Making your photos WILD!
With ‘wild’ experiences becoming rarer as humanity continues its ferocious endeavour to progress, often at the natural world’s expense, how can we treasure those encounters however big or small? I personally think photography is the single most powerful medium when it comes to nature. Whether you are trying to show its tremendous beauty or to highlight a concern, photography offers a means of communication that transcend language barriers. Of course films and the rapid development of virtual reality are tremendous tools with so many possibilities, but photography offers the simplest and easiest spread of communication in my opinion.
When I first became obsessed with photography, it was all about the close ups, getting those intimate photos which show the ‘heart and soul’ of an animal. As I learnt more about my subjects and started to pause and take in situations, I realised that some of the most powerful photos from photographers I hold in high regard were usually placing subjects within their environments.
Some of my most powerful, successful and memorable images are depicting ‘wild’ scenes, offering that sense of place, in particular this applies to my wildlife images.
Showing the Environment
For me there are many different types of photos which place an animal in its environment:
1. Small in the frame – The reality is, a lot of the time it isn’t possible to fill an animal in your frame, so instead of being frustrated by that, look at how you can use the animal within the scene. Instead of trying to zoom in to fill the space use the animal/subject as a small, but vital, feature within a picture to give an essence of a place.
2. Wide-angle – First and foremost always put the animal’s welfare first. Only approach an animal and situation if you have a good understanding of the behaviour of that animal. Field craft is incredibly important with wildlife photography. Where possible, you should approach an animal downwind to reduce the likelihood of detection by smell or sound. It’s important to understand how to use the land to help you get closer. But I believe that a good understanding of animal behaviour is even more important than field craft, for the animal’s welfare and for yours! Having documented pygmy elephants in rainforests, I had to get a really good understanding of their behaviour before attempting any of the photos I had in mind for my conservation story.
When situations lend themselves to wide-angle opportunities, the intimate photos can be incredibly powerful, whether the focus is an animal or feature of the environment.