Do you Fight the Light or work with it?

Andrew Beck Andrew 5 Comments

Every day out in the field a wildlife photographer somewhere is faced with the age old dilemma as the sun starts to sink below the horizon.

Do you fight the light and crank up the ISO or do you risk it all and get creative?

Here’s an example of  situation I was faced with in Madikwe.

Its 18:50 in February and the sun is well below the horizon. My initial reaction when evaluating the scene in front of me was to allow as much light in as possible (F2.8) and crank up the ISO to get a decent shutter speed which would be fast enough to eliminate any chance of camera shake (Ideally 1/300 with a 300mm lens).

So, the ISO went up to 640 and the resultant shutter speed was 1/200.


Canon 5D MK III and 300mm F2.8, ISO 640, F2.8, 1/200

A fairly sharp and very average shot of two rhino at after sunset.

Certainly not going to win any awards is it?

With the in the bag I prepared to not fight the light, but rather to work with it.

Drop the ISO from 640 to 100 and simultaneously adjust the aperture value from F2.8 to F5.6 and my resultant shutter speed becomes 0.6 of a second.

Very slow, but ideal for intentionally showing movement in the scene. With the settings dialled in it was just a case of waiting for the animals to move off and pan with them as best as I could.


Canon 5D MK III and 300mm F2.8, ISO 100, F5.6, 0.6sec

A pretty decent effort given the combination of focal length and shutter speed. Even if its not perfect I find this second image far more interesting than the first.

The next time you’re out on drive and the sun has set, think twice before cranking up that ISO to get a faster shutter speed. Panning in low light yields far more interesting results than it does in harsh bright sunlight when you’re basically left with a high key black and white conversion.

Take the risk and don’t always fight the light, try and work with it from time to time.

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About the Author

Andrew Beck

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Very few people can tell you what their passion in life is. Even fewer will be able to tell you that what they do for a living is in fact their passion. My love for the bush and conservation took me on journey which would not only allow me to explore the continent which fascinates me so much, but to share my passion for photography and conservation with others. Be sure to check out my my website and instagram account.

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