ViewBug community member thomasretterath has been going to African safaris for over 15 years now. He loves shooting wildlife and tries not only to capture the animal's beauty but also their behavior, which is one of the key elements in his photography. We talked to Thomas about his wildlife photography and the secret behind his shots, enjoy.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, how do you describe your photography style?

I am very much a 53 year old self-educated wildlife amateur photographer from Germany. 
I think, I don't have a special style. Maybe I have one, but then it's unintended and I have not realized it yet. 
I learn a lot from photos of other photographers, especially from their creativity and ideas. I mostly shoot on AV mode to have control of depth of field. The speed I adjust by changing the ISO. 
I try not only to show the animals and their beauty but also their behavior. I love to photograph them also showing the habitat they live in. After all these years (15 now) going on african safaris I don't shoot each and every animal. I have so many photos of so many animals that I concentrate on special moments or rare sightings. But if the light is good, I can't resist.
I often find myself just enjoying the scene.

2. In one sentence what has photography done for you in your life?

Photography just brings back great memories of the trips.

3. When did you start taking photos and what inspired you to get started?

I started taking photos in 2003, I guess.  It got serious in 2008, when I started to think about what I was doing with my camera.  The main reason was to bring something at home to look at which reminds me on the trips.

4. What has been your favorite shoot and why?

I loved our trip last year into Namibias Damaraland. 
Although there was not that much wild animals but the few surviving in this harsh landscape, that was just amazing.

5. Do you remember a difficult photo shoot session? What happened?

In Wildlife every session is different. You never know what happens around the next corner. One situation comes in mind, although it was no difficult session in common sense. 
We were on a game drive in Hwange NP, Zimbabwe.
 We were all keen to see a Leopard as we did not have seen one for days.

At one place another safari vehicle of the camp, we stayed in, had some kind of mechanic problems.
 So mechanics brought them a spare vehicle. Out of a mood our guide just asked them to take a detour and check another waterhole for Leopard. In the meantime he found some Cheetah which we wanted to approach by foot, but they were uncooperative and ran away.
Back in the car, we were right in time to get a radio call that those mechanics had really found a Leopard on that waterhole. We had to speed there as the cat was already heading towards the bushes. Once there we would not be able to find it. But we were right in time. The light was already fading, I had to push the ISO up to 4000 to get a decent speed.
Our guide was calling: “take photo, take photo”, as he thought, the cat would disappear quickly. But I didn't like the situation, it was not good for a nice photograph, the cat was too far away. I adjusted the 2x extender to get “closer”. Somehow the cat decided to change direction and crossed directly in front of our vehicle, just perfect. So I was able to get a nice photograph of my favorite cat. We gave our sundowner drinks to the mechanics and went back in camp as a happy bunch of people.

6. What do you carry in your camera bag?

2 bodies: 
Canon 5d Mark III
Canon 7d
Canon EF 300 mm LIS 2.8 USM MkII
Canon EF 70 – 200 mm LIS 2.8 USM
Tamron SP 24 – 70 mm 2.8
Canon EF 1.4x II
Canon EF 2x III
Lots of memory cards and batteries
Canon flash speedlite 580EXII
Sirui tripod and benro gimbal

7. Do you have a favorite location and time of the day to shoot?

I love the Okavango Delta in Botswana and the best time to photograph is the early morning and the late afternoon.
The light is better and the animals are more active then in the heat of the day.

8. Can you share three tips with your fellow photographers? 

- Back button release is for me the best way to photograph.
- Get up early
- Patience

9. Please share one of your favorite photos with us with a short tutorial:

a. Where did you take it?:
 Huab river bed, Damaraland, Namibia.
b. Time of the day and lighting details: Late afternoon, light sand storm, besides that: perfect 
c. Equipment used: Canon 5d III
 EF 300 LIS 2.8
d. Inspiration behind this photo: Our guide wanted to position us on the other side of 
the elephant for the “perfect” light, but I wanted this backlight situation, also to show the dust in the sky.
e. Post-processing information
: “Normal” processing in RAW, with a bit of NR, 
sharpening, adjusting WB, tonal correction, a bit high lightning
then BW conversion in photoshop.