David Johnston

How to Photograph Unpredictable Subjects

David Johnston
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Duration:   7  mins

In this video, professional outdoor photographer David Johnston leads the Outdoor Photography Guide photo tour in Kenya, Africa where he shares his principles on how to photograph unpredictable subjects. Tigers, zebras, hyenas, hippos, rhinos and elephants move at their own pace, running at you or away from you or just resting. You need to be prepared.

David suggests three principles. The first employs a high frame rate such as nine frames per second. Therefore, you need to use continuous autofocus, allowing you to track your subject across the camera sensor. That way the animal in each frame can be sharply in focus. He shows you his photo of a fitful African bird and the method he used to achieve a stunning portrait.

The second principle involves framing for ideal post processing. David uses a 200-600mm telephoto lens that allows for close-up action shots from a long distance, especially at 600mm. But the results can be disappointing because wild animals sometimes jump out of the frame and ruin your image. Sometimes you need to shoot animals in action in a wider frame and then crop the photos in post production.

The third principle is patience. Wild animals move around, especially herd animals. But long hours of patience can pay off with some great images. The best natural light for wildlife photography is the two hours at sunrise and again at sunset. Then, you can use the middle of the day to track animal behavior patterns. With zero expectations, David stays in the present, zoning in on the short time he gets when he discovers these beautiful but unpredictable animals in their habitat. The key concept is diligence.

Join pro photographer David Johnston in Kenya as he shows you some basic techniques and principles of how to photograph unpredictable subjects.

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