Everyone is treated to stunning images of wildlife from around the world if they simply relax in front of the television and turn on National Geographic. Regular photography competitions attract stunning entries that simply seem to capture the moment. There is always a certain amount of luck involved because it is often about being in the right place at the right time. There is a little more to it; part is to have the right equipment and knowing how to use it but equally important is knowledge about the subject you want to photograph and its likely behavior.
A few years ago there was a challenge when the current South African rugby winger Bryan Habana raced against a cheetah, the fasted mammal on earth on four legs. It reaches speeds of over 100 kph over short distances so Brian could not match that by as a charity stunt it was made to seem that he did. What it did do is raise awareness of the endangered status of cheetahs.
Imagine trying to keep either of them in your shot when moving at that pace. You can take many photos per second but you will be on the move yourself moving the camera across to keep pace. The point is that you need to understand about movement if you want to capture wildlife or even sport for that matter.
Few animals pose as nicely as cheetahs ironically. They sit on small mounds to be able to look over the plains in search of prey. You can almost get the perfect shot as though you were actually in a studio with all the equipment you need including perfect light and a Lastolite Collapsible Background. You will be able to click away and examine every shot as long as the cheetah has no target in mind. These animals are rarely phased by tourists and cameramen. They could stay there for hours and as their strength is speed they are day time hunters when the light is at its best.
There is plenty to learn even in studio work. Why else would fashion photographers get great reputations if anyone can take an album of fashion? If you get the chance to photograph a wild animal that actually stays still for you, almost posing, you are certain to get some good shots and others that somehow fail to capture the subject.
On the move things are far more difficult. While everyone will feel sorry for prey, particularly animals like young impala or gazelle, they would love to capture a kill. They may have seen it many times on television but the people shooting that footage are real seasoned professionals.
Anyone that develops an interest in photography will improve over time. They may need a little instruction and begin with simple subjects. They will learn about composition and centering a subject in the photograph. Different photos of the same static subject will differ and it is worth deciding about the best ones and remembering how they were taken.
When someone then moves on to moving subjects things to become more difficult. Practice and patience are key to success; it is certainly worth the effort. Some unique opportunities can arise to take photographs of something you may never see again. You need to be up to the task of capturing the moment. It may remain crystal clear in your mind but wouldn’t it be nice to have a real image of it as well?
Film and television bring wonderful imagery to the screen. It is nice to go and see it but in terms of wildlife it is not always there on arrival. If you learn more about the art of photography and have the right equipment at least you are giving yourself a chance to capture something truly wonderful.