Guest Blog – Wildlife Photography with Coloratti Gabor Bakos
by Dave Mobbs – October 9th, 2015
X-Rite Coloratti Gabor Bakos is a renowned and multi-award winning wildlife photographer based in Hungary. Here, he gives his advice on photography and capturing animals in the wild.
Understand the species you want to photograph
How an animal behaves is crucial to taking a great photograph. What time of day is it most active? When it moves how does it prepare, what are the behaviours that make it most photogenic? Quite simply, the deeper your understanding of the animal you want to photograph, the better result you will have.
Also, take the time to look at other photographers’ images of these animals. What are the things that really stand out, and you would like to replicate? What mistakes have others made that you want to avoid?
Finally, understand whether the animal will be comfortable with your presence, or whether you will need to use a hide or camouflage to capture it.
Show off the species at its best
A wildlife photographer isn’t there to take a picture of the animal; you’re there to show the animal doing its most amazing things. By understanding the species you’re photographing you can focus on the dramatic movements and moments. It’s also vital to really focus on the small details. The eyes of an animal or its feathers are the things which make an image.
The early bird catches the…best light
Rising early can make all the difference. The soft morning light can bring out many subtle details, and in many cases animals are at their most active in the morning. It’s quieter, there’s invariably less going on to distract and the opportunities for capturing nature with the rising sun are excellent.
Capture the environment not just the animal
Capturing the surroundings is one element of this, but one key piece of advice is to take as many pictures as you can of the animal and of the theme you’re working on. In this way you can capture not just the animal but also the life of the animal.
Try new things
To get the perfect shot you may need to mix it up. Look for a peculiar perspective, use a wide-angle lens. Keep returning to the same spot at different times, and even in a different season. Don’t be afraid to get off the beaten track and find some new spots to photograph from.
Most of all, be ready to improvise – nature decides the shot you will get that day, you just have to be there to capture it!
Look after your surroundings
Pay attention to the area and to nature. Don’t harm the animal’s environment and don’t feed the animal. Avoid stepping on plants and breaking branches – the golden rule is to leave the area as you found it.
Have the right Kit…
Depending on what you’re looking to capture, you will need some specialist equipment:
- Choose the body with highest frame per seconds
- A fast speed lens (f2.8) is indispensible
- You’re out in the field – take enough storage and battery power with you
- A 500 mm or longer lens
- A robust tripod
- Choose a tripod head which matches your style
- A gimbal head can be useful for tracking high speed movement
- A ColorChecker Passport to get an accurate camera profile
Get the settings right
- Always capture in RAW
- Avoid very high ISOs
Get Creative with shutter speed
Changing your shutter speed can convey motion, freeze action, isolate subjects and smooth water, amongst other things. Adjust yours to get different effects.
Use Flash carefully
Using flash well can really help to light those shadowed areas or help with the detail elements we talked about earlier, but take care not to use flash in areas where it’s not allowed or it’s going to affect the animals.
Sometimes it can be days or even weeks to capture THE moment you’re looking for, and when you have a composition in mind, don’t skip from one lens to another.
Gabor Bakos is a member of X-Rite’s Coloratti group of professional photographers and videographers. You can learn more about Gabor and his work at – http://gaborbakos.photoshelter.com