Safari company & publisher
Africa Geographic
Wildlife . People . Travel
Shenton Safaris

Will Burrard-Lucas is a wildlife photographer from the UK, best known for using cutting-edge technologies to achieve fresh perspectives in his work. When he is not photographing exotic creatures in far-flung places, he can be found developing devices and training resources to help others take better photographs of wildlife.

canon-photographer-of-the-year-2016

By signing up to his free wildlife photography course you get instant access to his ebook: Ten Things you can do Right Now to Improve your Wildlife Photography!

Here is a summary of Will Burrad-Lucas’ tips to set you on your way to becoming Africa Geographic’s Photographer of the Year, as well as a selection of entries that we think are getting it right thus far!

1. Get low

A good wildlife photograph is rarely taken looking down at the subject. The camera is almost always on the same level as the subject or lower.

By shooting from an extremely low angle, photographer David Fettes was able to this unique perspective of an elephant in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
By shooting from an extremely low angle, photographer David Fettes was able to capture this unique perspective of an elephant in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

2. Keep your shutter speed up

Most of the time, wildlife is photographed with a telephoto lens. Long lenses exaggerate camera shake because a small movement of the camera results in a large movement of the picture frame. You, therefore, need to use a faster shutter speed to get sharp shots.

A fast shutter speed will help you capture those fleeting action moments while out in the bush, such as this one that was captured in Botswana's Nxai pan by Jaap Wildeboer
A fast shutter speed will help you to capture those fleeting action moments while out in the bush, such as this one that was captured in Botswana’s Nxai pan by Jaap Wildeboer

3. Focus on the eyes

You’ve probably already heard that you should focus on the eyes. Eye contact can help the viewer to connect with the subject.

Eye contact is the difference between this image being a good image and a great one. This entry of a female leopard in the Sabi Sand was taken by Kristin Boggs
Eye contact is the difference between this image being a good image and a great one. This entry of a female leopard in the Sabi Sand was taken by Kristin Boggs

4. Shoot in RAW and understand your histogram

It is important to get your exposure correct because with wildlife you may not get a second chance if you mess it up! One of the most important things you can do is shoot in RAW not JPG. This will ensure your camera maintains details in the shadows and highlights, so that you can darken or brighten the image later if necessary.

It is important to understand your histogram in order to get the right exposure in your wildlife photos, especially when photographing in extremely dark or bright conditions, like this shot of a leopard drinking after dark by Gerald Hinde
It is important to understand your histogram in order to get the right exposure in your wildlife photos, especially when photographing in extremely dark or bright conditions, like this shot of a leopard drinking after dark by Gerald Hinde

5. Light is key

Good light can turn an average photo into an extraordinary photo. The best time for photographing wildlife is around sunrise and sunset.

The right light adds an atmospheric level to this image of giraffes in Nxai Pan by Olwen Evans
The right light adds an atmospheric level to this image of giraffes in Nxai Pan by Olwen Evans

6. Consider the background

The background can often make or break a photo. Make sure it is clear of any distractions, such as bright spots or messy foliage, and ensure your subject stands out from the background and is attractively framed if possible.

A simple, yet beautiful background really helps to highlight the oryx in this image by Brenden Simonson
A simple yet beautiful background really helps to highlight the oryx in this image by Brenden Simonson

7. Leave space around your subject

Leaving space around your subject allows you to use elements of the landscape to frame your subject, show the animal in its environment and perfect your composition by cropping later.

Leave space in your frame to better highlight your subject matter like Greg McCall-Peat did in this image of a silhouetted wild dog
Leave space in your frame to better highlight your subject matter like Greg McCall-Peat did in this image of a silhouetted wild dog

8. Spend longer with your subject

The longer your spend with an animal, the more chance you have of witnessing (and capturing on camera) something special. In addition, once you have taken the obvious shots, you will become more creative as you try to find new photographs to take.

Seeing a hunt is at the top of most safari bucket lists and in order to be in the right place at the right time you need to be patient with predators like Butch Mazzuca was with these young cheetahs in the Maasai Mara
Seeing a hunt is at the top of most safari bucket lists and in order to be in the right place at the right time you need to be patient with predators like Butch Mazzuca was with these young cheetahs in the Maasai Mara

9. Be prepared 

This starts with knowing your gear. You should understand the main features of your camera and how they work so that in the field you can adjust your settings without having to think about them. You also should research your location and your subject. If you have a good understanding of these, you will be able to start predicting behaviour.

Through predicting behaviour and knowing your camera you are better equipped to capture those fleeting moments in time like Tyrone Glenn did with this pied kingfisher in Kruger National Park
Through predicting behaviour and knowing your camera you are better equipped to capture those fleeting moments in time like Tyrone Glenn did with this pied kingfisher in Kruger National Park

10. Process your images

Unfortunately, in reality, the images you get straight out of your camera are not as good as they could be. You really need to tweak aspects such as saturation, colours, brightness and contrast in order to get them to pop.

A simple edit like converting an image to black and white can really make all the difference as evidenced in this image of an elephant mother and calf by Tom Stenner
A simple edit like converting an image to black and white can really make all the difference as evidenced in this image of an elephant mother and calf by Tom Stenner

For more information on each of these points, sign up for Will’s free wildlife photography course now and get instant access to this ebook. You can also keep up with Will on Twitter and Instagram for more of his amazing imagery and advice!

cape-union-mart-photographer-of-the-year-2016

Shenton Safaris
Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year

The Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year Competition is brought to you by Land Rover and Canon, in association with At Close Quarters, Airlink, Klaserie Sands River Camp, Hideaways, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Thule and Rhino Tears. The competition will run from December 2016 to May 2017 and entrants can submit images via the online entry form or via Africa Geographic's Instagram channel. This profile will be used to showcase photographic tips from experts as well as blogs from our sponsors to set you on your way to becoming our Photographer of the Year!