Creating Depth in a Zebra Image

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry Leave a Comment

A lot of people think that the more subjects you have to photograph in a single scene the easier it is but the reality is slightly different.

Yes, it’s easy enough to just grab a wide angle and capture the entire scene but this brings with it a very unique set of challenges.  Composition and story telling with a wide angle, challenging as it may be, is a great way to teach yourself to think more photographically and sharpen your photographic skills.  The art of exclusion and inclusion becomes a very real consideration and something that is great to work in the more time you spend out in the field.

The other option is to be very selective about what you include in the frame and, with a super telephoto lens, pick off single shots the same way a sniper might.

Last week we were sitting in the middle of a massive dazzle of zebra and for almost an hour Anne, Martha and myself looked for different ways to photograph the herd.  During this particular morning drive we were paying specific attention to creating depth in images by using depth of field and including various levels in and into the frame.

While shooting with a 600mm and scanning through the herd this image showed up in my viewfinder.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 1/2000, f/4, ISO 640
Mara Triangle, Kenya

The zebra had all lined up perfectly for me to have two animals, each more and more in focus as your gaze moves from bottom to top through the frame, leading my viewer’s gaze into the frame from the bottom and another zebra behind my focal point created another layer in the frame which helped me to create the feeling of depth in the image.  One click, just like a photographic sniper.

The compression effect of the large focal length, close proximity to the Zebra and a very shallow depth of field allowed me to tell a story of a herd of animals and how close they seem to stay as a herd while still having a single subject as the main part of my story.

When shooting multiple subjects definitely use your wide angle to capture scale of the scene but don’t be afraid to go long on your focal length, even if your subjects are quite close to you, and pick out a few unique images.

Until next time.

Gerry van der Walt 

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