Tag Archives: black and white photography

Shooting in Monochrome – Rhino Road

November 05, 2012 - Conservation,Sabi Sand,Safari,Wildlife

There is a term photographers use called “leading lines”. This refers to a line cutting through an image, such as a road, fence or river. It draws the viewer into the image and, if done correctly, can tell a great story. This image has meaning to me because I feel it shows the hard road rhinos have ahead of them, fighting a lonely and difficult battle against poaching. This single rhino on a winding road portrays that to me.

Once again, the clarity slider came into effect here and it gives great texture to dark-skinned animals. I try to crop my images as little as possible as to not lose size and quality, and this is an important factor to consider. Always try and think about the final image you want as you take it, and avoid cropping as much as possible in post processing.

I lightened the road in the foreground to give more emphasis to the rhino, and decided not to darken the edges as I wanted to emphasize the sense of space and isolation of the subject. The motion in the front left leg is important as it shows the rhino is active and busy walking down the long and winding path. All these subtle elements combine to make a big, sometimes subconscious, difference in the end.

Rhino Road by Marlon du Toit

Marlon du Toit thrives on adventure and has a deep connection with Africa and its beauty. Growing up near the Kruger National Park he was immersed in nature from a young age and is now a professional field guide at Singita Sabi Sand.

His eye for capturing split-second moments on camera is astonishing, and after years behind the lens, we thought we would give our readers some of his ideas for taking the perfect wildlife photograph when out in the bush. This is the last post in this particular series, but please check back regularly for more of Marlon’s wonderful photographs and expert advice.

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Shooting in Monochrome – The Big Tusker

October 26, 2012 - Conservation,Sabi Sand,Safari,Wildlife

I am in love with large elephant bulls with beautiful wide tusks. These old bulls are rather “easy” to photograph, as they tend to be more relaxed than the younger bulls. They just have this presence about them and if you can capture that you would have done well. To get this particular shot I had to get close, real close. It was shot with a 16-35mm lens and to create that slightly out of proportionate effect you need to be close. Now don’t go out there and have yourself trampled by a big ellie! Always be careful when in close proximity to these large animals.

Everything works for me in this image. Once again it was a cloudy day and it brought out the texture and folds in the elephant’s skin and trunk. I brushed the elephant separately and used a lot of clarity and contrast on him to emphasize that without making it look too unnatural. The scratches on his ears simply add character and I love it. I also appreciate how the tusks push forward almost giving you the feeling of being stabbed in the eye! That is thanks to being near to my subject with a wide angle lens.

The sky is also important to me. Notice how on the original image below you don’t notice much in terms of cloud cover. Thanks to shooting in RAW format I managed to gain back detail in the sky, something you will not be able to do when shooting in JPEG. This is important to consider as you will not get the best of your images in JPEG format. RAW simply is the way to go and will allow you more freedom when processing. Overall I am absolutely in awe of the “largeness” of the big bull as he fills the frame. It shows power and absolutely screams of Africa.

Marlon du Toit thrives on adventure and has a deep connection with Africa and its beauty. Growing up near the Kruger National Park he was immersed in nature from a young age and is now a professional field guide at Singita Sabi Sand.

His eye for capturing split-second moments on camera is astonishing, and after years behind the lens, we thought we would give our readers some of his ideas for taking the perfect wildlife photograph when out in the bush. Follow the Singita blog for more of Marlon’s tips for black and white photography in the wild.

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Shooting in Monochrome – Leopard Portrait

October 19, 2012 - Sabi Sand,Wildlife

I absolutely love eyes. It’s said that eyes are the windows to the soul and I believe it also applies to animals. Wherever possible, always try and capture the eyes, the essence of that animal. It will immediately capture the viewer and engage them.  It also adds that human element or emotion and will make the world of difference. In Lightroom you can isolate the various colours from oranges to blues and brighten or darken them with striking results. Once again the clean background here is essential. I darkened the blue background to make this female leopard stand out more. Her whiskers are a key element and it shows her focus as they stand out against that clean background. I used a fill-brush to work on her exclusively and brought her out with highlights and clarity sliders. The eyes I worked on separately and tried as best to lighten them and to create that glassy feel.

This photograph was taken in the last light of the day with a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second, and at 1600ISO. It was shot hand held with a 400 2.8, at an aperture of f/2.8. This is often the time most people will pack their gear away but if you can manage to capture a few more images you will be pleased at the texture and detail in this kind of light. It is perfect for conversions to black and white. Once again I darkened the edges a little to emphasize this animal and her beautiful posture.

Marlon du Toit thrives on adventure and has a deep connection with Africa and its beauty. Growing up near the Kruger National Park he was immersed in nature from a young age and is now a professional field guide at Singita Sabi Sand.

His eye for capturing split-second moments on camera is astonishing, and after years behind the lens, we thought we would give our readers some of his ideas for taking the perfect wildlife photograph when out in the bush. Follow the Singita blog for more of Marlon’s tips for black and white photography in the wild.

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Shooting in Monochrome

October 02, 2012 - Experience,Kruger National Park,Sabi Sand,Wildlife

Marlon du Toit thrives on adventure and has a deep connection with Africa and its beauty. Growing up near the Kruger National Park he was immersed in nature from a young age and is now a professional field guide at Singita Sabi Sand.

His eye for capturing split-second moments on camera is astonishing, and after years behind the lens, we thought we would give our readers some of his ideas for taking the perfect wildlife photograph when out in the bush. Follow the Singita blog for Marlon’s upcoming articles.

Black and white photography has become a little “washed-out” as of late, excuse the pun. Great photographers such as Nick Brandt have created an epidemic by creating fine-art masterpieces in black and white, and it seems that many are now going down that same route and failing hopelessly. I don’t consider myself the best monochrome photographer out there by any stretch, but I do believe that I have an eye to know whether it will work or not. Simply put, there is more to a black and white image than the simple click of a button. By taking a little time to process your image you can create something breathtaking.

The kind of software you utilize makes a world of difference. The “black and white” button on iPhoto may be fine for your desktop background picture, but if you want something more impressive, perhaps an image for your wall, you need to go bigger. I make use of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4. It is an amazing program and will help you immensely. It is easy to figure out and will allow for stunning monochrome images in a short amount of time.

In this upcoming blog article series I will go through 5 of my recent images and explain why I selected them specifically, and why I feel they work in monochrome. The larger of the two images is the final product and the smaller is the original RAW image imply converted to black and white.

A monochrome image often needs to be punchy. You can use your creative freedom to the maximum here as long as you stick to basic principles, such as still having exposure in check, and that your images are nice and sharp. In Lightroom I use a slider called “Clarity” a lot. It gives your image a beautiful look as it deepens the dark tones and highlights the lighter parts. The finish is amazing and you will love it. Contrast plays a huge role here and you need to really deepen the darker tones. It adds dynamic to your image and creates a three-dimensional feel. In Lightroom there’s also a fill-in brush. This allows you to edit specific areas in your image such as, only the face, or only the background. I make use of this tool often and it helps me create dynamic images in monochrome. There are many more techniques and hopefully my comments on the photographs in this series will explain a few more things for you. These are only merely pointers in the right direction and by no means the be-all and end-all of monochrome photography. I hope it helps…keep visiting this blog space – Marlon du Toit.

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Stripes Galore

October 06, 2011 - Singita Grumeti,Wildlife

The dam on the plains in front of Singita Sasakwa Lodge was a hive of activity before the rains started in earnest.  Animals trek for miles to reach the waterhole, which is one of the few that offers a good field of view. In particular there have been huge herds of zebra coming in to drink, often wading deep into the water. From around 09h00 through to 17h00 it is always busy.  Sometimes there are smaller herds of impala joining the zebra and often the Butamtam lion pride is found positioned close to the waterhole in the hopes of making a kill.

This striking black and white photography was taken by Lee Bennett, Head Guide at Singita Grumeti Reserves.  To follow wildlife updates from Grumeti Reserves, refer to the monthly Guides’ Diaries posted on Singita’s website.

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