I'm pretty new to the forum but I do know a bit mre about PC's and that other tech stuff...
I visit the KNP at least one a month - Yup I live in Nelspruit so all you Gautengers can be yealous now
I have looked at all these pics... I have several shots on http://www.baffers.org/gallery
... One thing is for sure... maybe 1 in every 1000 shots is the perfect size and shadow and light and aperture and so on. I use a canon 20 D and even though that camera does everything for you I still find it necesarry to "adjust certain pictures".
I use a 170 - 500 mm sigma lens as well. Now sometimes it works well. If you look at this picture:
I used the lens to get this guy without frightening him. The picture of the leopards at this url:
Was taken from about 30 m.
Since most people on this forum would most likely fall in to the "advanced beginner / expereinced novice / trial & error class of photographers just like me I can make 5 suggestions that wont cost you a small gamefarm full of money.
1. Get a BIG memory for you camera
2. Get a reasonable PC software bundle to edit pictures with
3. Take literaly 1000's of pictures
4. Write down what you do and anticipate problems.
5. Invest in some filters...
Now: These pictures (the leopard and most of the rest of these pictures) have one thing in common. It wasnt the way the picture use to look. In the leopard pics the original had a leopard in the centre of the pic but I was antcipating that issue so I took the picture on as large as possible format.
This meant that I could go home and then cut the centre of the picure and resize it. Using the largest format meant I could cut and resize without loosing visible quality.
I use Paint shop Pro to edit pictures. I find - being in technical side of computers for a long time now that a "medium range program" that you understand well and can use to it's full capabilities is worth much more than buying someting like coral draw and then not knowing where to start. I must say I sometimes use the software bundled with my Canon camera to do white balancing and so forth on photos but for cutting and editing I tend to use the Paint Shop.
I have a 2 gigg mem card and two 1 gigg cards as backup with my camera. I even pickle my laptop with on langer trips (like Long weekends etc) because I literally take 1000's of pictures.
That saying about good fotographers are the ones that throw more pictures away is very true. If you get a leopard that is sitting still you get 100's of pictures from every angle possible. One or two of those pictures are bound to be good. If you move around and try to get pictures from different angles you also have achance of getting a few where the shadow is different and the sun from a different angle and so forth. In time one learns the ideal place to be and start to look out for that "looong" shadow the car makes is that will be in your picture if your angle is wrong... All things you learn in time...
The last one I can reccomend - Especially if you start being past the point of novice - is to get a filter or two. I found via a strnager that borrowed me one in letaba restcamp, that a good polarisation filter is a wonderfull thing. If I may refer to the picture of the Marabo in the obove post for instance. the picture is good but for some reason a polarisation filter makes the lines seem crisper. If you would use a filter ont at picture the feathers almost seem to be more noticable and the general colors - especially white colors - tend to be more defined. It does cost a bit (about R1000 for a polorisation filter on a 500 mm lens) but it is worth every penny in my opinion. It also allows you to take very good pictures in braod daylight instead of having to wait for sunrise or sunset.
I've only had mine for 4 days now and I am wonderign what I eer did without it... I am getting at least 3 times more pictures that can be classed as "GREAT" pictures.
Anyway... I might have a record for the longest post ever ont he forum but I hope my experiences can help some other guys who just want to have a serious hobby of photography...