The Wild Eye View website and blog is all about trying to inspire people to protect the environment and our natural heritage so that future generations can enjoy what we have the pleasure in enjoying today. It is also a wonderful way of escaping the pressures and stress of modern life. It’s a fantastic hobby that has taken us to places and shown us sights that we would never have otherwise visited or seen. What makes it interesting is that every trip is different, even if it’s to a place we have frequently visited before.
When we decided to start this website to show off our photographs we really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. I’m not particularly good with computers, but fortunately Stuart is, and it’s his efforts that make the site and blog look the way it does. Since we started the number of visitors to the site grows exponentially every year. Last year (2011) the site was visited by 1.6 million unique visitors, an increase of 40% over the year before and something that is way beyond our expectation. This interest motivated us to write a blog about our weekly trips and their results. Its where we show some of our favorite photographs that have an interesting story behind them.
We sincerely appreciate the support of the regular visitors to the blog even though it is sometimes quite hard to keep things fresh and interesting.
I’m embarrassed to say that we are not particularly knowledgeable about birds and I frequently have to refer to the internet and reference books to identify what we have photographed. Every shot is naturally lit partly because I don’t think its right to blind wildlife and birds and partly because shooting in low light makes the whole thing more challenging and interesting. I only shoot in Raw and apart from some cropping and basic adjustments there is very little Photoshop manipulation. So what you see is more or less what is coming out of the camera.
Of course it helps to have good equipment and good lenses are essential. But in the end it’s patience, perseverance and a feel for the situation and the mood of whatever you are photographing that counts. Rightly anticipating what will happen next helps a lot when it comes to getting good shots of unusual situations. It also helps a lot if you have a good assistant and bird spotter like Lynette. She doesn’t miss much!
When photographing birds it’s all about light and background, and trying to get a few frames off before they are gone. Basically with birds and wildlife you get a one-off chance, and you have to make the most of it while you can. So I recommend you shoot as much as you can while you can, because you will need it. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone back home and downloaded the frames to find I should have taken more because what I got just wasn’t worth keeping.
In terms of kit, I’m a Canon guy. My main camera is an EOS 1D Mk IV, but I also have an EOS 5D Mk II which is a fantastic camera. It doesn’t have the rapid shooting capability of the 1D, but it’s brilliant for wildlife, landscapes and macro work and the quality of its images are superb.
For lenses I use an EF 600mm f/4L IS USM, sometimes with a 1.4X converter mounted on a Gitzo tripod fitted with a Wimberley head for most of the bird photography work. I also have a EF 100mm f/2.8 L Macro USM, an EF 24-105f/4L IS USM and an EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM telephoto. More recently I have purchased the new EF 300mm f/2.8 lens which is absolutely pin sharp.
Since we started we have been constantly questioned about where we go and how to get there so the Places of Interest page is where we hope to answer these questions as we know how difficult it is when you have never been somewhere before. When we seriously started photographing birds in Malaysia it was hard to find those special places where the birds hang out. We spent months sweating it out with limited results. As time has gone by we have met other enthusiasts and are slowly building a mind map of where to go when that ties into the seasonal shifts of the Malaysian forests and its birds. Simple things like knowing when a certain tree that is well positioned to facilitate photography of its canopy life is fruiting makes a big difference to the results of a trip. So, as things develop we hope to add real useful information to the Places of Interest page so others can just go to the right spots at the right time.
Africa is the opposite, its home. We know where to go and how to get there, but others don’t. So again, its a work in progress, but the aim of the Places page is to try and make it easy for others who want to follow, to follow.
What else can I say……Let’s stop habitat destruction whether it’s in Africa, Asia or South America. It is terrible what’s going on especially in Borneo and Kalimantan in Indonesia. Our kids and their kids are going to need this. Let’s not eat shark fin soup, it’s killing the oceans. Let’s also vigorously demand the end to the poaching of Rhino’s and other wildlife in Africa.
Future generations should be given the opportunity to enjoy seeing wildlife as we know it.
And finally as a last word to aspiring photographers, go out and buy a camera and go take photographs of whatever interests you. It’s a fantastic hobby. You will never regret it!