Joe and Mary Ann McDonald's

Wildlife Photography

December 2007-January 2007

Tip of the Month

Smell the Roses

Kirk's dik-diks live in and along thickets, where leopards are also likely to be found. You never know what you'll see next-the dik-dik
might be the best photograph you'll make all afternoon, or it might just give you the extra time so that a hidden leopard steps into view.

We just returned from nine weeks in Africa, which included three Kenya Photo Safaris that proved to be very successful. The main reason these trips were successful, I believe, is because we stressed, drilled, implored, insisted that our participants be patient, that they take the time to enjoy every aspect of the photo safari and not be obsessed with finding the big cats. We assured everyone that the cats would come (or rather that they would indeed get their sought-after big cat photos) when it happened, and no matter how much one might want something, the cats would be seen when it happened.

That's not to say that we didn't spend all of our time on game drives watching for cats, which we certainly did, but as we looked for cats we also looked for anything and everything else that would make a great photograph, whether that was a landscape, an elephant, a reptile, or a bird. Too often, I think, people get so caught up on finding one subject that they overlook or ignore what would be a great shot if they only took the time to shoot it.

Our 2007 Kenya Participants' Portfolio, my Kenya Safari Journal, and our Kenya 2007 Trip Report all illustrate my point. We shot a wide variety of subjects, making our safaris very complete and satisfying, and we not only photographed the big cats and the other members of the big five, but we also shot just about anything else that was of interest as well.

On a related note, on all of these trips we found that the most satisfied shooters where those who felt competent with their techniques and camera handling abilities. Some folks wished that we could have conducted mini-workshops on exposure or lens choice or composition while on safari, but the time frame that is involved with shooting and being in the field (see the Safari Journal for a great idea of what I'm talking about) makes that impossible. Our schedule for safaris involves game drives starting at 6AM and ending between 11:30AM-1PM, followed by lunch, and another game drive that begins at 4PM and ends at 6:30PM, followed by a dinner at 7:45 that generally didn't end before 9PM. That doesn't leave much time for down-loading, editing, or relaxing -- let alone a mini-workshop!

Participants certainly make good shots, if not great shot, using their cameras on a programmed mode, but the best shots, and the photographers with the least stress and most confidence, are those who really know what they're doing. I always recommend that photographers gain their competency via one of our courses, especially the Digital Complete Nature Photo Course, so that they will make the most out of every photo opportunity.


Our Past Photo Tips of the Month:


Western Digital portable external Hard Drives
CS3 Upgrade

Framing with a Telephoto Against a Desert Sunrise

Adobe Photoshop LIGHTROOM
Workflow and Workload - You Can Keep Ahead
Bring along a Point N Shoot

Backing Up Your Digital Files - you'll need more than you think
Action Wildlife Photography Camera Settings
maximizing depth of field digitally
Capture 1's Most Useful Features
DIGITAL Photographing scenes with extreme exposure values
Effective Cloning in Adobe CS2

Watch Your Backgrounds - The potential of composites or shooting in RAW format
DIGITAL -Shoot for the Future
DIGITAL-Shoot for the Future, Part II
The Helicon Focus Filter Revisited



Frankly access your skills before deciding upon a workshop
The Songs of Insects
- a super book on katydids, cicadas, and grasshoppers
A Great Insect Field Guide 
Action Wildlife Photography Camera Settings
The Pond-A Must-See shooting Location in southern Arizona
Don't take in baby wild animals
Seize the Moment!
Take a Workshop First
  Luck, what is it?
At the Pulse of Life by Fritz Polking
Carry-on Luggage for small commuter flights


The Ultimate Long Lens Case - McDonald Safari Bag
Positioning your Roll-on Carry-On bag
New Lens Covers for Long Lenses
The Best All-Around Lens
Keep Your Head Up
Save Your Equipment from Crashing!
The L-Bracket, the ultimate camera bumper
Visual Echos Tele-Flash for the 580EX Flash
Testing your Flash's Aim
The Ultimate Flash Bracket
Using TTL flash with Hummingbirds
Specular highlights and the flashing frog

Geared Focusing Rail for Macro Work
Shooting in Inclement Weather
Low level tripod work
Sighting in a very, very long lens
Padding Your WimberleyTripod Head
Using The Wimberley Gimbal head with a camera body

Wimberley 400 and 600mm IS plate
How do we protect our gear from dust, and carry our gear when on safari
How do you shoot the Moon?

If you see it, it's too late -- a lesson in anticipation
Protecting your long lens from SAND, the pleasures of beach photography
Maximum Depth of Field and Hyperfocal Distance - they're not the same thing!
A great depth of field guide
Carry Your Gear!
Custom Function 4-1 for Nikon and Canon shooters
Sigma's 120-300 f2.8 APO zoom telephoto lens


A Car Tip that could Save Your Life
A Great Website for Information - the Singapore Nature Photography Society
Airline Carry-On Luggage -Let your concerns be heard!

Ask Questions Before You Go
Liquids in your Levels - TSA Warnings!

Disconnect -- travel precautions
Photograph America Newsletter
Obey the Rules
Wildlife Portraiture
Drying out boots with newspaper
Removing Cactus Spines

The Ti Chi Stalk
Photographing Critically Endangered Sites
The Sibley Bird Guides



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Or FAX us at: (717) 543-6423.