Archive for 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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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

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: 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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