Discovering Wildlife Composition in the Falklands

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A superb wildlife composition is like solving a visual puzzle, the pieces coming together in perfect symmetry. In this video, professional wildlife photographers Ian Plant and Zac Mills take you to the Falkland Islands and apply this concept in capturing artistic images of penguins, elephant seals, and imperial cormorants. You will learn how to think through the process, plan your shots, prepare your camera settings, and execute the final images.

Ian attempts to capture two animals interacting with one another in what he calls the perfect wildlife composition. Hand holding his camera, he positions himself within a nesting colony of imperial cormorants and rockhopper penguins. To isolate his subjects, he sets his camera at f-4 to blur the background. The rest of his task is about patience, waiting for the exact moment where animals interact, his telephoto lens isolating them from the others.

Zac stands in front of a king penguin colony numbering close to 1,000 birds. His goal is to create visual order out of this animal chaos. He looks for colors, patterns, and shapes. To avoid the brown foreground, he lowers his camera position and shoots at f-4 to compress the scene and isolate a single penguin against the blurred bird colors in the background. Ian shows you the importance of camera height to create interesting foregrounds and backgrounds, especially when shooting with a wide open aperture.

Wildlife composition involves patience and creativity. Zac demonstrates by photographing a pair of elephant seals fighting, and shows you how to capture the dramatic apex. To capture a group of penguins, Ian demonstrates a long exposure technique, resulting in some penguins blurred and some perfectly sharp. The finished images show bird life in the abstract. To create the best wildlife composition, it comes down to studying the animals in their environment and learning the photographic techniques that work for the pros.

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