Photographing the wild side of life...

November 30, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Dome-backed Spiny Ant - Polyrhachis australisDome-backed Spiny Ant - Polyrhachis australisDome-backed spiny ants such as Polyrhachis australis (length 4-6 mm), nest amongst the foliage of trees and shrubs by webbing leaves together with silk produced by the larvae. They incorporate fragments of vegetation into the silk. This group of spiny ants have a strongly arched mesosoma which has very short spines or none at all. Most species inhabit rainforest edges, open forest and woodland and some are common in suburban gardens in coastal Queensland.

(Text Source: Queensland Museum)

The beginning:

Since I can remember, my dad has always been photographing wildlife. Every time we went to a Zoo he photographed animals. I can vividly remember spending hours in the Chimpanzee section watching my dad taking photos of the group of apes. Later he travelled to places like Africa, India and Australia to capture wildlife in its natural habitat. I think I can say that my dad ignited the passion for photography in me.

But the passion for wildlife and photography stayed in me dormant for years. I first started out taking holiday snaps, and random photos. I bought my first DSLR, a Nikon D60 here in Australia about 12 years ago. In the beginning, I was an active Light Painter, a photography technique practised at night with a slow shutter and a light source. 10 years ago light painting was a fairly new art of photography but grabbed momentum and popularity very rapidly. The years capturing light paintings taught me a lot about the manual mode of my camera and the limitations of my gear. I knew always that wildlife photography was the way I wanted to go. I started out like my dad and photographed at Zoo's, then I ventured more and more out and photographed animals in the wild.
Freshwater Crocodile - Crocodylus johnstoniFreshwater Crocodile - Crocodylus johnstoniThe freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus johnsoni or Crocodylus johnstoni; see below), also known as the Australian freshwater crocodile, Johnstone's crocodile or colloquially as freshie, is a species of crocodile endemic to the northern regions of Australia.
Unlike their much larger Australian relative, the saltwater crocodile, freshwater crocodiles are not known as man-eaters and rarely cause fatalities, although they will bite in self-defence if cornered.

(Source: Wikipedia)

With Australia being an isolated island, lots of animals are unique to the continent and make amazing subjects. A downside might be that many are nocturnal due to the harsh habitat they live in. That obstacle has given me the opportunity to practice my photography on birds. Of course, I grabbed any opportunity I had to capture wildlife in their habitat and so my portfolio grew steadily.

From thought to portfolio:

Photographing wildlife starts for me with scouting for suitable locations. In the beginning, I use google earth to look for Bushland, Reserves or Wildlife corridors. Then I read up on the chosen animals behaviours, habitat, and where to find it. This can either be on local bushcare Facebook groups, state Museum websites or Ornithology group pages, websites or animal guide books. Talking to Rangers and Wildlife carers are quite often helpful too.
Sulphur-crested cockatoo - Cacatua galeritaSulphur-crested cockatoo - Cacatua galeritaThe raucous screech of the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo can be heard in many parts of eastern and northern Australia. A flock of hundreds of snow-white birds with pale-yellow crests can be a spectacular sight when seen in the distance, but up close their calls can be deafening. Being a gregarious species, these cockatoos usually spend much time in flocks, foraging together on the ground (often with a few perched in nearby trees keeping a lookout for any sign of danger) or roosting together in trees.

(Text Source: BirdLife Australia)


With the selection of animals to photograph prepared, the next focus is the selection of equipment. I have two Nikon bodies which I use regularly. My main body is the Nikon D500 and my secondary body is my old Nikon D7000. The choice of lens depends on the type of animal I want to photograph, I use the Tamron 90mm Macro, f/2.8 lens for my insect photography and my Sigma 150-500mm, f/5-6.3 for most other animals. For less shy creatures I use my allrounder Nikkor lens 18-140mm, f/3.5-5.6. That lens is even suitable for small animals and if I don’t have my macro lens with me, for insect photography as well. To light up my subjects I use 1-2 speedlights, a YongNuo YN568EX speedlight and a Nikon SB600. At night or for macro photography I use my LEDlenser (X7R and M7) flashlight. They are on the dearer side but the lumen output is amazing. Further, I use my belt system (see my October blog Carry Me) to carry my equipment.

Heaps of gearHeap(s) of gear

Once back home I load my images straight into ON1 Photo RAW for culling and rating and selection. The selected few of each animal will be brought into Affinity Photo for post-processing and if needed retouching. I store my photos on an 2TB WD external HD and a backup is sent to Backblaze cloud storage service. My portfolio is hosted on the Zenfolio (you get 10% off your new account if you use my link) website. A great tool for photographers with the ability to create galleries, collections, client proof galleries, etc. By now you know how I go about to capture great wildlife photos as you can find in my portfolio.

Thank you for visiting my website and reading my blog. Now, go and enjoy 'the wild side of life'...

Disclaimer: I am not an affiliate or getting paid from the companies linked in this blog post. Except for links to parts of my website.




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