Archive for wildlife photography workshop

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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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

Please vote for Bush Warriors’ three projects to receive Free Range Studio’s youtopia grants.  Click here to vote now! 

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Wildlife Photography Workshop: Size Matters

Posted in Photo of the Day, Wildlife Photography Workshop with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2010 by photoafrica

Do you know how big an elephant is?

What about a lion cub?

Finding the answers to these questions is a whole lot eaier than conveying the size of your subject in a single photograph.

Take a look at this example of a three month old lion cub.

Image © Gerry van der Walt

Cute little guy but can you tell from the image how big he actually is?  Not really.

In order to convey size in you wildlife images it always help to include another subject for your viewers to use as a comparison.  Apart from being a great compositional tool, this approach will generally help you to create more interesting images.

Here is our same lion cub a few minutes later.  This time his size, or lack thereof, becomes a bit more apparent.

Image © Gerry van der Walt

Compared to the dead elephant’s feet we can now see that this guy still has a lot of growing to do.

Here is another example of how you could convey size in an image.

Image © Gerry van der Walt

Even though the focus of this image is on the wildebeest in front, it is the giraffe legs behind him that tells the story.

You don’t always have to use different species to show size differences in your images.  In the following example a close up of a young elephant in the middle of the group tells the story of size.

Image © Gerry van der Walt

Small hey? 🙂

When you are next out photographing wildlife, think of ways in which you can convey size.  Use different species.  Use the same species.  Even use another game drive vehicle.

If you have any wildlife images that show the size of the subject why not upload them to the Bush Warriors Photo of the Day?  Show us what you are photographing!

Have a great weekend!

Gerry van der Walt

Photo-Africa

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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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