In the month of March, Londolozi is showcasing some of our best photography and photographers alike. This five-part blog series will take readers behind some stunning imagery and discuss how the shot came to be. The episodes will delve into the stories behind images and the people who capture them. In this process, we’ll be highlighting some tips and tricks that we hope will inspire you when capturing imagery of your own.
Episode 4 in the series takes contrasting views on photographs. Rob Crankshaw, Londolozi’s Landcare manager, understands the lay of the land intricately. His photography usually takes two forms: landscape and macro shots. Most photographers chase down a roaring lion at sunset or a leopard in a dead leadwood tree. But Rob sees a different dimension in the land, which he chooses to patiently persevere to capture.
As a photographer, Rob plans more than most. I recall a story about him revisiting a site for three days (at 4 in the morning might I add) to capture a single shot. And to give him credit the shot was immaculate. He encapsulates patience and persistence in capturing moments. So patient is Rob, that any movement becomes a frustration.
I find with landscape photography, and often in macro photography too, they generally have a “slower pace” where you can prepare and plan a shoot beforehand. I’m drawn to and enjoy this more measured style of photography.
Trying to capture images of animals hugely frustrating because they just don’t do what I am hoping for in order to create a certain composition I have in mind.
Rob draws inspiration from an image he captured for a Londolozi marketing campaign. The goal was to create an image that shows the viewer the expanse and beauty of the untouched wilderness at Londolozi.
Typically in wide angle, landscape type images the photographer should be trying to create a sense of depth and perspective in the image using leading lines – a good way to try and turn a 2D image into a 3D image.
I think this particular image does a good job of achieving this by drawing interest to the foreground, which is the rocks and human subject. The dry river bed then helps to pull the eye through the mid ground towards the background which has the sunrise and koppie on the horizon.
Rob’s perspective on photography
Photography is a journey. I think that our natural instinct is to always ‘get to the destination’ whether it’s traveling somewhere in a car or trying to learn a new skill. New skill acquiring takes time to build and we seem to get frustrated with ourselves when we are not good at something right off the bat, myself included. But my advice would be to take a step back and enjoy the process of learning the skill of photography and especially enjoy and appreciate the moment if you are photographing something special. – Rob Crankshaw
Patience was key:
To shoot the composition for the landscape photo, with the rising sun as is, it had to be at the right time of year. During winter, the rising sun would have risen too far to the left of the composition. The whole composition would have been off balance so I had to shoot this photo in summer. Which meant waiting through most of the winter until the time was right.
Macro shots are some of the most challenging to capture as a photographer. A macro lens allows you to get in close to your subject and really drop your aperture. The detail in minuscule objects and animals really does open a new lens to view the world. However, there is a price to pay, when you get this close and have a spider jumping around or a wasp flying all over the place they can be impossible to capture. You have to be incredibly precise with your focus and in quite a few cases quite lucky to capture a living subject.
Whilst sitting in his garden a tiny jumping spider caught Rob’s attention. About the size of a fingernail, it hopped along in a pot plant, Rob always wanted to capture a jumping spider and decided he would invest some time into his back yard critter friend.
I find jumping spiders fascinating and love seeing them around the lodge on their hunting expeditions. They have such charisma with their big eyes and hairy faces and make great macro photography subjects.
The beauty is in the detail. The spider is relatively small but has so much detail on it with all the tiny hairs, colour banding, and multiple eyes. It is a really interesting subject.
I had to have patience for the spider to move onto the edge of the leaf. As I said, wildlife photography can get frustrating. It took a really long time and I needed to recompose the image several times before finally capturing this image.
Macro shot tips
Rob passed on some of his experience for anyone wanting to start pursuing macro photography:
Make sure to have a fast shutter speed!
I often use my flash with a diffuser so I can keep a high shutter speed, therefore, preventing camera shake.
Experiment with manually focusing. Or if you are shooting by hand, moving your body and therefore camera towards or away from the subject. This will get the subject in focus as opposed to focusing by turning the focus ring on the lens.
Having the opportunity to live and work in a wilderness area has inspired me. I try and capture moments in time of the amazing, natural world which is constantly changing and is always different from one day to the next.
The best part is to know that, through Londolozi, I am making a difference to the conservation and protection of a small part of our planet.
Rob Crankshaw, in our photography episode 4, embodies patience and persistence in photography. As Landcare manager, he understands the lie of the land and knows the intricacies of how the natural system ticks. With these skills, Rob captures wild spaces and the critters that crawl them in stunning detail with landscape and macro shots. His photographic storytelling is complemented by incredible spacial awareness in shots, using objects in the scene to guide the viewer’s eye.
Next up in the series we’ll have a look at the photography of Sean Zeederberg, Londolozi’s man behind the camera. Sean recently moved on from his role as a ranger to pursue a creative role at Londolozi. With his knowledge of Londolozi’s bushveld, he captures our virtual safari’s and is now a member of Londolozi’s Creative Hub. This unique blend of skills equip our content creator to step out the box, capturing imagery in exciting new ways. His incredible selection of wildlife shots will be the topic of discussion in our final episode of the photography series.
Learn more about Photographic Safari
At Londolozi, wildlife photography holds an important place. We use it as a way to reconnect with nature, with the animals that inhabit the Game Reserve with us. This is why this article isn’t the only one we written in this photography series. If ever you want to learn more about wildlife photography, please feel free to consult:
- Photography Series episode 1: The Ranger’s eye
- Photography Series Episode 2: Generations through the lens – Londolozi Blog
- Photography series episode 3: People in nature
- Photography Series Episode 5: Londolozi’s Eye
If you want to know what wildlife photography is at Londolozi, check out our Photographic Safari experience page! Or find our what our ranger Nick Simms had to say about his experiences in photography