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Wildlife

Photography 6 9 1 f pages o

expert photoe advic

Learn pro skills to improve your animal captures Digital Edition

Take spectacular shots in the wild


Contents Teach Yourself Wildlife Photography CHAPTER 1

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

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A celebration of the breathtaking photography in 2017’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards

CHAPTER 2

Apprentice

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Experts in wildlife photography take our apprentices into the field to develop their skills under their guidance African adventure...........................................................................18 Help me shoot a bug’s life............................................................30 Puffin, or Nuffin’.............................................................................40 Now that’s what I call a stag party!............................................50 A hoot of a shoot........................................................................... 60 Seal of approval..............................................................................70 Go wild..............................................................................................80

CHAPTER 3

Techniques

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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



Learn the art of wildlife photography........................................94 Help me buy a camouflage hide..............................................104 The ultimate guide to safari photography.............................108

CHAPTER 4

Projects

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Giving you the chance to put into practice the skills we preach, find 10 projects that 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... Make your zoo shots look natural............................................122 Shoot wide-angle wildlife...........................................................126 Stack your shots for pin-sharp pictures.................................128 Capture garden birds..................................................................134 Photograph deer with a telephoto lens..................................138 Capture birds in flight.................................................................. 142 Capture bird behaviour..............................................................146 Improve your birds of prey shots.............................................150 Make a macro lighting studio....................................................154 Capture captivating close-ups of eyes...................................160

FREE DOWNLOAD Online resources on page 194

06 Teach yourself wildlife photography


CHAPTER 5

The secrets to success 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.

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Teach yourself wildlife photography 07


© Brent Stirton/ Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Memorial to a species

Brent stirton South africa Winner, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017 The killers were probably from a local community but working to order. Entering the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve at night, they shot the black rhino bull, they hacked off the two horns and escaped before being discovered by the reserve’s patrol. The horns would have been sold to a middleman and smuggled out of South Africa, to China or Vietnam. For the reserve, it was grim news, not least because this is where conservationists bred back from near extinction the subspecies that is now the pre-emi‑ nent target for poachers, the southern white rhino. For the photographer, the crime scene was one of more than 30 he visited in the course of covering this tragic story. Canon EOS-1DX + 28mm f2.8 lens; 1/250 sec at f9; ISO 200; flash

Polar pas de deux

Eilo Elvinger Luxembourg Winner, Black and white Nearing the ship, the bears were diverted to a patch of snow soaked in leakage from the vessel’s kitchen and began to lick it. “I was ashamed of our contribution to the immaculate landscape,” says Eilo. “And of how this influenced the bears’ behaviour.” Mirroring each other, with back legs pressed together, they tasted the stained snow in synchrony. Mindful of the species’ shrinking habitat –climate change is reducing the Arctic sea ice on which the bears depend –Eilo framed her shot tightly, choosing black and white to “reflect the pollution as a shadow cast on the pristine environment.” Canon EOS-1DX + 200–400mm f4 lens at 200mm; 1 /640 sec at f9 (+0.7 e/v); ISO 6400

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year Crab surprise

© Justin Gilligan / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Justin Gilligan australia Winner, Behaviour: Invertebrates “I noticed an odd shape in the distance, moving among the writhing crabs,” says Gilligan. It was a Maori octopus that seemed equally delighted with the unexpected bounty. Though large – the biggest octopus in the southern hemi‑ sphere, with muscular arms spanning up to 3 metres (10 feet) and knobbly, white-spotted skin – it was having trouble choosing and catching a crab. Luckily for Justin, the stage was set with clear water and sunlight reflecting off the sand. He quickly adjusted his camera and framed the octopus finally making its catch.

© Eilo Elvinger / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Nikon D810 + 15mm f2.8 lens; 1 /100 sec at f14; ISO 400; Nauticam housing; two Ikelite DS161 strobes

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The Apprentice Bugs

Top pro gear #2 Plamp “A plamp is a plant-holding device that grips onto a stable surface, like a tripod leg, and also onto a plant. It’s designed to reduce movement of the subject due to wind. When photographing at high magnification, even a slight breeze can move grasses and flowers wildly around the frame, so holding it in place increases your chances of taking a sharp shot. It’s advisable to only use it on thicker-stemmed plants though, because gripping more delicate flora, such as Orchids, could damage the plant.”

Top pro gear #3

HOT SHOT #3 Lens

105mm f/2.8

Exposure

1/640 sec, f/8, ISO800

andy’s comment

Diffuser “On bright days with direct sunlight, the contrast between highlights and shadows can be too extreme. Placing a diffuser between the sun and the subject will give you more flattering light that produces softer shadows and gentle highlights, and that reveals delicate details in the petals, scales and grass. You have to be careful not to knock the subject or your tripod with the diffuser though, especially if you have to hold the diffuser and take the photo at the same time.” 36 Teach yourself wildlife photography

My initial images of this Marsh Fritillary were slightly soft due to my shutter speed being too slow. To enable me to set a faster shutter speed Ross suggested I increase my ISO, but he didn’t want be going up above 800, as he was concerned about noise. My shutter speed still wasn’t quite fast enough, so I opened up my aperture from f/11 to f/8. This reduced the depth of field slightly, but by composing the shot so that the entire butterfly was on the same plane of focus (see right), I was able to ensure most of it was pin-sharp.


Expert insight

Focus in Live View When shooting macro on a tripod, focusing through Live View is always the easiest and most reliable method. Unlike looking the viewfinder, it shows you the effect that the aperture has on the image, so you can see exactly how much depth of field you have to work with before you’ve even taken the shot. The zoom button magnifies the image on the LCD and allows you to manually focus with incredible precision.

Plane of focus “When shooting big winged insects like damselflies, dragonflies and butterflies, you have to keep your plane of focus parallel with the insect. If you tilt your Nikon at an angle to the butterfly only a small slice of the insect will be in focus, with everything else blurred. Ensure your camera is flat-on to the subject to increase your chances of getting it all sharp.” Teach yourself wildlife photography 37


The Apprentice Go wild

jayne’s comment

Top pro gear #4 Homemade backgrounds

The setup for the barn owl was at the end of the poly tunnel, which was quite sheltered but offered sufficient ambient light and a visible natural background. With a few adjustments to the off-camera flash setting, the barn owl was beautifully lit against a darker background. To make this more effective Chris suggested I position myself low so that I was looking up at the owl. At this lower angle the dark sky could be seen over the nearby foliage, giving a night-time feel.

“When teamed with a wide aperture, adding in a backdrop behind smaller animals is an easy way to avoid unsightly or messy backgrounds,” confides Chris. “Making your own backgrounds is easy. This is a simple out-of-focus image that I printed out and mounted to a board.”

Expert insight

Use Speedlights creatively “Owls are nocturnal, so we tried to re-create the look of dusk by adding in two Speedlites to the setup,” says Chris. “We wanted to give the shot a night-time look, as if it was the blue hour, to make the results more natural-looking. We started by switching to single shooting mode, took a reading of the outside of the enclosure, then used exposure compensation to underexpose by a few stops. We had to narrow the aperture a lot and set the ISO to its lowest point to get the background dark enough. The bright plumage detail of the owl was easy to overexpose and burn out. To compensate, we moved the flashguns further back compared to when we were photographing the mice, to give a wider spread of light.”

Top tip

Hone your fieldcraft “Wildlife centres are great places to practise techniques and experiment with settings, but are no substitute for getting a cracking shot of animals out in the wild!” enthuses Chris. “Captive creatures are much easier to photograph, as you don’t need to find them in the first place, so once you’ve honed your skills, get out and work on your fieldcraft.”

Pro Portfolio: It’s All Over in a flash

Some of Chris’s favourite shots were captured using a high-speed strobe technique…

Bee hive “This battle to the death between a wasp and honey bee took place at lightning speed and was captured at a flash speed of 1/30000 sec. It came third in the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition. An aperture of f/18 ensured maximum depth of field with a macro lens.” 88 Teach yourself wildlife photography

Wood mouse “This image was taken in the wild using a combination of high-speed flash and an infrared trigger remote, which fires the shutter when a creature breaks an infrared beam. The shutter speed itself was only 1/160 sec, but it was the flash that froze the movement of the jumping mouse. I used a 50mm focal length.”

Hornet “I spent a week on this project, but it paid off when the image won the ‘Nature in close up’ category of the Outdoor Photographer of the Year 2011 competition. I needed the full 400mm reach from my Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM for a frame-filling shot of the hornet returning to its nest.”


HOT SHOT #4 Lens

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Exposure

1/250 sec, f/16, ISO100

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The ultimate guide to safari photography

The safari landscape With open plains and scenes of stark beauty, the landscape offers photographic delights…

Use a tripod There are times on safari when you can step out of the truck and get set up for a landscape. Here a tripod is essential, especially at the start or end of the day when the light is low. It means you can use slower shutter speeds, which allows for narrow apertures – and therefore a greater depth of field – and also means you can use a lowest ISO for the best image quality.

It’s best to switch optical lens stabilization off when using your camera on a tripod

Photograph the stars The lack of artificial light means you’ll often get a great view of the Milky Way at night in Africa. Use a tripod and set a shutter speed of 30 secs (any slower causes the stars to blur). Use a wide aperture and high ISO. If any areas blow out, like those lighting the trees here, take a second shot with a faster shutter speed and blend the two in Photoshop.

Shoot from the air If you’re travelling to your safari camp by light aircraft then be sure to keep your camera to hand. The aerial views of the African landscape can be stunning, especially at dawn and dusk. Be sure to bag the window seat, then use a fast shutter speed of 1/200 sec or more to ensure the landscape comes out sharp.

As well as making it easier to reach your safari camp, aircraft provide great aerial photo opportunities

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Lone trees are scattered across the African plains – frame one up with the setting sun behind for a beautifully simple sunset shot

With Mount Kilimanjaro and plentiful elephants, Kenya’s Amboseli National Park is a photographer’s dream

Capture lone trees A sense of place Most of us go on safari for the wildlife – the landscapes are a bonus. But why not try combining both? Here in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park – famed for it’s

elephants – Mount Kilimanjaro dominates the horizon. Including both in the composition makes for a scene that couldn’t possibly be taken anywhere else.

The African plains are dotted with lone trees, especially in elephant areas, as they tear down most, leaving only the sturdiest. These make for wonderful silhouettes against the setting or rising sun. Get the camera down low, if possible, to separate the tree from the horizon. Expose for the sky so that the tree and land are underexposed, almost to full black. Teach yourself wildlife photography 117


Projects Low-level photography

Step by step How to pair your phone through Wi-Fi Set up your camera to transmit a Wi-Fi signal that your phone can receive, then connect the Canon app

EOS DSLRs with Wi-Fi

We used the 5D Mk IV on our safari, which has built-in Wi-Fi. Other compatible EOS cameras include the 6D, 6D Mk II, 7D Mk II, 70D, 80D, 750D, 760D, 800D and 77D. The Wi-Fi feature means you can either connect to an existing Wi-Fi network (such as your home broadband router) or alternatively the camera can create its own Wi-Fi signal for when you’re out and about without an existing Wi-Fi connection nearby. The second option is usually the simplest to control your Canon with your phone.

01 Enable the Wi-Fi

02 Connect your phone

03 Log on to Wi-Fi

04 Open the app

On a Wi-Fi-enabled Canon DSLR, find ‘Communication Settings’ in the Custom Settings menu. Choose ‘Built-in Wireless Settings’ then select Wi-Fi/NFC and choose Enable. You’ll be asked to set up a nickname for your device the first time, which can be whatever you like.

Grab your phone and go into the Wi-Fi settings (the method for this will vary depending on your phone). Select the Wi-Fi network listed as SSID on the camera LCD. You’ll be asked for a Wi-Fi password, which is also displayed on the camera LCD. Enter the password.

Go to ‘Wi-Fi Function’ and choose ‘Connect to Smartphone’. Choose the ‘Easy Connection’ method and then you’ll see ‘Waiting to Connect’. At this point, the camera will begin emitting its own Wi-Fi signal, which devices like your phone will be able to detect.

Open the Canon Camera Connect app. The camera should be detected immediately. You’ll be asked to confirm the connection on the camera and, once done, the connection is established. Hit ‘Remote Shooting’ on the app to start controlling your DSLR with your phone.

Essential skills Get your camera set up for safari

Capturing wild animals with a long lens requires a fast shutter speed, high drive rate and a steady hand A high shutter speed is essential for shooting with a long lens to prevent blur. The usual rule is to keep shutter speed at least equal to focal length – 1/200 sec for 200mm. However, it’s best to double this if the camera is dangling from a monopod.

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A fast drive rate will enable you to fire off several frames in quick succession, which is very useful when animals are on the move. It’s a good idea to set AI Servo focus mode – this way the phone app will lock on and track the movement of the subject.


Projects Low-level photography

top tips Reasons to go to ground A low angle can help to create interesting compositions and open up new opportunities for great photos

01 Scenes with depth

With the camera near the ground we can frame up subjects against more interesting backdrops. For example, if there are animals in the foreground and background, we can frame both together for a composition that wouldn’t be possible from a higher angle.

02 Break the horizon

Shooting from a low angle means we can drop the horizon down lower in the frame. So instead of framing the animal’s body against land, we can place it against the sky to create greater contrast, emphasize the elegant shape of the body and include distant scenery, like Kilimanjaro here.

03 Blur the foreground

When we use a wide aperture and focus on a distant subject, parts of the scene that are very close to the camera will become blurred. So by keeping the camera low we bring the ground tight up to the lens, which lets us create beautiful foreground blur that leads the eye towards the subject.

Composition skills Height issues Not only does camera height have a bearing on how the subject looks, it can also affect how the viewer feels… If a photo is taken at eye level (right) it creates a subconscious connection between the viewer and the subject. The viewer is literally on the same level as the subject, so there’s a sense of empathy (especially if the height is different to an adult). Shooting down on a subject from above eye level emphasizes the head more than the body. It also makes them appear vulnerable, as it’s the viewer who holds the high ground. Conversely, a low angle (below) emphasizes the body more than the head, making the subject seem taller. As such, it gives the subject a sense of power as they hold the position of strength.

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