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ovosphotography April 27, 2015
well done!

Behind The Lens

This was shot on a life-changing trip to Tanzania, during a three day safari in the Serengeti National Park. I was thrilled to be there as a participant in a 10 day long Giving Lens workshop, an amazing photographic and philanthropic adventure. (
One of my favorite things about this image is that it was taken mid-day with very little cloud cover and NO filter. In the Serengeti National Park. Without a doubt, the dustiest location I've ever photographed in.
Since I was shooting without a filter or a tripod, I needed to really nail the camera settings, or at least get close enough to edit later. Some of the best advice I got on this trip from our photography leads was to overexpose the animals on safari (since most are darker than the environment around them) just a little bit more than I was comfortable with. This advice enabled me to make sure I didn't lose any information to the 'dark side' of the histogram and was thus able to correct it later.
This image was shot handheld in RAW with a Nikon D700 and a rented Nikon 80-400mm NIKKOR lens. 1/1600 at 5.6, 200 ISO and an EV of +3. No filters, no tripod, all natural light.
We'd just finished shooting a lioness lazing on a log and I'd messed up my settings so all shots of her were underexposed. Needless to say, I was super disappointed and even a bit frustrated. We were driving our vehicle to another location to find some hippos when we spotted these baboons along the side of the road. I pulled myself up by bootstraps and threw my settings together. Somehow, I managed to catch this image from inside our slow moving safari vehicle. I wasn't expecting much, and to be honest I didn't even see the baby when first composing the image. We were moving away and were suddenly surrounded by elephants so I forgot about the baboons almost as soon as I'd shot them. It wasn't until post-processing nearly two weeks later that I discovered what I had. I had absolutely NO IDEA that the baby was looking directly at me. Imagine my surprise! We get what we're given and can sometimes just get lucky.
I process almost all of my images using Abobe Lightroom. I adjust shadows and brightness and sought to bring out the features of the animals without blowing out the bright sky too much. I always rely on my histogram, both SOCC and when editing. I didn't apply any filters, simply adjusted using Lightroom sliders.
In my camera bag
Right now I am shooting these days with a Nikon d600. I have three lenses I bring everywhere. A wide angle, a 50 mm and my Nikon kit lens, a 28-108 with a macro option. If I need anything bigger for something specific, I rent! Can't go anywhere without my Black Rapid camera strap and my MeFoto tripod. In Africa, having my bean bag stabilizer (filled with local beans bought upon arrival) for the side of the vehicle was my salvation tool. I always have a few Zeiss cleaning wipes and my Rocket Blaster dust remover. I keep a graduated ND filter on hand for landscapes and a circular polarizer too. A red light headlamp for night shots. Lastly, I keep my camera phone handy for Instagram shots the random things that can happen while you're busy changing lenses or settings. :)
Have patience with shooting animals and work on your composition. You can't control whether the animal is looking at you or not, but you can still take a great shot without that eye contact if your composition is spot on. When in doubt, overexpose (as long as you aren't blowing out any highlights.) Learn to use your histogram and don't rely on the LCD screen for anything but focus and composition. If you're not ready to go fully manual, try shooting in Aperture mode and see how the camera chooses your shutter speed for you. That way you can focus on keeping your ISO low to reduce noise and decide what depth of field you want to use for the shot. Eventually you can ween yourself off that and choose all three settings yourself, once the confidence is there. As with anything worth doing, it always takes practice and patience to get the shot you want. Although sometimes, even if you don't get the settings right, you can still just get lucky.

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