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In Hluhluwe National Park

In Hluhluwe National Park
Photo Information
Copyright: George Veltchev (mwmod99) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 855 W: 655 N: 3361] (14196)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2010-02
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Canon 5D MKII, Canon 300mm F4L IS USM + 1.4x ext
Exposure: f/6.5, 1/400 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Karatash's other favorite -II- [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2010-09-12 1:20
Viewed: 3272
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 28
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
The wild life photographer Stephen Oachs has composed 10 tips for taking great animal photos. Very good tips if youíre new to wildlife photography, or just want to improve your shots taken at your local zoo;

Tip 1: Miss the eyes and youíve missed the shot. Getting the eyes in focus is key to capturing a photo of an animal. Itís human nature to look at the eyes. Itís how we determine emotion and how we connect.

Tip 2: Use a telephoto lens. Getting closer to the action, yet staying a safe distance, is the key to photographing wildlife. By keeping your distance you allow the animal to be in their comfort zone and are more likely to get natural behavior. Safety is also a factor when photographing in the wild. Always keep at least 100 yards distance from wildlife, for your safety and for the well being of the animals. Another good use for a telephoto lens is a trick not many people know, which comes in very handy when photographing animals in the zoo that are behind fencing. If you move close to the fence (keep a safe distance) and use at least 100mm of your telephoto lens, focusing beyond the fence, with a wide aperture, you can ďfocus outĒ the fencing and take a photo of the subject with no wires! Now, there are some exceptions, such as, if the fencing is black youíll have a much better chance of pulling this off. Regular chain link fence is gray and semi-reflective, which in the sunlight can cause a glare and is often too bright to focus out. Iíve also had some successes at trying different angles, so experiment for your best results.

Tip 3: Shoot with two eyes. This is a tip Iím sharing here, but often have a hard time remembering myself. I canít tell you how many shots Iíve missed because I didnít see the action coming. By keeping both eyes open youíll see the subject in the viewfinder and youíll also see whatís going to happen next.

Tip 4: Adjust your shutter speed to stop/show the action. When animals are on the move you need to decide quickly on the type of shot you want to take. If you want to freeze the action, youíll need to shoot at 1/500 or faster and depending on light, that can be tricky. One option, if youíre shooting digital, is to adjust up your ISO, which will make your sensor more sensitive to light and give you that needed boost in shutter speed. Now, if you want to give a sense of motion to your image, try shooting with a shutter speed of 1/4 to 1/8 and pan your camera with the animal. Pan steady and remember, keep the eye in focus if you can! For best results, pick backgrounds that are uncluttered and simple, as this will make the subject standout in the image.

Tip 5: Anticipate behavior. This tip goes well with Tip 3, shoot with both eyes, because anticipating behavior is often key to capturing a rare moment, action and unique situations. Panning the camera to follow an animal can be a tiring process, so often Iíll study the animalís behaviors watching for a pattern and then use some anticipatory shooting, and a little luck, to hopefully capture that perfect moment.

Tip 6: Use a tripod. Using a tripod is one of the best things you can do to improve your photography, and wildlife is no different. By mounting your camera to a tripod you reduce camera shake, which is usually the cause of blurry photos. To take this a step further, I use a shutter release cable, which eliminates the need to touch the camera while snapping shots and thus removes almost all potential for camera shake.

Tip 7: Composition Ė Framing your shots. Some simple framing advise can go a long way toward improving an image, and for those who are computer savvy, a little trick called cropping (software technique to cut a photo) can help improve composition that wasnít quite right at the time the photo was taken. The best way to think about composition is to picture a tic-tac-toe grid in the view finder of your camera (Iíve seen some new cameras that come with this as a feature you can turn on!) and use that grid to organize your shots. There is no hard rule, but the general theory behind good composition is that your subject lies in one of the crosshairs of the grid. Setting up your shot to lead the eye is also a good example of composition.

Tip 8: Use a wide aperture. Learning the effects of adjusting your cameraís aperture will go a long way toward improving your photographs, especially in portrait style shooting. I As you learn to control your camera youíll also find that adjusting your aperture will have a direct effect on your shutter speed. This will prove especially helpful when shooting in the early mornings and late evenings, when animals are typically most active and the light is warm and muted.

Tip 9: Plan for the best light. Thereís nothing like a cloudy day to provide soft, even light for wildlife photography. Clouds act like a giant diffuser to the sun, spreading the light out evenly and taking away harsh shadows that are created by a bright, sunny day. Of course, a cloudy day has its challenges as well, such as lower light, which will force you to adjust ISO and shutter speed settings for stopping action and getting sharp, in focus images.

Tip 10: Use a flash to fill in shadows. It may sound odd, but using a flash outside on a bright sunny day actually makes a lot of sense. In this situation, youíre not using the flash to illuminate the subject, as you would in a dark setting, but rather to fill in the shadows and provide detail where harsh shadows would otherwise be heavy and dark. Itís important to use flash wisely and here are a couple of other suggestions:
1. Be conscious of the animal and whether flash will scare them and,
2. There are times where your only shoot is through glass ó using a flash behind glass will ruin your shot. The glass will reflect the light back at the camera and you shouldnít be surprised if all you get is a big white picture!

Bonus Tip: Shoot. Shoot. Shoot. This tip is a no-brainer for those of us who shoot digital. The bottom line of this tip is take photosÖ.a lot of photos. Donít be shy. I often take multiple photos of the same scene or subject and then later choose the best from the group. This is also a great way to learn; by adjusting your camera between shots you can experiment and see the results of different settings of your camera. And, donít sweat the details of trying to remember which photo had which settingsÖanother great thing about shooting digital is something called EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format). EXIF data is written to every photo so that later, upon review, you can see every setting your camera used to take that image.

Ilducabianco, Mamagolo2, cobra112, jpinkham, ikonta, anel, goldyrs, rousettus, marius-secan has marked this note useful
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To rousettus: Ahmetmwmod99 1 09-12 10:01
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Critiques [Translate]

Very nice, great subject, excellent colors.The leaves out of focus in the foreground seem to form a frame unexpected but amazing.

Hello George,
Thank you for all this valuable information. I'm definitely going to save this. Your photo is as always beautiful with clear detail and beautiful colors. The faded green leaves looks like a frame around the animal and it makes it stand out in it's surroundings.
Very well done and thanks for sharing.

Ciao Geroge. Very good detaisl and sharp. Impressive DOF. Exciting compo with the OOF natural frames and wild environment. So intersting note!


Hello George,
Excellent shot, you managed to isolate the animal in a luminous frame which enhances its beauty. Perfect dof on the whole animal. Very interesting and useful your notes!

George, thanks so much for this rich and practical post. You've heeded the advice well! I especially like the use of the telephoto, the shutter speed that freezes the action, the wonderful framing, the depth of field that draws the eye to your subject, and, of course, the capture of the eye.

This one's a keeper, all the way.


P.S. -- I've got to bookmark or save this advice somewhere :)

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2010-09-12 5:26]

Hello George,
A most beautiful and natural shot which you have taken from a very good low point of view. The shades in the front make the picture look mysterious, like taken out of a natural hide. Beautifully composed and a fine greenish coloration. Again very well done! And very interesting note too.
Kind regards

I like these tips, George, and you seem to have used them to the hilt.
Very nice POV chosen, I like the way you've played with the depth of the shot.
Very well done, my friend!

Ciao George, great capture of lovely creature, fantastic light, wonderful natural mabientation, excellent sharpness and splendid details. very well done my friend, ciao Silvio

Hello George,
this is excellent capture of lovely Artiodactyla species. every thing awesome, from sharp details and exposure/light using to POV and coloration. nicely composed and nicely framed with blurry branches.
Your notes are nice to read and very informative. many thanks for sharing this knowledges. I learn many things from them. please continue similar information and your photography techniques. especially exif data and methods. several days ago, I visited again your great portfolio. I was mostly interested in razor sharped macro posts. all of them are splendid. I will write to you later about macros.
thanks again for showing us this great image and sharing informative notes. best wishes.

Hello George,
Outstanding capture with superb details and focus.
Exceptional composition with very good clarity and sharpness.

Hello George,
First of all I want to thank you for these 10 trips. Your image has natural colours, excellent sharpness and details. Well done!

Hola George

Que fantastica imagen y que bella, parece una postal, ha quedado realmente perfecta, parece que el animal no te llego a ver. Felicidades.

Un saludo de Antonio

Hello BIG George,
Congratulations for the beautiful pictures, great natural colors, good POV and sharpness.
Thanks for sharing.
Hello Vanni

Amazing/dreamy scene of this cute looking mammalian beauty, the ground-level POV works extremely well.
The beauty looks nice and sharp, good idea with the out of focus FG. TFS this and also tips George!
Have a nice week!


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