At Sony Kando 3.0, we had the opportunity to sit in on Colby Brown’s Wildlife Photography Workshop. After 13+ years in the field and 80+ countries visited, Colby has become a leader in his craft and a top notch resource for all skill levels. Here are a few key points that he shared with us.
Anticipation is key.
Anticipating the shot that you’re going after, will allow you to focus in on your subject. Many times Colby will get his settings tuned in, bring the camera down, and open the monitor out, so he can look the animal in the eye or make noise to have it look up in his vicinity. Make sure to do your research beforehand so that you know it’s a safe move with the animal you’re capturing.
What you include is just as important as what you don’t include.
Take time to compose your shot – a photograph should have something to tell, so decide on the feeling you’re going after beforehand. If you have the flexibility, try to make the scene more simple. Making a minor adjustment in where you’re standing can dramatically clean up the background.
The Sony a9 is Colby’s go-to for mirrorless wildlife photography because it has the best autofocus on the planet with 3 extra stops of dynamic range. The Sony a7riii is also great when capturing a static subject.
Telephoto lenses are pricey, but like anything else, you get what you pay for.
The Sony 100-400mm is fairly compact for the range, but can produce a sharp image. The 200-600mm is sharper with the telephoto converter, but it’s much larger in form. The 400mm 2.8 and 400-800mm are also great lenses for capturing wildlife. It really just boils down to what you’re trying to capture and the investment you’re willing to put into your set-up.
Sony lenses are great because the glass is pushed towards the back end of the lens making it easier to shoot with the balanced weight.
If you don’t have a tripod or monopod with you, improvise! On a safari vehicle, Colby has used a beanbag (and even a ziplock bag filled with rice) to maintain stability.
Here are some other tips & tricks Colby shared with us:
- Do your research beforehand with local authorities to determine what you can and cannot do around the animal that you’re capturing
- Silent shooting allows for a more inmate experience with the animal and typically produces more natural shots
- Shutter speed is the highest priority – motion should be your biggest concern when shooting wildlife
- ISO should be kept as low as possible, but be willing to sacrifice it if needed
- Play with foreground
- Use reflections
Colby teaches a wide variety of photography workshops around the globe that offer real-world hands-on experience in a creative learning environment while out in the field. For more information, visit his website.
Photographer, photo educator, and author
Specializing in landscape, travel and humanitarian photography, Colby’s photographic portfolio spans the four corners of the globe. Throughout his work, one can see that he combines his love of the natural world with his fascination of the world’s diverse cultures. Each of his photographs tells a story of life on this planet.
Colby became a photographer back in 2006, rapidly rising in the ranks of the photo industry. Not too long after picking up his first DSLR, Colby was leading workshops for National Geographic in South America, further spurring his love for both travel and photo education. In 2011, he founded The Giving Lens, an organization that blends photo education with support for various NGO’s and causes around the world. TGL helps fight for child education, clean drinking water projects, species preservation, women’s rights and much more.
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