Archive for wildlife photography advice

Bush Warriors Wildlife Photography Workshop: Leave Some Space

Posted in Wildlife Photography Workshop with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2010 by photoafrica

By doing a quick Google search you will find many articles and websites that deal with composition.

You will read about the rule of thirds and other guidelines which are all aimed at helping you take better pictures.  In the coming weeks we will look at these compositional guidelines in a whole lot more detail but for now let’s look at space.

In wildlife photography, wild animals need space to move into.  They need space to look into.

When I am out in the field with new photographers, all too often they place their subject dead centre in the frame.  On every frame.

There are most definitely times when you want to place your subject in the middle of your image but not all the time.  Here are a few examples.

Image © Gerry van der Walt

The Brown Hyena’s face has been placed in the middle of the frame.  The important thing to take note of is open space on the left of the animal.  This negative space is important as it leaves room for the animals to move into and makes for a much more dynamic image.

Try this, take your hand, or a piece of paper, and place it directly to the left of the hyena’s face.  By doing this, and cutting out all of the negative space, you can see how it changes the look and feel of the image.

Here is another example.

Image © Gerry van der Walt

As with the Brown Hyena, the little bird has been placed almost in the middle of the frame but there is a lot of space for it to look into.

In both the above examples you can almost not help but following the invisible line that gets created by the direction the animals is moving or looking in and the moment you get your viewer’s eyes moving around your image you have created a good image.  A good visual story.

Now there are definitely times when you want to cut down on the space you leave for your subjects.

When you cage your subject, by not leaving any negative space for it to move into, it makes the images a little more ‘tense’.

By going in tight on the more dangerous you can create rather interesting images.  Look at the example below.

Image © Gerry van der Walt

This image would not have been half as powerful if the spider was placed in one corner with a lot of space around it.  In this case, the lack of space around the subject enhances the ‘danger’.

When you are out photographing wildlife take a second and thing about how space, or the lack thereof, can impact your images!

As time goes on we will be looking at many different approaches to wildlife photography.  If, however, you have any specific questions or you would like me to discuss a certain approach , whether technical or artistic, please feel free to contact me at gerry@photo-africa.com

Have a great weekend and 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