Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything ~ Aaron Siskind
Aaron Siskind had the right idea. So often, we get caught up in the technical side of photography- worrying about what ISO, shutter speed or aperture we’re on, and how an incorrect set-up might make us miss the shot of a lifetime. Don’t get me wrong- the theory and practice of photography is important, as I outlined in my last few posts. But, for me, the beauty of wildlife photography lies in the balance between getting the technical side of things right while still remaining present in the moment while you’re out experiencing nature, and reconnecting with your true nature at the same time.
Today, I wanted to move onto the softer side of photography, and chat about the more artistic and emotional side of photography. Here are my top 5 quick tips for shooting in the wild:
1) Decide on your objective of your photographs, and let that guide you:
“What do you want to get out of your photographs?” That’s my very first question to every photographer that I meet. Have you brought your camera along (or rented one for the first time on arrival at Londolozi) to capture images as to remember your time here? Are you an enthusiast that wishes to use your time in the bush to practice your skills, hoping to get some great shots to take home to show off to your friends and family? Or are you a photographer who places great emphasis on getting ‘the shot of a lifetime’ during your stay, interested in post processing your images, and who will prioritise your photographic experience over all else? Let the answer to that question guide you when you pick up your camera, and guide you in the balance between photographing and experiencing nature.
2) Capture the moment, but live the moment, too.
Depending on what your objective is, you may find yourself caught up in changing the settings on your camera, or searching for the best composition, or shooting so many shots just in case you miss the best of the day. Taking photographs in the bush is an incredible experience in and of itself, but remember to experience the moments in the bush, too. If the light has faded, and you’re battling to get the shot that you really want, why not put your camera down and let your senses take over. Smell the dust as it settles, feel the early morning mist in the air, absorb your surroundings and feel the ebb and flow of the bushveld all around you. Capture your memories on your camera, but don’t forget to truly live your Safari.
3) Compose for the reason you picked up the camera in the first place
Photographic style is similar to personality- varying greatly from person to person. As with art, what is beautiful to one may be mundane and pointless to another. A moment will stir you to pick up your camera in order to capture it forever, as you remember it, through your eyes. It may be the swish of a Zebra tail through the long grass as the golden flecks of light bounce around the grass, or the slow, rhythmic browsing of a breeding herd of elephant. Whatever stirred you to pick up your camera should be the focus of your shot. And, for you, that may be something that doesn’t make sense to anyone else. It may be a shot that cuts off an ear, or chops off four feet. For me, the magic lies in those differences in perception. Let what stirred you to pick up your camera guide your composition, and let that composition tell the story that stirred you.
4) Don’t get too caught up on manual- move with the pace of the wild in auto if need be:
While the general pace at Londolozi is one that supports rest and relaxation, the pace of the wild while out on safari can be pretty fast sometimes. After all, you may experience that once-in-a-lifetime sighting of a cheetah running through an open area at a speed of 100 kilometers per hour. Mix up your shooting style by playing around in manual, but be ready to switch over to auto if you feel more comfortable letting the camera decide which settings to use, while you enjoy the fact that you are going to capture wildlife at it’s best with none of the stress.
5) Capture the whole package:
Don’t forget to get some shots of the beautiful landscapes, and the small creatures that cross your path. The big cats close-ups are a must when out on safari, but zooming out to capture the scene of a lone giraffe quietly strolling in front of you adds to those all-important memories of your safari.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide what it is that you want to achieve with your photography. I, once again, lean on Siskind’s words of wisdom when he says:
As photographers, we must learn to relax our beliefs. Move on objects with your eye straight on, to the left, around on the right. Watch them grow large as they approach, group and regroup as you shift your position. Relationships gradually emerge and sometimes assert themselves with finality. And that’s your picture ~ Aaron Siskind
What tips or tricks would you suggest for wildlife photography? Share your thoughts with us below.
Written by Amanda Ritchie- Photography Studio Manager