Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wildlife Photography; Focus On Good Light.

Widlife Photography can be very difficult and involves a lot of time, good timing and a lot of luck....and like anything else, the harder you work and the more shots you take, the luckier you get. Every photographer understands the benefits of the soft lighting of the early morning and late afternoon. Unfortunately, you never know when you are going to see wildlife. That is where the luck comes in. Hopefully these tips may come in handy.

  1. When on safari, increase your odds. Do your homework. Whether you are on your own or with a guide, try to figure out where the wildlife is going to be and get there early in the dark of the morning or the early afternoon and wait for that perfect light. If you are settled in and quiet, you have a better opportunity of getting some nice nature photography shots in the nice soft light than if you are just arriving to where the wildlife is as the light is softening. When you arrive where the wildlife is, the wildlife may run away due to your disturbing them etc. It is just easier to get there first, let them get a little bit accustomed to your presence ahead of time and hopefully your preperation will pay off. Not to mention, if you are there first and you are quiet, sometimes wildlife will almost come to you.
  2. Don't be afraid of an overcast day. Very often, you will take the best pictures on overcast days. There are no shadows, the lighting doesn't get so harsh that your photos are virtually beyond photoshop repair and you can take pictures all day long. I love overcast days.
  3. Use a long lens. If you want a deer to be a little more comfortable in your presence, it is a lot easier done with a 600mm lens, than a 300mm. The obvious problem with a 600 is the weight of the lens, but that is another issue.
This picture of a black backed jackal family is a perfect example of being in the right time in the right place and doing your homework. We knew this black backed jackal family was in this area; or hoped they would be as we saw them the day before. We had our guide take us to the same area again just before dusk. We parked the landrover in an open area. A hundred or so yards away, we could see an adult black backed jackal on the edge of the tree line. I focused my 600mm on him, a few minutes later his mate joined him. They made some sort of call, then shortly after that out popped a baby black backed jackal. He came out and greeted his parents. I took about ten shots as they were making their greetings. This was my favourite picture of the series.

In that situation everything happened perfectly.
  1. We did our homework and had an idea where the black backed jackals would be.

  2. We got there before the soft light of the afternoon so they could get accustomed to our presence.

  3. We waited 100 yards away so they would feel they were at a comfortable safe distance to go about their routine.

  4. I focused on them with a 600mm lens and waited and hoped for some action.

I got lucky that time. Wildlife Photography is just that though. Successful wildlife photography to me is defined as the moment where preparation and education meets luck.

With that, I wish you good education, good preparation and good luck with your wildlife photography

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