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Photo Writing is the web version of the Photo Writing mini-magazine produced by Limephoto and Emil von Maltitz since 2010. As of 2015 it is now completely online. Feel free to browse through the articles and please leave comments in the comments section if you would like to engage with us.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Murky Days - September Thanda Wildlife workshop




The weather gremlin was back last week, and with a vengeance! A whole week in Thanda and the sun showed its wonderful face for seemingly a grand total of 5 minutes. Nevertheless, lenses and cameras were out and working hard (Romeo's sounded like a machine gun with an uninterrupted supply of ammunition ;-) ).

For me, when the weather is truly horrible, i.e. lacking in interesting regardless of the time of day, providing nothing but a bland uniform grey light, that's the time to try and get in close and concentrate on the animal's portrai, or a texture in the skin...so long as it's close. Usually the strong constrasty light of a cloudless sky can play havoc with deep shadows obliterating eyes and burning out the highlights to nuclear levels. The soft lighting of a murky sky means that the photographer can work with textures without actually losing the shadows into an inky pit of darkness.

as ever, work with what is given and you can produce great images. Some of which last week's photography students at the Thanda Photography workshop were able to do. We had 9 students, the largest group for the Thanda workshop to date. This comes with pros and cons of course. 9 people have 9 different requirements in terms of what is most important to them to photograph, let alone learn. BUT, and this is a big one, 9 different photographs also bring 9 different unique sets of skills and experience to a group, meaning that if the group works together they can learn that much more from each other!


Photography workshops are not just about learning from the workshop leader. Sure, they might know a thing or two about photography, but as a Monty Cooper -a mentor of mine - pointed out years ago, photography is not just about the technical side of photography, which he criticized me as being too caught up in at the time. What do you see when you take the photograph? Concentrate on the small things (he suggested I actually use programme mode occasionally - students of mine will know that I'm allergic to this mode ;-) - so that I concentrate on the details of the composition rather than the details of the exposure - admittedly I didn't really listen to the programme part, but I did about the details).

So bad colourless drab weather can still be good for photography. Well any weather can be good for photography. It might even push you to try something new indoors, as evinced by the 'last supper' group shot at the start of the post (thanks to Peter and Yossi for the idea).
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