Pushing and Shoving

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During August, the Sausage Trees (Kigelia africana) are in bloom. Its dark maroon flowers are somewhat of a delicacy among some of the animals of Mana Pools, especially the elephants (Loxondonta africana). This bull elephant was pushing and shoving the tree in the hope that some of the delicate blooms would drop to the ground.
(Canon EOS 5D Mk III/ EF70-200mm IS II USM; 1/125 sec; f/5; ISO 640; 148mm)

Picture ©2015 Andrew Field – Simply Wild Photography

A-Z of Photography
Reciprocity is the relationship between a camera’s aperture and shutter speed. A correct exposure is achieved through a balance of the camera’s current aperture and the shutter speed at which shooting takes place. The process is automatic on most modern digital cameras and one setting will self-adjust to the changes made to the other. As shutter speed is increased, by manual adjustment, the aperture may be tightened or reduced and vice versa. Reciprocity failure was more a feature of photographs taken with film, but this translates to pixelation and noise in digital media. This give rise to the term ‘reciprocity law’ which means that different combinations of shutter speed and aperture can achieve the same exposure result. This allows for creative use of the camera in different environments.

“Grains and reciprocity failure in film = Noise and pixelate in digital”

– Lakshman Iyer

Watering Buffalo

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Buffaloes (Syncerus caffer) need to go to water at least once in every 24 hours and will consume up to 35 litres during a single drinking session of between five to seven minutes. Rarely, one might observe a buffalo wallowing in water and when you do, it will be a dominant male most likely to do so, and that will involve a lot of digging and mud tossing in the mud beside the water rather than in the water. This was a challenging capture from an exposure perspective.
(Canon EOS 5D Mk III/ EF70-200mm IS II USM + 1.4x III; 1/800 sec; f/8; ISO 400; 560mm)

Picture ©2015 Andrew Field – Simply Wild Photography

A-Z of Photography
Shutter devices in the camera, which determine the amount of light that may fall on film or sensor in a specific instant of time are probably the single most important control in the photographer’s toolkit. Their variable speed, and association with lens aperture, offer many creative options and allow photography in several unique circumstances. Shutter speeds, ranging from fully open to 1/4,000 second in some modern cameras, regulate image output and effect. Camera shutters come in two varieties, a leaf shutter and a focal plane shutter.

“A photographer’s eye is perpetually evaluating. A photographer can bring coincidence of line simply by moving his head a fraction of a millimetre. He can modify perspectives by a slight bending of the knees. By placing the camera closer to or farther from the subject, he draws a detail. But he composes a picture in very nearly the same amount of time it takes to click the shutter, at the speed of a reflex action”

– Henri Cartier-Bresson

Belly Content Lioness

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This lioness (Panthera leo) seems to have eaten her fill and lay almost immobilised, yet alert, staring at the photographer in rather a pleasant pose, following the feast of the night before. These animals are perhaps the most fascinating to observe and photograph in the wild, yet are perhaps potentially the most dangerous if not treated with utmost respect.
(Canon 50D; f/5.6; 1/250sec; ISO-100; 105mm)

Picture ©2011 Andrew Field – Simply Wild Photography

Digital Wildlife Photographic Tips

Capturing birds on the wing, or in confrontation with each other requires a fast shutter speed of at least 1/2500sec or where the light is good twice this speed. Bird photography means long lenses and where possible a tripod is essential, especially if you need to watch for opportunities over long periods. Use a large aperture and increase the ISO of the camera where necessary. The Manual mode is recommended.

The Kudu and the Baboon

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This may be an unusual pose of a Kudu bull (Tragelaphus stepsiceros). The antelope had been taking water from a puddle in a drying water pan and had sensed a noise or smell, much like its baboon companion. Initially this animal was identified as a Nyala, but on a second look the photographer actually believes it is a kudu… they are related and they may look similar occasionally, but there is no mistaking the difference between the foreneck hair markings of each animal. This animal is very distictly kudu!
(Canon 50D; f/10; 1/800sec; ISO-800; 400mm)

Picture ©2013 Andrew Field – Simply Wild Photography

Digital Wildlife Photographic Tips
Faster shutter speeds are essential for sharp images of animals on the move. While always giving consideration to lens’ focal distances when selecting your shutter speed, any action shot will require increased shutter speeds to freeze the action and give a sharp image. The closer the subject is to the lens, the faster it moves across your field of vision, thus the quicker the shutter speed should be. Think in terms of 1/1,500th sec and faster. Watch your exposure – adjust ISO if you reach the limits. Flip over to shutter priority when there is going to be action.

Andrew Talks Photography: A Funny Thing Called ISO

Catching actions shots just before sun-up or after sun-down in the African bush can actually be quite a challenging task, particularly when the action is in the shade of the bush. Getting a sharp picture, with little ‘noise’ is just near impossible. Here is the toss up. The players are shutter speed, aperture and ISO (sensitivity settings on your sensor).

Because we are into action we need to make the choice between high shutter speeds (Tv settings) freezing the exact moment in pin sharp focus or slowing it down and sacrificing sharpness for blurred movement. The first will reduce the inflow of light to the sensor and the other will blur movement (including movement of the camera, possibly to an unacceptable level), but also, perhaps, with greater artistic potential.

Due to low prevailing light, the propensity is towards opening up the aperture (Av setting) thus allowing more light to fall on the sensor, but this immediately shallows your depth of field, perhaps unrealistically to capture the entire incident unfolding in front of you. That incident will take a few second before the photo opportunity is lost.

The rescue here is your camera’s ISO settings. This is a carryover from the old days of film where film sensitivity was rated. The higher the ISO rating the more ‘grainy’ the film and the eventual picture developed there from. With today’s digital cameras the camera’s sensor may be adjusted for ISO sensitivity, just like film, and digital SLR cameras range between 100 and 3200, some even have an Auto-ISO function. Like film, the downside remains, the higher the ISO setting, the more noise can be detected in the eventual image, which can include colour distortion.

This image of lion and buffalo playing hide and seek around a tree might well be considered reasonably composed, and is a form of actions shot, but it falls down with the high incidence of image noise.  Look at the buffalo – blues and greens apparent.  Not one of my better shots, it was taken with a shutter speed of 1/125s at an aperture of f/5,6 and a very high ISO 1250. The perfectionist would easily pick at this for hours, but the sacrifice made to noise was the cost of getting the shot. I doubt the shutter speed could be reduced and the f stops were spot on. Of course, there is always the option of underexposing and using Photoshop to finesse the image.

In low light situations I do tend to use my camera’s auto-ISO function… it has often got me the shot.