Tag Archives: Photo Tips

Manyara Flamingoes

Keeping your photos simple isn’t that easy sometimes. When I saw these flamingoes I knew I wanted to just photograph a small group of them and have little to no background, I purposefully overexposed the photo to try to make the lake appear white rather than blue, I also chose a high shooting position where only the lake was the background, no trees or sky. I then waited for a small group to separate from a much larger group before I took the shot.

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Eclipse

Today there was a solar eclipse we could see a partial bit of it from our balcony in Switzerland. It completely skipped my mind until the outside light was very odd and it got a bit colder, not sure if getting colder is related.

A Couple of tips when taking photos of an eclipse or the sun in general for that matter. Don’t look at it, unless you’re silly like me and like staring at funny spots in your eyes for a while, but seriously don’t look at it! If you have a mirrorless camera with an electronic viewfinder you don’t need to worry about looking at the sun through it. It’s really only the DSLR owners or people with optical viewfinders that have to worry looking through the viewfinder as the sun will burn a hole in your retina through your camera just as quickly as staring at it. You’re better off using the live view mode and framing your shot.

You’ll also want to get some kind of ND filter to reduce the amount of light hitting your sensor, I own a lee big stopper, it blocks out 10 stops of light, so works perfectly in this situation. They don’t come cheap and I’m sure there are quite a few DIY techniques you can find on the interwebs. Lastly a tripod may be useful.

How do you make a shot like this interesting it’s pretty hard actually, I was messing about with a slow shutter speed and moving the filter around on the front of the lens, this is the best I got.

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Crossing the River

I finally had a day to myself yesterday, Louise took Max to the in laws for the whole day, so I spent a big part of it going through my Lightroom library. I realised how many photos that are in there that I haven’t shared, there are thousands of them.

I remember taking this photo nearly 4 years ago now, it was in the morning as we were getting ready to go out for a game drive from the Ihaha campsite along the chobe river, the public campsites are just flat areas under a tree in Botswana, they’re not fenced in or anything. Definitely not a place for first time safari goers on their own, that’s why I always tell everyone to go to Namibia or South Africa first.

The reason I remember this photo so well is that we were standing there and suddenly this group of elephant came out of the river, we scrambled to the back of the cars to get our tripods and cameras. There wasn’t much light, if you look at the exif data of this photo, you’ll see it was taken at 1/40 of a second, ISO 800 at F4.

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Sharp up Close

Most non photographers and even some photographers believe that the big massive lenses are for taking photos of things far away, in reality you still want to get as close as possible to your subject, the big lenses allow you to frame tighter on a subject and eliminate the clutter. Take the Nikon 200-400, it’s probably one of the best wildlife lenses out there, it has one weakness, if you use it to photograph anything that is a distance away it loses sharpness quickly. If you want to get an animal in the environment type shot then get in close and use a wider lens, big telephoto lenses don’t mean you can sit at the back and shoot from a distance. Somehow what people do do, is allow me to push to the front of the row of the cars, at least in busy parks like Etosha and Kruger. I guess all the tourists think I must be a pro and am paying more money so I am somehow entitled to be in a better position, that is not true. I prefer to think that they are being courteous and allowing someone who is so keen on photographing wildlife a front row seat, either way I thank all you wonderful people for letting me go first.

I was probably about 3 or 4 metres away from this croc when I took this photo, this photo is proof how sharp an image is when you get up close with a big lens, this one was taken with the 200-400.

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Giraffes at Night

A few days ago I posted a few tips on how to photograph wildlife at night. What I forgot to mention is that you will also need a good sturdy tripod. When using big lenses you need something as big to support them. I have one of the heaviest lenses Nikon makes, the 600mm F4 for that reason I also own a Really Right Stuff series 3 tripod and full gimbal head.

This shot was taken at Okaukuejo using the really right stuff tripod.

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Auckland at Speed

If you like the motion blur effect in photos like in this one. Then the easiest way to achieve it is get into a vehicle, I happened to be on a speeding boat when I took this photo. Once in motion make sure you have a reasonably slow shutter speed, nothing higher than 1/60th of a second. Point your camera in the general direction you are going and take some shots, try out some different shutter speeds to get the amount of blur right, the slower the shutter the more blur you will get.

I took this photo on the way back to Auckland one evening we had been out fishing with some friends, it was a highly unsuccessful fishing trip, we spent more time pulling up the anchor than actually fishing, the  anchor winch broke so we had to do it by hand. It still felt good to be out on the sea, I’m not the kind of person that would go off sailing into the big blue ocean, but I do like going out for an hour or 10 on a boat to do some fishing, diving or sailing.

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Fraumunster Murals

I’ve been using the Fuji X-T1 quite a bit recently, it’s nice and light, quick and has a load of features that the more serious photographer will love. Manual control of shutter, aperture and ISO using dials has to be one of my favourite features, the only reason I ever go into the menu on this camera is to format the memory card. I also like the film mimicking it does. The fuji cameras are the only cameras I set to RAW+jpeg. I’ve been shooting exclusively RAW on the nikons since late 2008. The jpegs from the fuji cameras are impressive and it seems lightroom has some trouble with the RAW images from the fuji sensor, I’ve noticed issues on a few shots but I’m more than happy with what lightroom can do in all but a few images. For those few that lightroom can’t tackle I have the jpeg from the camera. None of these issues want me to change my workflow by adding another software that is supposed to be better at handling the RAW files.

These murals are on the walls of the courtyard of the Fraumunster church, It’s hard to know if they are very old murals that have recently been restored, or are new murals depicting historical scenes.

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Warm Sunrise

As I was about to upload another photo to my smugmug portfolio, it dawned on me that I’ve been posting photos with quite a bit of blue recently. So let’s warm it up a little with a sunrise from Namibia.

I took this photo with a D600, I’ve recently sold it, it’s an excellent camera but owning a D4 and a D800 means that it got very little love. It was mainly used by my partner when we travelled to Africa together, as that won’t be on the cards for a while it made sense to sell it.

People like to hold on to cameras and talk about them being investments. Cameras aren’t investments, in this day and age they are replaced by newer tech every 2 or 3 years. In some instances that newer tech is worth the money. That’s becoming less common, there haven’t been many game changing cameras of late. Especially when it comes to DSLR.

You’re better off spending your money on good lenses and accessories Like a good tripod, I have a really right stuff tripod and I know it will outlast any camera I own. It has already taken a beating in the last four or five years I’ve owned it and it still functions flawlessly. The only maintenance I ever do on it is to rinse it with a hose or in a sink.

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Moving Skies

I dig photographs with the streaky sky effect in it. It’s a pretty easy effect to do, it works best on a windy day when the clouds are hoofing by. You still want to have as slow a shutter speed as possible. Get yourself a remote that can hold your shutter open for longer than the standard 30 seconds available on most cameras. You only need one of the cheap ones with the button on it, not the fancy intervalomter kind. Put your camera on a sturdy platform, preferably a tripod. Set your camera to manual and bulb, leave your ISO as low as you can and press and hold the remote trigger. Remember to block out the viewfinder if using a DSLR, I usually hold my hand there or stand really close to the camera, I have got some strange thoughts when I do that. Once you’ve taken your first shot you’ll start to get an idea how long you’re going to have to hold the shutter open for. If it’s too dark you need to leave it open longer, too bright shorter, if your remote release doesn’t have a timer, use your watch or iphone, it’s not an exact science, just a bit of trial and error to get the desired effect.

This photo was 64 seconds at F9.

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Sandy Girl

I’m sure you’ve heard or read about some of the rules of composition in photography, like the rule of thirds, or leading lines. This photo doesn’t really use any of these rules. In fact it probably goes against a few of them, for example I’m missing part of the girls chin, and the sun ray is from shooting directly into the sun. Both these things may be considered technical mistakes. In reality the rules are only guidelines to help you understand a bit more about composition. Once you’ve mastered the basics, get creative and frame your photos as you please, there is no right or wrong of taking a photo. Just take the photo and enjoy the creative process of doing it.

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