Wildlife Photography course report: 26 April to 02 May 2017

Etienne Oosthuizen, from Africa Photographic Services, recently hosted our first Wildlife Photography course of the year. "Photography has become such an integral part of the safari experience and this course is designed to give guides the skills to become better photographers".

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This was the first EcoTraining Wildlife photography course of 2017 and it was held in the northern part of the Kruger National Park, at EcoTraining’s Makuleke camp. Photography has become such an integral part of the safari experience and this course is designed to give guides the necessary skills to become better photographers.

This course is not just limited to guides. We also welcomed a few aspiring photographers who were not in the guiding industry and I believe they also learnt a lot from the different approach to how photographic skills are taught to guides.

MODULES COVERED ON THE COURSE

We started the course with a very simple request: each photographer or guide had to think about five photographs that they would want to capture during their photographic career. This would also be an ongoing list, as our photography and experiences change we will imagine different images. The aim of the task was to stop everybody from thinking about their wildlife photography as a reactive activity and to turn it into a proactive activity. Photography is not just about taking pictures, it’s about planning your time in the bush so that you can be in the best possible situation to ‘make’ photographs happen.

The course officially started with a breakdown of the understanding of exposure and how to best set up your camera to photograph natural light. This allowed everybody to clearly understand the photographic terms I would refer to for the rest of the course and how best to change settings for the ever-changing lighting conditions we find in nature.

After introducing the basics of photography, we moved onto light and how to photograph it. Knowing the limitations of a digital camera under African conditions will help any photographer best deal with frustrations we so often encounter while photographing wildlife. I also showed alternative ways of how photographers can overcome these limitations with the creative use of their camera’s in conjunction with Adobe Light room.

Creativity and composition was our third topic and I explained how images could be structured to best tell the story of the scene being photographed. This module, is not about spoon feeding compositional rules, but rather providing a tool box of compositional techniques that could be used when required.

The rest of our lecture times were spent helping each photographer individually with their questions about photography after I had run through my own Adobe Light room workflow. It dealt with editing and creating a workflow after the images had been captured.

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