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Capturing the essence of an animal in their natural habitat is a unique and time sensitive challenge. You typically don’t have control over the lighting, the conditions and certainly, rarely the animal itself. More than not the opportunity is a chance encounter.
Oh but the results can be so satisfying.
Observe a Mother teaching her son the art of hunting
When I started in professional photography my equipment consisted of Nikon Fs (F, F3, Photomic, etc.).
Here is a comparison of my first professional camera in the center, with my first digital with a Leica lens on the right, and my latest digital Nikon on the left.
I tend to add new equipment when I feel the technology offers a significant improvement. For example, the small Leica was my initial move into the world of digital. It was considerably smaller than my film cameras, and offered the ability to immediately confirm I captured what I wanted. It also allowed me to learn how to shoot in digital since, in my experience, it required somewhat different skills than film cameras. Framing and composition were still the same, but how digital captured light has subtle but important differences to my eye as compared to film. [ Much like digital audio equipment sounds different when compared to tube based equipment. ]
While I still occasionally shoot with negative professional film using my older Nikon equipment, nearly all of my images today are shot with my full frame Nikon digital cameras.
From my earliest days as a photographer, my approach was to capture what interested me just exactly as I saw it in my ‘mind’s eye,’ so to speak.
Initially all of my work was done on black and white professional negative film, that I developed in my lab. Developing of film was done by the ‘book’ without enhancing the image. Slowly I experimented with color negative film but my concern was that it was too easy to get an interesting picture simply because of the colors as compared to black and white. For example, this shot of spices from India is really only interesting to me because of the colors as compared to shooting it in black and white.
This approach still reflects my technique today, except I normally only shoot with an eye to the colors and how they interact with the composition.
And certainly, many images rely totally on color for dramatic impact:
I trust my ability to see and capture what I want without coming back and spending time using readily available software (today’s equivalent of chemicals in the lab and development times when I started) to modify the image. I don’t think there is anything wrong enhancing images using post shooting software, but believe it reflects more of a philosophical difference. I consider myself a ‘naturalist’ photographer verses an artist/photographer producing a final photograph with software.