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There is no shortage of great wildlife photographers, but reaching that level of expertise requires skill and patience. For anyone looking to hone their craft, Pareet Shah shares vital tips to get you started.

DOUBLE TROUBLE: I underexposed this image on purpose to create the silhouette that I wanted. I had to be patient to get both lions looking in opposite directions.

 

  • Make sure you have the best guide… someone who understands and is able to effectively communicate animal behaviour. One who understands photography is a huge bonus.
  • Lighting is key.Get out early in the morning and stay till late in the evening to capitalise on the golden light. Either shoot with the light behind you or in front of you but avoid shooting in overhead light.
  • Throw away all previous rules you have learnt about photography. Rules are meant to be broken. Some of the best images I have captured were when I broke photography rules.

HANDS OFF: even the symbiotic relationship between the oxpecker and the buffalo can be too much for the latter sometimes. I noticed this pattern where the buffalo would get irritated by the oxpecker as it had a fresh wound. I used a high shutter speed and had to be ready with my finger on the trigger when this moment occured.

  • Think before you shoot. Consider the image you want to portray and the story you want to tell, then click. I have seen too many photographers just clicking away without much thought.
  • Patience is vital…things don’t just pan out as you see them on TV. To get that perfect shot, you need to sit it out. Don’t rush from one sighting to another. Several times, we have waited over seven hours to photograph a kill.
  • Look for details to shoot – cat’s paws, bird’s feathers, leopard’s tail, elephant’s tusk etc. Sometimes you can draw a viewer to your image by featuring a particular aspect of an animal.
  • When shooting, keep your camera and lens stable. You can do this by supporting your equipment with a beanbag, making sure the car is turned off, breathing techniques etc.
  • Try and keep your backgrounds simple and non-distracting. Photos with cluttered backgrounds can cause your subject to get lost in the frame. Less is more.
  • Step away from shooting the boring ordinary images. Most photographers have photos of lions yawninE5Ug, cubs hugging etc. Dare to capture a different perspective. Be unique!
  • Carry lots of water and snacks with you in the car. You never know how long you will be out in the field.

WATER DANCE: I used a very high shutter speed for this frame to freeze the water droplets as the giraffe came up from drinking from the Mara River.

 

*Pareet Shah from Cheka Wild (IG: @chekawild) leads customised photo-safaris in the Maasai Mara.

Rates start from $2,000 for a five day trip.

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