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How-to’s

Wildlife Photography

Let the  adventure  begin.  


The Author: Roho Ya Chui

Roho Ya Chui’s Ute Sonnenberg writes in her blog about several aspects of photography and one of them is wildlife photography with its special challenges and joys. The following “How to’s” on Wildlife Photography are a selection of blog posts. To read more, visit the blog on the website www.rohoyachui.com.


TABLE OF CONTENT:

How to’s of the bush

3

How to process your images

13

How to present your images

25

© 2012 photography and copy Ute Sonnenberg for www.rohoyachui.com


How to’s of the bush


HOW-TOS WILDFIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

First things first, how do you know you want to go on a photo safari? Did somebody ask you to join them or did you think lets do something different this year or were you always interested in wildlife and now you can’t wait to see it yourself? By answering this question you set the first step to choose the right destination, accommodation and mode of transport. When you join somebody everything is usually already decided and arranged. You only step in. When you think of doing a holiday just in a different way, than you should make a list what you want to see, experience and what is important to you regarding standard of accommodation and transportation. You might like to do a combination of safari, culture/lifestyle and beach to get an impression of Africa’s diversity. For that purpose you should choose a safari destination that offers excellent sightings, easy access and comfortable accommodation. You will travel quite a lot during that holiday to see and experience all the different places and activities, so easy access is important to not loose time and energy. The safari will be only one activity you are doing during the trip, so you want the best, preferably seeing the Big 5 within a few days before moving on to climb a mountain or to enjoy the beach. For that purpose a fly in safari to a Private Game Reserve or great areas as the Masai Mara and the Okavango Delta will be the best options. Check what vehicles the camp/lodge is using and if trained drivers/rangers are available. Be aware that travelling in Africa is different from other places. If you think about booking it yourself on the Internet you can make big misjudgments in planning distances, travel time, accommodation and game drive quality. Rather get somebody to help and advice you with that.

How to plan and book your photo safari


HOW-TOS WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

When you want to go on safari and only on safari to enjoy photographing the great wildlife, your photo safari options get broader. You can choose for a variety of wildlife areas, even with different countries in one trip, depending on the time you have available. There is no need to rush things and plenty of opportunity to see the very diverse national parks and reserves with different and rare animal species. For this kind of photo safari it is great to have your private 4x4 Jeep with an allocated driver/guide for the entire stay. It provides the ultimate bush experience and allows you to go on game drives when you want and for how long you want. You got the freedom to make your own plan. Also for this kind of safari the same advice applies. Get somebody to help you with the planning and booking. Distances in Africa are measured in hours, not in kilometers and not knowing the rules of the bush can get you in difficulties. Having your private vehicle can be combined with simple camping or 5 star lodges, depending on the budget for the trip. It demands more time through travelling by car between the wildlife areas, but with the opportunity to see more of the country. Last but  not  least,  ask  yourself  what  animals  you  want  to  see.  In  some  areas  it’s  easy  to   see   the   big   cats   in   others   to   see   elephant.   Think   about   it   when   you   plan   the   trip,   that   you   don’t  end  up  in  an  area  where  leopards  are  hardly  see  with  the  idea  to  photograph  them.         Happy  planning.  


HOW-TOS WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

How do you change the lens on your camera? Do you put the camera body on your lap; lens facing up and you turn of the lens and put on the other one? The moment we change the lens on our DSLR camera we open the camera body to the environment. That means whatever is in the environment gets access to the insight of our camera and it does not belong there. We don’t want dust in our camera and on the sensor. It might not be to bad in a closed and quite clean room, but it gets really bad when we are outdoors and especially in the bush. This environment is already challenging for the equipment and don’t make it worse. When changing the lens have the body opening always facing down. If you have to do it while being on a game drive with no assistants in sight to help you, do it like this. Hold the lens while still being on the camera body with your knees, turn the camera body off the lens, set the lens aside, hold the new lens with your knees and put on the camera body onto the new lens while holding the lens with your knees. It’s a simple way of being fast in changing the lens, keeping yourself reminded of facing the camera body down and avoiding as much as possible exposure to the dusty environment. Try it first at home to be fast enough when wanting to capture the fast moving leopard with the right lens. Well, or travel with a couple of bodies and never have to change a lens. Happy lens changing.

How to change DSLR Lenses in the Bush


HOW-TOS WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

What is a typical bird photo? An empty branch or a piece of blue sky. They are so incredibly fast that it is so hard to get them nicely in the picture. First things first. Put your camera away and observe the birds, any birds. Learn about their behavior. When are they doing things, how are they doing things, what is an indication for a following movement, how does a bird show that he will take off. Next. Get a feeling for the birds. Spend time with them to sense when they are calm and relaxed and when they are restless, anxious or stressed. That will influence their behavior and the way you can photograph them. Then get your camera and practice. Sit with the birds in your garden or in the park and photograph them. Don’t think about composition or light; just photograph any bird that comes along. By doing that you will bring your observations together with the actual process of photographing and this synergy will result in great bird photos. So in essence: observation, sensing, practicing. Enjoy these great animals. Happy snapping.

How to photograph successfully birds


HOW-TOS WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

When photographing outdoors we rely on the natural light and how it changes during the course of the day. The light just after sunrise is probably the most beautiful light a photographer can work with. It is warm, soft, gentle, promising, with still a whole day ahead, clean, innocent and pristine. In this light every subject from the model to the lion looks innocent, warm, gentle and lovable. Nothing has spoilt their beauty yet, the beauty of the light and the subject. Further in the day the light becomes harsh or dull, depending on the weather, contrasts are missing and subjects are over or underexposed. It’s hard working to get something look good. Towards sunset the light makes another major change. As if it wants to get rid of all what has happened during the day it’s cleaning and softening itself to be calm and gentle before setting for the night. The hour just after sunrise and the hour just before sunset are called the golden hour. They are the best time for photographers. For those who find it difficult to get up early the light before sunset will be fine, but the best light is the light in the early morning. It’s hard to say why, but it might be the promise of a day to come what makes the light the better one and it will reflect in the images as well. Choose your light and shoot away. Happy shooting early birds.

Early Birds get the best photos


HOW-TOS WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

It might sound far-fetched, but Quantum Physics is the starting point to understand and photograph leopards. Everything is made of the same energy and everything is connected to everything else is an essential lesson from Quantum Physics, that applies to us as it applies to leopards, a coffee mug and the car we are driving in. Because we are all made of the same energy, we are also all connected and communicate on the energy level all the time, mostly without being conscious about that, although we use phrases like “we are on the same wavelength” with somebody or not. So somehow we know that we are communicating on frequencies like radio channels and some people can receive the signals and some don’t or receive only distorted messages. That means that the energy we are made of vibrates or moves in different frequencies, higher or lower frequencies, faster or slower. We might experience situations where we immediately have a good “click” with somebody. Most likely this person communicates on energy level on the same frequency as we do. When we experience a situation that we find it difficult to be in the presence of a certain person for too long, because we start to feel tensed and restless, like pressure is building up, we might have an encounter with somebody of a high frequency energy and our energy frequency finds it hard to adjust to the same level. In the other direction to a lower frequency the adjustment is easier and mostly not experienced as demanding or unpleasant. But what does all that have to do with photography and especially leopard photography? An easy answer could be, wait until you look one into the eyes, but it is helpful to know what happens when you are in the lucky position to be near a leopard and able to spend time with the animal. The difference in photographing wildlife in general and leopards in particular is the very high frequency energy this incredible cat has. Being conscious about that helps a lot when photographing them.

How to photograph leopards


HOW-TOS WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

Imagine you are on a game drive and suddenly there is the leopard you were looking for already for days, right in front of the vehicle on a termite mount. Now just shoot away. Don’t think. Let the adrenaline from the excitement out and also take the pictures you can get, before the leopard possibly disappears. This moment might take a minute or two. You will feel when the excitement has settled and you will sit more relaxed in the vehicle. First thoughts of how to photograph the leopard properly will pop up. The next thing might be a feeling of impatience and negative thoughts about the light, the not doing anything animal, chaos with the camera settings, maybe a bit cursing, annoyance and eventually anger why we are still here with this leopard, enough leopard. This is a very important moment. When you decide to leave the sighting, you will miss the chance to connect with the animal and to get the most beautiful photos. All the negative thoughts and the physical reactions of feeling uncomfortable are caused by the difference in energy vibration/frequency. The leopard as a high frequency animal is just sitting there and doing nothing, only sending out on his/her frequency and your energy is trying to tune in to the leopards energy frequency. This tuning process causes the uncomfortable feeling. It will disappear as soon as you are tuned in and from there its as easy as what to photograph this amazing animal and to get the most beautiful leopard images. Be patient. Stay with the animal and give yourself the time to tune in. As soon as you are tuned in on the leopards frequency the whole “energy situation” on the sighting will calm down and all present parties will connect on the same level. The leopard will start doing his/her thing and the most incredible photo opportunities will occur. Try it at home with your cat and get trained for the big cat!


How to process your images Â


HOW-TOS WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

Digital Photography is a great thing. It makes us shoot away, not thinking and worrying too much, just snapping and enjoying this incredible hobby or profession. But there is a little downside. How to handle all these images? Many of us are struggling with this part of photography and when you’ve got down the road for a while with now good idea how to do organize your images, it becomes more and more frightening to start doing it properly and organizing the archive. Here some tips that might help getting some structure into the huge amount of images we are taking and taking away the fear of doing it. Reflect & Anticipate. Before you even start taking images think of how you want to find them back and/or think of how you usually find things back. Everybody has got his/her own way of thinking and remembering, the way we go through the drawers of our brain for all sorts of things. Some have a photographic memory others are good with numbers. There are plenty of different ways of thinking. Reflect and identify your way of thinking and remembering. You might like to store the images chronologically by making folders like “day 1 of photo safari”, “day 2 of photo safari” or you rather like to make folders per subject like “lion”, “leopard”, “cheetah” and “landscape”. Only you know what suits you best and fits your thinking patterns. Reflect on that and make an important first step to organize your images.

How to organize your photo safari images


HOW-TOS WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

Then anticipate. When you are for example very lucky and on a game drive where you see five different leopards, you want to be able to know afterwards which images where of which leopard. Take an image of the sky or another landmark that does not fit into the sequence of the leopard shots before you start photographing the next leopard. It will tell you later that this was the other leopard, leopard number two and you can put him in his dedicated folder. It works also very well when photographing for example dog shows or horse sports events. It will save you lots of time and nerves when going later through your images to find the one your friend is asking for. Structure the image upload to your computer. When the moment comes to upload your images to your computer you know already how you want the images to be organized, because you did the reflection and the anticipation beforehand. Now comes again a bit anticipation. Before you start uploading your photos, make the image folders on the computer first. That will prevent the leopard images going automatically into the big folder of all holiday photos, but directly to where you want them. When you have a folder “photo safari”, make a subfolder “leopards day 1” or only a subfolder “day 1”, whatever suits you best to have the structure to find them back later set.

Upload and backup. Your images are on your computer, nicely organized and you can find everything easily when you need it. Now comes the next and final step, the backup. The general rule is that you should have 2 backups and one backup off site. The backups are usually done on an external hard drive, to prevent image loss due to computer problems or theft. Create the same folder structure you use on your computer on the backup hard disks, because your thinking stays the same and you want to find things back. The off site backup can also be a hard drive with your images that you store in a safety deposit box at your local bank. An alternative is to store your images off site is the cloud, but when you shoot big files that will only apply to your very best images. Otherwise it will take forever to load them to the cloud and take a lot of space.


HOW-TOS WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

Now you are all set and organized. No worries anymore and free brain space to think about nice photography opportunities instead of how to organize and find your photos again. Easy software for organizing images is Aperture. I don’t know how it works with Lightroom, but its also used by many people. Enjoy a photo database without worries and keep snapping away!


HOW-TOS WILDLIFE PHOTOGRPAHY

We probably all know how it is to sit with an overwhelming amount of images from a trip, event or any other occasion that makes us shooting away. And now we need to make a selection of all these images to show to our client, friends or family. The first thing most of the people do is erasing the images they think are not good. But it starts exactly there to make the right choices. What is a good image? Ok, if you wanted to photograph a bird in flight and you got only sky that makes it a candidate to be erased. But with all other choices be careful. There might be images that you think now are not what you want, but they might be exactly what you need to complete a page in a photo book. They might be complimentary to the main image of the page and support its beauty, although you wouldn’t choose them to stand out alone. If you delete them now, you will miss them later. Be conscious that it is our mindset what makes us choose images!   If you just shot a wedding and the family of the bride asks you to show them pictures, you will think of this side of the wedding party when your are selecting the images. You will make sure that all of their family members are in the pictures. That will not mean that you will erase the images of the groom’s family. They will see a selection made for them. When you try to make a selection that suits all, you might experience stress, confusion or insecurity. That only comes, because your mind tries to jump right and left between the different expectations of the several parties of the event. As long as you focus on one “expectation group” or theme you will be fast and easy in making your selection. And when finished with one, focus on the next and go through the same body of work. You will be very efficient and secure in what you are doing, just like an editor for a magazine. The editor has an article with a certain subject and looks through a number of images to find the right one for that article. It’s the editors mind set what makes him or her stop at a certain images and knowing that’s it.  Do  the  same.  Set  your  mind  in  what  you  are  looking  for  and  it  will  do   the  job  for  you.  It  will  make  you  stop  at  exactly  the  image  you  need.     Try  it.      

How to make a selection of your images


HOW-TOS WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

About 6 years ago Apple started offering the photo book feature in Aperture, that enabled users to create their own photo book, looking like a real coffee table book. It was like a revolution. All photo lovers could make their own book instead of the traditional photo album. It looked like a professionally published book, yet for an affordable price. Only about 4 years later the iPad came out and its beautiful ebooks stole our hearts. Ebooks were nothing new, but these iPad ebooks were of a differnet kind. One could leafe through them like through real paper books and they would even make the sound of paper pages being turned. How great would it be to make your own Apple alike looking photo ebooks for a much lower price than the real photo books or even for free. With how many people could you share them simply on the digital way and on the go on their mobile devices. The developers were not sleeping and there are great websites that provide exaclty that service, creating your own beautiful photo ebook and of course also any other book you wish to create. It all starts like any other book creating process with the book idea, writing what you want to write and choosing the images you want to publish. From there you can take different roads to the finished photo ebook through differnet online publishing services. One of them is Blurb. Blurb allows you to make real paper books and iPad ebooks simply with templates, InDesign plugin or other bookmaking tools Blurb offers. Until now their iPad ebook service works like that. When you have already created and printed a paper book with Blurb they convert your book for free into an iPad ebook and you can even sell it via their book store. If you don’t have yet a paper book made with them, they request that you print one copy and the conversion into an iPad ebook is also for free. Check out their website. They are doing great things.

 

How to make a photo eBook


HOW-TOS WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

Another service provider is issuu. Create your book in word or as a power point presentation and save it as a pdf file. Then upload the pdf and issuu will create a beautiful online Apple lookalike readable ebook. The eBooks can be downloaded, if you alow that and the person who wants to download the eBook has to sign up with issuu. Signing up is for free and so is the eBook publishing service from issuu. You can use issuu to publish your photo books, amnuals, papers and other sorts of documents you wish to present in a beautiful way. Here some examples from my own website where I use issuu for itineraries and other documents A third option is Ăźberflip. Uberflip makes great eBooks from your pdfs of all kinds of books including photo eBooks, which work on all digital devices, even with the page turning sound from the iPad. They offer a 60-days free trial and after that the service is not for free anymore. The basic subscription is $29.95 per month for a monthly upload of 5 eBooks. Here an example for an uberflip eBook. Readers of the book can download it as pdf without having to sign up before. Sharing tools for the most popular networks are integrated in the book-viewing page. Have a look. Maybe you will find some inspiration for publishing your own creative work and sharing it with more people. Happy eBooking! Â


HOW-TOS WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

In earlier  blog  posts  was  explained  how  an  image  captures  a  moment  with  all  what’s  in  the   moment.   It   allows   us   at   any   given   Cme   even   years   later   to   recap   what   we   saw,   felt,   smelled   and   thought.   We   can   immediately   tell   where   the   photo   was   taken,   who   the   people   in   the   photo   are,   how   we   felt   when   we   took   the   photo   and   a   lot   more   what   happened   at   that   Cme.   How   would   it   be   to   intensify   this   memory   by   enhancing   the   aspects  of  the  image  with  real  smells  and  touches?     Print   the   photo   from   the   holiday   in   the   Provence,   put   some   lavender   in   the   room,   play   music   from   the   region,   make   yourself   comfortable   on   the   sofa   and   have   a   glass   of   rosé   while  feeling  that  holiday  again,  10  years  later  at  any  given  place.         Sense   photography   with   all   your   senses   and   enjoy   travelling   back   in   Cme   to   the   moments   you  enjoyed.    

How to create an all senses photo experience


HOW-TOS WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

In case you are wondering how people make these awesome infographics you can see on Pinterest and other social media, here are a template, an example and a guide how to do them. The template is from Hubspot and available here. And a step by step Snapguide can help you to get it easily done. Enjoy making your own awesome infographics and get your message out.

         

How to make an infographic with your wildlife photos


How to present your images Â


HOW-TOS WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

We all know about the obvious photo sharing options like facebook, Flickr, other social media and portfolio sites, but what if you want to sell your images as posters, postcards or other products? Maybe we need only to wait long enough and facebook will do that as well, but maybe not. There are websites that offer this service already and here are 2 of them. The first is PhotoShelter. Photoshelter is as its name says a shelter for photographers. Not only can images be sold as prints and products, you can also have your own stock photo gallery and sell digital image files. The clients go to your website, browse the images and buy directly online. Photoshelter takes care of the financial part of the transaction and the copyright safety of your images. The services of Photoshelter are not for free. You pay a monthly or annual fee depending on the storage size you choose. Their services are open for professional photographers. The second service provider is Artflakes. Artflakes is open to all artists and photographers. They are based in Berlin and offer great print services in good quality for deliveries all over the world. As a photographer you can sign up for free, upload images and set the price you wish for prints and products yourself (also in photoshelter you can set the price yourself). Artflakes is also a kind of artists network with following options and likes, but you don’t need to go around and like if you don’t like, but there are interesting artworks to discover. Maybe these two websites can open new fields of activities for you. Have a look. Happy discovering!

How to show and sell your photos on the internet


HOW-TOS WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

Marketing is often something photographers are struggling with, because they usually focus more on the artistic and photographic skills to develop and grow in. But we all got to live and pay for our groceries, so some money needs to come in as well. There are great marketing blogs to help understanding how marketing works, like the Hubspot blog, but this is a general blog for marketers and not specific for photographers. A very good source of knowledge and advice for photographers are the Photoshelter Free Guides on a wide range of marketing and business subjects especially for the photographer’s needs. They translated the general marketing tools into photography specific tools, suiting the small size photography business as well. Check it out; they are great.

 

How to do marketing for photographers


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How to's Wildlife Photography  

Selection of blog posts on wildlife photography to conquer the challenges of the African bush.