Defending his Range

Hostile_2015_08_22_9526This male lion (Panthera leo) was a little more defensive than normal, having recently ventured into new hunting range, being the domain of other males in the area. The lions in Mana Pools exist within ranges of approximately 30-50km2. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and he certainly was not taking any chances with photographers on the day, aggressively standing his ground and basically dominating the confrontation. Prudence dictated a tactical withdrawal despite being a ‘safe’ distance from the pride. Those ladies did look hungry.
(Canon EOS 5D Mk III/ EF100-400mm IS II USM; 1/640 sec; f/7.1; ISO 320; 300mm)

Picture ©2015 Andrew Field – Simply Wild Photography

A-Z of Photography
Noise is the generally grainy look found in digital images which sometimes manifests itself as spots of colour which should not be in the image, usually the result of low light photography using very high ISO settings. Noise seldom enhances a photograph and in some cameras noise reduction technology may be used to reduce this problem. Later model digital cameras seem to work well at higher ISO settings, with inbuilt noise elimination.

“I expect to retire to a fine-grained heaven where the temperatures are always consistent, where the images slide before one’s eyes in a continual cascade of form and meaning.”

– Ansel Adams

Yawn or Threat

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A young male lion (Panthera leo) comes curiously close to the photographer and sits just meters away as if in a face off. Yawning in some animals is a show of dominance with both alpha males and females being observed to yawn more frequently. Some suggest that yawning synchronises mood in gregarious animals too. In hippopotamus this is a warning threat gesture, but there is no empirical evidence of this being the case in lions, although the display of large canines is threatening in its own right. The contagious effect of yawn on the photographer was not apparent!
(Canon EOS 5D Mark III /EF200-400mm IS II USM EXT; 1/160 sec; f/4.5; ISO 320; 175mm)

Picture ©2014 Andrew Field – Simply Wild Photography

Hang a Little Africa on your Wall
This image and others on this site may be purchased in printed form on canvas or photographic paper. Contact the author.

Digital Wildlife Photographic Tips

Use the increase in ISO sensitivity to get more depth of field out of your shot where this is required. Sometimes the shot will be better with a smaller f/stop but this will slow the exposure time without increase ISO sensitivity.

Please be encouraged to click on the ‘Comments’ link below and rate the photograph 1 to 5 stars. This feedback is invaluable to the photographer. If you are feeling awfully kind you could Tweet it or share the link too!

Stuck in darkest Africa, lost in the wild and loving it! Don’t let me out of here…

Stalking Me!

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A curious lioness (Panthera leo) decides to stalk the photographer. A delicate situation ensued and fortunately ended with the lioness’ retreat after a stand-off. Too close for comfort! Lions rarely charge their quarry outside of 30 meters and rely on stalking to get within optimal range. One will never know if this unexpected encounter was a foray for food, to play or just mere curiosity. According to Estes (The Behaviour Guide to African Mammals), each link in the predatory chain is an independently motivated action, thus a gorged animal cannot resist making an easy kill and it perhaps explains why cats play with the animals they catch but do not kill them.
(Canon EOS 5D Mark III /EF70-200mm IS II USM EXT 1.4 Ext; 1/80 sec; f/4.5; ISO 320; 280mm)

Picture ©2014 Andrew Field – Simply Wild Photography

Hang a Little Africa on your Wall
This image and others on this site may be purchased in printed form on canvas or photographic paper. Contact the author.

Digital Wildlife Photographic Tips

Try shooting for a day in Manual mode to get more creative. This is the mode on your camera which allows you to set both aperture and shutter speeds for the specific shot you wish to take. With depth of field control (aperture) and being able to freeze or blur the action (shutter speed), the only other adjustment would be the ISO. Today’s modern DSLRs usually provide for an automatic ISO setting, usually set through the camera’s menu system.

Please be encouraged to click on the ‘Comments’ link below and rate the photograph 1 to 5 stars. This feedback is invaluable to the photographer. If you are feeling awfully kind you could Tweet it or share the link too!

Stuck in darkest Africa, lost in the wild and loving it! Don’t let me out of here…

Photography’s Golden Triangle

If you struggle reading white on black…go here…

Creative people will make creative photographers. The skills or craft needed to achieve their creativity is the conduit between mind and canvas. The synergy of creativity and craft make the masterpiece. Ergo, any good photographer will have mastered the craft of the camera. This article sets out to explain some very rudimentary technical issues concerning your use of a camera.

The transition between film and digital photography has been nothing but a wonderful journey for photographers. The explosion of technology in both hardware and computer applications has opened a plethora of knowledge need.

When discussing the basics of photography there are three subjects which need to be imparted: exposure, aperture and ISO (sensitivity)… I usually refer to this as the golden triangle. Today’s modern digital SLR cameras and most bridge cameras allow the user total control over this triangle.

People who grapple with cameras get to understand the need for correct exposure quite quickly. Fewer people get to grips with aperture priority though and depth of field that aperture controls. Opening the aperture limits the depth of field of focus while tightening the aperture brings items both far and near into focus.

Exposure and aperture choice are the single most important adjustments people make when creating a digital image. With today’s cameras it is often the case that where one setting is adjusted, the other changes too. They are easily controlled. Thus when you open up the aperture to a wider f-stop (say f/2 – f/5.6) the camera will adjust the exposure automatically to a faster speed, say 1/750 sec.

Often when you find you are in full control of your camera faculties, you face challenges with things which are outside your control… probably the most frequent being the available light. In the good old days of film photography the cameraman would choose the speed of the film, based on the purpose of its use. Film was rated by an ISO (or ASA) which was and still is the standard for light sensitivity for film, or as most referred to it as the speed of the film.

Today’s digital cameras have sensors to receive image light through the lens and enable its conversion to a digital format. Sensibly, manufacturers have chosen to hang onto the international standards for sensor light sensitivity, and they have given the user the ability to change the sensitivity of the sensor at any time. This control of sensor sensitivity levels forms the golden triangle of camera control.

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Cameras may be set to operate with aperture priority or exposure priority (there are other modes) and, with the rolling of dials, either aperture or exposure speed is changed with ease. Adjusting the ISO on your camera may not be as simple as it should be. Lead manufacturers have come to realise a need to improve the ergonomics of ISO adjustment and most DSLRs allow a switch/button and dial adjustment right at your finger tips. Roll on the ISO dial in its own right.

So what? Why be confuse with this obscure concept? Well simply said, it happens to give you an extension of your potential. My passion happens to be wildlife photography and as many will know, perhaps the most successful time to dabble in image capture is during the earliest and last hours of the day, commonly known as the golden hours.

The earliest and very latest minutes of this range of light present one with challenges which can be met with that little adjustment of ISO for higher ‘gain’. There is conflict, for example, between your slowest exposure levels and capturing a moving animal, say at a predator kill, where it is sacrilege to use your flash!

You cannot allow movement blur… so you up your ISO to obtain a greater light gain, which will allow faster exposure, and thus sharpness. Simple! So, in the last few minutes of the day, you have no choice but to pump up the ISO.

Life is not a bed of roses, for there are sacrifices. When choosing a high rated ISO/ASA film for use, one knew that your images would be far grainier than the lower speed rated film. You would never choose a high ISO rated grainy film for landscape work (long depth of field/all in focus). The conversion to digital brought with it a conversion from high ISO film grain to high ISO digital noise.

Now, one could get extremely technical here and bang off a few terms which will mean little, perhaps. High sensor ISO settings are known to cause what is called the salt and pepper effect (resulting from photodiode leakage). Let us just call that a little colour distortion. You could observe the appearance of blues, where they should not be, or speckles of colour out of the general range. Just to complicate matters, the smaller the sensor size, the more noise is apparent (thus some mobile phones produce ‘grainier’ and more noise ridden images).

Noise reduction is a feature of many of the more advanced cameras. This is basically a set of algorithms which challenge the image noise while trying to retain or preserve low-contrast detail (possibly mistaken for noise). If the camera fails to achieve this, then the handy backup lies with excellent software applications which enable the photographer to adjust their images.

Take a good look at your camera… research the model you have, perhaps on the internet, and learn its ISO adjustment capability. Most compacts do not cater for this but both bridge and DLSR cameras do. You never know when that once in a life time opportunity presents itself at dusk or in low light and what a pity if you are still fumbling to find the adjustments.

Martial Eagle Juvenile

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This was the first time that I have spotted a Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus), in this case a juvenile, in the Mana Pools National Park. This bird of prey may be found in most of southern Africa. It is mainly a savannah species, although some suggest is more common in mountainous areas, but in fact may be found in all habitats, including desert and forest areas. This image, in a typical pose atop a dead tree, shows from where, generally, this bird swoops down on its prey; mostly small mammals and game birds.
(Canon 7D; f/11; 1/750sec; ISO-320; 400mm)

Picture ©2013 Andrew Field – Simply Wild Photography

Digital Wildlife Photographic Tips
The most successful time to dabble in wildlife image capture is during the earliest and last hours of the day, commonly known as the golden hours. The earliest and very latest minutes of this range of light present challenges which can be met with that little adjustment of ISO for higher ‘gain’. There is conflict, for example, between your slowest exposure levels and capturing a moving animal, say at a predator kill, where it is sacrilege to use your flash!

Please be encouraged to click on the “No Comments” or “Comments” link below and rate the photograph 1 to 5 star… this feedback is invaluable to the photographer. If you are feeling awfully kind you could Tweet it or share the link too!

Stuck in darkest Africa, lost in the wild and loving it! Don’t let me out of here…