The Bigger Picture

Marlon duToit All Authors, Marlon 1 Comment

Anytime you point your camera at a wild animal, think about the story your are attempting to convey.

Are you merely looking to take a quick snap, “one for the memory”?

Or are you trying to create, trying to capture the scene the way you saw it that day?

In today’s world there’s too much emphasis on the close up stuff instead of the bigger picture. People are often too focused on being right there in the action when the real story is happening further back!

I find that my trusted Canon 16-35mm 2.8 L mk2 has never let me down. I love using this lens to capture more of the scene infront of me, it is such a great tool. That said, can you only create beautiful landscapes with a wide-angle?

Absolutely not.

Perhaps step back a little, or reverse your car to put some distance between you and your subject. For this you can even use longer telephoto lenses, a refreshing change to the way they are usually put to use.

wildeyesa, marlon du toit,

Canon 16-35mm 2.8 L mk2

I loved how this solitary rhino bull seemed rather small when compared to the beautiful natural scene surrounding him. The patterns in the clouds also caught my attention. Instead of getting in close I decided to reach for the wide-angle and tried to tell more of a story.


Canon 400 2.8 IS L

Stepping back and giving my subject an opportunity to “breathe” allowed me to also capture the magnificent Mana Pools forest at sunset.


Canon 400 2.8 IS L

We had been following these big lions all morning. I had gotten some amazing shots and when they finally settled here I had to change tactics. They were lying in a area containing sensitive sodic-rich soils. I loved seeing them from afar, kings of their territory.


Canon 16 – 35mm 2.8 L mk2

I love elephants at play, especially during the summer time when plenty of mud-wallows are around. It’s a typical summer day and the elephants were hot. Including the greenery, the Leadwood tree to the right and the stunning skies all add to the stroy of summer for me.


Canon 70-200 2.8 IS L mk2

Having a zoom lens such as the above had helped me so much. I love scene’s like this, a rather common sight in the Sabi Sand. Capturing more of the environment creates perspective, something to measure against.


Canon 400 2.8 IS L

Again using my 400 I was able to create a lovely scene, including my subjects as well as the tree they were feeding from and a lovely soft backdrop. This is not easy to do with a wide angle which is why it is rather nice to step back at times with the longer lenses.


Canon 16-35mm 2.8 L mk2

I love how this came out! Had I zoomed right in to capture the elephants drinking, or even reached for my 70-200, I would still have missed out on the bigger picture! The clouds, water and sky all dwarf the large elephant and create such a compelling African scene.


Canon 70-200 2.8 IS L mk2

I followed this leopard family for some time. When they entered this tranquil scenic landscape I knew I had to capture more of it. The usual tendency would be to get in close and get the cats walking towards you, but by thinking bigger you can be very creative.

So next time you are out in the wilds think about the BIGGER PICTURE. If you subject is perhaps too far away, don’t be dismayed. See what you can include from the surrounding landscape, see what you can create. You may just be surprised at the results you end up with.

Until next time,

Marlon du Toit

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Comments 1

  1. Barry Tanner

    Nice one Marlon, I couldn’t agree more! The landscapes these beautiful animals live in is what makes them truly unique, I really try and avoid pics that could have been taken in the zoo.

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