'wildlife photography' Category

Paul Souders + PocketWizard radios + Grizzlies = Awesome

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© Paul Souders

Paul Souders’ grandmother wasn’t a woman of means per se, but she did manage to squirrel away enough scratch every year to fly off to someplace she’d never been before. Watching her slide shows was Paul Souders’ introduction to, and some may say addiction to, travel photography. Fast-forward to ‘adulthood’ and upteen journeys to places previously unknown to him – camera at side – has become Paul’s Souders’ ticket to ride.

A few years back while taking stock of all of the pictures he’d taken on previous journeys, Souders came to realize his awesome 600mm close-ups of bears, lions, and wildebeests were as awesome as everybody else’s awesome 600mm photographs of bears, lions, and wildebeests. Considering how much time, effort, and money (personal money no less!) went into his work, he started reassessing his approach to photography, and how to redefine the word ‘awesome’ on an upcoming trip to Kenya.

His solution was to have his subjects fill the frame, but not from a comfortable distance as previously seen through a lens the size of a baseball bat, but in-your-face-close with a wide-angle lens. But he still had to figure out a way to photograph what he saw in his mind’s eye without getting eaten.

 

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© Paul Souders

His solution was the PocketWizard Plus II Transceivers* he frequently used for triggering remote Speedlites wirelessly when shooting editorial assignments. He knew PocketWizard Plus II Transceivers could also trigger cameras, but seldom took advantage of this function. Visualizing lion cubs or bears sticking their noses inches from the front element of his camera lens while taking semi-playful swipes at it was exactly what he was after. Right then and there he added his PocketWizard Plus II radio triggers, a few small tabletop tripods, and additional sets of lithium-ion AA batteries to his packing list.
(*Note: The PocketWizard Plus II Transceiver has been replaced by the Plus III.)

Paul Souders’ new vision entailed positioning cameras with wide-angle lenses at ground level along watering holes, nesting areas, and feeding grounds. A big believer in keeping things simple, Souders was careful to keep his camera as innocuous looking as a camera with an ultra-wide angle lens and radio transceiver mounted on it can be.

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© Paul Souders

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© Paul Souders

When shooting on the plains, Souders’ typically scouts out promising camera positions, sets up his cameras – each with a PocketWizard Plus II set to its own channel, and retreats to a safe, non-confrontational distance away. Once out of the way, he sets up a second camera with a long telephoto for capturing the action from a more traditional point-of-view.

On a more recent trip to the Canadian Arctic to photograph bears catching salmon making their way upstream to spawn, Souders’ sealed his camera and lens into a waterproof housing mounted on a heavy-duty studio tripod submerged just below the waterline in order to capture the grace of these great beasts as they dive after schools of fish below the surface of the water.

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© Paul Souders

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© Paul Souders

The type of photography Paul Souders’ specializes in requires patience, perseverance, and the ability to endure punishing environments, not to mention the realities of being a potential snack for a host of predators.

Another reality is the toll these projects take on his cameras, which are often poked, pawed, mauled, sometimes trampled, and inevitably smattered with mud and/or dirt. On a recent trip to Alaska “one and a half out of seven cameras’ were functioning by the time he came home. And don’t ask him how many cameras and lenses met their demise after being crushed, chewed to bits, or knocked overboard. (Trust me… the numbers are painful – SR).

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© Paul Souders

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© Paul Souders

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© Paul Souders

 

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© Paul Souders

© Paul Souders

© Paul Souders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The payoff for his efforts are pictures he never would have dreamed possible before he incorporated PocketWizard radio triggers into his workflow. Thanks to his PocketWizard triggering system, he now has the ability to capture penguins leapfrogging over his camera with inches to spare as they rocket out of the water onto land, or to see exactly how long and sharp a bear’s claws could be from uncomfortably-close distances and perspectives.

When Paul Souders originally purchased his first PocketWizard transceivers, they were merely a means of moving his Speedlites off his camera and out of the way. Little did he know they would some day radically change the way he views the world and photographs it.

To see more of Paul Souders’ work, check out his website.

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Paul Souders all rights reserved; story is ©PocketWizard. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or repost elsewhere without written permission.

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What’s up Pussycat? Özkan Özmen goes on a Portrait Safari

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Özkan Özmen at work

Özkan Özmen is a portrait photographer based in Frankfurt Germany with a penchant for photographing subjects that can bite your head off. No, we’re not talking about models and celebrities with attitude here. We’re talking lions, tigers, and rhinos. As Dorothy famously said to the tin man… “Oh MY!”

According to Özkan, he’s always been into things that crawl, chirp, growl, and purr, and it wasn’t long after he began taking shooting studio portraits for a living that he decided to put together a compact lighting kit and try his luck outside of the comforts and convenience of his studio. Özkan Ozmen’s personal project ultimately took him on a multi-continent journey in which he’s captured wonderful portraits of the sort of wildlife most of us only see in zoo and safari parks, though seldom as in-your-face.

Özkan understood the logistics – not to mention danger involved in trying to capture tight portraits of wild animals using lights. Still and all, rather than being technically boxed in by the harsh ambient lighting conditions common to shooting in the extreme locales he planned on visiting, his goal was to light his subjects and select-focus at wider lens apertures similar to the way he would when shooting portraits in his studio.

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Moose Peterson on the PocketWizard Plus III

For someone who works in nature, where each environment has unique challenges, versatility is important. That’s why wildlife photographer Moose Peterson loves the PocketWizard Plus III.

Peterson wrote a quick post about his new radio triggers on his blog. He writes, “Be it for camera or flash remotes, I can’t recommend these enough to you!”

Read his post on his blog and take a look at his wildlife images.

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Bronek Kaminski Captures Beasts

Bangkok-based British photographer Bronek Kaminski covers all of Southeast Asia for various news and editorial clients. Images from both of the following shoots ran worldwide in newspapers and magazines. They were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and 580EX flashes.

©Bronek Kaminski

“With the elephant shots, the mahouts had been working all day, it was midnight by the time I managed to get some time with them, and they were really keen to finish,” Kaminski recalls. “As soon as I got the last shot, they told me to come up onto one of the elephants. We set off to a stall, bought some beers which were passed up to us, and we finished off the day sitting around in their camp drinking.”

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