How to Shoot a Lion

With the recent slaying of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe, I thought I’d write a little tutorial on how real men shoot lions. This tutorial works for other animals as well.

1. Choose your weapon.

My weapon of choice is the Canon 5D Mark III. You may want to rent or purchase a long lens since walking up to a wild animal to capture it’s close up might not be ideal.

2.  Location

Ideally, somewhere in Africa where lions roam in the wild would be the best location, but if you can’t afford that trip or you don’t want to get the 12 vaccinations required to travel, your local zoo is second best.

3. Time

Early morning and late afternoon when the sun isn’t directly overhead is optimal. Also, lions tend to take cat naps when it is hot, so midday isn’t too exciting. At the zoo, feeding time is a great time to visit.

4. The Hunt

Quietly approach the wild beast (not too close). Raise your camera to your eye and find your focus. Breathe… Stay relaxed so you don’t shake. When shooting with a long lens like a 300mm, camera shake is more apparent. Use a tripod or monopod if you need to but if you don’t have one, all you have to do is stay relaxed. Holding your breath so that you don’t move doesn’t work, it makes it worse. When the time is right, release your shutter and allow the light to pass through your lens.

Well done! You felt the adrenaline rush through your veins, you captured your trophy, and best of all, your prey can walk away so others can enjoy capturing the lion’s image as well.

Heaven’s Landscape

I was fortunate enough be able to spend some time in Guilin in April. We hired a driver instead of taking a tour so that I could spend more time taking photos and less time keeping up with the tour.

The city of Guilin is on the Li River with not much to see in my opinion. The real beauty is in Yangshou County which you can get to by taking a 4 hour ferry ride down the Li River. As you meander through endless hills and mountains, you will see many different villages, people commuting to work on bamboo rafts, water fowl, water buffaloes, and waterfalls. The day I took the ferry happened to be an extremely foggy day making it difficult to see the layers and layers of mountains. I had to do a lot of burning in Photoshop to bring out the mountains in the background.



Guilin 4

Guilin 5

Guilin 2
Canon 5D Mark III and iPhone 5s
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Top 3 free mobile photo apps that should be on your phone right now.

1. Snapseed

Snapseed is a powerful mobile editing app created by popular photo software developers Nik. Nik was purchased by Google and the $4.99 app was made free forever. The best part about Snapseed is that you can import any size photo into the app and edit it without any compression. That means if you take a 32 mega-pixel photo with your dslr, you can edit it on your smartphone or tablet and output a 32 mpix photo.

Snapseed has a ton of filters as well as the standard photo tools. It also has a tilt-shift emulator and an HDR from one photo filter.

2. VSCO Cam

VSCO Cam is in all-in-one camera, editing and sharing app. What VSCO Cam does best is film emulation. If you like the look of old film before the digital age then this is a must have. The camera is a step above the stock camera app that comes with your smart phone because you can split the focus and exposure to get a more accurate photo. After you have shot and edited your photo, you can share it on VSCO’s beautifully designed “Grid.”

3. Instagram

Instagram, by far, is the most popular photo sharing platform out there. You can shoot, edit and filter your photo and share them with millions of users. Instagram is all about the social side of photography.

“You mean I don’t get them all?”

I’m often asked by my clients after a great shoot, “Can I please have a disc with all of the unedited photos on them?” My answer will always be “No.”

I hate having to say no to a client and in most cases I usually say yes because I want you the customer to be happy with my product and the experience of working with me, but in this case I will always say no. I don’t want you guys to think that I’m being cheap. If you offer me money I will still not offer up my raw files. Please allow me to explain why:

1. Professional photographers shoot in RAW format

A RAW file is a gigantic file that allows photographers to keep photographs in it’s purest form.  This means you get the highest quality print available. Most photo programs won’t even open RAW files so unless you have Photoshop or Lightroom you wouldn’t even be able to view the files on your computer. Converting RAW files to JPEG takes an enormous amount of time due to the high file size and the amount of files being converted. If I take 300 shots of you during a portrait session and I had to convert all of them to jpeg, that would take most of my time and I wouldn’t be able to run a business. I’d rather spend my time editing the great shots that I know you will love.

2. Photography is an Art

Part of the reason you hired a professional photographer is because we have the judgment to decide what makes a good photograph and what does not. Photography is not only how I make a living, it is an art form. It is how I express myself. When I hand over photographs to a client, I want to make sure that you have my best art work. Giving you a raw, unedited photo is giving you incomplete work. If you take that raw file and show your friends and family or other potential clients an unfinished image, then their impression of me as a photographer and artist is probably not a respectable one. A writer would never give you his or her first drafts just because you loved reading his books.

The bottom line is, trust the photographer that you hired to choose which images are the best. We have a reputation to upkeep to stay in business and we are passionate about our art. Our job as professionals is to weed out the bad photos from the good and enhance the good ones to make them perfect.

It’s Your Image

If you are starting a new company or re-branding an old one, or you are applying for a new job, your image is very important. In the digital age, an online presence is essential to get ahead.

Whether it’s on social media or your own website, a good photograph is a good place to start. When employers or future clients search the internet and come across your website, Facebook or LinkedIn, the first thing they will see is your image. A good idea would be to not post a photo of yourself holding a drink from the night before or an out of focus selfie. Have a professional photographer take your portrait because the first impression is always the strongest one.