Three words which pretty much sum up most of my most memorable wildlife sightings.
Inevitably a sighting begins as just that, a sighting. During a private Wildlife Photography Course I hosted in Madikwe Game Reserve this past weekend we came across a beautiful male lion who was walking along the road, stopping at regular intervals to scent mark against specific trees and bushes.
Initially he was in-front of us and only provided the odd photographic opportunity when he stopped to scent mark, either urinating against the trees or rubbing himself up against them like a playful kitten.
Shortly after the scene above he suddenly veered off of the road and completely changed direction, allowing us to not only move past him, but also to get ahead of him. As we rounded the corner we spotted a herd of impala who, based on their loud snorting and posture, had clearly seen the big male lion heading their way. At this stage the lion was still a good 100 to 150 metres away from them.
Now, most guides would have stuck with the lion as he moved parallel to the vehicle, allowing his guests to spend as much time to Observe the lion as close as possible.
This is where anticipating what comes next sets a photographically minded guide apart from the rest. Rather than stopping or moving slowly with the lion, we shot ahead, passed the impala and created a different and unique moment from the scene that played out before our eyes. Using a shallow depth of Field (Don’t forget to check out my masterclass Presentation on Depth of Field in Wildlife Photography) I was able to tell a story that extended way beyond just a lion walking through the bush.
Had we not anticipated the direction of movement of the lion and identified the photographic potential of the moment, this shot would have been a missed opportunity. You can read more about how understanding animal behaviour can make a huge difference in wildlife photography here.
Be honest, how many times have you watched a scene unfold and at the end, turned around to someone and said “Imagine if we had just…”
That’s where having a photographic guide with an intimate understanding of animal behaviour becomes indispensable on a photographic safari.
The next time you’re out in the field, don’t just observe and capture. Observe, anticipate and capture!
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