Sunday, August 10, 2008

Why a 'Photographic Field Guide' is Important!

Photography plays a very large role during any trip to Africa. When you look at the amounts of large mammals, birds and breathtaking landscapes it is easy to see why. Absolute photographic heaven and you can see this in the fact that every single person who comes on safari with us has a camera with them 24/7!

Another very important role, something feel strongly about but will not get too carried away with now, is your Field Guide. It will absolutely make or break your safari experience. Whether it is your first time and you are just wanting to see the Big 5 or you have been on many trips to Africa and are only interested in the mating rituals of the White-Browed Sparrow Weaver, your guide will be with you every step of the way and will make or break your African exprience,

Knowledgeable, experienced, professional, passionate. Yes.

You want your guide to be all of these things but when you find someone who has all of that and is a keen photographer as well I believe you have a winner! It is extremely frustrating when you see a guide who has been in the industry for many years 'guide' his guests as they follow a lion walking through the bush and into the harsh late afternoon sunlight. Honestly, who wants an image of a lions butt that is completely underexposed and now looks like something from a 1930's horror movie.

I reckon that if your guide is a keen photographer he will combine his bush knowledge with his photographic skills to make your experience much more rewarding and offer you many more chance to capture worth while images of your trip to Africa.

I personally do not know how a guide, who is apparently passionate about what they do, cannot go out with at least a small digital camera. The life we get to live offers so many amazing sights that it should almost be a prerequisite to carry a camera - yes... I love what I do! :)

When you photography something you don't just look at something you see it. You appreciate the way the light brings out the highlights or the way a shadow colors a scene with emotion. You understand the difference a few meters can make when framing an image.

Here, in my opinion and combined with images I have captured during the last few days in Madikwe, are a few things that your 'photographic field guide' (which I will call a PFG for now to make it sound smart - please see the humor!!) will be able to add to your safari.

Getting Closer - Your PFG will understand the impact of getting frame filling images. Not only by driving right up to the animal but positioning yourself so that they come to you - with good light to boot.

Abstracts - There are so many abstract images and lines in nature and your PFG will not let these things go unnoticed.

Seeing Light - Your PFG will know when to stop,view an animal and try for that perfect shot and when the light is just not going to work.

The Small Things - There is so much more than the Big 5 and your PFG will be quick to snap away and show you the little wonders of nature.

Seeing Lines - Your PFG will see lines in the most normal of scenes. A diagonal line like the one created by the giraffes above is an example of a normal scene with that something extra.

Creating a Mood - Light, anticipation, positioning. Your PFG will be able to make sure all of these things are in place for you to not only view nature's story unfold but also the best opportunity to capture these moments on your camera.

Create Movement - By stopping and looking at what unfolds at a waterhole, your PFG will be able to help you capture a scene like the swarm of Red-Billed Queleas flying overhead. A guide who does not have a photographic eye will not always notice these moments.

Capture Moments - A moment like the above, where two endangered Wild Dogs seem to be dancing as they play around in the field is great to watch but amazing to capture. Your PFG will already be in the perfect position to capture these moments as he / she will also be attempting to capture the magic.

Capture Emotion - Anybody can take an elephant picture. Your PFG will be able to use his knowledge of the bush and combine this with a passion to try and capture something different. Something special. The image above shows emotion - a mother and her youngster sharing a tender moment.

Patience - Your PFG will understand that you have to wait for nature to paint the sky with beauty. Instead of rushing back to the lodge for another beer, your patience will be rewarded with images that reflect your trip to Africa.

Just a few random thoughts and would love to hear your comments!

It is great living out in the bush but sometimes it can be a bit difficult to upload all the images that we create due to a slightly compromised telecommunications infrastructure (read - the internet is VERY slow!) I will be uploading a couple of new images to the Photo-Africa Stock Library as the weeks go on and as soon as I go on leave I will do a large upload from an already huge and growing number of images! If there are any images on the Blog that you would like to purchase but cannot find it on the Stock Site, you can email me and I will upload the image as soon as possible! Also, if you have any requests or challenges that you would like to throw out to the Photo-Africa photographers, you can post a comment with your desired image and we will have fun on our side trying to get it for you.

The Stock Site has also grown and quite a few new photographers have signed up. In the last two days more than 50 new images have been added which includes images from Madikwe and the Sabi Sands. This week's High Five should be a great one. Click here to view all the latest images on Photo-Africa now!

As always I look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time.



Your Photo Tips said...

It's always been one of my dreams to head to Africa and do some photography. When that time finaly gets here for me I'll be contacting you guys for sure.

Damien Franco

Michael Palmer said...

Great Post - Having a PFG with a good eye would be critical in capturing these moments, especially when the visitor may be caught in the moment of Africa - I know I would be caught up if I ever get there.

Enigma3 said...

I really like that first shot. Such a powerful looking animal.

SAPhotographs said...

Wonderful information and pictures as usual Gerry. I am off to Kruger on Thursday to Sunday and am looking forward to the trip.