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The Art of Wildlife Photography

Lesson 17 of 24

Animals in Their Environment: Composition


The Art of Wildlife Photography

Lesson 17 of 24

Animals in Their Environment: Composition


Lesson Info

Animals in Their Environment: Composition

we'll go to some basic things we've been through some pretty mohr heavy things and so uh wanna one is usually put an animal in the middle that's words focal points usually are so it's nice to get out of the middle that's kind of what we normally do because that's where days are sometimes there are no focus and if you move it off to the edge this is you know the more interesting same way with this um so you think about these these are more interesting points too for composition again wanna one stuff andi uh this is the same similar kind of imagery I um when I started I was like probably like most qualified harbors I was but kids retire for as you call it colin I was trophy high trying to get the biggest bull moose biggest bulow biggs bull dear big meal dear biggest ram um and then I realize is like you know honey trophies and put him on your wall and shot the poor thing you know but I got over that I thought okay rathmann donna did that we all have to do that we go through it you know g...

ot those record shops and then I started thinking about animals and the environment and that's what I kind of got more interested in and um their habitat you know where they live and uh I spent uh two summers this um oh ness it in this hollow cottonwood kind of heart shaped hollow active for the first year I never got a picture of of the adult with the chicks the outlets and I spent hours and hours or you know there's a goodness five miles from my house and I could go in the morning and I could go there you know lunchtime go that evening but the adults only came in in a really write it dark and again this is a great with digital because it's like sixty four hundred eso and uh little details about this I've got a bunch of where both of them are looking at the camera like this little guy can it hiding and on where they're like that her stare shoot on the land feed first seconds through for five seconds then adult white sky we're just kind of decided that's problems I'm moved my tripod a little bit to get less white sky and then I'd use a really shallow depth of field succeeded with one for to blur that so and again you know all these little things really had to be very careful how to frame that otherwise this would be a problem and that would be a problem so you again you think about the little little things and do it in the camera and then the escalators are you know kind of one on one composition interesting and begin gestures the bull and the foggy morning which we talked about the other session and then these sort of radiating lines and up front close and backlit to show that great hair on the porky pine um and again these sort of flowing lines are beautiful um leading your eye and in rhythm and repetition and gesture of course we've talked about already but you can feel the window you can see the wind tail there's like nine family of nine elephants we saw them crossing the imbecilic plain and drove about a mile ahead and just waited for them but they're all strung out but they saw our jeep there and all of a sudden the matriarchs okay everybody get in line which was great and I made the picture and then sort of family portrait and you know the eye contact with these little guys this important she is she's looking for prey of course on the certain get a plain watching for antelope um you know the wide landscape symmetry obviously want to beget reflections that's beautiful and then sometimes just the little things in the environment you know a little surprise accents it's little malachite kingfisher that's about life size there lily literally the size of the spiral and that was kind of my nemesis bird for years I never got one finally in the okavango river I was canoeing and I saw this landed in this but byers is right there about fifteen feet away again theyjust were always very quick so that made me happy and of course symmetry again pattern um and again you you know I've shot a lot of this kind of you know z bruise and different animals together but it's very precisely framed with the I hear in the eye there and the stripes and so you know you really have to to look carefully you know this is a certain amount of space and uh but that's all out there just looking for and you say these you know colors at work with the blues and yellows and greens retail hawk and a fall and little splashes of blue with very little depth of field of the six hundred probably to thousands of a second and you talk briefly about portrait versus animal in the landscape and so you know you start you khun don't forget about real close up this is a black brought albatross um about ten feet away with a six entered with one for uh all I wanted is such a beautiful I beautiful pattern and so when you're out there look closely you know that um that sort of thing is over the twelve hundred millimeter the successor of the two x good try but this is uh quickly is my gallery and jackson this guy walks in gary is wheeling his elderly mother in a wheelchair and he she she wants to be parking from this is a thirty by fifty there and he goes off on looks something alison shields to tour some johnny come here what is is this a chicken or what coarse expressions you know portrait's of heads heads and shoulders and backing off a little bit we get a bit of the environment in there so where does this and we'll live and of course his gesture is important and um again this is not a game farm animal you conduct this is a this is a real deal wild wolf looking for his pack members and uh oh I shot last fall um in a big willow tree hunting you tell the intensity of the eyes of course eyes the same colors that leaves when you have that kind of thing that that you know plays off of each other it's golden isn't it and in animals backing off further um polar bears of hudson bay in the fall waiting for the ice to freeze just wandering around on the ice gives a sense of uh space um and this is more more what we're going to see what polar bro's I'm afraid this is this is enormous has taken fifteen years ago before really started warming up more but we less and less ice in this forming later but uh symmetry of cranes baltic attila petrie um crane sir again you you know just the shape of were so wonderful and then big landscapes with little little things um is there anything adelie penguins in antarctica on a floating iceberg and um well horses in colorado of course that one the moment is just white horse with a tail I know and of course the little bit of rain clouds there and the moose in a big pond it's a stitch panoramic and this is the stuff I love you know big landscape little grizzly bear of course little half million king penguins or so with their young place called salisbury plain in south georgia talk about shutter speed and we're gonna talk about shutter speed in one of the lot with the pre shot footage in a few minutes and this um um for hundreds of a second so it's not quite frozen with the six hundred shows a little bit of movement um this is shot at an eighty eighth of a second motion blur which was really fun to work with we'll talk about that again in appreciate it's off so that you see the legs moving and then you see this at the two thousand sixteen hundred through a second where it's frozen so just by changing your shutter speed you change the mood the the the uh the portrait but that's just one thing you're doing it's changing shutter speed and this is like an eighth of a second blue headed parents uh prue off the amazon river uh leaving one of their um roosting and feeding areas and it's just a blur of color so it's an eighth of a second and this is a like a twelve or fifteen this is actually a mistake but don't tell anybody okay I was photographing the cheetah foot watching her for like five days she literally park her five kittens or cubs around our vehicle and leave us to baby sit so should not seriously so comfortable with us and she'd go off hunting so we kind of felt responsible because there's other vehicles around and we didn't want them to get run over but that was most fun baby saying and if you come back at night you call and they would run to her and stuff but one day she was out hunting and one thing that she does you want to let them hunt a lot of people gather around you know want to get close ups and so I stayed away but a six hundred down with two two ex extender and I thought I'm going to get get her you know stalking and everything and just about the time about the two x on head on the beanbag she took off chasing this grant's gazelle and they came right towards me and I had it kind of set up a f twenty two for you know that the field with a both a cheetah and the gazelle I didn't expect her to run quite so likely she was talking it they she bolted quickly and then I looked at my camera settings this is all manual days kind of manually focused on ah crap a shot at that a tenth of a second at f twenty two uh how stupid you know and then I told my assistant that this could be either really bad or maybe it'll be okay but actually turned out okay did the same thing with a gorilla I was photographing the troupe had a uh eighty two two hundred millimeter lands on and watch photographing the troop I want to get the whole troop in the depth of field is like f twenty two about a tenth of a second this gorilla decided to chase off another silverback oh man I blew that one too but it worked you know again don't tell anybody that I didn't do it on purpose decided on purpose with the black wilson indon alley and it was just running through this this fall color and I thought this would be really need if it was blurred so I shot data like a tenth of a second this is um one thirty two hundredths of a second that's how fast it takes almost stopped the wings of a of a humming bird this is a thousandth of a second great gray and two thousand to a second to stop this bear who was shot last summer but and that's great because you know the look of those watered officer just frozen and of course is probably a record icis is on film is probably uh probably a second maybe half a second not sure but that flowing water and this is probably more like three or four seconds in iceland uh and this is probably two seconds exposure are half second maybe on crane's um depth of field and so again you know you end up with a lot of busy stuff the shorter lands like a two to four hundred and in it he said that we were in a boat in the pantanal got closer and put a six hundred dollar with one for so all that stuff in the background is still there but it's blurred out there's no way this is only the focal plane this year's was very short and makes them much more pleasing image just likethe e the puffin does um uh and that's what they remember third new lands in our high I esos that you don't always want all the different field you know so tack down the I s o and open up the leads all the way so you don't have much depth of field unfocused carefully this is kind of a boring herring in the pens and all but I thought how do you make that any better so shot a threesome green leaves still not great but you know sometimes you have to think about what can you do with something that's all it is it's a it's a rare harris and same with this tiger you know shooting through the green grass made it more interesting um I shot through a whole bunch of brush with a six hundred on this cardinal and they gave it that sort of japanese look so what long lenses you khun you can chew through a lot of stuff you know you don't think you can you try sometimes you want all the depth of field this is supposed to be camouflaged they're colored that way their feathers are that color and I think it's nice that he's hidden you know could shoot it both ways and of course use wide angle lenses I don't use a wide angle as you could tell that much but these were iguanas in the galapagos we're going back through the next year and get down low so kind of fun this is with the the old older camera uh fuji panoramic with just a lot of depth of field where the four grounds and focus and the backgrounds and focus course you do this for the tripod and shoot it you know um twenty two or something um but that's just I just want to give you kind of the quick and dirty one on one stuff again I'm sure most of you all knowing people in at home probably know ninety eight percent of all that fun things one quick question that we've had and a lot of people have asked this beach and doggett the in this particular case how does tom do panorama is dealing with animal movement so you've done a lot of kind of panoramic shots that have animals in them when you're shooting multiple shots how do you deal with the animal's movement very difficult it's hard because you have overlap in that kind of thing so you have to uh it's impossible basically unless you shoot very quickly and that every fast shutter speed so you look like a perfect look look like that but then you see there's blurred because you're not is really hard because you got to be settled in on one frame even when you do it quickly but you basically can't do it if there are if the animals were moving very quickly that's what the beauty of the the old panoramic you could one frame

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Learn wildlife and outdoor photography from one of the most prolific nature photographers of our time in The Art of Wildlife Photography with Tom Mangelsen.

Drawing lessons from his 40 years of observing and photographing the Earth's last great wild places, Tom will discuss the complex process behind his breathtaking wildlife photographs. You’ll learn:

  • What it takes to be a great wildlife photographer
  • How to capture wildlife in their natural environment
  • The best places to find animals
  • How to increase the visibility of your work
  • The importance of respecting wildlife and wildlife ethics

Tom will cover the basics of gear and scouting and teach you how to think about lighting when capturing animals in the wild. Tom will also offer a critique images and portfolios submitted by viewers.

If you have a passion for outdoor photography and want to capture the spirit of wildlife in your camera, join Tom Mangelsen for this inspiring and educational class.


a Creativelive Student

There is probably just one word that comes closest to describing Tom Mangelsen’s photography. Glorious. There are other good words too, of course. And they are also inadequate. Mangelsen’s panoramas are (cumulatively and separately (any one of them)) the best I’ve seen. Mangelsen teaches by example and his examples are exemplary. I’ve seen several photographers giving courses on CreativeLive lately many of whose photos I would love to have taken - but with Mangelsen I envy his possession not just of his photos but of their subjects too. And he does possess his subjects in ways many outstanding photographers fail to - possesses them and then leaves them to continue on with their lives. There are other reasons I’m grateful for this course too - his field trips and critiques have shown me (as with other CreativeLive courses) just how lazy I’m being with my work. And if his critiques aren’t motivation enough I only have to view his slide show ‘Last Great Wild Places’ for more inspiration. The photos in this series are revelations all on their own - even without commentary. Thank you CreativeLive for continuing to bring us the finest wildlife and nature photographers at work today - and thank you to photographers like Tom Mangelsen for giving us a look at the way they work.


I could not stop watching this class and set aside time each day until I finished it. I guess you could saw that I binge watched it. Then I was really sad when it was finished! Like a good movie that stays with you and that you don't want to end! This is a wonderful class and the best I have taken at CreativeLive. I learned so much and have a great fondness for Tom Mangelsen. He really knows how to pull you into his passion. I am so grateful to have taken this course and grateful to Tom for all that he has done in his career to further his craft and to share it. I am inspired! If you are going to purchase and course from CreativeLive, this is one to be sure to take!!! Thank you again.

Dub Maitland

Excellent class! An incredibly talented photographer who has a vast knowledge of the subject matter as well as an outstanding ability to deliver the information. It was as enjoyable as it was informative. I first saw Tom's work in an office in Denver in 1991 and have been inspired by him ever since. Thank you Creative Live, for giving us the opportunity to spend this time with the Master! And thank you Tom for your willingness to share your talent with us! Dub Maitland, Missoula, MT.