A true icon of Africa, and one animal that I feel that every international guest needs to leave having seen – the Plains Zebra. To me it has always been a great animal to photograph, from their antics, posture all the way through to their uniquely striped patterns.
What drew my attention to this scene was how I could utilise a sharp focal and a shallow depth of field and the two other zebras in the foreground to draw the viewers into the image.
Composition in any form of photography is everything, you can take a very average scene but if your composition is near perfect, you can’t go too far wrong. The defocused effect of the zebra’s rumps act like a lead-in line to the subject giving it dominance within the image. The horizontal stripes also have an effect as your eye follows them to the subject and then the vertical stripes of the subject zebra’s fore quarters, creates a contrast leading to the eye.
- Camera – Nikon D4S
- Lens and Focal length – Nikkor 200-400mm F4 VRII @400mm
Settings used to capture this image
- ISO – 2200
- Aperture –f4
- Shutter – 1/8000
Editing used on this image
If we start at the top, I needed to crop the image slightly as there was too much of the foreground zebras, and as they were just assisting the lead-in from the viewers eye, I decided to leave a little of them out. Not too much though, as they do play a major role in pulling off the image. As I shoot in RAW, I leave my White Balance at Auto and trust the camera to get it right. However, on this occasion I felt that the White Balance didn’t get the colour of the stunning evening light, so I increased the temperature from 4900K to 5591K. Then it was increasing the contrast, this is probably the slider I use the most, just to add a little definition. The last thing that was needed was to use the Vignetting slider taking it down to -34 giving the edges a little extra darkness, this aids in drawing the viewers eye into the focal point of the image.
It’s not always about the “Big 5”, despite that being a huge attraction, look beyond that. If the scene is good and the composition is right, capture it!