There is nothing quite as impressive as showing the true scale of a scene and conveying the size of an expansive herd of wildebeest or elephant as they move across the wilds of Africa.
Capturing the scenes that we see whilst in the field are not always easy and, as I learnt a number of years ago, not always immediately obvious.
During one of my very first Great Migration safaris back in 2012, I was quite literally left in awe at the number of wildebeest which surrounded our vehicle in the Mara Triangle Conservancy. How does one capture so many animals in a single frame?
Grab a wide angle and shoot…
Whilst it does give one an idea of the size and numbers on the open plains, I was left wanting more impact. I quickly learnt that going in tighter with a greater focal length did wonders when it came to filling a frame with content and leaving my viewer with that “wow” moment.
This is not always possible and will require a bit of luck, patience and of course, anticipation of the moment.
This particular image of massing wildebeest was not necessarily as large as it may seem BUT because they fill the frame from edge to edge in an image captured at 400mm, the viewer is left with the impression that this mass of bodies could quite possibly have continued into their thousands, when actually it was only a couple of hundred.
Here’s an example of how getting in tighter, either through focal legnth, cropping or a combination of both, can really go a long way to increasing the impact of a story.
Not only does the Pied Wagtail become a more prominent feature in the frame, but the number of hippo seems much greater than they really were.
Depth of field can also help to convey a sense of scale and having a seemingly endless herd of wildebeest fade into the background shows just how big the group was.
I used this technique again on safari in Botswana last week, filling the frame with elephants preparing to cross the Chobe River.
So, when trying to showcase the masses and sheer number of wildlife in a scene, put the wide angle down and try and get in a little tighter.
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