Here is something we can learn from Pattack about the techniques and story behind this awarded photo.


Pattack is married to a fellow photographer who is equally obsessed with capturing the world around them.


1. Pattack, where did you take this photo?

This image was taken in Mount Edgecombe Estate near Durban, South Africa. My brother in law lives there and these monkeys were the subject of a National Geographical Channel 'Soap Opera' called 'Street Monkeys'.

2. What time of day?

It was early morning, around 5 am, and the adult monkeys were out on a breakfast raid. Some babies are left in trees, like these ones, and older ones are left under the dubious 'care' of adolescents.

3. Anything worth sharing about lighting?

The lighting is natural and the leaves of the tree diffused it nicely. I had to go to ISO 400 and the shutter speed wasn't amazingly fast - but it was fast enough for hand held.

4. What equipment did you use?

Just my Sony A77 and my beloved and battered Minolta 300mm lens. It's old but the glass is excellent and it's balanced nicely for hand held.

5. What inspired you to take this photo?

I was continually amazed by the human qualities of the Vervet Monkeys and I wanted to show some kind of interaction between them. The youngsters were often as interested in me as I was in them and as you can see in this image, one of the babies is looking at me whilst the other touches him to call his attention either away from me or to another interesting sight.  As with all baby animals they're very appealing to the viewer and I wanted some happy memories of my visit to South African.

6. Did you do any post-processing? If yes, tell us about it!

I always shoot RAW and use slight adjustments there. Then I convert to Tiff and a dpi of 300-320 (for printing) and work on the image in PS. I will use some 'curves' and possibly use a little dodging and burning. I'll also use some sharpening which I have a saved 'action' for. I'll clean up an image with either the patch tool or the clone tool. In this case I cropped in to compensate for my 'meagre' 300mm and utilised the 24.3 pixils the camera has.

7. What equipment do you normally have in your bag?

I carry my Sony A77 : Minolta 300mm f4 prime : Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 : Tamron 90mm macro f2.8. I'll also have bits and bobs like a speed light , tissues for onboard diffusion, shutter release cord, rings etc. On most occasions I try to travel light and carry the minimum - in this case I had just the three lenses and the smaller ones were in my pockets - in case I saw an amazing landscape or a beautiful insect.

8. Any advice for others trying to capture something similar?

As with all wildlife patience and care is needed. Try to look for subjects with the best lighting situations and the best surroundings. Not all subjects need to be 'isolated' for effect - sometimes it's good to see the surroundings too, as long as they are not too 'in your face' and overly busy. Be prepared to use fieldcraft in the form of knowing the areas you are going to, what will be there and moving very slowly and carefully. In the case of the monkeys and the Impala, after a week of travelling about the estate in a golf buggy (an excellent mobile hide for the more skittish antelopes and birds) I knew whereabouts the popular places were at certain times of the day. Another piece of advice is - once you have your images don't be afraid to be ruthless when you whittle them down. In wildlife you'll be lucky to retain 5%-10% of the images that are sharp and have potential. And then you'll be looking for the special one out of those!


Discover pattack's photographic style and techniques.

Looks of Wonder by pattack
Looks of Wonder

Baby Vervet Monkey