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Four Favorites From Pierre's November Safari
In November 2012, Pierre did his annual reconnaissance trip to southern Africa to investigate new properties, and keep up to date on old favorites. In between visiting more than 30 different camps, lodges, and hotels, Pierre took advantage of every opportunity to indulge his passion for wildlife photography. Using his own photos as examples, Pierre reflects on some tips and techniques for successful safari photography. Click here for higher resolution versions of the images below, and others from the safari.
Pay Attention to The Setting
(1/400 sec at f/4.0; 500mm; ISO 640; manual exposure; handheld)
Leopards are highly photogenic, and represent one of safari photography's most rewarding subjects. Two elements struck me about this particular sighting: firstly, the leopard positioned itself halfway up a termite mound, putting it at eye level to the photographer for a fabulously personal perspective (all too often, photos are taken either looking up or down at wildlife, providing a less natural/comfortable perspective); secondly, there was a significant distance between the leopard and the vegetation behind her, making it easy to completely blurr out the background for a pleasingly neutral bokeh. The leopard stands out prominently from her surroundings, and engages the viewer with direct eye contact at face level.
Simplifying Sunrise and Sunset
(1/500 sec at f/4.0; 500mm; ISO 100; manual exposure; handheld)
Anyone confronted with the challenge of conveying the grand spectacle of an African sunset (or sunrise) in a two dimensional image will know what a tall order this is. A simple but effective technique to convey some of the majesty is to use a telephoto lens and focus on a small part of the unfolding drama. In addition to the deep red and purple hues, I was attracted to this scene by some quintessential Okavango elements, including the African fish eagle silhouetted in a dead mopane tree, the Ilala palm to the right, and the wooded island directly beneath the rising sun.
Look for Action
(1/500 sec at f/4.0; 500mm; ISO 500; manual exposure; handheld)
Rhinos are rarely described as particularly photogenic subjects, but all bets are off when two bulls start sparring on the banks of the Sand River. Small moments of action play out continuously in the African bush, and it behoves the safari photographer to be constantly alert for these gems. Although the image represents just one moment frozen in time, the clash of horns, focused gaze, and flying sand broadcast movement and energy. The rhinos' textured skin and contrasting color provide additional visual interest. It bears repeating: always be on the lookout for movement and action.
(1/500 sec at f/8.0; 500mm; ISO 320; manual exposure; handheld)
There's just no ignoring the fact that baby animals are cute, and people react to them emotionally - which is exactly what a photographer is hoping for. This youngster was venturing out of its burrow for the first time, filled with curiousity and trepidation. Technically, there's nothing remarkable about the image, it's a relatively humdrum portrait. Except that the subject is drop-dead adorable, and lit by beautiful morning light. This image has received more comments than any other from my safari.
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