Keith Connelly’s Best of February 2016

Sigma Ambassador Keith Connelly sent us some of his best photos from February 2016

The Enchanted Forests of Mana Pools…

The-Enchanted-Forests© Keith Connelly | Canon EOS 5D Mk III + Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 Sports ISO 500 @ 300mm, f2.8, 1/400 sec

Taken in the gloriously beautiful Apple Ring Albida Forests of Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe, a destination renowned for these types of shots. The beauty of Mana Pools is your ability to move around on foot and gain compositions otherwise impossible in other destinations, it also gives you an incredible feeling of immersion into this unreal part of Africa.

I am a huge fan incorporating dawn and dusk colours into my images and with that comes the question of exposure.  Capturing deep rich dawn and dusk colours is a matter of sliding scales of exposure and white balance.The brighter your exposure the shallower your colours, the darker the deeper your colours (to a point of course). The same goes for white balance – the cooler your in camera White Balance, the less rich your colours in reference to the dawn dusk colours…again to a point!! I often focus on mixing up both of these elements (White Balance/Exposure) to get the result I’m looking for.

I am very much for bucking the rules as they are often stated, saying you can and can’t do something. Staying within your Auto White Balance setting will for sure  give you decent results but breaking out of that mould and manually selecting WB will expand your creative approach to capturing colour.

Personally I don’t buy into the concept of photographic trends and generally I hate debates on the topic – I feel it really limits our creative ability. If we buck these trends we are far more open to experimenting and creating as apposed to what the rules or other people say – capture what you want you feel!

A Monochrome Marvel…

Heartbeat© Keith Connelly | Canon EOS 5D Mk III + Sigma 150-600mm Sports ISO 1000 @ 600mm, f6.3, 1/320 sec

Contrast, Leading Lines & Clean Backgrounds.

Leading lines play such and important role in the drawing of our eyes to our intended subjects, in this case what a beautiful subject it is!

In converting images to monochrome I feel that your monochrome image has to surpass your colour version to work…it has to offer something that the colour version cannot. Added to that an essential part to good Black&White imagery is in my view contrast. Without contrast monochrome images are flat and frankly boring.

One can create additional contrast by applying colour filters to the image to accentuate certain colour tones and it can be pushed even further by selective dodging and burning (Darkening the Darks/ Lightening the lights) as I did here with the trunk of the tree in order to draw attention into the subject.

Slow Motion Dust Bath…

Crossed-Paths© Keith Connelly | Canon EOS 5D Mk III + Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 Sports ISO 400 @ 200mm, f5.6, 1/40 sec

Slower Shutter speeds creating interest. As shown above this image was taken at 1/40 sec which was slow enough to blur the dust spray enough to create an interesting effect. What would have been even cooler was if I could have caught the trunk in motion! Of course this was made possible by the Elephant standing dead still while taking his late afternoon dust bath.  Again the contrast in the image created by the dark folds in the Ele’s skin after recently having had a mud bath, created the great conversation opportunity. As before the contrast was enhanced by selective dodging and burning emphasising the mid tone of the Ele. while darkening around him and deepening the dark tone in his skin folds.

Using a portrait orientation also serves to accentuate the elephant’s height as much as it does when photographing Giraffes in the same way.

Timbavati’s Golden Glory…

Rockfigs-Light© Keith Connelly | Canon EOS 5D Mk III + Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 Sports ISO 2000 @ 240mm, f7.1, 1/3200 sec

Golden light is the thing of our dreams and catching an active Leopard in a tree for those 10 mins of exceptional light is every photographers dream. Golden light however can sometimes be a handful to deal with. Sometimes the light is so good that it sends your camera sensor into a full blown nervous breakdown.

Auto White Balance in this situation sent the sensor into crazy mode and the result was that the temperature was very difficult to get back the way it actually looked. Once again when faced with these situations, with our heart rates through the roof and the frame rate to boot, it is vitally important to take a breath and analyse your images on the back of the camera and adjust accordingly!

Walking into the Sun…

Strolling-into-Sunset© Keith Connelly | Canon EOS 5D Mk III + Sigma 300-800mm f5.6 Sports ISO 400 @ 800mm, f8, 1/160 sec

Captivating Chobe! Who doesn’t love a good cliche’?

Taken on a photographic boat on the Chobe River, Botswana, on a fairly hazy day that cut down the strength of the sun as it was setting through winter dust. Again, by manipulating the white balance in camera, I was able to produce an appealing warmth to the image. The compression of the 800mm also goes a long way to producing an image like this of course.

As you can see the shutter speed is way down at 1/160 sec so any movement would have been tough to get sharp. This leads to a very big point that I am very clear in making – Sharpness is not everything!

Although sharpness can be seen as a critical component to most images, the obsession with sharpness has lead us down a path where we value it above all else and this is a major mistake! Composition, Contrast, Emotion, Feeling, Subject, Interest and Light are far more important it in most instances.

When you look at an image, how that image makes you feel is the one thing that will keep drawing you back to that image and not the fact that each eyelash is crisp and sharp. When we create images these things should be in the forefront of our minds and not how incredibly sharp our image is.

Keith Connelly

Sigma South Africa Ambassador

“Keith Connelly is a mad passionate Wildlife Guide, Professional Photographer, Photographic Guide and Travel Addict.

He began his career as a guide working in the exclusive lodges of South Africa where he gained a great love for photography, but an even greater passion for the planet’s wildlife and love for the personal experiences and the pure joy that capturing and sharing nature’s best moments offer.”