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 Post subject: The Nigel Dennis Q & A thread.
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 11:46 am 
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Firstly, from everyone here, Welcome Nigel! Thank you for taking the time to pay us a visit and we hope you end up popping in here from time to time.
I hope I have compiled this as logically as possible for you, it may help to print this first so you can have it in front of you?

Kruger Questions:

1)Firstly, do you get permission to go off the usual roads, and to stay out in the bush overnight? I'm sure people will bend over backwards for you now that you've proved yourself, but how did you organise it way back when you were just like the rest of us?

2)What would you rate as your best ever sighting?

3)Luckiest road for game viewing from a photographers point of view? Were you allowed to go off "the beaten track"?

4)What would you say is your favourite location in the park? You can narrow this down to a camp or stipulate the area ie. north, south, middle of the park.

5) Do you still enjoy Kruger, and how would you compare it to the other parks that you have visited?

Technical:

1)What sort of vehicle do you use and what colour is it? Your choice of colour clothing while in the bush?

2)What photography gear do you use? (I'm sure the answer to this one will cause us all much anguish!)

3)If for some insane reason you were only allowed to take one lens on a trip, what focal length would it be (prime or zoom - I'd be just as interested to know what zoom ranges you find the most useful)?

4)What lense is the best to use in the park?
(I'm looking at a 170x500mm sigma lense)

5) What filters would you suggest for best colour on Pictures?

6)I intend to use slidefilm, Kodak extra colour. Does Nigel have any comments on this?

7) Have experimented with Digital yet?

8.) Do you shoot in Manual mode exclusivly or do you also trust the camera's choices in some situations by using one of the other settings eg: aperture priority?


General:

1) What do you think of Mad Mike and Mark's style of wildlife photography from and ethical point of view? Have you ever walked away from a great shot due to
a)an ethical standpoint you have; or
b)a dangerous situation?

2) Does your partner share in your passion for photography and if so, does she also publish her work?

3)Do you still have anything to do with Getaway magazine? As far as the photography competition is concerned do you have any tips for us?

4) Do you enter competitions? Have you had any success?

5)What/ who inspire you?

6)And last but not least, what marketing advice would you give to those of us who have yet to make it? All the love of wildlife and photography in the world won't put food on the table after all.

Nigel, thats what we have for you! Thanks again.
regards
Bwana & all the rest of the forum!

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All your snakes are belong to us.


Last edited by bwana on Tue Feb 08, 2005 9:56 am, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 12:25 pm 
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Awesome! Thanks for compiling the list Bwana, and Nigel, thanks for taking the time to answer all of us. I'm looking forward to the answers :D

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 Post subject: Reply to Bwana's Questions
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 5:52 pm 
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Location: Howick KZN
Thanks Bwana – an interesting selection of questions!

Kruger Questions:

Q1) Firstly, do you get permission to go off the usual roads, and to stay out in the bush overnight? I'm sure people will bend over backwards for you now that you've proved yourself, but how did you organise it way back when you were just like the rest of us?

Yes I did get permission to use patrol roads but not stay out overnight. This was back in 93/94. It took a lot of negotiating plus backup from my publisher confirming that I was working on a book project. Was it worth the trouble - no! Once you get more than 1km from the tourist roads the animals are not habituated to vehicles - I even had lions run away from my vehicle so photography is almost impossible! More than 95% of the images in my books on Kruger were taken from the tourist roads.

Q2) What would you rate as your best ever sighting?

This was one of the rare off-road sightings. I got permission to spend a week at a wild dog den. It was done under the strict supervision of Park's zoologist Gus Mills. We had fantastic views of the dogs with their pups. I have also had some very good leopard photography from the tourist roads - it just takes lots and lots of time and driving to get the perfect opportunity.

Q3) Luckiest road for game viewing from a photographers point of view? Were you allowed to go off "the beaten track"?

Difficult one to answer! I would say the roads in the Biyamiti Bush Camp area are among the most consistent for Big 5 sightings. No I was not allowed to drive off road at any time. It would not work anyway as Kruger animals are not used to vehicles crashing through the bush in the same way that they are in the private reserves to the west of Kruger.

Q4) What would you say is your favourite location in the park? You can narrow this down to a camp or stipulate the area ie. north, south, middle of the park.

I particularly enjoy Bateleur Bush Camp - very scenic and you can get some good photo opportunities if you are prepared to put in the time.

Q5) Do you still enjoy Kruger, and how would you compare it to the other parks that you have visited?

Sadly I no longer work in any of the SANP Reserves. Since SANP have introduced a daily fee for professional photography (on top of the cost of camping/accommodation etc) it is no longer viable for me to work in these reserves. It would be OK to pay the fees for a quick magazine assignment, but to produce a large coffee table book takes a year or more in the Park. The royalties from such a book would not cover my costs.

Technical:

Q1) What sort of vehicle do you use and what colour is it? Your choice of colour clothing while in the bush?

I use a Toyota Prado. I don't think vehicle colour makes any difference as far as the animals are concerned. I go for white as it is cooler when you sit for long hours in your vehicle at a waterhole. Clothing - I don't do African big game photography on foot so it does not really matter.

Q2) What photography gear do you use? (I'm sure the answer to this one will cause us all much anguish!)

Yes I'm afraid you need to spend big bucks on fast lenses to get quality results! I use a range from 17mm to 600mm - all Canon.

Q3) If for some insane reason you were only allowed to take one lens on a trip, what focal length would it be (prime or zoom - I'd be just as interested to know what zoom ranges you find the most useful)?

For animals I would go for a 300mm f2.8. I would like the luxury of having 1.4x and 2x converters as well! This is pretty much the set up I used for lemurs in Madagascar as we were hiking all day. Lugging along the hefty 600mm f4 would have been out of the question.

Q4) What lense is the best to use in the park?
(I'm looking at a 170x500mm sigma lense)

Yes a 170 to 500mm zoom would be a very good compromise if you just want one lens to do everything.

Q5) What filters would you suggest for best colour on Pictures?

None at all!!! The only filter I use occasionally is a polarizer for landscapes.

Q6) I intend to use slidefilm, Kodak extra colour. Does Nigel have any comments on this?

I have not used this film so I can't comment. I tend to use 90% Fujichrome Velvia and the rest 100ASA Provia.

Q7) Have experimented with Digital yet?

No but I think the time is right! The price of top end digital cameras has fallen drastically. To beat film quality I think you need to look at 10 megapixel plus.

Q8.) Do you shoot in Manual mode exclusivly or do you also trust the camera's choices in some situations by using one of the other settings eg: aperture priority?

I rarely use manual mode. I prefer aperture priority most of the time and make exposure tweaks when I think it necessary. The newer film cameras with advanced multi segment metering get it right most of the time anyway.


General:

Q1) What do you think of Mad Mike and Mark's style of wildlife photography from and ethical point of view? Have you ever walked away from a great shot due to
a) an ethical standpoint you have; or
b) a dangerous situation?

I have not seen Mad Mike & Mark at work so I can't comment. Generally if the subject is uneasy because you are pushing your luck then it makes for awkward and unnatural pictures. I prefer to work at range with a 600mm so the animals are less aware of my presence. Yes I have often backed off when I thought I might be disturbing an animal or bird. Dangerous situations? A few grumpy elephants that required a hasty retreat in my vehicle! Most animals will give warning signs when they are uneasy and then I think it is time to leave them alone.

Q2) Does your partner share in your passion for photography and if so, does she also publish her work?

Fortunately yes! My wife Wendy loves the lifestyle and is taking some great images and works through several stock agencies.

Q3) Do you still have anything to do with Getaway magazine? As far as the photography competition is concerned do you have any tips for us?

Yes I did a short series of extracts from my latest book in Getaway recently (on fly fishing - not wildlife). To win a photo competition you need to strive for something new with lots of impact. So much has already been done.

Q4) Do you enter competitions? Have you had any success?

Not often. I have had a go at AGFA and BBC on occasion but no outright wins unfortunately.

Q5)What/ who inspire you?

Overall a love of nature. That is why I take pictures. Photography is almost secondary - it is merely the medium I use to express the way I feel about the natural world. Photographers - Frantz Lanting, Jim Brandenberg and Nick Nichols - all from the National Geographic team.

Q6) And last but not least, what marketing advice would you give to those of us who have yet to make it? All the love of wildlife and photography in the world won't put food on the table after all.

Very true! If you had asked me that question 10 years ago I would have said it will be tough but have a try. Today it is exceedingly difficult to make a living from doing purely wildlife. Book and magazine sales are in decline world wide and the market is very saturated with excellent images. A better compromise for someone that wants to spend a lot of time in the natural world might be to try to find a well paid job that will allow you to take several months off a year. That way you could travel and enjoy your photography without the pressure of trying to make commercially viable.

Nigel Dennis


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 6:18 pm 
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Thank you so much, Nigel!
Your replies are very interesting.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 7:06 pm 
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Thanks Nigel 8)


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 7:14 pm 
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Hi Nigel,

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to so many questions. Your answers made interesting reading and have given us all plenty to think about.

Meg

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Last edited by Meg on Tue Feb 08, 2005 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 7:19 pm 
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Interesting reading, I think! Thanks Nigel. Certainly lots of food for thought. :)


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 7:26 pm 
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On behalf of everyone here, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to give us a snapshot of your life. Lots of food for thought!!

regards
bwana

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2005 6:12 am 
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Thanks a mil Nigel.

Some nice shockers about animal behaviour and misconceptions about equipment to use has, I believed been cleared up.

Thank you for your time and effort Nigel. We value such great feedback.

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