The Art of Shooting in the Wild
by guest contributor - Julie Roper
Australia is a continent of wide-open spaces, from its panoramic coastlines to its outback and mountains; there is an abundance of photographic opportunities available for enthusiasts who want to capture the essence of this country’s wilderness. By following a few guidelines about shooting in the wild, you can create stunning vistas and animal portraits on your trek that will be long remembered.
Australia’s landscape is made for the panoramic shot, but this can be difficult to capture on film, with lenses covering up to 90 degrees, so you may find you need to take a series of photographs of your panorama and join them up to create the full effect.
In the old days, this would mean lining the shots up by hand to frame them, but now with the software available, the job is made easier for stitching together shots. You should aim to overlap your shots when you take them by up to 50 per cent so that you make sure you capture the entire subject. Shoot from left to right, so that they are in the correct order and then choose a stitching software package such as Adobe Photoshop, Double Take or Adobe Elements.
Some tips for capturing the best panoramas on your camera include shooting on manual to ensure the exposures have continuity to them. Avoid polarisers and keep the horizon near the centre of your picture so that it doesn’t curve too much.
Shooting the Outback
The Outback has been fascinating photographers for many years, with its lunar like landscape and panoramic views. Understanding this environment is important to being able to capture it successfully. The Outback can reach temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius and you and your equipment need to be vigilant in the heat. Cameras can be damaged by excessive temperatures, whilst photographers become dehydrated quickly. Preparation is the key to an Outback expedition: make sure you invest in the appropriate cover for your gear in case of any accidents and damage occurring. Your equipment is expensive and you need to protect it, particularly out in the open where it is more vulnerable and at the mercy of the environment, or where it might be dropped. Keep your camera in a bag and away from direct sunlight where possible. The dust is another major factor to consider as it can seriously damage your equipment so make sure you only take your camera out when you are shooting.
Another useful tip when shooting in the Outback is to make sure you carry enough water for your trip. A dehydrated photographer will not be thinking creatively about the next shot.
The light in the Australian Outback is remarkable and will give your photographs a unique, surreal look to them, but be careful of glare as this can destroy shots. Adjust your camera to take harsh glare into account and consider using filters to create the effect you want.
The key to photographing wildlife is to focus on the eyes, as this ensures you have the animal in your sights and can capture it accurately on film. A good tip is to shoot quite a few frames, pausing to refocus to make sure you iron out any errors that might show up later on. Wildlife is notoriously difficult to shoot successfully and practice definitely makes perfect. If the subject is still, the job is made easier and you might use a manual focus for a long lens. Remember that the eyes should always be the focal point to your shot and that the centre of the focus will be the most accurate part of the composition. Many photographers use a flash, which is on a low setting when they shoot wildlife pictures. This will fill in any shadows and highlight the eyes, bringing animals and birds to life on film.
There is a code of conduct that photographers should adhere to when shooting in the wild, to avoid too much stress being put on animals and birds in their natural habitats. Observe conservation laws in local areas, taking notice of restricted areas. Obtain permission if you need to gain access to private land. Birds that are nesting may be put at risk by photography and detailed knowledge of the species and their habitat should be sought before shooting takes place.
Shooting in the Australian wilderness is a rewarding experience and, by following some simple guidelines, you should be able to create some stunning photographs of this fantastic land and its wildlife.