Into The Wild

 

Henri Cartier-Bresson once said, “To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.”

To feel the same level of elation, imagemakers go to extreme lengths and create pictures, which fill us with awe and leave us speechless. These breathtaking images not only give us a glimpse of the unexplored, but also reinstates our faith in the medium.

 Sakshi Parikh speaks to 10 wildlife photographers who have dared to capture the wonders of nature and incredible stories behind them.

Photograph/Destin Wernicke

Photograph/Destin Wernicke

Destin Wernicke A passionate musician, Destin is currently studying Jazz Percussion at the University of North Texas. He draws inspiration from his mother, who carries a camera everywhere.

Destin Wernicke
A passionate musician, Destin is currently studying Jazz Percussion at the University of North Texas. He draws inspiration from his mother, who carries a camera everywhere.

“The sea lion looked like an elegant attendee of a masquerade ball, with half its face obscured by sand.”

On a recent trip to the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador, I had the opportunity to photograph the various animals unique to the islands, including the Galápagos sea lions, tortoises, sea turtles, iguanas and crabs. When I saw the sea lion sleeping peacefully on the sand, I carefully approached it, trying not to disturb him, and composed my frame from two metres away. To my surprise, he calmly opened his eyes, long enough for me to quickly get the shot.

Camera: Canon PowerShot G9
Exposure: 1/30sec at f/4.8, ISO 80

TIP 1
Up Close and Personal
If you want to take a close-up photograph of a wild animal, make sure you are not doing so by disturbing them. The most ethical way of making a wildlife image is by being patient and allowing the animal to respond at his will.

 

Photograph/Mats Andersson

Photograph/Mats Andersson

Mats Andersson studied photography at the Industrial Art School in Gothenburg, Sweden. Currently, Mats is working as an Art Director and a photographer in Stockholm. He is also a member of the prestigious Swedish Association for Nature Photographers.

Mats Andersson studied photography at the Industrial Art School in Gothenburg, Sweden. Currently, Mats is working as an Art Director and a photographer in Stockholm. He is also a member of the prestigious Swedish Association for Nature Photographers.

“The sight of the pygmy owl resting on its own, right after the death of his companion, brought me to tears. It is overwhelming to see how expressive animals can be.”

A pair of pygmy owls had accompanied me throughout my daily hikes in the forest. Unfortunately, the female owl was attacked by a larger owl, who killed her while defending his territory. The day after I made the photograph, I found her companion dead on the ground. It was almost as if he couldn’t bear the loss.”
Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikkor AF-S 70–200mm f/2.8G ED VR II
Exposure: 1/125sec at f/7.1, ISO 800

TIP 2
Learn about your subjects
You will need to invest time, effort, and money to learn as best as possible the behaviour of animals throughout the year. It is a never ending process. However, at some point, you reach a level of understanding that will greatly increase your chances at being the right place at the right time.

 

Photograph/Simon Stafford

Photograph/Simon Stafford

Simon Stafford His interest in photography began while studying Biophysics at Aberdeen University, Scotland. Simon is the he is also the Technical Editor of Nikon Owner magazine, and has authored over 25 books on Nikon camera system.

Simon Stafford
His interest in photography began while studying Biophysics at Aberdeen University, Scotland. Simon is the he is also the Technical Editor of Nikon Owner magazine, and has authored over 25 books on Nikon camera system.

“The cacophony of thundering hooves, splashing water, and cries of the wildebeests still haunt me.”

The annual migration of the wildebeests is a moment that has been photographed time and again. However, I wanted a different perspective of the migration… the aftermath. As gory and disturbing as it appears, the image depicts how unforgiving the wild can be.

Camera: Nikon D810
Lens: Nikkor AF-S 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR
Exposure: 1/500sec at f/5.6, ISO 400

TIP 3
Precious Moments Never Come Back
You need to understand the importance of the moment and have the ability to capture it the first time. Understanding the opportunities presented to you and their possible importance is a great skill to develop.

 

Lance van de Vyver Born in New Zealand, he moved to South Africa to embrace his roots and pursue his dream of becoming a photographic guide. Lance works as a field guide and specialises in photographic safaris.

Lance van de Vyver
Born in New Zealand, he moved to South Africa to embrace his roots and pursue his dream of becoming a photographic guide. Lance works as a field guide and specialises in photographic safaris.

“I found the lion cub using a curled up pangolin like a soccer ball, shows an adorable and playful aspect of childhood in the wild.”

I had been tracking a particular pride of lions when out of nowhere the cubs spotted a curled up pangolin. Immediately, they began playing with it like as if it was a ball. I composed my shot, focussing only on the details of his claws and the marks created on the pangolin’s body. The pangolins usually escape unscathed from the big cats, but in this case, this particular one passed away after being tossed around in the heat and dirt for 14 hours straight.

Camera: Canon EOS 5DS R
Lens: Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM
Exposure: 1/1600sec at f/4, ISO 1600

TIP 4
Proximity and Perspective
Change your perspective by shooting from a close range and at ground level. To keep yourself out of harm’s way, you can use remote triggers with telephoto lenses. The camera should always be pre-focused and hidden out of the path of the animal.

 

Photograph/Guillaume Bily

Photograph/Guillaume Bily

Guillaume Bily is an award-winning wildlife photographer from France. Guillaume tries to highlight the nuances of landscapes and wildlife. He does this by revisiting the scene and adding his emotional connect with the place during his long trips which are mostly in the Northern Hemisphere.

Guillaume Bily is an award-winning wildlife photographer from France. Guillaume tries to highlight the nuances of landscapes and wildlife. He does this by revisiting the scene and adding his emotional connect with the place during his long trips which are mostly in the Northern Hemisphere.

“The  reflection of the sun in the sea was the only landmark in the blue immensity.”

This was my second attempt at capturing the tranquil landscape over the cliffs of Hermaness, in the Shetland Islands. As I hiked up to the cliff, I could see a majestic Sula Bassana flying solo, high in the sky, just under the fog that slightly obscured the sun.

Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4G
Exposure: 1/640sec at f/13, ISO 200

TIP 5
Research is Essential

When travelling to a new place, do your research about the area and the work of other photographers who have documented the same region. Not only will this serve as visual research in terms of ideas, you can consciously make an effort to not ape what’s been done before.

 

Photograph/Tapio Kaisla

Photograph/Tapio Kaisla

Tapio Kaisla is wildlife and landscape photographer based in Turku, Finland. Tapio’s passion for nature photography began when he travelled to Africa and saw the mystical rainforests of the Eastern Arc Mountains and the great plains of Tanzania.

Tapio Kaisla is wildlife and landscape photographer based in Turku, Finland. Tapio’s passion for nature photography began when he travelled to Africa and saw the mystical rainforests of the Eastern Arc Mountains and the great plains of Tanzania.

“As the two majestic oxen collided their heads against each other, it resulted in a loud noise that echoed through the placidity of the surroundings.”

I recently took a trip to the Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjell National Park, in Norway, to photograph the magnificent Musk oxen, in their natural habitat. Even though spring is not rutting season for the animals, I was amazed at the spectacular sight of them testing their strength against one other.

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Lens: Canon EF 200–400mm f/4L IS USM with an internal 1.4x extender
Exposure: 1/640sec at f/8, ISO 2500

TIP 6
Highlight the Personality
Move beyond standard documentation. Ask yourself what makes this particular animal different. Maybe it possesses a certain trait that is unique. Then, look for frames and moments that convey his defining characteristic.

 

 

Photograph/Roberto Bueno

Photograph/Roberto Bueno

Roberto Bueno His interest in nature in all its glory, is a part of his family heirloom. Roberto hails from the Sierra de Béjar Biosphere Reserve in Spain, and aims at educating his viewers about nature conservation through his images.

Roberto Bueno        His interest in nature in all its glory, is a part of his family heirloom. Roberto hails from the Sierra de Béjar Biosphere Reserve in Spain, and aims at educating his viewers about nature conservation through his images.

“The tiny spikelets at the end of the stem looked like little fireflies fluttering in the golden hour.”

I had stepped out to photograph the birds in the reserve, but unfortunately, I was unable to spot any. However, this made me turn my attention to the small hair grass that runs for acres near my house. To capture the ethereal beauty of the delicate Periballia minuta grass, I used a black and white polarising filter. After several failed attempts, I  was finally able to create an image that was true to my eyes.

Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikkor AF-S 70–200mm f/2.8G ED VR II
Exposure: 1/125sec at f/7.1, ISO 800

TIP 7
Keeping it Simple and Elegant
Most people associate landscape photography with wide vistas that show grandeur. Have you ever considered photographing a simple landscape? Keep experimenting, have an open mind and keep walking.

 

Photograph/Bence Máté

Photograph/Bence Máté

Bence Máté is a bird photographer from Hungary. Bence is known for the innovative imagery that he creates with his one way glass photography technique.

Bence Máté is a bird photographer from Hungary. Bence is known for the innovative imagery that he creates with his one-way glass photography technique.

“Pelicans are by far one of the most interesting creatures I have ever photographed. By shooting at a close range, I was able to create an abstract image that had a painting like effect to it.”

To get this photograph, I had to spend 48 hours in hiding, near the mudflats. Once the pelicans came close to the one-way glass, I was able to frame the face of the female, along with its orange-tinted skin and the yellow folds of its pouch, which contrasted with its blue beak.

Camera: Nikon D200
Lens: Sigma 300–800mm f/5.6 EX DG HSM APO IF
Exposure: 1/160sec at f/8, ISO 320

TIP 8
Unmask your creativity

When it comes to wildlife photography, we often get stuck with a certain style of imagemaking. Try breaking the rules, thinking outside the box and experimenting with angles, colours and techniques to get a stunning image.

Photograph/Eric Médard

Photograph/Eric Médard

Eric Médard has spent 25 years developing his trap cameras equipment to document the movement of animals in his barn without disturbing them. Eric hails from France and has written three books on wildlife and the technicalities of trap camera photography.

Eric Médard has spent 25 years developing his trap cameras equipment to document the movement of animals in his barn without disturbing them. Eric hails from France and has written three books on wildlife and the technicalities of trap camera photography.

“It was a thrilling experience to watch the barn owl carefully plot her attack, while the rat remained blissfully unaware of the danger he was in.”

The owl spent most of her time hunting in my pitch dark barn. It tipped its head from left to right, tuning into the rustling, directing the sound to the ear openings just inside its feather facial disc. To ensure that I didn’t cause any disturbance to the scene, I used an infrared camera trap and infrared light to capture the photograph.

Camera: Nikon D200
Lens: Nikkor 18–70mm f/3.5-4.5G AF-S DX with infrared filter and three Nikon SB‑24 speed lights
Exposure: 1/125sec at f/5.6, ISO 640

TIP 9
Observe and Anticipate Behavior
Before you head off to shoot, study the behaviour of the species of birds you will be photographing. Learn their nesting, feeding and mating habits. A little homework will pay huge dividends once you are in the field.

 

Photograph/Walter Bassi

Photograph/Walter Bassi

Walter Bassi is passion for underwater photography has made him travel to several locations like the Red Sea, the Carribean and Kenya. In the future, Walter hopes to travel along with his daughter and show her the natural wonders of the world.

Walter Bassi’s passion for underwater photography has made him travel to several locations like the Red Sea, the Carribean and Kenya. In the future, Walter hopes to travel along with his daughter and show her the natural wonders of the world.

“The image has a surreal hypnotic feel to it. The eye is drawn to the centre, and it feels like the patterns are rotating.”

At the slightest disturbance, the European fan worm would have disappeared inside its leathery tube. To make sure that this didn’t happen, I had to approach it quietly, until I was close enough to have a perfectly centred composition.

Camera: Olympus E-PL1
Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro with two Sea & Sea YS-110 strobes
Exposure: 1/100sec at f/14, ISO 100

TIP 10
The Benefits of a Strobe
If you want to explore the depths of the seas, aside from a secure, ergonomic housing, a strobe is a must. It not only freezes movement and reduces backscatter, but strobes with lower colour temperature (4700K) can also enhance blues.

 

Tags: April 2017, Bence Máté, better photography, Destin Wernicke, Eric Médard, Feature, Features, Guillaume Bily, Lance van de Vyver, Mats Andersson, Nature, Roberto Bueno, Sakshi parikh, Simon Stafford, Tapio Kaisla, technique, Walter Bassi, Wildlife