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Saturday, 28 November 2009

Light - That Extra Fizz

According to various definitions photography is a term which comes from the Greek words "photos" (light) and "graphos" (drawing). Drawing with light. A photograph is made with a camera by exposing film to light in order to create a negative. The negative is then used in the darkroom to print a photograph (positive) onto light-sensitive paper.

Notice how many times the word 'light' comes up in that description?

Light is probably one of the most important factors when shooting nature and wildlife. I would rather shoot an abstract of an old tree in the beautiful golden light of early morning than a lion at midday. Does not sound as exciting but when you go and look at your images and you are very honest with yourself you will be able to see and acknowledge the difference.

Many people who go on safari for the first time get so excited about seeing a lion or elephant for the first time that they fill up a 4GB flash disk in a matter of minutes. This is important to get it out of your system but once that initial shooting frenzy is over, take your time to look at the light and how best to use it.

As I was working through my images form the last few months I came upon these two that shows how light can give an ordinary scene that little extra fizz! Kind of like drinking a Coke with no bubbles. That 'fizz' gives it that little extra!

This image of a Gemsbok was captured in the Namib Rand Nature Reserve. It was around 8:30 in the morning and the sun was almost getting too harsh to keep on photographing wildlife. As we got to camp this beauty presented itself and everything just looked right. By this time we must have seen and photographed at least 50 of these majestic animals but this time it was right. The way that the light bounces of the dark body and horns, the shine of it's coat and the way in which the morning light was playing in the grass made for a great combination of small things that added up to a great wildlife image. The animal itself was not necessarily doing anything mind blowing, but when shooting wildlife you have to look deeper than that. What is the light doing and even more importantly, what is the light going to do?

This is another pretty standard wildlife image. The late afternoon light makes it just that touch better. You can see how the warm light gives a little bit of life to the grass and highlights the mane of this young lion. In the perfect world he would have been looking the other way but nothing you can do about that! Normal picture with just a touch of golden light.

Next time you go on safari make sure to check the light. What time does the sun come up? Where? Are there clouds? Can I use them?

Lots of questions but this makes the entire photographic journey so much more interesting and the results will show in your images.

On a different note I was at Universal Image in Cresta Centre this morning. This is where I do all of my printing (thanks Elliot!!) and get all my photographic equipment from While I was there this morning they were busy putting the final touches on the one of the first Nikon Pro Centres in Gauteng. Very exciting and I will definitely be back there as soon as I get back from Madikwe in early January. Some very impressive equipment, lenses and technical support so if you are in Johannesburg and you have a moment stop in and check out the awesome range!

Before I go. I have been using Adobe Bridge CS4 for the last few days and have been really impressed. The interface is easy and it's quick. Compared to all the previous versions this is definitely a step in the right direction. For the last few months I have been using FastStone Image Viewer to navigate and look through images as it is quick and very simple to use. I reckon that once you have setup you user interface in Bridge CS4 it will beat FastStone for speed and features any day of the week. I was a bit skeptical before but am very glad I made the change as it feels like my whole work flow has been streamlined! If you have used CS4 I would love to hear your thoughts.


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