Wildlife Photography – Basic Rule Number 6 – Higher ISO – a friend?
With animals you need short exposure times. I very rarely use a tripod, sometimes a monopod. Most of the time I shoot without any support with fairly long lenses (300-500mm) – animals move – so we need to as well!
Short exposure times are crucial. With full aperture set, I am not afraid of using higher ISO (800-1600 or even above). Especially in decent light conditions the results with modern digital SLRs are not bad. Better to have an image with a little more noise than a picture out of focus.
Lioness hunting at dusk. This picture was taken with a setting of ISO 3200 at Phinda Private Game Reserve, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa.
Wildlife Photography – Basic Rule Number 5 – Learn how to over- and under-expose with your camera!
Your camera is smart, but not smart enough. Once you have your standard settings only concentrate on one adjustment while you are shooting. If the object you are interested in is much darker than the surrounding you have to over-expose. If the object is much lighter, you will need to under-expose. This takes training; so get out there, make some exposure mistakes and learn from them.
An African Elephant bull waking in a straight line towards a waterhole.
This picture was taken at Etosha National Park, Namibia.
Wildlife Photography – Basic Rule Number 4 – Keep the eyes in focus!
Make sure the eyes of the animals are sharp and in focus. With using “center point focus” you are in control of the focus, not your camera. Make sure the eyes are in the center of your picture (and therefore in focus). Leave a bit of extra room around your major object. You can crop the image on the computer. An animal is not a cathedral – the time for composition is mostly measured in seconds, not minutes or hours.
Uroplatus fimbriatus (Leaf Tailed Gecko) – native to Madagascar.
Picture taken at a private breeder facility in Nashville, Tennessee, USA (Uroplatus Specialties).
Wildlife Photography – Basic Rule Number 3 – Set your camera to a standard!
Animal photography is motion photography. Being ready is very important. Wild animals are not posing for you. So set your camera to standard settings (see below) and return to these settings if you had to alter them for a specific situation (in case you had time :-).
The settings below work for me.
Shooting mode: Aperture Control A or AV (P for flash use)
Image recording quality: JPG best quality (or RAW)
White balance: Shade (outdoors) – AWB (indoors)
ISO: 400 (good weather) – 1600 (bad weather and indoors)
Metering mode: Center weighted
Drive mode: Single shooting
AF mode: One shot/AF-S (AI Servo/AF-C if object is moving towards you or away from you)
AF points: Center point only
American Alligator at Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Rule Number 2 – Shoot a lot – Waste Space!
Give up your old “film” habits and shoot a lot. I often take dozens of pictures of one scene. Like humans animals have “good” and “bad” expressions and postures. Shooting a lot and selecting the right image later on your computer will get you there. In a four hour game drive I will sometimes shoot 500 images.
Don’t worry about all the “bad” pictures you take, the good ones will make up for it!
Two Elephant bulls sparring at Tembe Elephant Park, South Africa
This was part of a large series of images. Only a few of them I would ever show to anyone!
Quite a few people have asked me in the past about my secrets for wildlife photography.
There are no secrets just some basic rules. Over the next few days I will publish those rules on my blog. Enjoy them.
If you have any eye to capture a scene and if you adhere to these rules, you will create some great pictures.
Rule Number 1 – Have patience!
It does not matter if you shoot in the wild, in a zoo or just your pets. You need patience. Spend a lot of time with an animal and you will see amazing things. I often spend hours in front of one exhibit at a zoo or an animal in the wild.
Lioness taking down an Nyala bull at Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa
I waited nine hours for this to happen and the I had only 23 seconds to take the pictures 🙂
This weeks picture if of a Cape Buffalo Bull. The picture was taken at Phinda Private Game Reserve, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa.
To review all 2011 pictures of the week go to http://www.sperka.biz/potw2011/slideshow
And this is my EYES series version of the image in black&white:
For more Cape Buffalo pictures go to http://www.sperka.biz/buffalo
About Cape Buffalo:
The Cape Buffalo, Affalo, Nyati, Mbogo or African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is a large African bovine. It is not closely related to the slightly larger wild Asian water buffalo. Owing to its unpredictable nature which makes it highly dangerous to humans, it has not been domesticated, unlike its Asian counterpart, the domestic Asian water buffalo.
The Buffalo is a very robust species. Its shoulder height can range from 1 to 1.7 m (3.3 to 5.6 ft) and its head-and-body length can range from 1.7 to 3.4 m (5.6 to 11 ft). Buffalo weigh up to 910 kg (2,000 lb), with males, normally larger than females.
Buffalo have few predators and are capable of defending themselves against (and killing) lions. Lions do kill and eat buffalo regularly, but it typically takes multiple lions to bring down a single adult buffalo.
This picture of a three month old male Orangutan baby was taken at the Krefeld Zoo in Germany.
More about Orangutans:
Orangutans are the only exclusively Asian genus of great ape. They are the largest living arboreal animals. Their hair is typically reddish-brown, instead of the brown or black hair typical of other great apes. Orangutans are found only in rainforests on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. There are only two surviving species, both of which are endangered: the Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) and the critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii). The word “orangutan” comes from the Malay words “orang” (man) and “(h)utan” (forest); hence, “man of the forest”.
Gestation lasts for nine months with females giving birth to their first offspring between 14 and 15 years old. Female orangutans have the longest interbirth intervals of the great apes, having eight years between births. Male orangutans play almost no role in raising the young. Females are the primary caregivers for the young and are also instruments of socialization for them. A female often has more than one offspring with her, usually an adolescent and an infant, and the older of them can also help in socializing their younger sibling. Infant orangutans are completely dependent on their mothers for the first two years of their lives. The mother will carry the infant during traveling, as well as feed it and sleep with it in the same night nest. Orangutans are juveniles from about two to five years of age and start to exploratory trips from their mothers. Juveniles are usually weaned at about four years of age.
When: Saturday, December 3, 2011 from 6p.m. to 9p.m.
Where: Christian Sperka Photography / Animal Art Photography Gallery at the Arcade [Downtown Nashville in the block between Church and Union Streets and 4th and 5th Avenues]
Photographer Amiee Stubbs will be exhibiting a collection of wildlife images from her journey to 10 U.S. zoos in 2011. (see attached flyer below).
And I will be showing my new Wildlife Portrait Poster Collection (see http://www.sperka.biz/csp)
I am looking forward to seeing you at on Saturday.
This week’s picture of a South African Giraffes was taken at Kings Camp, Timbavati Game Reserve, South Africa.
Enjoy the picture!
For more Giraffe pictures go to www.sperka.biz/giraffe (Wild South African Giraffes) or www.sperka.biz/giraffes (Masai Giraffes at the Nashville Zoo)
The Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is the tallest of all land-living animal species, and the largest ruminant. Its scientific name refers to its irregular patches of color on a light background, which bear a vague resemblance to a Leopard’s spots, and its face, which is similar to that of a camel. In addition to these features, the Giraffe is noted for its extremely long neck and legs and prominent horns. It stands 5–6 m (16–20 ft) tall and has an average weight of 1,200 kg (2,600 lb) for males and 830 kilograms (1,800 lb) for females.
It is classified under the family Giraffidae, along with its closest relative, the Okapi. Different authorities have recognized different numbers of subspecies, differentiated by size, coloration, coat pattern and range. Up to nine subspecies are recognized:
G. c. angolensis (Smoky or Angolan)
G. c. antiquorum (Kordofan)
G. c. camelopardalis (Nubian)
G. c. giraffa (South African)
G. c. peralta (West African)
G. c. reticulata (Reticulated or Somali)
G. c. rothschildi (Rothchild)
G. c. thornicrofti (Thornicroft or Rhodesian)
G. c. tippelskirchi (Massai)
My pictures are mainly of South African Giraffes (www.sperka.biz/giraffe) and of Masai Giraffes(www.sperka.biz/giraffes).