Learn­ing the wild way

Alexan­dre Ama­tori is ded­i­cated to mas­ter­ing his craft

NPhoto - - Over To You… -

I sup­pose I started in pho­tog­ra­phy like most peo­ple – I had a com­pact cam­era to take pic­tures of fam­ily oc­ca­sions and hol­i­days. Three years later I took the plunge and bought a Nikon D7000. I wanted to be out­side, in con­tact with wildlife, and as I was fas­ci­nated by small an­i­mals, in­sects and so on, I started with a macro lens. Next I added a tele­photo zoom to my kit so I could shoot birds, deer and foxes.

When shoot­ing, I’ll first re­search an an­i­mal’s habi­tat and be­hav­iour so I can pre­dict their move­ments. Lo­cal wildlife as­so­ci­a­tions are very help­ful here – they can pro­vide maps with

ob­ser­va­tion points, and in France a par­tic­u­larly good or­gan­i­sa­tion is the

LPO ( Liguede Pro­tec­tion des Oiseaux/ As­so­ci­a­tion for the Pro­tec­tion of Birds).

I’ve learned a lot from other pho­tog­ra­phers’ sto­ries, and ad­vice from hun­ters about cam­ou­flage – you learn very quickly that be­ing too vis­i­ble is a def­i­nite disad­van­tage.

Shoot­ing wildlife is a con­stant learn­ing curve. One is­sue I en­counter fre­quently is the rapid change in light lev­els, from full sun into deep shadow. I use auto ISO, which is not al­ways the best choice, but of­ten you don’t have time to think about set­tings. The main les­son I’ve learned is to have pa­tience and hu­mil­ity. Wildlife doesn’t care about you, and it doesn’t wait for you, and some­times you have to be pre­pared to come home with­out a de­cent shot.


You clearly have an eye for wildlife pho­tog­ra­phy Alexan­dre, and you’ve got some great photos, but a few is­sues jump out. A cou­ple of shots show the signs of ISO be­ing pushed to an un­ac­cept­able level, and this nor­mally comes from us­ing an overly long fo­cal length, com­bined with a nar­row aper­ture or fast shut­ter speed – with auto ISO se­lected the cam­era may push the sen­si­tiv­ity to lev­els which in­tro­duce noise. You can com­bat this by re­duc­ing the shut­ter speed and us­ing a mono­pod or tri­pod – you might also want to con­sider pur­chas­ing a long prime lens.

The ad­vanced fo­cus-track­ing on your D800 is worth us­ing, es­pe­cially when a sub­ject is mov­ing er­rat­i­cally. Also try as­sign­ing fo­cus­ing to the back AF-ON but­ton, so it can be con­stantly ad­justed when you’re shoot­ing.

01 comon star ling Nikon D7000, Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM, 1/250 sec, f/9, ISO800

02 Hide an d seek Nikon D800, Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM 1/640, f/6.3, ISO280

03 red queen Nikon D7000, Tam­ron 90mm f/2.8 SP AF Di, 1/1000 sec, f/7.1, ISO800

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