Wild Eye - Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography

Do You Overshoot?

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry 3 Comments

At what point do you have enough images of any given scene?

At what point do you:

a.  Stop creating the exact same images again and again and just enjoy the experience.
b.  Try something different because you’ve banked enough shots and failing from then on really doesn’t matter.

It seems that a lot of people get so used to ‘rattling’ that they forget to actually think about what they are shooting or take a moment to create different types of images.  I mean seriously, how many of the exact same images of a stationary subject do you need?

I’m not talking about short bursts of two or three frames in order to make sure the lion’s eye is open or the elephant’s foot is in the right position but rather about overshooting so dramatically that I cannot even imagine how painful it must be to try and choose just one image out of all those RAW files in Lightroom.

Surely you just need one, maybe two images from a sighting?  Why then are some of us so intent on shooting many, many, many frames in order to bank the shot?

Wild Eye - Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography

How many images do you really need from a sighting?

Perhaps, and this is something you need to answer for yourself, you are not confident in your camera technique and settings and you border on a spray and pray approach because you can just select the best frame in Lightroom?  Perhaps you are stuck in a rut and you are just going through the motions?  Or perhaps you are too scared to try something different because you’ll fail or, heaven forbid, people won’t get it.

In all of these instances I believe you are not only selling yourself and your photography short but that you are missing out on amazing images and a serious amount of enjoyment of your craft.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m all for banking the crips, clear shots and it’s something I always tell my guests on photo workshops and on the safaris that I host.

Bank your shots.  Bank them but then move on and try something else.

The nice thing?

Because you’ve banked some images – 10 not 100 – you cannot loose when you then try different, let’s call it more creative ways of interpreting and capturing a scene.  You’ll end up with a way more interesting and diverse collection of images and ultimately a much stronger portfolio.

As an example, have a look at the image below.

Wild Eye - Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography

Images like this are a dime a dozen when you spend time on Lake Naivasha in Kenya.  It’s easy shooting and after a few flybys and a few short bursts you should have more than enough images to bank at least one or two images.  But unfortunately a lot of us just… keep… shooting even after we’ve banked a few images which simply results in lots of the same.

Why not then, after banking a few shots, try something different?  Slow things down and attempt to create images that will help you to create diversity in your portfolio and images from that given trip?

The EXIF info for this image is:

  • Aperture:  f/3.5
  • Shutter Speed:  1/5000
  • ISO:  500

This is important to understand as those settings means good, sharp images.

If you understand the relationship between Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO you will know that when shooting in Aperture Mode – by closing down your Aperture you will get a slower Shutter Speed which will immediately give you a different type of image.

If you understand the relationship between Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO you will know that when shooting in Aperture Mode – by dropping your ISO you will drop the Shutter Speed which will again assist you in creating different types of images.

I always shoot in AV mode, even when creating panning or motion blur images, because I understand the above relationships and I can very quickly change my settings after banking a few shots to create something different.

Wild Eye - Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography

The EXIF info for this image is:

  • Aperture:  f/29
  • Shutter Speed:  1/10
  • ISO:  100

If you do not understand how these settings affected the look and feel of the slow shutter image I would urge you to take some time to dig into the basics of your photography again and wrap your head around.  I guarantee you it will be worth it and not only will your portfolio be the better for it but you will find a renewed enjoyment in your craft.

Here’s another quick example of how changing just one of the settings – Aperture – will affect your images.

Wild Eye - Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography

This image was created with the following settings:

  • Aperture:  f/11
  • Shutter Speed:  1/320
  • ISO:  250

By simply changing one variable with a single scroll of a dial – which took about a second – I changed my Aperture and got the following result.

Wild Eye - Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography

This image was created with the following settings:

  • Aperture:  f/64
  • Shutter Speed:  1/6
  • ISO:  250

In my mind the first image is what a bunch of Topi crossing a river looks like while the second image is what it feels like.  Big difference.

Initially I kept my shutter speeds high in order to bank my images but then, instead of creating more of the same, I changed my approach and settings and played around with creating diversity from a single sighting.

For your own photography, for your portfolio and for the enjoyment of our craft I urge you to try different approaches to your photography.

You don’t need hundreds of images of the same subject.  You will more than likely never even go through all of them.  Yes, by all means make sure you bank the shot and keep going until you have but then play.

Slow shutter speed photography is definitely high risk high reward – more on this in a future post – but isn’t it worth it knowing you already have some images in the bank?

I most definitely think it is!

Until next time.

Gerry

About the Author

Gerry van der Walt

I am a private and specialist photographic safari guide, public speaker, co founder of Wild Eye and wildlife photographer. Visit my website at www.gerryvanderwalt.com or follow my journey on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Periscope.  I look forward to changing the way you see the world! Have you checked out The Wildlife Photography Podcast?

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  1. Pingback: Do You Overshoot? - Africa Freak

  2. Pingback: Understanding your camera: Slow Shutter speeds - Wild Eye

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