Tips & Tricks: Patience the Key

Patience the Key

By Nisha Purushothaman

Patience is the key to planning and then capturing the best photographic images.  Whether you are shooting in your backyard or in the Amazon; patience is your best investment of time. You can dream of any image you wish, but the first and most important component in capturing it is to be patient.  Wildlife exists in its own ecological habitats.  Each species exhibits unique behavior patterns and ways of communication.  The wildlife photographer must fit carefully into the environment and be prepared for the unexpected.  The more time you spent in the habitat of your subject, the more insight you will gain into their lives and behavior patterns.  Understanding communication among wild animals, their actions and reactions, and their likes and dislikes are invaluable field skills for the wildlife photographer.  By visiting a particular area or animal on a regular basis, you develop knowledge which may allow you to move closer, to capture fabulous moments. 

For example, in 2015 when I was in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Park with two other photographers,. I spotted a lioness resting on a tree trunk around 6:30 in the morning.  Right next to the tree trunk, a young male was sleeping.  I didn’t think twice about whether to wait or not.  I was sure sometime in time either the lioness would come down or the lion would go up.  All the while we were getting radio reports about sightings happening around the area.  One is often quite tempted to take a short break, but we all know, it wouldn’t take a minute for the lion or lioness to make a move. 

Positioning is essential for getting the best shot.  We placed the vehicle about fifty meters from the slanting side of the tree with the sun behind us for good lighting.  Past experience taught me that lions usually climb along the slanting side of trees.  After positioning the vehicle, the three of us remained motionless in the open truck under direct sunlight with the temperature around 30C for almost for six hours.

For gear, I was carrying a Canon 600mm f4 IS II USM and a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens.  I used my 100-400 in its 100mm position to perfect the composition of the entire tree.  My plan and dream was to photograph the lion climbing the tree and the lioness that was already there in a single frame.

I constantly checked the shot, taking test shots to correct the settings in the harsh midday light.  After almost six hours of waiting, I saw the male lifting his head, then, yawning three times, he stood up and walked two steps, then stretched and slowly started to walk to the tree.  The magnificent male gave me a cool look as he slowly walked towards the tree, then, stopping next to it, he looked up.  After walking around the tree twice, he finally climbed to the top.  Patience was rewarded.  I captured the image of my dream.




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