Let me start off by wishing you all the very best for the New Year. I hope that you had an amazing festive season with family and friends and that you are ready to get 2011 underway!
Normally not something associated with wildlife photography, but—and this is one of my own photographic goals for 2011—breaking out of your comfort zone is one of the best ways to move your photography into a new direction.
During the last few weeks, the Madikwe Game Reserve, where I am based, has been getting a huge amount of rain. Instead of putting my camera gear away like I normally would do, I decided to go into the rain, clouds, and varying light conditions that can occur during an African rainstorm. The results have been great, both from a image and mindset point of view.
It is so easy to get caught up in a rut and keep on photographing the same image over and over again, whether you realize it or not. You have to make a choice to try something different and you have to not worry about the results. Sounds strange right? Not worry about the results?
It is when you head out into the wild, with no preconceived ideas of what you want shoot, that you will be free to shoot what catches your eye. You can shoot what excites you!
Here are a few of the images I was able to shoot during the last few weeks. I did not plan any of these shots. I simply went out there, whether rain or shine, and photographed scenes that excited me.
This young lion was very annoyed with all the rain and kept on shaking the water off him. Seeing the pattern, we got ready, composed our images and waited. As the youngster started shaking the shutters clicked like crazy. The result? An awesome action shot that I could never have planned for.
Yeah, it’s a wildebeest. When you go out into the wild you tend to see a lot of them. The difference on this particular morning was the light. The morning started off very overcast and dull, but as we sat watching some general game on an open plain, the clouds opened up for a few minutes. They opened up just long enough for me to fire a few frames and this was the resulting image. Plain and simple image of a very often overlooked subject but it’s all about the light. Cloudy days can make for the most amazing wildlife photography.
A vulture in a dead tree must be one of the most often shot silhouettes in the wild. Is that a reason not to click the shutter again? Absolutely not. The dark clouds in the background made for a nice sombre atmosphere, to mimic the mood set by my subject. Sometimes plain and simple is still great!
Under normal circumstances I would never have even attempted to photograph this scene. It was very far away and there was no major composition to speak of, but the weather changed everything. We were sitting on a dam wall and the heavens opened up. The rain came down so hard that we could barely even see the giraffes in the distance. I pushed up the ISO to 3200 and used a beanbag to keep my camera still. Click. Success! Normally, I would not even have thought about photographing this scene, but I’m glad I did.
After all of that I suppose you get the idea, but just in case, here are a few lessons that I took from my last few weeks and that could help to break you out of a photographic rut.
– Don’t go out there with too many preconceived ideas. Let your eyes guide you.
– Don’t pack your camera gear away when the clouds start building. There are a lot of ways you can keep your gear dry and still get the shots.
– Don’t worry about the results. Just go out there and enjoy yourself!
– Don’t look at everything through your camera’s viewfinder. Put the camera down every now and then, look at the scenes and subjects around you, and then shoot what excites you!
As this year get going, think of ways in which you can change the way you photograph nature and wildlife. Ways you can improve your images. Ways in which you can find new inspiration for photography!
I wish you a year of great sightings, awesome light and many shared moments online. Don’t forget to submit them to the Bush Warriors Photo of the Day Contest! If you have any questions or comments that you would like to share please feel free to either leave a comment or contact me directly.
Until next week!
Gerry van der Walt