One of the most effective ways of adding atmosphere to your wildlife images is to shoot ‘into’ the light. Backlighting your subject will infuse your images with an extra sense of beauty and drama. For these magical qualities to be apparent, the sun must be near to the horizon, so only attempt this at sunrise or sunset when contrast levels are low.
Exposure can be tricky to calculate in these situations, so expose for the brightest areas of the image and check your histogram regularly to ensure you are not losing important highlight detail. If needed, use your exposure compensation dial to establish the best possible exposure in-camera.
One of the most desired effects of backlighting is when a halo of light appears around the edge of your subject, this is known as rim-lighting and can be an effective way of accentuating shape and form. This can appear even more apparent when shooting against a dark background, so try to shoot towards areas of shadow. As with most outdoor photography, soft, warm light works best so it pays to arrive at your location as early as possible!]]>
Photographing a Solar Eclipse
Of all the natural phenomena, a solar eclipse has to be one of the most awe-inspiring, with the sun disappearing and the world being plunged into darkness for a minute or two when it should be brightly lit. Solar eclipses are not common events – a maximum of five in a year worldwide – and total eclipses, when the dark silhouette of the moon completely obscures the light of the sun, only occur in a narrow track on the surface of the earth. It’s no surprise then, that people will travel far and wide to view an eclipse. And many people aren’t content with just viewing an eclipse – they want to photograph it.
However, it’s not as simple as pointing your camera towards the sun and pressing the shutter. If you’re lucky enough to be in a position to photograph the eclipse on March 20th, these tips will help you make the most of the opportunity.
Tatra Photography would like to share with you a couple of moments that our group witnessed during the 2014 workshop. 2015 dates are now available if you want to book.
Mating Lion and Lioness (Panthera leo)
Leopard (Panthera pardus pardus)
Black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)
African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana)
Cheetah eating the kill. (Acinonyx venator)
Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) fighting with vultures.
Giraffe with its calf (Giraffa camelopardalis)
Herd of Zebras grazing. (Equus quagga)]]>
We have been monitoring the area with camera traps over a 12 month period and during this time we have accumulated a massive amount of images. The target species is of course Brown Bears (Ursus arctos), of which we have recorded many different individuals including adult males, females and cubs!
Other species have shown up regularly too, including deer, fox, badgers, wild boar and golden eagles. We are also very excited to have captured two of the most important and elusive european predators, wolf and lynx! Wolves have been frequenting the area in good numbers, one of Europe’s most iconic predators!
The hides have now been built and the area is waiting for the first group of clients who arrive next month. The bears are now awake after the winter hibernation. With an inclusive package, which includes flight, transfers and accommodation, we’ve come up with a unique workshop that will ensure you capture once-in-a-lifetime images of some of Europe’s most endangered and enigmatic species.
Over the course of four days in the field, we will enjoy numerous opportunities to capture spectacular images of Europe’s top predator and endangered wildlife in natural forest settings. In all a truly spectacular wildlife photography adventure.
Here are some images captured by the camera traps:
The design of a D-SLR type camera makes it most comfortable to hold horizontally, with the long edge of the frame parallel to the horizon. Consequently, it is all too easy to end up shooting all of your pictures in what is often referred to as the “landscape” format.
Most magazine and book editors prefer vertical pictures shot in the “portrait” format; it has been estimated that 65% of published pictures are in this form.
Regardless of whether or not you are shooting with a view to publication, just by taking some pictures in the vertical format you will have pictures that will stand out from those shot by many other photographers. By using the vertical format you will also be exercising your creativity a little more, since many wildlife subjects tend to fit more readily into a horizontal frame, with the exception of an animal such as a giraffe!
So, make it a point to shoot more vertical images!
Eurasian Lynx, Bavarian Forest National Park, Germany
Technical details: Nikon D3s, AF-S 200-400mm f/4 (400mm), 1/125 f/4 ISO400
Contrary to much, if not all, of the advice you have heard or read, when it comes to composing pictures of wildlife you do not always need to fill the frame with your subject(s).
In fact leaving plenty of room around the subject enables you to achieve a number of things within a photograph, including, showing the subject in the context of its natural environment, creating a sense of scale, and providing space within the frame area for other material, such as over-laid text, which can be an important consideration if the picture is intended for publication.
If you want to show the subject’s environment you will need to consider how the depth of field will affect the way other elements in the frame are rendered, so think about using a smaller aperture (higher f/# number) to increase the depth of field. Likewise, if you wish to add scale to a shot you will need to include a recognizable object in the frame, for example a feature in the landscape such as a tree, in addition to the main subject, so consider using a shorter focal length, and position the subject low in the frame, as this will enhance the sense of scale.
Little Bee-eater, South Africa
Technical details: Nikon D300s, Nikkor AF-S 200-400mm f/4 (400mm), 1/640 f/5.6 ISO200]]>
Positioning the camera at the subject’s eye level, or even slightly below it, is one of the simplest and most effective ways to increase the impact of your wildlife pictures, because it breaks the all too familiar view produced by shooting from the photographer’s eye level.
A high camera position not only risks obscuring part of the subject, but also creates a sense of dominating it. By getting down low, and focusing on the subject’s eyes, or the eye nearest the lens if only one is visible, or within the depth of field, you will achieve a more dramatic perspective that helps to emphasize the subject.
Here, I lay flat on the ground to get as low as possible and used a wide lens aperture to limit the depth of field to an extremely shallow zone, taking great care to place the point of focus on the edge of the iris of the eye closest to the camera.
Common Tree Frog, France
Technical details: Nikon D700, Micro-Nikkor AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8, 1/60 f/5.6 ISO400]]>
Generally the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights won’t appear, or be at their best until late in the evening. This means setting up your gear and shooting in pitch darkness !
It pays to have everything to hand and familiarise yourself with your camera settings making sure you have spare batteries for the camera, warm clothes and a small torch or head torch.
Due to the long exposures a sturdy, full height tripod is essential to keep the camera steady. A cable or remote release will also be handy to trip the shutter keeping your hands free from the camera and preventing movement.
Prime lenses with a maximum aperture of F2.8 – F4 are ideal, also a depth of field scale on the lens barrel is handy for hyperfocal focusing techniques. It is also worth trying out shots with a zoom lens especially when you have a variety of subjects to shoot.
Wide apertures are the best choice, anywhere from F2.8 to F5.6 should give a reasonable exposure time and still give enough depth of field to keep the lower half of the frame sharp.
Depending on your camera model an ISO setting of between 400 and 1600 is ideal. The higher ISO’s will be fine be the latest Canon 5DMK2’s and Nikon D3’s but older cameras will suffer from hideous noise at these settings so a lower ISO 400 or 800 will give better results.
Exposure times will vary from 8 seconds to 30 seconds maximum, anything longer than this and noise becomes a problem, you will also notice that stars will start to trail.
The Aurora will move constantly so longer exposures can sometimes blur this movement where a shorter 8 second exposure will capture the swirls and patterns.
1: Pick your foreground subject and set the camera on the tripod making sure everything is clamped down.
2: Switch to manual focus, focus on infinity then pull the focus back slightly. Alternatively if your lens has a DOF scale you can focus using the hyperfocal method, (the focus point/distance will depend on the lens and focal length).
3: Select the BULB mode. This is usually at the end of the exposure times in manual mode, (just after 30 seconds). When you press the shutter button it will hold the shutter open until you let go of the button, (most cable releases have locks on them).
4: Wait for the shot then trigger the shutter, keep a check on exposure time on the camera timer or a watch.
5: Check your histogram, if it’s banked right up against the left hand side just increase exposure time and/or open the lens up a stop.
A few common mistakes !!.
1: Using a torch during exposure will bounce light around either through the viewfinder or across the lens spoiling exposure.
2: Camera movement during exposure, tripping over the tripod for instance !!
3: Trying to track the ‘Lights’ as they bounce around the sky – just pick your spot and be patient.
4: Bad focussing due to either leaving the autofocus on in camera or on the lens and the lens will hunt or forgetting to re-focus when you move. If you have a subject such as a building in the foreground you can use a torch light to aid the camera in pre-focussing.
TOP TIP – Just stand back when you can and enjoy the lights, it’s a great experience.]]>