Wildlife Photography Untamed. Raw. Real.
~ by Varun Aditya
Prey like an observant opportunist
Way past midnight, into the wild at Zimanga Photography Hide, South Africa, I found myself craving an unhurried exclusive experience of seeing wild cats in their most natural state; uninhibited and uninterrupted doing whatever they see fit doing in their late wee hours.
As rightly put by someone, “You don’t take a photograph. You ask quietly to borrow it,”,” it stands true for wildlife photography. In fact, in the wilderness, you nearly become non-existent, camouflaging the photographerin you as an invisible observer, an opportunist.
Photography Hides: Behind the Scenes
Since it’s us humans intruding their habitat, a a specifically designed overnight photography hide with two dim LED lights on either side, such as at Zimanga Reserve, meets the purpose to sit in, for hoursif needed, and simply wait for the pristine wildernessgoing about their daily grind.
Just as a tremendous amount of effort in designing and positioningof these hides ensures a natural, yet favourable animal behaviour, lighting conditions, focal lengths and backdrops, a silent camerawith blackout-free shooting too is of utmost importance to enhance your calibre as a photographer.
Matching up their wild instincts
After the intensive setup and gearing up with my Full Frame Mirrorless Sony Alpha A9 and 24-70mm f2.8 G Master lens, my subtly moonlit, pitch-dark frame finally saw an adult lion followed by a beautiful pride of three little cubs and a lioness, stride up thirsty and straight for some quenching at the pool of water close by.
While the lion wandered around and the pride sipped up, extreme silenceand photographic speed of A9 was of utmost importance. To see and capture what the eyes couldn’t in the dark, I set the SEL2470GM lens at ISO 4000 and it did a great job at absorbing the available light, while the A9 accurately picked up the subject in such a low-light condition. However, to counter the visible graininess or noise in the produced image, this G Master lens is capable of longer exposures to light.
Exposure Triangle and Low Light Photography
Its bright, fast exposure settings constant throughout the zoom range maintains an exceptional low-light capability or action-stopping shutter speed‒ perfecting a photographer in exposure triangle.
However, for this particular picture, I took the liberty to set the aperture at f3.2 and speeded up the shutter at 1/320 to freeze as much motion as possible and let in an appropriate amount of light into the sensor for a longer time.
If you would have noticed, the backdrop also plays a part in the picture but not as important one as the wild cats. To keep a balanced depth of field that plays out the strengths of both, the subject and the environment is key to the photocomposition’s expression. An aperture more than f3.2 would have blurred the environment of their habitat and would have made the picture look unreal. An aperture too small and the heroes of my picture would have blended in the background and would have simply lost their importance.
A supreme balance of focus and freedom
The SEL2470GM and the A9 are a tight pair together and ideal for sports, wildlife, and subjects that demand quiet operation, greatly expanding camera versatility. While the lens does wonders in low-light conditions, a vibration-free shutter keeps the A9 stable for razor-sharp images. With precise focus at a blazing speed, it’s quiet smooth for a photographer.
Looking back at the picture, adrenaline comes rushing back to me for the moment etched forever at the odd 3:20hrs, when these wild cats casually strolled at Zimanga and I just happened to be one of the lucky ones to witness and capture this family midnight-break.
Just as free as the wilderness and as hungry for power and control, a photographer is free as a creative with a professional lens and hungry to take up a wide range of shooting challenges.A camera such as A9 and a fitting set of lens such as the SEL2470GM sets a photographer free on the professional journey.
Story Stats & Gear Used:
|Lens||FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM|
|Focal Length||(24, 1)|
|Shutter Speed||(8321928, 1000000)|
Sony Alpha 9 Full-frame Mirrorless camera - Made for professionals.
A new era of standard zoom performance.