ttp Wildlife Photography Tips #5 Filming or still nature photography is a happy place. Either on land or in the mountains, on lakes and rivers, coastal and beaches, bush, jungle, deserts or oceans etc Here are a few handy hints I have experienced as a professional photographer. An image needs to grab attention, inject emotion. - Research, location, species, environment, people, permits, always ask first. - Know your equipment, always carry spare cards and batteries, rain covers and clean cloths, practice makes perfect, try out manual settings morning, noon and evening at home or in nearby park. - Know your subject, Circle of Fear, every animal including humans have a circle of fear and either flight or attack, its good to respect this. Capturing a fleeting moment, it pays to know your subject, stalking from downwind and study subjects body language is a must, (lions - ears, yawning, claws tailwhip, growls,etc,) wildlife will exploit any weakness, so be ready, always have a exit or plan B, you are entering there territory, and they may defend as we are the intruder. Safety first - Lighting remember the “Golden Hour”. One hour before sunset and one hour after sunrise, look for shapes and light, sun angles, check 10-20mins after sunset and look behind you for reflection, bouncing off clouds and mountains. Moonlight is also rewarding, tripod a must here. Aim for a simple background. - Weather, Elements like rain and wind give some dramatic images, when shooting direct into sun, block out the sun with trees, rocks etc, look for sun angles, shade, cloud filters, backlight. - Patience, Listen and move quietly, no loud or sudden movements, I sometime take 30 steps and stop and count to 60 before resume tracking (an old Kalahari bush trick) or if in a vehicle, ask driver/guide to stop and turn off engine so you can hear the pulse of the bush/jungle/wildlife, its amazing what can happen! especially around waterholes early morning and evening. - Rule of Thirds, Most cameras have a thirds grid, use it to place your subject. - Perspective. Variety of shots, point of view, long, wide, close, low, think outside the square, (remember rules are to be broken) - Show Scale, remember to include some type of scale into frame, either person or animal, bird, tree etc. - Images Tell a Story, Watch for backgrounds, non distracting, like lines of horizons and trees through head shots, focus on the eyes, (catchlight) and wait for head to lift and engage. Put yourself in the frame. Place your subject. - Camera, Handheld, to stop motion blur, I recommend under 1/60th (unless shooting for movement like running hoves etc), a tripod recommended or brace on your pack, or tree, car door with a bean bag as a solid rest. Larger lens require a tripod most of the time or beanbag. I do not change lens in a dusty field environment, and always have a backup body. - Lens, 24-70, 70-200 and 100-400 cover most situations - Flash, Built in flash, I recommend to turn off until required, very rarely do I require a fill flash as in my opinion, it spooks the subject and looks unnatural, just think when you get a blast from a flash into your eyes! - Backpack, I can be in the field all day so be prepared Carry spare equipment, raincovers, rain jackets, warm clothes, Hats, water, food, first aid kit, spare batteries and cards, tape, tool kit, tripod, cell phone TURNED OFF.(only use in emergency if got coverage , pays to check.) - Local People and Guides, Remember the local people and tribes, villagers, and there customs, engage them where possible as they can be most rewarding, and know the area, ask questions, sometimes just put the camera down and see what happens, none of us like a camera pointing at us all the time, respect, this also applies to our wonderful guides, drivers, cooks helpers etc and camp assistances. I often take some coloring in books, crayons, pencils, NZ caps, etc, for the kids, light to fit in bags. Smiley face stamps are winner with the kids too.(Pays to ask guides if ok.) - Technical Handy Hints Always have your camera on - Exposure Triangle The three camera settings that give you control over the exposure – aperture, shutter speed and ISO – can each be measured in stops. For instance, a shutter speed of 1/50 sec is one stop slower than 1/100 sec, which means the sensor is exposed for twice as long. However, the same 1/50 sec shutter speed exposes the sensor for half the time of a shutter speed of 1/25 sec. - Sunny f16 rule is way for correct exposure during sunny day, example ISO 200 at f16, then shutter will be 1/200th Snow f22, Sunny f16, Overcast slight f11, Overcast f8, Overcast (no shadows) f5.6, Darker no shadows/sunset f4 or less - HAND HELD The rule of thumb for a sharp picture, free from the effects of camera shake, is to use a shutter speed which is at least as fast as 1 divided by the focal length of the lens. So if you are using your zoom set at 100mm you should use a shutter speed of at least 1/100 of a second. Stop a bird or cheetah in flight 1/1000 - 1/2000 sec. Here's some of my criteria for filtering the images - Wow factor - Exposure correct which cannot be corrected in RAW processing - To busy in frame, what is the background doing - How is the composition, rule of thirds - How is the colour - golden hour rules - Is the depth of field ok - Brightest part of image distracting, where are my eyes drawn - Subject out of focus - Distracting, branches horizons running across the subject - Bad head turn of the subject - No catch light in the subject - Part of the image being cut - Eyes of the subject not sharp. Being there to enjoying our amazing world of nature wildlife Warm Regards Tracey Thornton Tracey Thornton Photography Nature & Wildlife Photographer
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