The Golden Dog

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Penny Leave a Comment

Everyone talks about it.

Well, all wildlife and nature photographers talk about it or have.

Golden light.

The name itself conjures up a variety of sweet emotions… rich colour… if you close your eyes, you can imagine the swirl of golden light around your subject, hugging it close as it gets absorbed into the coat of the cheetah, the stems of the grass, the atoms in the air…

It really is a magical light to shoot subjects under as it brings out a different look and feel to the image presented. Quite an ethereal quality I suppose..

Alright, enough rambling.

Let’s get down to business.

As wildlife photographer’s, we are always on the lookout for action shots, interaction between our subjects, moments that stand out and tell a story, create a feeling or emotion when the viewer looks at the image, and so much more.

So off on a cold morning game drive in Madikwe Game Reserve a week or so back, we had one aim in mind – Wild Dogs. Golden light. Combine then = Let’s do it!

There really is so much to love about these beautiful and spirited predators, and we knew we were in for a treat when we spotted them on the move.

Let the hunt begin.

Trying our hardest to keep up with them and position ourselves so that we were facing the rising sun (Wild Dog move at a super speed. These agile dogs are incredibly active!), we found the dogs already eating the last remains of a Steenbok that they had just killed.

During the great Wild Dog chase via vehicle, I made sure that I had the right settings on my camera in order for me to easily pick it up and release the shutter when the moment came for it. Choosing a shallow depth of field in order to isolate my subject and create some softness amongst the chaos of grass that surrounded the dogs, I underexposed the image by 1 stop by using the Exposure Compensation setting. This was to ensure that the image wouldn’t be overexposed and that the dark mottled coat of the dog would have texture and darkness to it.

The sunlight peaked over the trees, and out of the bush I saw this dog appear.

I couldn’t quite get over how the light beautifully complimented the dog and caught the tips of the grass!

I knew that this was the image I wanted to get and I knew my camera settings were already ready for me to capture this moment.

Although the dog, at this particular moment, was not running around or interacting with the other dogs (remember what I just wrote about action shots?), this image told a whole other story about the dog – a formidable and awe inspiring predator in a moment of utter sereneness.  The golden light just accentuated the magnificence of this moment for me.

Photography is about light. Always be aware of the type of light you are shooting in and how if affects the portrayal and reading of your image. Once you know the resultant effect, you can start taking more control of your images as you use the light to your advantage.

Keep shooting and stay passionate!

Penny Robartes

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