I have just returned form two fantastic weeks in the Masai Mara and as one can imagine there is no shortage of photographic opportunities during the great migration. A common question which was raised on both the dedicated photographic safari and general travel safari was that of “How am i going to cut these images down and decide which ones to keep”.
Many people tend to be a bit more “trigger happy’ when they visit a destination for the first time, photographing everything they see as so much of it is new and who knows if and when they may ever go back to the destination. This often leads to guests having many similar images from a sighting which they will need to work though and decide on which ones to keep.
A while back I put together a series of “Choosing the Shot” posts and these may all come in handy for those of you who have asked yourself this same question:
- choosing the shot : using the compare mode in lightroom
- choosing the shot : using survey mode in lightroom
- choosing the shot : Body Posture
- choosing the shot : birds in flight
- choosing the shot : implying movement
- choosing the shot : the devil is in the detail
- choosing the shot : is your subject in focus
These posts are well worth checking out as they will immediately help you to look a little bit more critically at a series of images that you have taken and identify which (if any) of the images are worth keeping. In case you were wondering if we ever get it wrong, we do.
Here are a couple of examples of images that I took during the two weeks in the Masai Mara that I don’t feel make the cut.
This scene had great potential for a nice animal in environment portrait. The lioness was resting on a termite mound and raised up form the surrounding grass but there is something not right with the image. The pose and posture of this female is very awkward and the positioning of her ears shows that she is not tall that comfortable. This particular female had cubs nearby and even though she was resting, she would regularly lift her head and listen around, meaning that she never got completely relaxed and provided us with that relaxed ear position and direct eye contact. Great potential but it just didn’t work out.
Tip: Be aware of your subjects positioning and attitude. Make sure you have eye contact of some sort and be aware of the positioning of the ears.
This was a test shot i took to check exposure in the build up to a crossing. It wasn’t meant to be a keeper but rather a test shot. This is the only image from this sighting though. Why? Because they didn’t end up crossing. It would have been a great crossing from a photographic perspective – soft afternoon light, loads of dust with side lighting, no other vehicles in sight, full view of the entry and exit points.
Tip: Sometimes things just don’t work out the way we want them to!
This shot does’t work for a number of reasons. There is no feather detail in the darks of the bird and you cant actually work out whether the bird has eyes or not! Eyes are a crucial part of any wildlife or bird image and you will always want to have a catchlight in the eye in order to bring the image to life.
Tip: If your images of birds don’t have this it really may not be worthwhile keeping the image unless it is a documentary shot of a new species that you have recorded.
This beautiful male lion was found in the marsh region of the Mara Triangle late one morning. As you can see the light was very harsh and the fact that he is in the shadows doesn’t help the situation much. These aren’t the biggest problem for me though. The single piece of grass that arches in form the left hand side of the frae and crosses his mane is very distracting. Changing the position of the vehicle slightly meant that the guests were able to get some decent shots of this beautiful male without the intrusion of the grass.
Tip: Remember to be aware of the distracting elements in an image before you trip the shutter. it is always a lot easier to address these issues in the field by changing your position than it is to try and do it after the fact in post-processing.
A beautiful and typical scene from the plains of East Africa but it just doesn’t work. The merger between the body of the cheetah and the termite mound detracts from the image. If there was a lot less body visible with just the head and ears peaking out – then we’re onto something, but in this frame there is no separation between the two and the leading curve that lines up with the cheetahs back makes things even worse. Taking things to the n’th degree, the small bush directly behind the cheetah’s head also detracts from the image for me.
Tip:Be aware of mergers and intrusions which may detract from the overall scene that you are capturing before taking the shot!
So there you have it. A couple of examples of images that just don’t work. Many of the issues raised in these examples can be addressed by either repositioning the vehicle, being more patient, or purely by spending more time in the field. As with everything, practice makes perfect so make sure that you are in tune with your surroundings and have analysed the contents of your frame before releasing the shutter!
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