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Bush Warriors Wildlife Photography Workshop: You Have To Work It!

Posted in Wildlife Photography Workshop with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2011 by photoafrica

You have to work every sighting that you get!  That’s how you are going to get memorable, striking wildlife images.

All too often, I see people on safari aim their camera at a subject, take a few shots, and move one.  Afterwards they always complain that the resulting images are not what they hoped for.

The remedy, and I’ll say it again, is that you have to work each sighting !

Never stop looking for different angles, facial expressions, light.  Wildlife can, and normally will, be quite unpredictable and therein lies both the challenge and possibilities.

Unpredictable means you have to always be ready or you will miss the shot.  On the flip side, it can also mean that you have the opportunity to get different images of the same subject.  Nice!

Two days ago, on one of our photo safaris, we found a leopard next to the road.  Initially, he was quite comfortable in the long grass and we weren’t expecting too much. But then he started moving around and we started working the sighting!

Leopard - Image © Gerry van der Walt 2011

The start of our sighting…  A standard leopard image with the spotted cat moving through the grass.  We could have stopped here, but after getting the shot, there was a lot more photography to come!

 

Leopard - Image © Gerry van der Walt 2011

Crossing the road, the young male made for a great backlit image.

 

Leopard - Image © Gerry van der Walt 2011

An over-the-shoulder look makes for a great animal portrait!

 

Leopard - Image © Gerry van der Walt 2011

Even as the leopard walked away, we did not stop shooting!

 

Whatever your subject, always wait a while.  Check things out, watch the light change and the animal move around.   Try different lenses, try different aperture, try anything— as long as you work the sighting!  There are images everywhere, as long as you are willing to spend the time and work the sighting!

As I write this, I am sitting in the car on my way to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park for a bit of a working holiday.  Don’t you just love technology? Lots of photography and some good time with friends.

As always, keep sharing your images on the Bush Warriors Photo of the Day contest and remember…

You have to work it!

Until next time!

Gerry van der Walt

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

Gerry van der Walt

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Bush Warriors Wildlife Photography Workshop: You Can Photograph Wildlife in the Rain!

Posted in Wildlife Photography Workshop with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2011 by photoafrica

Let me start off by wishing you all the very best for the New Year.  I hope that you had an amazing festive season with family and friends and that you are ready to get 2011 underway!

Rain.

Normally not something associated with wildlife photography, but—and this is one of my own photographic goals for 2011—breaking out of your comfort zone is one of the best ways to move your photography into a new direction.

During the last few weeks, the Madikwe Game Reserve, where I am based, has been getting a huge amount of rain.  Instead of putting my camera gear away like I normally would do, I decided to go into the rain, clouds, and varying light conditions that can occur during an African rainstorm.  The results have been great, both from a image and mindset point of view.

It is so easy to get caught up in a rut and keep on photographing the same image over and over again, whether you realize it or not.  You have to make a choice to try something different and you have to not worry about the results.  Sounds strange right?  Not worry about the results?

It is when you head out into the wild, with no preconceived ideas of what you want shoot, that you will be free to shoot what catches your eye.  You can shoot what excites you!

Here are a few of the images I was able to shoot during the last few weeks.  I did not plan any of these shots.  I simply went out there, whether rain or shine, and photographed scenes that excited me.

Image © Gerry van der Walt

This young lion was very annoyed with all the rain and kept on shaking the water off him.  Seeing the pattern, we got ready, composed our images and waited.  As the youngster started shaking the shutters clicked like crazy.  The result?  An awesome action shot that I could never have planned for.

Image © Gerry van der Walt

Yeah, it’s a wildebeest.  When you go out into the wild you tend to see a lot of them.  The difference on this particular morning was the light.  The morning started off very overcast and dull, but as we sat watching some general game on an open plain, the clouds opened up for a few minutes.  They opened up just long enough for me to fire a few frames and this was the resulting image.   Plain and simple image of a very often overlooked subject but it’s all about the light.  Cloudy days can make for the most amazing wildlife photography.

Image © Gerry van der Walt

A vulture in a dead tree must be one of the most often shot silhouettes in the wild.  Is that a reason not to click the shutter again?  Absolutely not.   The dark clouds in the background made for a nice sombre atmosphere, to mimic the mood set by my subject.  Sometimes plain and simple is still great!

Image © Gerry van der Walt

Under normal circumstances I would never have even attempted to photograph this scene.  It was very far away and there was no major composition to speak of, but the weather changed everything.  We were sitting on a dam wall and the heavens opened up.  The rain came down so hard that we could barely even see the giraffes in the distance.  I pushed up the ISO to 3200 and used a beanbag to keep my camera still.  Click.  Success!  Normally, I would not even have thought about photographing this scene, but I’m glad I did.

After all of that I suppose you get the idea, but just in case, here are a few lessons that I took from my last few weeks and that could help to break you out of a photographic rut.

Don’t go out there with too many preconceived ideas.  Let your eyes guide you.
Don’t pack your camera gear away when the clouds start building.  There are a lot of ways you can keep your gear dry and still get the shots.
Don’t worry about the results.  Just go out there and enjoy yourself!
Don’t look at everything through your camera’s viewfinder.  Put the camera down every now and then, look at the scenes and subjects around you, and then shoot what excites you!

As this year get going, think of ways in which you can change the way you photograph nature and wildlife.  Ways you can improve your images.  Ways in which you can find new inspiration for photography!

I wish you a year of great sightings, awesome light and many shared moments online.  Don’t forget to submit them to the Bush Warriors Photo of the Day Contest!  If you have any questions or comments that you would like to share please feel free to either leave a comment or contact me directly.

Until next week!

Gerry van der Walt

Gerry van der Walt

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Photo of the Day

Posted in Photo of the Day with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 24, 2010 by Caroline Thompson

 

“What the Sifaka is THAT?!”

Photo credit: Andy Kammer

 

Sifakas are a one of the many varieties of lemur that are found on the island of Madagascar.  The word “lemur” comes from the Latin word lemurs, referring to ghosts and spirits.  Their staring eyes, haunting calls, and nocturnal nature led early observers to think these primates were ghosts or forest spirits.   Unlike most lemurs, Sifakas remain upright and leap from tree to tree, using their powerful hind legs to clear distances of over 30 feet (nine meters).  Sifakas can also cover open ground remarkably fast by sashaying, or leaping, on their hind limbs.  This movement is often referred to as “dancing.”

There are several species and subspecies of sifaka.  Of the most endangered are the Silky Sifaka and the Perrier’s Sifaka, which are both deemed ‘critically endangered’ on the IUCN Red List.  Sadly, both species have fewer than 250 individuals.  Five other sifaka species (Coquerel’s, Crowned, Diademed, Milne-Edward’s, and the Golden-Crowned)are listed as ‘endangered’.  Madagascar is undergoing extensive deforestation and habitat loss, which, along with poaching, are the primary threats to the nation’s lemurs.

 

Enjoy this video of some Sifakas “dancing” across their habitat:

 

Please click here to see ALL of our Photo of the Day winners and for more information on the Bush Warriors Photo of the Day Contest, including how to enter.  Enjoy the beauty of nature, just as it was intended to be!

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Photo of the Day

Posted in Photo of the Day with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2010 by Caroline Thompson

 

“The Night Stalker”

Photo credit: Gorazd Golob

 

The eyes of the lion are larger than comparable-sized animals.  Their round pupils seek out prey across the savannah.  Lions hunt primarily in the early evening, dawn, or at night with eyes that are well adapted for use in low light.  Lions (and all cats) have a high concentration of sensitive cells in the eye, called ‘rods’,  which increase their ability to see in the dark by absorbing as much light as possible.  A structured layer of tissue at the back of the eye, called the ‘tapetum lucidum’, reflects the light back onto the retina, utilizing whatever small amount of light available and giving cats (and other animals) increased night vision.  The tapetum lucidum also gives animals the reflective “glow” that you see when you shine a light on them in the dark.

Even on dark nights with no moon, lions see well enough to hunt.  When prey is sighted, the lions will sink down into cover and begin to stalk.  Hiding among the tall grass, the lions will freeze and remain motionless when necessary.  Visual cues are used to communicate with other pride members in the hunt, such as a small flick of the tail or a rustle in the grass. They then charge their prey, usually within a distance of ten meters, as they cannot run fast for long distances.

 

Please click here to see ALL of our Photo of the Day winners and for more information on the Bush Warriors Photo of the Day Contest, including how to enter.  Enjoy the beauty of nature, just as it was intended to be!

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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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Photo of the Day

Posted in Photo of the Day with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2010 by Caroline Thompson

 

“Going in for the Kill”

Photo credit: Peter Thomas

  

This photo wonderfully conveys how handsome and powerful this bird of prey is.  With wings spread, the Lanner Falcon’s creamy-white throat and underside give excellent contrast to its dark striping.  This bird exhibits considerable variation throughout its range in body size, coloration and degree of spotting and barring.  These falcons typically hunt by horizontal pursuit and takes bird prey in flight. Their large tails provide a maneuverability that allows them to take a variety of small birds as prey.

There are five known subspecies of Lanner Falcon today, found across Africa, the Middle East, and central and eastern  areas of Mediterranean Europe.  While the species as a whole has been assessed as being ‘lower risk’ by the IUCN, the European subspecies (Falco biarmicus feldeggii)  is listed as ‘vulnerable’ in the European Red Book.  This subspecies underwent a significant decline between 1970 and 1990 and, today, likely fewer than 480 breeding pairs of remain.

While the species is common and widespread, with the exception in Europe, this falcon is often shot and unintentionally poisoned by tainted carcasses set out for predators thought to be preying on livestock.  Lanner Falcons’ eggs and chicks are sometimes illegally collected from the wild for falconry.  This raptor is also threatened by continued habitat loss and use of pesticides that are believed to alter their breeding success and  the availability of prey species.

 

Please click here to see ALL of our Photo of the Day winners and for more information on the Bush Warriors Photo of the Day Contest, including how to enter.  Enjoy the beauty of nature, just as it was intended to be!

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Photo of the Day

Posted in Photo of the Day with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2010 by Caroline Thompson

 

“Peace and Tranquility”

Photo credit: Fred von Winckelmann

 

Painted Dogs (also called African Wild Dogs) are the second rarest canid in Africa, after Ethiopian Wolves.  Fifty years ago, these beautiful predators could be found in 39 countries south of the Sahara desert. Today, they are found in only 19, and are considered ‘endangered‘ by the IUCN.  Their populations have suffered an extensive and rapid decline due mainly to habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as conflict with and persecution from humans.  For quite some time, many who share the land with these animals have viewed them as vicious, vile, livestock-killing mongrels.  As a result, many have been shot, trapped, and poisoned.  Zimbabwe-based NGO, Painted Dog Conservation, has made significant efforts to save this species from extinction and has been very successful in changing perceptions of these fascinating creatures.

Historically, packs of over 100 could be seen in the savannah, but the reduction in their range and numbers has resulted in smaller pack sizes averaging between five and twenty individuals.   African wild dogs differ from their canid relatives in that they have four toes on each of their front feet instead of five.  Their long legs and lanky body aid them in speed and endurance.  They have large round ears that help to keep them cool and provide excellent hearing. Their coat is adorned with splashes of black, white, and varying shades of brown, hence the name ‘Painted Dog’.  Each dog’s markings are unique, helping researchers differentiate between individuals.

 

Please click here to see ALL of our Photo of the Day winners and for more information on the Bush Warriors Photo of the Day Contest, including how to enter.  Enjoy the beauty of nature, just as it was intended to be!

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