“Sharing views, sharing images, sharing tips and techniques … photographic pros and amateurs alike … we can all learn from each other,” says wildlife photographer Chris Martin. Chris and I are bloggers on Africa Geographic – one of my favorite magazines. The magazine is known for amazing images accompanying their stories, and as you can see in this post Chris’s images are incredible.
Though I’ve been traveling to Africa for almost 30 years, I never gave much thought to my photos. PSP (point, shoot and pray) has been my photographic motto. But now that I’m writing stories (with photos) for my own, as well as one of Africa’s top magazine blogs, it’s time to pay attention to the quality of my photos.
That’s why I was delighted to find Chris’ top ten list for making better photos.
If you are really keen, check out his whole list.
Otherwise, read on to find six of his suggestions I find most helpful for any photo, whether you are on safari or not.
1. Get familiar with the workings of your camera
This one is probably obvious but half the people on my safaris (including me) have not taken the time to know their camera. Chris says, “You need to understand how to switch between functions almost blindfolded. Often you will need to make adjustments to your shooting settings whilst the subject is in the frame … easy to do if you know the location of all the function buttons, impossible if you don’t.”
2. An image is nothing if it isn’t razor sharp
“Forget post processing and the sharpening tool, if you are sloppy with your focusing you will spoil your image. This is probably the most common fault in most images I’m asked to review,” says Chris. He suggests using a camera support: either a tripod, monopod or a bean bag (if shooting from a vehicle). “I rarely hand hold a camera when working from my vehicle. When you settle into position on your sighting and are getting ready to shoot, turn off the engine as even the vibrations of the vehicle can potentially ruin a great shot,” he cautions.
3. Get dirty and shoot from low down
According to Chris, “Perspective is everything, and so often we become accustomed to having to shoot from above – a position that is generally unflattering. On every occasion when you can, shoot from below the eye level of your subject. Try it, and see the difference.”
4. Consider your foreground, background and horizon
Always look at “the space behind your subject to see what else is in the image (do the same for the foreground). Consider whether you want the background to be in focus, or blurry. Be careful of sticks, branches etc in your foreground that could “grow out” of your image and potentially ruin your shot. Finally, if there is a horizon in your composition, make sure it’s straight,” says Chris.
5. Grab your first shot … and compose your second
“As I approach a sighting, I always get a ‘grab shot’”, says Chris. “Once you’ve done that, move in closer and compose your next shots more creatively, using as many angles as possible and looking for unique ways in which to highlight the animals most distinctive features … even if the animal flees, you have one shot already in the can.”
6. The animal’s eye is your focal point:
“The expression from an animal’s eye can make or break an image. You should not only have the eye as your primary focal point, but should also look to use the available light to highlight this feature and really make your image stand out. Either way, the eye is always the sharpest point of any world-class wildlife image.”
Find out more about Chris Martin on Face Book.