MARIO’S FAVOURITE SHOT

Unique com­po­si­tions of­ten re­quire the most pa­tience, as Mario retells

Digital Photograper - - Mario Moreno -

“Look­ing at this im­age you might think it is just an­other im­age of a chee­tah on a dead tree. It is not an im­age with great vis­ual im­pact, and I guar­an­tee I have im­ages that are tech­ni­cally and vis­ually su­pe­rior, but when you know the story be­hind it ev­ery­thing changes. This fe­male chee­tah, stalk­ing a herd of pass­ing wilde­beest dur­ing the Great Mi­gra­tion sea­son in Ndutu in Tan­za­nia, was min­utes away from at­tempt­ing a kill. Ear­lier that day we found her walk­ing on the plains. My guide knew that she had not eaten in a cou­ple of days and that to­day had to be the day.

“The other ve­hi­cles saw her, took pic­tures and quickly moved on. We de­cided to stay with her and spent over six hours with this fe­line. We fol­lowed her, we rested with her and even had lunch while she rested un­der a tree. We al­ways kept our dis­tance to avoid mak­ing her un­com­fort­able. Min­utes be­fore I cap­tured this im­age a herd of wilde­beest moved in and the magic be­gan. She climbed on this tree, looked care­fully and planned her next move. Five min­utes later we were wit­ness­ing a suc­cess­ful kill – a clear ex­am­ple of pa­tience of­ten be­ing the key to cap­tur­ing a great im­age, or at least

ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a fan­tas­tic sight­ing.”

“I fo­cus on con­vey­ing a story”

get­ting the shot. In other words, luck has to be on your side. Hav­ing said this I will al­ways look for unique be­hav­iour, por­tray­ing the sub­ject in its nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment by go­ing wide, or cap­ture the an­i­mal’s nat­u­ral beauty with in­ti­mate por­traits. Land­scapes are all about find­ing the lo­ca­tion and wait­ing for the right light or a unique weather sit­u­a­tion that will add drama. It is im­por­tant to pay at­ten­tion to your fore­ground and to achieve lead­ing lines that will steer the viewer’s eye. With travel photography my goal is to make the viewer want to go there. It is im­por­tant for me to por­tray the lo­cal cus­toms, the colours and in a way, the smells and sounds. I also try to find a unique point of view if the sub­ject is a pop­u­lar one that has al­ready been shot a mil­lion times.

ARE THERE ANY WILDLIFE SUB­JECTS OR LAND­SCAPE/TRAVEL LO­CA­TIONS ON YOUR ‘WANTS’ LIST?

My bucket-list wildlife sub­jects are bears in Alaska or Rus­sia, moun­tain lions in the wild (which hap­pen to be my favourite cats), go­ril­las which I will hope­fully be do­ing in 2019 and bi­son in the win­ter time in Yel­low­stone. As for land­scapes there are many lo­ca­tions in North Amer­ica that are on my list – Alaska, Bri­tish Columbia and Yel­low­stone are some that come to mind right away. For travel photography I would like to ex­plore the colours of In­dia, the off-the-beaten-track ar­eas of China and the amaz­ing peo­ple of Ethiopia.

HOW WOULD YOU DE­SCRIBE YOUR PHO­TO­GRAPHIC STYLE?

In search of the ‘per­fect mo­ment’ sums it all up. What is a per­fect mo­ment? It’s a mo­ment where ev­ery­thing comes to­gether – light, tim­ing and emo­tions – to cre­ate a mem­o­rable and for­ever last­ing scene. I will al­ways try to not sim­ply doc­u­ment the an­i­mal, the scene or the place be­fore me, mak­ing the im­age seem like a snap­shot. There is an artis­tic ap­proach in most of the im­ages I cap­ture. I will fo­cus on con­vey­ing a story. With most of them I will have a very good idea of what will be done in process and whether it will be a colour or mono­chrome im­age.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREAT­EST IN­FLU­ENCES?

A great wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher known by the name of Mit­suaki Iwago def­i­nitely had an in­flu­ence on the kind of photography I wanted to pur­sue. I am talk­ing of the Eight­ies and ‘ana­log’ photography. His book

Serengeti, which I still have, was mind­blow­ing at the time and still is to­day. I page through it and think how dif­fi­cult it was to achieve such im­ages with the tech­nol­ogy avail­able then. Nick Brandt is an­other pho­tog­ra­pher that in­spired me when I dis­cov­ered him years ago. He has a unique artis­tic ap­proach which re­sults in time­less

art pieces. Nowa­days in­spi­ra­tion comes in the form of so­cial me­dia. There are many great pho­tog­ra­phers out there shar­ing their work, which serve as a ref­er­ence to de­velop and im­prove my pho­to­graphic tech­niques.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN RUN­NING WORK­SHOPS? TELL US ABOUT THAT PROCESS.

South Cape Im­ages was launched in 2010 while I was still liv­ing in South Africa. To­day I run SCI from South­ern Spain, where I am cur­rently based with my fam­ily. Ini­tially we were only of­fer­ing African des­ti­na­tions like South Africa, Botswana, Tan­za­nia and Kenya. Costa Rica has been re­cently added and hope­fully other des­ti­na­tions will come soon. Our pho­to­graphic tours are con­ceived for small groups, so that I can give the re­quired per­sonal at­ten­tion to all of my guests. We also pick very care­fully the places we will stay, to avoid crowds and have a more ex­clu­sive ex­pe­ri­ence. Pri­vate con­ces­sions or con­ser­van­cies have no time restrictions and off-road is pos­si­ble, al­low­ing for closer en­coun­ters with wildlife. Pho­tog­ra­phers of all lev­els are wel­come – you do not have to be an ex­pe­ri­enced pho­tog­ra­pher to join. In fact, I like the chal­lenge of help­ing novice pho­tog­ra­phers re­turn home with an amaz­ing col­lec­tion of im­ages, wor­thy of be­ing pub­lished in any wildlife mag­a­zine or book.

IN YOUR OPIN­ION WHAT MAKES A SUC­CESS­FUL LAND­SCAPE, WILDLIFE AND TRAVEL IM­AGE?

As I said ear­lier, great wildlife im­ages have a good deal of luck in­volved, but know­ing your sub­ject will help an­tic­i­pate ac­tion and be­hav­iour, so it is al­ways a very good idea to do some re­search on the species you will en­counter on your photo ses­sions or trips. Know­ing your cam­era well is also im­por­tant. Things hap­pen very quick in the wild and if you do not know where the right but­tons are you will miss op­por­tu­ni­ties. With land­scapes com­po­si­tion is the key. An in­ter­est­ing fore­ground is im­por­tant [as is] cre­at­ing lead­ing lines to draw the viewer’s eye to the im­por­tant part of the frame. A suc­cess­ful travel im­age needs to make you want to go there. On many oc­ca­sions the sub­ject will be a pop­u­lar one that has been pho­tographed to death. Find­ing a dif­fer­ent an­gle or shoot­ing at a spe­cial time of the day will make the dif­fer­ence.

STRAT­EGYTHIS IM­AGE RE­MAINS ONE OF MARIO’S FAVOURITES DUE TO THEIN­VEST­MENT HE HAD IN THE SUB­JECT. A STRONG AP­PRE­CI­A­TIONOF AN OR­GAN­ISM HELPS TO DE­FINE THE PHO­TOG­RA­PHER’SIN­TENDED NAR­RA­TIVE

LeftSHOW­ING CON­TEXT As these im­ages demon­strate, ex­treme close-up shots are not es­sen­tial for con­vey­ing emo­tion and char­ac­ter Top EX­PO­SURE mario’s shots suc­cess­fully cap­ture both the at­mos­phere of the en­vi­ron­ment and the recog­nis­able fea­tures of well-known sub­jects Above rightFIND­ING ORIG­I­NAL­ITY mario be­lieves that unique com­po­si­tions can al­ways be achieved by find­ing the per­fect blend of light­ing and weather con­di­tions

Above left SIM­PLIC­ITY Cor­rect tim­ing and use of light­ing can in­stil emo­tions in the viewer, mario main­tains. here this is achieved with the sim­plest of com­po­si­tions

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