Behind the Frame – 2 May 2012

Gerry van der Walt All Authors 1 Comment

Welcome to the fifth edition of Behind the Frame.


The behind the Frame post features  wildlife and landscape images from wildlife photographers who share some of their thoughts, whether from an artist or technical point of view, behind their image.  I still feel that one of the best ways to learn and be inspired is to look at other peoples images and get some insight as to the how, what and why.  In the spirit of sharing we then share links to their websites so that you can see more of their work.


If you are keen to contribute check out this post for details.  For now, here goes with this week’s images from the following photographers:


– Kerry Manson

– Marcelle Robbins

– Andrew Beck

– Gerry van der Walt


Hope you enjoy.


Orb by Marcelle Robbins


Canon 10D, 105mm, 1/180 sec, f/13, ISO 800

Mabula Game Reserve, South Africa


When we get a chance, my husband and I jump in the open vehicle and take a photographic drive. Since we both have completely different photographic styles, each drive is alternately dedicated to one of us. On this specific day, we were on a “macro” drive. The Orb spiders had just started showing themselves and there were some whoppers out there to be discovered.


We happened upon this gorgeous lady who had a web positioned just right for me to be able to squash all my equipment through the bush, tripod and all. Initially she was quite nervous and I had to chase her around the web constantly in the hope of a good shot. She seemed super energetic and I just couldn’t get her to calm down long enough for a decent shot. Eventually I decided to give up and search for a new Orb, a more placid one at least. As I was manoeuvring my equipment from the sunlit side of the web, she all of a sudden found a comfortable perch and stayed there, nice and still.


I quickly and quietly set myself up and rattled off a few shots. I soon realized that she was not going to go anywhere and this gave me an opportunity to try for a stacked imaged. I thought a stacked image might show off  the incredible markings on the Orbs legs.


A stacked macro image is when you take the same shot at different focal points and then later combine the images to get a subject that is 100% in focus and sharp across the whole image. Even with a very large DOF its a challenge in macro work to get absolutely everything in focus from top to bottom. You also have to be careful to no combine too many images otherwise you will have a very “flat” result. Then, you also have to make sure that your setup is perfect and that you have a remote shutter release so that you don’t disturb the comp in any way. When you focus on the subject its important to get the desired focal point and then step away from your camera. I usually wait a second or two to let everything settle, just in case, and then I take my shot and repeat the process till I have the required amount of images. Taking the time to do this means you will have less problems aligning your images in the processing stage later on.


I used a medium DOF field in this instance so that I did not have to have too many images to work with and also I had no idea how long the spider would sit still so I needed the most in the shortest amount of time possible. I also used a much higher ISO than I normally would as the area was very shaded and without a higher ISO my images were too dark, in particular the BG.  I took four images that I intended to stack.


After all the processing I was quite happy with my result. It showed off the zebra-like markings to perfection and even the little hairs on the legs were visible. I also loved the unorthodox composition with the spider hanging upside down.


All in all, a very satisfying stacked macro image!


Marcelle’s Links:

Facebook Page



Marcelle Robbins


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Sailing By by Kerry Manson



Sony A500, 75mm, 1/80, f/32, ISO 200
Mnemba Island, Zanzibar


I knew exactly what type of image I wanted as soon as I saw the birds nesting on Mnemba island. The scenery is not something you see every day – thousands of wading bird species including the rare Crab plover call the beach their home and every hour or so you see men in old wooden dhows sailing by fishing in the nearby waters – a beautiful landscape showing the birds’ paradise island was in order. The problem with getting anywhere near the birds is that as soon as they caught even a slight glimpse of you they would all fly away.


I tried and tried to get them as still as possible but the photo just wasn’t working. I then thought of one of the more artsy ways to depict this scene (and one that would work!) – capturing the motion of the birds and the tranquility of the sailing dhows. Sometimes you just have to use what nature is giving you. Now the problem was one of getting the birds to fly in the right direction and not obstruct the view of the dhows. It took a couple of takes but eventually I got the shot that I wanted. The spacing was right between the birds and the dhows and everybody was moving in the same direction.


Changing the photo to black and white helped create a more fine art image (because Mnemba is more like a piece of art than real life) and showed up the contrast between the sea, the flying birds and still birds, a lot more than leaving it in colour. Luck was a little on my side too 🙂


Kerry’s Links



500px Gallery


Kerry de Bruyn


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Kalahari Male by Andrew Beck


 Canon EOS 1DMK IV, 600 mm, 1/800, f/5,0 ISO 640

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa


During our last trip to the Kgalagadi we spent quite a bit of time with a group of lions which were hanging about near the Kalahari tented camp. Being so close to the camp the sightings would often get very congested with vehicles jostling for position as the lions become more active in the late afternoon.


Most of the vehicles had become so excited with the two young males that were out in the open that they failed to see the rest of the pride resting beneath some trees a little further down the road. With the luxury of long lenses (most of our group had at least 400mm lenses on hand) we decided to move past the traffic jam and wait for the two young males to make their way towards the rest of the group.


A short while later we were rewarded for our efforts as one of the young males walked straight down the road towards us, and the other moved up onto a nearby ridge, his gazed fixed on the rest of the pride.


Understanding and anticipating animal behavior is something which many photographers overlook and do not understand. The fact of the matter is that if you have a deeper understanding of your subjects behaviour and you are able to anticipate what they will do next (be it a yawn or an idea of where they are likely to move towards), you stand a far greater chance of getting into the perfect position and preparing yourself for the shot.


Try and be proactive rather than reactive in your approach to photography.


Andrew’s Links:

500px gallery


Andrew Beck


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Jump by Gerry van der Walt



Nikon D700, 300mm, 1/640, f/3.5, ISO 1600

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park


This image, part of a sequence of fice, shows an old male lion jump across the water at a waterhole in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.


As a sequence the images shows, step by step, how the large cat jumps across the water and tells the entire story of a great sighting.  However, when you pull an image out of a sequence and present it as a standalone it does not always make sense or tell the entire story.  In this particular image it looks like the lion is stuck or is bowing or something.  Nice, and slightly different image, but it does not really convey the entire story.


When you next shoot a sequence  try and present the story as a part of a sequence.  It just makes more sense!


Until next time.


Gerry van der Walt


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