Behind the Frame – 6 June 2012

Gerry van der Walt All Authors Leave a Comment

Welcome to the ninth 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:


– Laura Dyer

– Andrew Beck

– Gerry van der Walt


Twilight Leopard by Laura Dyer


Canon 7D, 300mm, 1/40, f/5, ISO 1000

Support: beanbag and panning plate for some serious support. Still vehicle and guests…

Sabi Sands, South Africa


I shot this leopard image one evening in the Sabi Sands. It was a wonderful sighting in which we were following a pack of wild dog who bumped into this female leopard, chasing her rather swiftly up the nearest tree. Predators tend to avoid confrontation like this, as it can only lead to injury, so she waited very patiently for them to move off. This gave me two things to work with- a leopard that wasn’t going anywhere for a while, and a leopard who’s eyes were as wide as saucers, with a very interested look on her face.


One of the things I learnt very quickly in photography was a collection of default settings that come naturally in certain situations. The camera I shoot with has three available presets, which I have set up for panning, for birds in flight and for night time flash shooting. The fourth setting, if I had space for it, would be reserved for twilight- one of my favorite times of day. Although it is not very common, sometimes you get lucky enough to have a subject at twilight, in this case a leopard.


I composed the image, and set the camera immediately to my default twilight setting: ISO1000- because this is more or less the limit noise wise for my camera, that I am happy with, f5- as this gives just enough depth of field (in my opinion) for the face of a cat, while still allowing me to get my shutter speed up to a manageable number in this case 1/80s- which really requires some good support (I like to use a solid beanbag and a panning plate on open vehicles)  After firing a couple of shots I decided I needed a little increase in exposure so took my chances with a shutter speed of 1/40s. This requires an exceptionally still vehicle, which I was able to get (just) for long enough to get a couple of sharp images!


At twilight, the combination of a well exposed sky and a spotlit subject creates beautiful lighting as it brings out the royal blue in the background which doesn’t last for long, but is very attractive. A few other people in the sighting were using flash, which is a personal choice, but I have found that an image created using only spotlight looks more natural, and have a softer feel to them.


Laura’s Links:



500px Gallery


Laura Dyer


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Boulders Penguin by Andrew Beck



Canon 1D MK III, 200mm, f6,3, ISO160 1/2000

Boulder’s Beach, South Africa


I know that these little critters are already black and white but before I even captured this frame I new that I would be converting this.


This was taken during our trip to photograph the Great White Sharks of Seal Island last year. Staying at the Boulders beach lodge meant that we were able to get right amongst the mornings action as the penguins clambered across the rock face and made their way down to the ocean.


Not much processing was used here apart from a little bit of fill light needed to bring out the detail in the body and face of the penguin. The Black and White Conversion works well for me give the harsh light and the texture of the rocks and it seems to emphasize the shadow cast onto the rock surface.


I can’t wait to get back down to Boulders Beach in July and capture some more images of these guys!


Andrew’s Links:

500px gallery

Andrew on Twitter


Andrew Beck


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Wild Dog Pack by Gerry van der Walt



Nikon D700, 300mm, 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 200

Support:  Handheld from game viewing vehicle

Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa



Nature, beautiful as it is, can be amazingly cruel.


The never ending cycle of life and death plays itself out on the plains of Africa every single day.  These moments, when predator and prey collide, can make for some absolutely amazing photographic opportunities.


I do however believe that there is a very fine line between telling the story of a predator killing it’s prey and unnecessarily showing blood and guts to create striking images.  It is not necessary to show excessive amounts of blood and intestines to tell the story.


You can do so in a much more subtle, creative way while at the same time keeping a little bit of the romantic mystery that is Africa.  Also, it is easy to show the blood and guts.  I would rather challenge myself to tell the story in a different way.  A more subtle way.  A more creative way.  Well, I think so anyway.


I took this particular image in Madikwe as we watched a pack of 12 Wild Dogs literally tearing a fully grown wildebeest to pieces.  There was blood and guts everywhere and the overcast conditions made the dark, red color look even more dramatic than usual.  It is difficult to watch a scene like this but at the same time it is difficult to look away.


As the dogs did what they do we kept on photographing the action – looking for that image that will tell the story.


When we got back to the lodge we compared images and spoke about how we all saw, and photographed the scene differently.  No one went the route of in-your-face blood and guts and I was surprised at how many options there actually were – some of them I would never even have thought of had I not shared with other photographers (see, sharing is caring!)


In this image I tried to create an abstract of the chaotic scene which would tell my viewer what the story was.


You can see the story is about Wild Dogs and not just about the one in focus.  You can see that there are a lot of them.  You can see that there is blood involved.


But I did not show the hardcore blood and guts.


Gerry’s Links:


500px Gallery


Until next time.


Gerry van der Walt


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