Interview with Wild Life Photographer Chris Weston - Digital Photography School
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Interview with Wild Life Photographer Chris Weston

Today I am excited to introduce you to wildlife photographer Chris Weston who has agreed to answer a few questions about his photography.

chris-weston-wildlife-photographer.jpg

How did you first get into photography?

When I was ten years old my dad gave me a Nikkormat 35mm camera, which got me involved in photography. At the same time, I had a fascination with animal behaviour. I started to use my camera to record animal behaviour to help me learn about it, which is where photography and wildlife came together. 

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?

The one thing I learned that transformed my photography most is that photographs are your voice, a way to express yourself. Therefore, before you head out into the field with your camera, it’s essential you have something interesting to say.

What type of camera do you use most?

My main cameras are Nikon D3’s, which I use for all my wildlife field work. Mostly because the exceptional image quality at relatively high ISOs (i.e. 1600) enables me to work in low light conditions, something I often face as a wildlife photographer. I also have a D700, which I use as a back-up and when traveling light, and a D3X, which I use mostly for landscape work.

What is your favorite lens?

I’m a huge fan of wide-angles and short focal length lenses, even for wildlife, and have a fish-eye lens and a 24-70MM zoom. But my favorite all-round workhorse lens is the 70-200MM, which I use more than any other.

Could you share a favorite recent image and tell us a little of the back story behind it

I first visualized this image (pictured above) when I was stargazing one night in Zimbabwe. When I got home, I began to analyze how it could be done. When I returned to Africa a few months later, I set out with this image in mind. It’s a single frame (not a composite) and is a mix of natural light (background) and flash light (foreground). The foreground was in complete darkness. In fact, it was so dark I could barely see my tripod and had to rely on sound to determine when the lions moved. I have to say, standing in the bush in complete darkness, knowing there are lions not more than 30-feet away but being unable to see them, is perhaps one of the craziest things I’ve ever done.

Do you have a tip for beginner to intermediate photographers that will help them improve their photography?

Something I still do to this day is, before I press the shutter I ask myself the question “How would I caption this image?” If the only answer I can conjure is the species name, then I wait for a better shot.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • Tyler

    I’d do a lot for photography, but I would have never had done what he done, I would have used a remote and hid up a tree or something.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/gipukan/ Rob

    Nice shot indeed!

    Gone try a similar shot that I missed before in ishasha Uganda where the tree climbing lions live in July when there with friends.

    Also,

    Did one missed attempt to capture a grazing hippo next to our pitched tent in Lake Mburo in Uganda that I hope to repeat there in July.

    I will have my ef-100-400Lis on it and my flash ready triggered remote. Hope only my kids don’t wake up by the shutter :)

  • http://www.burrard-lucas.com Will

    Hey nice shot! We have done something very similar (unfortunately not with lions!)
    http://blog.burrard-lucas.com/2009/02/behind-the-shot-caiman-under-stars/

  • http://karenstuebingsdailyshoot.wordpress.com/ Karen Stuebing

    That is an awesome shot.

    I imagine most of us, at least me, will ever get to photograph lions outside a zoo. There’s always deer though. They seem to be everywhere. Or maybe our pets can count. :)

    At any rate, the tips still apply no matter what you shoot.

    I just love the one about having a caption in mind first before taking the photo. Ought to save wear and tear on the shutter. I know it will for me.

  • http://tylerwainright.com Tyler Wainright

    No way I’d sit 30′ from lions in the middle of the night! Maybe that’s why I like taking pictures of flowers in my backyard :-)

  • calvin or

    wow.. this is really nice.. but how did you do this kind of shot? :)

  • ra

    So, what did he caption this image?

  • Leo Angelo

    Are those stars?

  • http://www.discjockeyservice.org ross

    I thought that was rain at first, but yeah, it looks like stars. Awesome!

  • calvin or

    yep.. that is stars

    camera used with long exposure (BULB SETTING) but then how did he manage to shoot the stars with LONG EXPOSURE while there is an animal walking?? :))

    to be able to have that kind of shot i mean the background you’ll be needing a very looooong exposure..

    hmmm..

  • http://www.harrisburgpersonalinjury.com/ Harrisburg Attorney

    Excellent interview. Thanks for the photography tips and camera advice.

  • http://www.wipersonalinjuryattorneys.com/ Wisconsin Lawyer

    Excellent interview. Thanks for the great tips and camera advice.

  • Ivor

    Calvin

    The answer is in the description of how he took the picture – think flash modes.

  • Quentin

    Would love to learn how this photo was taken. I guess if it was completely dark, then is it just a bulb exposure (for what, 20 minutes maybe?) and since the only light source is the flash you get the image of the lions without them blurring? But again, would be nice to know the aperture and length of the exposure. I’ve just started trying to get star trails like these, but don’t think I’ll have much success until I drive far outside of the city…. nice shot.

  • Les

    The way it looks to me, or at least how I would have done it , would be. Haveing the shutter open in BULB mode for the stars streaking in earths rotation, handhold flash unit(eg:Nikon Speedflash), when you hear a noise, point flash in general direction, depress the flash button on the back of flash, and, voila…… You have a shot like above..

  • BERNARD PATERSON

    This is not an interview, it`s six questions max 2 minutes
    Must try harder to keep readers interested, great image of the lions though.

  • http://digital-photography-school.com/ Darren Rowse

    Hi Bernard – sorry it wasn’t to your liking but photographers are busy people so we try to tailor our interviews (generally a series of questions… and answers) to their situation and ability to participate. If you have any contacts with photographers willing to do something more in depth we do take contributions from volunteers within our community if you’d like to participate :-)

  • Shoesanne

    Wow, 30 feet away from lions? I would definitely put my life on the line for a photo like this. Sounds like an exhilarating experience for the photographer too. Good job, Chris!! Photography truly is your passion :)

    And thanks for posting this, Darren.

  • BERNARD PATERSON

    Hi Darren.
    I`m not saying it wasn`t to my liking, quite the contrary, I was just a bit disappointed it wasn`t a longer piece and maybe a bit more in depth.
    I do value you`r articles.

Some older comments

  • BERNARD PATERSON

    June 14, 2010 10:25 pm

    Hi Darren.
    I`m not saying it wasn`t to my liking, quite the contrary, I was just a bit disappointed it wasn`t a longer piece and maybe a bit more in depth.
    I do value you`r articles.

  • Shoesanne

    June 14, 2010 03:50 pm

    Wow, 30 feet away from lions? I would definitely put my life on the line for a photo like this. Sounds like an exhilarating experience for the photographer too. Good job, Chris!! Photography truly is your passion :)

    And thanks for posting this, Darren.

  • Darren Rowse

    June 11, 2010 10:04 pm

    Hi Bernard - sorry it wasn't to your liking but photographers are busy people so we try to tailor our interviews (generally a series of questions... and answers) to their situation and ability to participate. If you have any contacts with photographers willing to do something more in depth we do take contributions from volunteers within our community if you'd like to participate :-)

  • BERNARD PATERSON

    June 11, 2010 07:18 pm

    This is not an interview, it`s six questions max 2 minutes
    Must try harder to keep readers interested, great image of the lions though.

  • Les

    June 11, 2010 12:41 pm

    The way it looks to me, or at least how I would have done it , would be. Haveing the shutter open in BULB mode for the stars streaking in earths rotation, handhold flash unit(eg:Nikon Speedflash), when you hear a noise, point flash in general direction, depress the flash button on the back of flash, and, voila...... You have a shot like above..

  • Quentin

    June 11, 2010 04:13 am

    Would love to learn how this photo was taken. I guess if it was completely dark, then is it just a bulb exposure (for what, 20 minutes maybe?) and since the only light source is the flash you get the image of the lions without them blurring? But again, would be nice to know the aperture and length of the exposure. I've just started trying to get star trails like these, but don't think I'll have much success until I drive far outside of the city.... nice shot.

  • Ivor

    June 11, 2010 01:59 am

    Calvin

    The answer is in the description of how he took the picture - think flash modes.

  • Wisconsin Lawyer

    June 10, 2010 06:52 am

    Excellent interview. Thanks for the great tips and camera advice.

  • Harrisburg Attorney

    June 10, 2010 06:45 am

    Excellent interview. Thanks for the photography tips and camera advice.

  • calvin or

    June 9, 2010 10:12 pm

    yep.. that is stars

    camera used with long exposure (BULB SETTING) but then how did he manage to shoot the stars with LONG EXPOSURE while there is an animal walking?? :))

    to be able to have that kind of shot i mean the background you'll be needing a very looooong exposure..

    hmmm..

  • ross

    June 9, 2010 01:26 pm

    I thought that was rain at first, but yeah, it looks like stars. Awesome!

  • Leo Angelo

    June 8, 2010 12:40 pm

    Are those stars?

  • ra

    June 8, 2010 10:41 am

    So, what did he caption this image?

  • calvin or

    June 7, 2010 04:09 pm

    wow.. this is really nice.. but how did you do this kind of shot? :)

  • Tyler Wainright

    June 7, 2010 01:37 pm

    No way I'd sit 30' from lions in the middle of the night! Maybe that's why I like taking pictures of flowers in my backyard :-)

  • Karen Stuebing

    June 6, 2010 11:24 pm

    That is an awesome shot.

    I imagine most of us, at least me, will ever get to photograph lions outside a zoo. There's always deer though. They seem to be everywhere. Or maybe our pets can count. :)

    At any rate, the tips still apply no matter what you shoot.

    I just love the one about having a caption in mind first before taking the photo. Ought to save wear and tear on the shutter. I know it will for me.

  • Will

    June 6, 2010 07:49 pm

    Hey nice shot! We have done something very similar (unfortunately not with lions!)
    http://blog.burrard-lucas.com/2009/02/behind-the-shot-caiman-under-stars/

  • Rob

    June 6, 2010 07:32 am

    Nice shot indeed!

    Gone try a similar shot that I missed before in ishasha Uganda where the tree climbing lions live in July when there with friends.

    Also,

    Did one missed attempt to capture a grazing hippo next to our pitched tent in Lake Mburo in Uganda that I hope to repeat there in July.

    I will have my ef-100-400Lis on it and my flash ready triggered remote. Hope only my kids don't wake up by the shutter :)

  • Tyler

    June 6, 2010 06:07 am

    I'd do a lot for photography, but I would have never had done what he done, I would have used a remote and hid up a tree or something.

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