I recently embarked on a privately guided safari with some clients who were NOT photographically inclined. They did have a small point and shoot camera, firmly set on Auto, and fired away with gay abandon to record the many wonderful sightings that we had. I did point out a few opportunities that I thought may have created a pleasing image, but they were not concerned about the technical quality.
Where did that leave me? Afterall, that is supposed to be what I do – not professionally at all – but slightly more than a hobby. As a founding member of Wild Eye, it is important that I post half decent images that will do our brand justice. So I sat quietly in the back and captured the great sightings we had.
Upon my return, I was quite excited to download my images. The result – not delighted. I made some really elementary mistakes which I am certainly not going to share! It is amazing the results you get when you photograph a large male lion jumping over a large puddle in the early morning, and your setting are still set on those spot-lit shots you took of that leopard the evening before.
I looked for an excuse.
Stupidity sprung to mind!
This is what I think:
- When you are in the company of photographers you certainly concentrate a great deal more
- Photographers will always discuss a sighting and point out certain elements that may be appealing
- They will suggest some creative ideas – slow shutter speeds, different exposures, composition
- If you have a setting that you don’t know how it works or where to change it, they will put down their cameras and assist
- You will look at the images more frequently on your screen and analyse results and amend settings where necessary
- To some of us, it also brings out a competitive nature which does get our attention
- They will give you some constructive criticism and suggest some ideas. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t keep on making the same mistakes over and over again
It’s a bit like birdwatching – if you want to improve your skills – you don’t go out with rank amateurs that cannot identify a bird. You will want to spend time with experienced twitchers, those that can identify the bird, tell you what are the distinguishing characteristics of the bird.
That’s by far the best way to learn – being out in the field with likeminded and experienced people.
My advice if you really, really want to improve your photography and images – get out into the field with people that you can LEARN from.
Get out of your comfort zone!