Christian Sperka is a wildlife photographer based at Thanda Safari, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa (www.thanda.com).
He works as a Resident Wildlife Photographer and Specialist Photography Guide on Thanda and also teaches wildlife photography at the reserve. Any Thanda guest can request a complementary photography session with Christian. He will help with the correct camera setup and the most important rules of wildlife photography.
Christian teaches photography according to his “Basic Rules of Wildlife/Motion Photography” under the motto “keep it simple”.
Since 2001, Christian has traveled the world photographing animals in wild game reserves of South Africa and Namibia, the jungles of Costa Rica, in Yellowstone National Park in the USA, as well as zoos in Europe and the United States. His work has been featured in wildlife magazines, in books and in many zoo publications.
From 2009 to 2012 he has worked as the official photographer and photography teacher at Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, Tennessee, USA (www.nashvillezoo.org).
Since 2002 he has been involved with various conservation projects. Christian is also a partner photographer to Panthera (www.panthera.org), an organization focused on the preservation of all wild cat species.
He is an experienced, very engaging public speaker and he has given presentations about animal photography and wildlife conservation at various photography clubs. He has spoken at schools, universities and other organizations about his experiences in Africa and as professional zoo photographer.
He has his own internet blog (www.sperka.info) where he publishes information about wildlife, conservation and photography. Thousands of people receive and enjoy these regular postings (also via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn),
Between 1986 and 2009 Christian worked very successfully in the Information Technology field; the first 13 years as owner of an independent IT consulting company and the last 10 years as a corporate executive (CIO and Company President). During that time he worked in 22 countries and visited 50 countries around the globe.
Christian was born in Switzerland. He went to school and university in Germany and holds a German passport. His home is now on Thanda Safari in South Africa.
Picture 1 and 4 by Jim Bruner
Picture 3 by Heather Robertson
Pictures 2 and 5 by Christian Sperka and other photographers
Christian works …
… as Resident Wildlife Photographer, Photography Teacher and Specialist Photography Guide for Thanda Safari – www.thanda.com – He also posts for Thanda on their blog, their Facebook page and on Instagram.
… as Partner-Photographer for Panthera, a global organization with the mission to ensure the future of wild cats through scientific leadership and global conservation action – www.panthera.org
… for many zoos and “animal-related” non-profit organizations around the world by providing wildlife/animal photography free of charge (e.g. Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, USA – www.nashvillezoo.org)
… and as Wildlife and Zoo Photographer around the World – Have a look at Christian’s online gallery – www.sperka.biz
Comments from …
… Photography Course Participants
“The experience was extremely helpful as well as enjoyable. In fact, it was one of the very rare occurrences where this non-morning person looked forward to getting up before sunrise because she couldn’t wait to see what images we could all capture, thanks to Christian’s photographic guidance.”
Jenn V., USA
“First, I really want to thanks you for this week of photography course, I was really a pleasure to share this course with you….It was interesting and you give some very good basis to work with a camera!
The photography course was for me a real revelation. Thanks to you I know how to make a good photo and all the basis for the camera setup… and now I really want to know more!!”
Noemi V., France
“I wanted to thank you again for the wonderful time and the great experience. Although I had experience in photography before the course but it was the first time for me shooting wildlife and your tips have been of a great help during the course and obviously for the future. I think the course was just what the doctor ordered. I can’t think you could have done it any better . I think the way you formed the course: the game driving plus the hand-on course and the classes is a winning combination. Although I had a previous experience in general photography and technical skills, never had a real experience in wild life photography and this course completed the pictures for me.”
Adi G., Israel
“Christian – another huge thank you for the workshop on Saturday. It was an excellent learning experience for me. As a former teacher/trainer, I have always found it helpful to get specific information from participants on what helped or hindered their learning, rather than just a generic “great.” Here are a few thoughts:
– well organized, both in presenting information and managing time
– great handouts and visuals which you used but didn’t simply “read” from the screen; you used them as a “jumping off” place
– genuinely enthusiastic about the topic, photography (either that or you’re a great faker!)
– enthusiastic about sharing, generously, what you know
– open and responsive to questions
– non-dogmatic (“It’s my way but not the only way”)
– good pacing and mix of learning modes – from providing information to active practicing of skills
– excellent attention to individuals
– unexpected immediate follow-up on “gear” via your email
So, that’s a few of the things that I encourage you to keep doing. I know it both comes naturally but also takes thoughtful planning. And planning for an unknown group of individuals with varying levels of photography knowledge and skills is not easy. You seemed to hit it just right. Bravo!”
Liz B., USA
“I owe you a huge thanks for the way your instruction has moved my photography forward. The SLR class gave me understanding of the basics that I wasn’t getting from books. Your private lesson was great because you were able to customize the instruction for my equipment and goals. I understand more than ever about how to get the shots I want. I will highly recommend you to anyone who is interested learning photography.”
Syd P., USA
“… We had a great time in Africa. …your photography session with us made all the difference in the world. I am very pleased with my pictures…
… One day the driver was sitting next to me and asked if he could shoot some with my SLR. I let him do it and you can really see the difference between his shots and mine. His looked like Saturday kids birthday party snapshots, they were horrible. Mine looked much better. He kept asking me how I did that. I said four words: “Christian Sperka’s Photography Lessons”. Your ideas on including the ENTIRE animal, focusing on the eyes, adjusting the EV, setting aperture to full open on Av mode, adjusting the ISO when it got dark or I needed a faster shutter speed, and giving space around the animal,were just perfect. What a difference it made. …”
Gordon S., USA
“In July 2009 I had the pleasure of joining Christian on a vist to Pinda Private Game Reserve in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, staying at Vlei Lodge.This was the first time I had ever been in Africa and I enjoyed it very much. South Africa, Pinda and the Big Five, all the people I met there, and Christian as host – I can truly recommend this combination 🙂 Sobonana!”
Markus S., Germany, 2009 – at Phinda Private Game Reserve – Vlei Lodge
… Christian Sperka Presentation Audiences
“Thank you for a really great presentation. I think I can speak for all in attendance and say that it was one of the best I have ever seen. Every aspect of it was very professional yet very personal also and both of those elements make for something special” – Phil Burt, President, Marshall County Photography Club – 12/2011
“Christian’s program at our photography club was the most engaging photography presentation I have had the pleasure of hearing and seeing. His magnificent image quality was matched by his wonderful stories of the image not to mention humor and excellent delivery. He left me and our other members wanting to stay and listen all night. A wonderful learning experience. I look forward to hearing Christian again” – David Hayes, President, Northwest Tennessee Photography Club – 02/2012
“Christian’s presentation to the Paducah Photographers Club was educational and extremely entertaining! Christian shared his knowledge of photographing animals in the wild as well as in captivity. In addition to helpful “tips & tricks”, we all feel as though we gained a new photography friend” – Boni Littleton, President, Paducah Photography Club – 02/2012
“Thank you, Christian. You did a Fantastic job! I have four pages of notes from your talk. I enjoyed seeing your work. You are very gifted.” – Randy Harris, President, Nashville Photography Club – 05/2010
“Thank you very much for your excellent presentation on African animals. The group of educators who were present thoroughly enjoyed it. Your presentation was funny, educational, and beautiful. It made all of us want to be there. Your expertise on the subject is unquestionable. It was one of the best presentations we have had for our chapter this year.” – Jan Brown, president of Beta chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International – 10/2011
Quite a few people have asked me what photographic equipment I use. Here is the info. Just send me an email if you have any further questions.
Canon vs. Nikon
Well, since I started with wildlife photography in 2001 I use Canon equipment. The only reason why I do use Canon and not Nikon is because I started with Canon. I teach a lot of people with either equipment and it is a bit like with religion – the basic message is the same – just different implementations 🙂
In my opinion it does not matter which equipment you use, as long as you make good use of it. In case you are interested in my Motion Photography Method go to https://sperka.info/motion-photography-rules/
This is the list of the equipment I currently use:
3 x Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
4Gb / 8Gb / 16GB and 32Gb SanDisk CF cards
** Canon EF 4.0/500mm L
** Canon EF 2.8/300mm L
Canon EF 3.5/180mm L Macro
Canon EF 1.4/50mm
* Canon EF 3.5-5.6/28-300mm L
**Canon EF 2.8/70-200mm L
Canon EF 2.8/24-70mm L
Canon EF 4.0/17-40mm L
* this lens is used daily (with one camera body – on game drives with guests)
** these lenses are mainly used when I drive by myself to take pictures (with all three bodies)
Flash (used very rarely):
Canon EX 580 II
Peli Cases in various sizes
Image Post Processing and Presentation
Dell Studio XPS workstation with 2 x 27″ screens
Dell XPS laptop 14″ and Dell XPS laptop 17″
Apple iPad 3
>10TB total – external USB disk drives / every image stored in three places
ACDSee Pro (for selection and picture/file administration)
Corel Paintshop Pro (for editing)
Canon Digital Photo Professional (for RAW processing)
Note: I shoot 95% in JPG
BOOKS BY CHRISTIAN SPERKA
Christian has created two beautiful coffee table books for Thanda Safari. They are available for online purchase on amazon.com.