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Wildlife photography - Composition guidelines

Discuss and share your wildlife photography, filming and equipment
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bert
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Unread post by bert » Thu Mar 16, 2006 3:41 pm

francoisd wrote:I

Let see if I can spot what’s wrong with the composition of the picture?


Not much really :?
Actually it is a very good one :D
Foreground is blurred so that doesnt distract from the main subject. Placed well, and as DQ said, getting the long thin things sharp is very hard . A little movement and these things start swaying like a rod with a great white on it.
Indeed F8 o F11 would be nicer.

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bert
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Unread post by bert » Sat Mar 18, 2006 9:35 pm

Image
Horizontal

Image
Vertical

Same situation but very different composition.

Suppose it is also a matter of taste.
Didnt move a inch. Just tried to create a new image with the aid of the camera

Taken two weeks ago in Holland
70-200 4.0L
Last Velvia 50 slide film

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Yvonne B.
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Unread post by Yvonne B. » Mon Mar 20, 2006 10:49 pm

I can imagine that quite some people, who are not much trained to make technical good pics, get tired by thinking all you have to think of before you press the shutter, I know I did when I started.

What helped me a lot, is training on different items, with an object that don't move, and which you can approach from various sides.
In the "old" days, when you had films, it was pretty expensive to do it, but nevertheless very usefull. But a problem was as well, that there was always several days between your practising and seeing the results.
With digital this problem is gone.
You can place an object of different hights, and make shots, try to keep the rules of composition in mind. Make different shots, with you subject in different positions, and train yourself not just to look at the subject, but also to its enviroment. Could be useful having a pen and notebook at hand and just write down what you did, and compare the shots, and decide what YOU like best. Try to speed up more, so you can also handle situations with moving object.
If you take shots from various points, you will experience what the sunlight does to you object, and what different backgrounds do to your pics.
Sounds maybe very simplistic, and it probably is, but I know it helped me a lot.
It will take time, but that time will pay itself back double.

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DuQues
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Unread post by DuQues » Tue Mar 21, 2006 11:15 am

I often walk around looking for photo's with nothing but my eyes as equipment. Just look at a building, tree, group of people, and see how I would set up the shot if I had had my camera with me. Trying to pick out a certain thing, like ornaments or such. Thinking of backlight, looking what would possibly disturb in the shot, how to remove it, etc.
What lensopening I would use (how much background), what shutterspeed (movement) and actually, which lens to use.

It's a bit like the movie producer running around with a lens in his hand, checking shots.
You can do it anywhere, and no one will even notice.
And it's free!
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

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Re: Wildlife photography - Composition guidelines

Unread post by Bigmouth » Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:33 am

madach wrote:One of the most important things in photography is composition.


Is the composition of a particular photo not a personal 'feeling'?

Per example; I have a photo of a very green bush in the Lower Sabie area with only the head of an elephant sticking out amongst the trees. The ellie is very much central in the photo. If you would personally like to see the skyline for instance. Would you not judge this photo as having a bad composition?

Or if you would enter your photo of the leopard in some competition and the particular judge would like to see more of the leopard, would that photo not be judged as bad composition?
Kruger National Park is OPEN !!!

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Re: Wildlife photography - Composition guidelines

Unread post by DuQues » Thu Mar 30, 2006 9:49 am

Bigmouth wrote:Is the composition of a particular photo not a personal 'feeling'?

Yes, you use the composition of that photo to impart that particular feeling to the viewer. The feeling of the incredable sight of, in your case, the glimpsed ellie. Or the height of the skyscrapers, the emptyness in a desert, the cold in the arctic, the bubbly taste of a good glass of champagne, etc.
If your composition is good the viewer will "experience" that feeling.

But if there is something distracting the viewer, like in your lions case an empty champagne bottle from the other shot lying in front, you will fail to impart that feeling. You then have composed your photo wrongly.
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

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madach
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Re: Wildlife photography - Composition guidelines

Unread post by madach » Thu Mar 30, 2006 9:57 am

Bigmouth wrote:
madach wrote:One of the most important things in photography is composition.


Is the composition of a particular photo not a personal 'feeling'?

You're absolutely right. The composition guidelines that I've given are exactly that, guidelines. The pictures that really stand out are often the ones where the guidelines have been broken....but they have often been broken on purpose! You can only break guidelines on purpose if you at least know the basics guidelines, and that's exactly what I outlined in my post.

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Re: help needed with equipment selection

Unread post by ceruleanwildfire » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:42 pm

If taking better pictures is your goal, then more lenses will only help so much. You need to know how to compose pictures properly (marginally useful as animals don't always sit still and pose) and cater for things such as exposure, etc.

I know people think this is an insult but The Complete Idiots Guide to Photography like a Pro and maybe some of the Dummies guides are really helpful, easy to read and cost a fraction of the cost of a new lens.

Of course a new lens doesn't hurt, I'm also getting the 18-200mm in the next few months because of the diversity it offers, but it doesn't change anything if you can't take a proper picture.

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Re: help needed with equipment selection

Unread post by fazekma » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:41 pm

Hi Hoyle and thank you for the kind words re our web site.

Yes, my wife loves her 80-400 and most times we cannot tell who took which photo as the 80-400 is very sharp. I love the 18-200 and in the past I had just a 200mm and I would miss some shots as the animal was too close to our vehicle but the 18-200 solves that problem.

We, like you, did not attend classes - we read books written by professional wildlife photographers. Most of the pro's web sites are 'sales sites' where they sell their prints / books but two in particular provide a lot of free information, namely Moose Petersen (who shoots Nikon) and Arthur Morris (who shoots Canon).
Mario

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Josh of the Bushveld
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Re: help needed with equipment selection

Unread post by Josh of the Bushveld » Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:18 am

ceruleanwildfire wrote:If taking better pictures is your goal, then more lenses will only help so much. You need to know how to compose pictures properly (marginally useful as animals don't always sit still and pose) and cater for things such as exposure, etc.

I know people think this is an insult but The Complete Idiots Guide to Photography like a Pro and maybe some of the Dummies guides are really helpful, easy to read and cost a fraction of the cost of a new lens.

Of course a new lens doesn't hurt, I'm also getting the 18-200mm in the next few months because of the diversity it offers, but it doesn't change anything if you can't take a proper picture.

To true, about composition and light etc. It might be worth spending the money on a course.
I've also not taken a course, but am self-taught through the internet, with a bit of speaking to people in between.
The only useful photography author I've ever come across is Tom Ang.

I also own the 18-200mm VR and it is very versatile. The only problem is that the versatility of the lens becomes a crutch for not learning things properly, like persepctive, zooming with one's feet, composition, stalking (for bird photography) etc.

I reckon you'd learn more by walking around with a 50mm prime than with a large optical zoom lens.

I'll have a look at the Idiot's Guide and For Dummies books. But again, my problem is not necessarily technical understanding, its the more artistic side of composition, lighting etc.
The 'mite formerly known as joshilewis

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ceruleanwildfire
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Re: help needed with equipment selection

Unread post by ceruleanwildfire » Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:45 am

The Idiots and Dummies Guides cover the basic composition, aspect, etc. techniques that any good photographer should know. I kinda agree on the 18-200mm acting as a crutch. Sometimes you can't step back. I'm getting a 35mm prime together with the 18-200mm, but mainly because of the low f-stop it offers.

I reckon one of the biggest things that hold photographers back is the snap syndrome. A lot of people just like to take snapshots. Nothing wrong with that, unless you have a SLR, then it's waste.

A lot of photos can be made better merely by changing your position, angle or height.

Step further back (or zoom out) e.g. Yes it's a lion under a bush and wow get a look at that expression on his face. Step back (zoom out) and you see the Zebras in the background and you understand the look on his face, you get the feeling of the excitement, of anticipation for the hunt. That's photography, being able to evoke emotions, to convey a message, not just show the what you could see through the viewfinder.

A picture of the group of your fellow hikers walking in front of you on Sweni trail can be made that much better by taking the photo from the view point of an ant. Lower yourself down (Caution: Watch out for lions as going into this prone position can evoke an attack, check with the field guide before doing this shot).

Having an eye, or developing the eye, means that you will start to see photo opportunities that others normally subconsciously ignore. Taking a close up/macro shot of a flower, or the reflection of yourself in a raindrop. Taking a shot of a blood moon (red full moon) framed by the branches of the acacia tree. The trail of matabele ants as they move in for the attack on a termite hill.

Anyway, enough of that.

WillBen, I'm not sure of better performance but I know a few people who swear by Hahnel, both Canon and Nikon users. I would first check to see if using other makes of batteries could possibly void your warranty. Not so much a problem if your warranty has expired. Then it becomes personal preference.

Another thing to consider might be the total life span of the battery. My Nikon battery EN-EL3 from my D70 is still going strong after about 5 years and shows no sign of stopping. Has anyone used the Hahnel batteries for an extended period of time (i.e. years) and what is the performance still like?

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DuQues
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Re: help needed with equipment selection

Unread post by DuQues » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:05 pm

Adding to CW's comment: Composition for wildlife (and people and pets) always means that you try to photograph at or below eye height of the subject.
It shows respect.
From above: denigrating, you are less than me.
From the same height: you're my equal.
From lower: you're my better.

Try it sometime, even with just a teddybear and see the change in the atmosphere in the photo.
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

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