had when you were out in the wild.  This will also help your family follow the stories you have to tell about your amazing adventures in Africa, or elsewhere.

So how does it work?

For every sighting try and take three images.  These images will, step by step, get your viewer closer to the subject and allow you to tell a more complete story.

The first image should set the scene and place the subject in it’s natural environment.

The second image should be the ‘main course’ and the image you actually want to show.

The last image is there to show a little bit of detail as you end your story.

Make sense?  Here is my story.

On a partly overcast morning, we were following a lioness through the bush.  It seemed as if she was looking for something.  As the sun broke through the clouds, she ended up in a thicket where she proceeded to look around some more, before settling in to sleep the day away.  Every now and then she would lift her head to look around, all the time breathing quite heavily, as by now the clouds had disappeared and the summer heat was setting in.

Now, there is no way I can show all of that in one image while I tell the story to all the family members I have forced to sit down in the lounge and ‘appreciate’ my images.

The answer?  Tell your story in three!

Image © Gerry van der Walt

Image © Gerry van der Walt

Image © Gerry van der Walt

If you are heading out into nature this weekend, look for stories.  Shoot them in threes.  Show them to your friends and remember to also upload a few to the Bush Warriors Photo of the Day Contest!

See you next week!

Gerry van der Walt

Photo-Africa

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