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Teach yourself Wildlife Photography

2 great ways to learn! 224 pages of expert Photo advice

Teach yourself

Plus! 11 expert video lessons in wildlife photography

Wildlife Photography

Get amazing shots of birds and animals with our expert guides

Inside this issue... » Wildlife Photographer of the Year » Professionals’ secrets revealed » 11 wildlife projects to try at home » 18 ultimate top tips for insects to elephants » Step-by-step guides to photographing birds


Future Publishing Limited Quay House, The Ambury, Bath BA1 1UA

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Emma-Lily Pendleton emma-lily.pendleton@futurenet.com Ella Taylor Michelle McLaren

Future Publishing Limited Editorial Director Group Editor-in-Chief Group Art Director Creative Director

Matt Pierce Chris George Rodney Dive Aaron Asadi

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CIRCULATION & MARKETING Marketing Director Sascha Kimmel

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LICENSING Senior Licensing and Syndication Manager Matt Ellis matt.ellis@futurenet.com Phone: + 44 (0)1225 442244 Printed in the UK by William Gibbons on behalf of Future. Distributed in the UK by Seymour Distribution Ltd, 2 East Poultry Avenue, London EC1A 9PT. Phone: + 44 (0)20 7429 4000

Future produces carefully targeted magazines, websites and events for people with a passion. Our portfolio includes more than 180 magazines, websites and events, and we export or license our publications to 90 countries around the world. Future plc is a public company quoted on the London Stock Exchange (symbol: FUTR). Chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne Non-executive chairman Peter Allen Chief financial officer Penny Ladkin-Brand Tel: +44 (0) 1225 442244 www.futureplc.com All information contained in this magazine is for informational purposes only and is, to the best of our knowledge, correct at the time of going to press. Future Publishing Limited cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies that occur. Readers are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers direct with regard to pricing. Š Future Publishing Limited 2016. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher.

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Contents Teach yourself wildlife photography CHAPTER 1

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

6

A celebration of the breathtaking photography in 2016’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards

CHAPTER 2

Apprentice

24

Experts in wildlife photography take our apprentices into the field to develop their skills under their guidance. Find out how to photograph... On safari...........................................................................................26 Creepy crawlies..............................................................................38 In a wildlife park..............................................................................50 Puffins............................................................................................. 60 Deer..................................................................................................70 Butterflies........................................................................................80 Little owls.........................................................................................92 Frogs...............................................................................................102 Seals................................................................................................112 Botswana safari...........................................................................122

CHAPTER 3

Learn the art of wildlife photography 136 Discover how to get closer to wild animals, and learn the sharp shooting techniques you’ll need to get stunning pictures once you’re there



Garden wildlife..............................................................................138 Accessible animals.....................................................................140 Further afield................................................................................ 142 Go to extremes.............................................................................144 Hides buyers’ guide....................................................................146

CHAPTER 4

Projects

152

Giving you the chance to put into practice the skills we preach, find 10 projects that will will teach you how to photograph everything from the bugs in your back garden to the lions in a local zoo. Here’s how to photograph... In a zoo...........................................................................................154 For photo stacking.......................................................................158 Birds in your back garden..........................................................164 Deer at range................................................................................168 Birds of prey in flight.................................................................... 172 Bird behaviour.............................................................................. 176 Bird portraits................................................................................180 Bugs in your back garden..........................................................184 Deer................................................................................................186 Squirrels........................................................................................188 Macro eyes....................................................................................192

On safari.........................................................................................198 Small mammals.........................................................................200 Wildfowl.........................................................................................202 Dew-drenched dragonflies......................................................203 Captive wildlife.............................................................................204 Abstracts......................................................................................206 Nocturnal animals......................................................................206 Environmental portraits...........................................................209 Flock of birds in flight...................................................................210 Whales and dolphins..................................................................212 Amphibians...................................................................................213 Spiders...........................................................................................215 Garden birds.................................................................................216 Back-lit mammals and birds.....................................................218 Macro field studio........................................................................219 Animals in the snow...................................................................220 Animal eye close-ups................................................................. 222 Silhouettes................................................................................... 223

ON YOUR DISC

What’s on your free preview disc



224

Discover how to use your free video disc...............................224

video guide ON the disc

CHAPTER 5

The secrets to success

196

Improve your wildlife photography with these 18 practical hints and tips for everything from dew-drenched dragonflies and artistic silhouettes to animals in the snow

When you see this graphic there’s a video on your disc See page 224 for more

Teach yourself wildlife photography 05


Tim Laman USA Winner, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016 A young male orangutan climbs the 30m (100ft) up the thickest root of the strangler fig wrapped around a tree emerging high above the canopy. The orangutan has returned to this spot in Gunung Palung National Park, one of the few protected orangutan strongholds in Indonesian Borneo, to feast on the crop of figs. Tim knew he would return and that this was the only way to reach the top. He spent three days climbing up and down himself, by rope, to set up several GoPro cameras that he could trigger remotely. GoPro HERO4 Black at 1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO231 00 Teach yourself wildlife photography

© Tim Laman / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Entwined lives


Wildlife Photographer of the Year This prestigious competition recognises the best in ethical wildlife and nature photography from around the world in 2016. These winners’ images were chosen for their “artistic composition, technical innovation and truthful interpretation of the natural world”

Teach yourself wildlife photography 07


22 Teach yourself wildlife photography


Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Tony Wu USA Winner, Underwater Each month, thousands of two-spot red snappers gather to spawn around Palau in the western Pacific Ocean. The action is intense as the fish fill the water with sperm and eggs, and predators arrive. Having read about the drama, Tony first attempted to capture it in 2012. The currents were unrelenting – ideal for the eggs to be swept swiftly away, but a struggle for him to keep up. He returned every year, and finally had success when he positioned himself so that the action came to him. He was intrigued to see that the fish rapidly changed colour during mating from their standard red to a multitude of hues and patterns. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 15mm f/2.8 lens at 1/200 sec, f/9, ISO640 The annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London, is open to professional and amateur photographers of any age, from any country. The finalists’ images are displayed at the Natural History Museum until 10 September 2017, and the exhibition tours the UK from November 2016 to April 2018. The next competition is now open for entries. For details, visit www.nhm. ac.uk/visit/wpy/competition.html Teach yourself wildlife photography 00

© Tony Wu / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Snapper party


The PRO

APPRENTICE

Name:

Name:

Clint Ralph

Caron Steele

Camera:

Camera:

EOS-1D X Mk II & 6D

EOS-1D X Mk II & 7D Mk II

By day, Clint is managing director of an ethical waste management company in Pretoria, South Africa. But in his spare time, he’s an award-winning wildlife photographer who specialises in the birds and big game of his home country. This Apprentice shoot marks the first time that he has shot the Great Migration, and he was keen to help Caron get the most from her new kit. See his work at www.facebook.com/Clint-RalphPhotography-714373005250511

Caron is a former advertising director who now runs a working farm estate – complete with conference centre, wedding venue and business park – in Worcestershire. She studied zoology at Oxford University and now spends much of her time photographing the wildlife on her farm, as well as travelling around the world. She’s recently upgraded her camera and was looking to get to grips with it on this trip. See her shots at www.caronsteelephotography.com

26 Teach yourself wildlife photography


The Apprentice Safari

AFRICAN adventure! Our Apprentice travels to Kenya’s Masai Mara with semi-pro photographer Clint Ralph to capture the Great Migration

FACTFILE The Great Migration What is it? One of the natural wonders of the world, the Great Migration sees millions of wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebra and gazelle make the 500-mile trip from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya. When should you go? July to August is the time when the animals start to arrive in Kenya, and they start moving south again in November. We were in the Masai Mara in late August and witnessed large river crossings each day. Where should you stay? We flew from the UK to Nairobi and went on safari with the excellent CNP Safaris (www.cnpsafaris.com). There are many lodges stretching from the south in Tanzania to the north in Kenya, but we stayed with &Beyond (www.andbeyond.com), which supplies accommodation of the highest standards along the whole migration route, including mobile camps that follow the migration. We stayed at &Beyond’s plush Kichwa Tembo camp in the Masai Mara triangle, which offers Wi-Fi and plenty of electricity points.

Teach yourself wildlife photography 27


The Apprentice Safari

Top 10 Safari Photography Tips with the pros 1 CGophotography onsider booking with a specialist safari company as you’ll be accompanied

by a pro photographer who can position the vehicle in the best place for a quality shot.

2

Prepare for the route Find out if the location you’re visiting permits off-road driving. In some areas of the Masai Mara you have to keep to the roads, so you’ll need much longer lenses, plus extenders.

3

Take a backup camera body If it’s a trip of a lifetime, you need to prepare for the worst. Besides, using two cameras gives you the option of fitting a shorter zoom to one body and a telephoto whopper to the other.

4

Carry your kit While you can put a travel tripod, remote release and other accessories in your check-in luggage, always keep your camera, lenses and batteries in your carry-on bag or pockets.

5

Set your alarm I n locations like the Masai Mara and the Serengeti, you need to be on the move in the safari vehicle by 6am as the light gets very harsh, very quickly.

6

Work with your guide Make sure your guide gets you into the best position for photography: which direction is the light coming from? Are there any blades of grass between you and the animal? Would moving a few feet provide a better background?

7 8 9

Learn safari jeep etiquette Keep still when other photographers are taking pictures and give everyone a heads-up if you’re going to start rummaging around in your camera bag or move to a different position. Stay out all day Typically, you’ll do a game drive in the morning and another in the afternoon. But with an amenable driver – and a packed lunch to hand – you can venture further and not miss a thing. Be ready to fix it Take a set of screwdrivers, Allen keys, gaffer tape and other kit you might need to carry out running repairs. Remember to pack sharp implements in your check-in baggage.

inimise lens changes 10 MAmotion, void changing lenses while the vehicle is in as this risks allowing dust to enter the

camera or rear lens mount, not to mention the danger if the vehicle comes to a sudden stop. 

30 Teach yourself wildlife photography

Top pro gear #2 500mm/600mm lenses Super-telephoto primes offer superior build, fast focusing and razor-sharp image quality. They also work brilliantly with Extenders. One of Clint’s specialisms is photographing birds, so he’s opted for Canon’s EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens twinned with a 1.4x Extender, giving him the equivalent view of an 840mm lens. Caron packed the Canon EF 500m``````m f/4L IS II USM, frequently using it in combination with EF 1.4x and 2x Extenders.

Top tip

Look for gaps “When you’re photographing groups of animals, such as the vast congregations of wildebeest and zebra on the Masai Mara, you need to ‘work the breaks’,” explains Clint. “In other words, frame your shots so that there’s a clear gap between animals or between animals and the edge of the frame. This will make it much easier to crop the shot for a tighter, better composition later if you need to.”

Expert insight

Exposure Clint and Caron were constantly discussing their exposure settings while shooting. “Be prepared to dial in negative exposure compensation as it’s very easy for all detail to be burned out of delicate light-coloured fur around a lion’s muzzle or the feathers of white birds,” suggests Clint. “The camera’s histogram is too small to give you a true picture: if only a few hundred pixels are clipped, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to see this unless you’re viewing a larger histogram at the editing stage. So expose shots to preserve the highlights: it’s much easier to boost the shadows and deal with noise than it is to try to rescue overexposed areas.”


The Apprentice Safari

HOT SHOT #2 Lens

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM

Exposure

1/5000 sec, f/5, ISO400


The Apprentice Creepy Crawlies

“It’s a

Bug’s life!” Professional Alex Hyde shares his top tips and bug knowledge with our apprentice to transform his macro photography…

38 Teach yourself wildlife photography


The Apprentice Creepy Crawlies

APPRENTICE

The PRO

Name:

Name:

John Owens

Alex Hyde

Camera:

Camera:

Canon EOS 5D 600D

Canon EOS 5D Mk III

John, from Hebburn, Tyne and Wear, has developed a passion for wildlife photography. He loves shooting all creatures great and small when he’s out and about and, with an eye on a new macro lens and an interest in flash, he asked our expert for some top shooting tips to help him progress with his close-up photography of creepy crawlies.

Alex is a professional natural history photographer based in the Peak District National Park, but also travels to far-flung tropical forests all over the world. He lectures in digital imaging and natural history photography at the University of Nottingham, as well as running photographic tours and one-to-one workshops.

Teach yourself wildlife photography 39


A roaring success!

Apprentice Andy Thorpe gets a lesson from expert David Southard on how to photograph all creatures great and small as they go on safari in the wilds of Merseyside 50 Teach yourself wildlife photography


The Apprentice Wildlife park

APPRENTICE

The pro

Name:

Name:

Andy Thorpe

David Southard

Camera:

Camera:

Canon EOS 550D Andy Thorpe from Bristol, is a part-time teacher and property manager. In his spare time, Andy loves to get out and about with his Canon 550D to capture birds and other British wildlife near his home. Andy is always looking to improve his animal shots, and so of course he jumped at the chance to spend a day ‘on safari’ with a professional wildlife photographer.

Canon EOS-1D Mk IV & Canon EOS-1Ds Mk III Wildlife photographer David Southard runs photography training outfit Wild Arena (www. wildarena.com). Based at Knowsley Safari Park near Liverpool, he runs workshops covering everything from photographing big game in the park to shooting reptiles and insects in their studio.

Teach yourself wildlife photography 51


The Apprentice Little Owls Expert insight

SHOT of the day! Lens

Nikon AF-S 500mm f/4G ED VR

Exposure

1/50 sec, f/4, ISO800

Shooting chairs “I’ve spent countless hours sat in bird hides where my rear has gone numb from the square, hard wooden benches. Even the wooden benches are better than laying down in a field for hours on end in camouflage, though. That’s why I’ve kitted out the hide with comfortable chairs: it means we can keep shooting and not miss anything.” says Elliott.

Harry’s comment I never thought I’d get such a stunningly vibrant image of these owls. It was late in the night and the sun had already gone down. There was no rim-light from the sunset, and my ISO was going up and up. I was at the limits of my camera’s image sensor’s sensitivity, but I managed to snap this one just in time. The bright orange background is the red bricks on the wall behind (there are 340 bricks – I counted them to stay alert over the ten hours we were waiting!) and it makes this shot pop. The owl was posing for me and I love the way it looks. They don’t look little at all, they’re magnificent. It’s a tight crop because the bird was so close, but I think that’s good – you can see its talons wrapped around the post.

Pro’s verdict

“Harry has captured the classic little owl portrait. The owl is in a great position, perched front/side on with its head turned, looking just past the lens. It’s one of the fledglings, so doesn’t yet have those piercing yellow eyes, nor the infamous scowl. It’s great to see the talons gripping on to the woodwork. Shooting with a Nikon D300s and 500mm f/4, the framing is a little tight at that close range, but can’t be helped on a fixed perch. The aperture is wide open, diffusing that red-brick wall in the background and really making the subject ping out. All in all, it’s a great effort and surely a shot to be proud of.”

With thanks to…

ProHides, which offers a selection of bespoke top-quality hides, placed around a farm in Wiltshire in locations known to be frequented by creatures such as little owls, buzzards and badgers. The service includes flexible start and finish times, and transfers to the hide location from a central meeting point. Find out more at www.prohides.com Teach yourself wildlife photography 101


Learn

the art of

wildlife

photography Discover how to get closer to wild animals, and learn the sharp-shooting techniques you’ll need to get stunning pictures once you’re there Winter is the perfect time of year to try your hand at wildlife photography. Without the cover of trees and bushes, it’s easier to see wild animals and birds in their natural habitats. There’s less food available too, so it’s also easier to tempt them closer to your lens. And crucially, although the days are shorter, you can photograph for a much longer period than you can in the summer, because the angle of the winter sun makes for more interesting light throughout the day, with the glorious colours of sub-zero sunrises and sunsets giving your pictures an interesting edge. Cold weather brings its own 136 Teach yourself wildlife photography

set of problems, though. For instance, metal tripods get uncomfortably cold – use padded leg wraps or switch to a carbon fibre tripod instead. Batteries also drain faster when temperatures drop. This problem is exacerbated by the use of image stabilisation, which is an essential feature on the telephoto lenses required for images of distant wildlife. However, you don’t have to spend weeks shivering behind a £10,000 telephoto monster lens in a tiny hide in order to take nature images. Follow our guide to take brilliant pictures everywhere, from your garden to your local park and beyond…


David Lloyd

Teach yourself wildlife photography 137


Projects Bird portraits

Improve your bird of prey shots The Mission To shoot better bird of prey portraits Time needed Three hours Skill level Intermediate Kit needed • DSLR • Telephoto lens • Tripod

video guide ON the disc

Don’t just watch the birdie, capture him with your camera! Follow our quick guide to taking better portraits of birds of prey Birds of prey are some of the most exciting wildlife subjects that you’ll ever photograph. Their majestic presence and effortless elegance makes for striking portrait shots. These birds can be tricky to find and photograph well in the wild, but as we’ve seen in the previous pages there’s an easier option: visit a local falconry centre and you’ll be able to get a lot closer to birds of prey than you would ever be able to

in their natural habitat. We headed to the Barn Owl Centre in Gloucestershire, where their resident Eagle Owls, Buzzards and Barn Owls are much more used to humans and camera flashes than their wild counterparts. In this guide, we’ll look at the basics of photographing birds of prey, including eight key steps to follow if you want to create a really striking portrait shot like ours. Plus, we’ll teach you how to shoot

through wire fences to make them magically disappear. All you have to do is follow our tips and remember to be patient. Wild animals aren’t expected to be well behaved, and even trained ones in specialist falconry centres can take a while to coax into posing; we spent an hour waiting for Kaln, this gorgeous Eagle Owl, to come down from a tree and model for us!

Birds of prey are notoriously tricky to find and photograph in the wild… visit a local falconry centre and you’ll be able to get a lot closer to them than you would in their natural habitat

An Eagle Owl staring beadily down the lens with a gorgeous shallow depth of field makes for a fantastic wildlife shot, and the good news is that it isn’t hard to achieve with a little patience. Bird handler Vince brought Kaln out for a modelling session and after a few false starts he happily settled onto this tree trunk and posed nicely for the camera, while we concentrated on getting our camera set up.

180 Teach yourself wildlife photography


Projects Bird portraits

Teach yourself wildlife photography 00


Photography Masterclass 67 (Sampler)  

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