A few days ago I received the exciting news that I have been made a director of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) . I have been a member of the AIPP (Master of Photography with two gold bars and 4 silver service bars) for almost a decade now and am both thrilled and honoured to have been asked to join the board of Directors. These are challenging times for the institute I am looking forward to working with the board to secure the future of the AIPP going forward. The position was formally announced via video below. If you don’t want to watch the entire message for April / May just skip forward to 12:15 for the announcement.
In the past I have frequently discussed the importance of the decisive moment in wildlife photography on my workshops. Quite honestly, the decisive moment is the key to the holy grail in wildlife image making. Great light is wonderful, great subject and great composition are mandatory; but add the decisive moment with superb gesture and you will have an emotional winner every time.
I have heard it said by some fairly well known photographers over past years that ‘they don’t need motor drive’; and that they are capable of predicting and capturing the exact perfect moment with a single shot. Utter nonsense and nothing could be further from reality.
For a variety of reasons a high speed motor drive is an essential tool in wildlife photography (and not just for fast moving subjects such as birds). At 1/500th of a second for example, shooting ten or more frames a second (up to 20 frames per second on the Canon 1DX MK3 with mechanical or electronic shutter) there is an opportunity to pick out the perfect frame in an animals movements. The paw lifted and at just the right angle, the micro second the ‘attitude’ and ‘gesture’ are perfect in combination with the perfect head angle and a serendipitous gust of wind. These are moments it is impossible to capture with single capture (unless it is a fluke). Sure, you can get lucky from time to time – but more often than not you will miss the exact perfect moment where as the photographer by your side shooting high speed will have the freedom to pick and choose from his or her frames.
In this example below (one of a burst of approximately 35 frames, taken over a period of about two seconds) we have the perfect decisive moment of gesture, attitude, light, subject and composition. A frame either side of this one capture lacks the raw emotion found in the image below. Sure, the frames either side are still good images, but they lack that magical feeling that so perfectly brings this image to life.
The downside to shooting high speed is of course it is very easy to end up with thousands of images to later edit. However, it is always better to have the image ‘in the can’ as it were and have to spend a little time sorting and editing than it would have been to miss it altogether….During my editing process I am picking out the frames that grab me on an emotional level and processing just these few images. I do keep the remainder of the RAW files as I occasionally refer back to them when I need a certain type of photograph. The photograph below was taken with the Canon EOS 1DX MK3 with a Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS MK3 at 70mm. I used a very shallow depth of field in order to soften the surrounding snow and place greater emphasis on the fox.
The photograph of the month for May 2020 comes from my Finland workshop in September last year to photograph Wolves and Wolverines (Read the Trip Report). Photographed from a ground level hide in no mans land between Finland and Russia during the first late Autumn snowfall; this photograph captures for me the very essence of a wild wolf. The gesture with the raised paw and angle of attack of the animals head in combination with the intense glare makes for a powerful and emotive photograph.
By way of a little back story to this photograph – I had actually dragged a small portable ground level hide into this location specifically for the clean and distant forest background in combination with the soft grasses in the foreground. I was then very fortunate to have this young wolf approach within 600mm range just as the first snow was beginning to fall. Finland has very quickly become one of my favourite destinations on the planet for wildlife photography and I am looking forward to returning later this year (assuming we are all able to travel!). I will have a video on the post production of the photograph in Adobe Lightroom in coming days.
Things have been a little quiet on my blog over the last week or so as I have been very busy with renovations and painting during the COVID lock down (It seemed the ideal time to make the most of the forced time at home). My days have mostly been spent at the ugly end of a paintbrush as I have moved from room to room splashing a new lease of life around the walls and ceiling. Painting has to be the exact antithesis of what I would rather be doing and if it were not for this current COVID crisis I would be in Svalbard right now sharing a wonderful experience with a group of passionate photographers. Ce la’ Vie.
As well as painting the place I also recently moved my studio and office (down sized a bit) and added a new Mac Pro computer for my video and image editing workflow. I will probably do a video in the coming weeks on why I decided to pony up the substantial cash for the new Mac Pro and what my mind set and reasoning were for this not inexpensive purchase decision. In the end, I opted for the spec. below; which I felt offered really good bang for buck performance. I do have some updates in my mind down the road, such as the addition of an After Burner card for editing Prores and more internal SSD storage. – more to come on that later.