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Early Birds get the Best Photos


When photographing outdoors we rely on the natural light and how it changes during the course of the day. The light just after sunrise is probably the most beautiful light a photographer can work with. It is warm, soft, gentle, promising, with still a whole day ahead, clean, innocent and pristine. In this light every subject from the model to the lion looks innocent, warm, gentle and lovable. Nothing has spoilt their beauty yet, the beauty of the light and the subject. Further in the day the light becomes harsh or dull, depending on the weather, contrasts are missing and subjects are over or underexposed. It’s hard working to get something look good. Towards sunset the light makes another major change. As if it wants to get rid of all what has happened during the day it’s cleaning and softening itself to be calm and gentle before setting for the night.
The hour just after sunrise and the hour just before sunset are called the golden hour. They are the best time for photographers. For those who find it difficult to get up early the light before sunset will be fine, but the best light is the light in the early morning. It’s hard to say why, but it might be the promise of a day to come what makes the light the better one and it will reflect in the images as well.
Choose your light and shoot away.
Happy shooting early birds.

Ute Sonnenberg,

How to Photograph Successfully Birds


What is a typical bird photo? An empty branch or a piece of blue sky. They are so incredibly fast that it is so hard to get them nicely in the picture.
First things first. Put your camera away and observe the birds, any birds. Learn about their behavior. When are they doing things, how are they doing things, what is an indication for a following movement, how does a bird show that he will take off.
Next. Get a feeling for the birds. Spend time with them to sense when they are calm and relaxed and when they are restless, anxious or stressed. That will influence their behavior and the way you can photograph them.
Then get your camera and practice. Sit with the birds in your garden or in the park and photograph them. Don’t think about composition or light; just photograph any bird that comes along. By doing that you will bring your observations together with the actual process of photographing and this synergy will result in great bird photos.
So in essence: observation, sensing, practicing.
Enjoy these great animals. Happy snapping.

Ute Sonnenberg,

Move the Photographer for the Eye Catching Moment


Sometimes on family occasions someone gets the idea, we need to take a photo. Everybody has to come together and stand in front of the house or any other great background the idea person choose. Then the group has to move to the left or right, people have to switch positions and move again, because now the light has changed. These can be a very annoying photo shoot everyone just wants to get over with. But what about moving the photographer? The photographer is only one person to move. And by moving the photographer new angles will come up with new light situations and probably more interesting photos. Interesting enough the photographer tends to stand still, nailed to the ground and wondering why the photo wouldn’t work instead of changing his/her position. That happens not only with family photos. It’s the same with buildings, wildlife, holiday photos, actually with all sorts of photos we take. Sometimes something caught our eye and we want to capture exactly that, but the light has changed until we got our camera ready or somebody walked into the composition. We definitely have to move to get anything out of it then. So it probably boils down to being fast enough to avoid moving the photographer around. But maybe only in these eye catching situations. With the family photo it might be, because nothing had caught our eye yet and by positioning the people we try to create an eye catching situation or with famous buildings we think we need to photograph them, although they do not catch our eye yet.
That means in essence that the photographer is in the absolute right position when something catches his/her eye and doesn’t need to move, shouldn’t move at all. If there is no eye catching moment, the photographer has to move until he/she experiences and eye catching moment with the subject and then they can stop moving and start shooting.

Happy eye catching.

Ute Sonnenberg,

How many Megapixels does One need for Great Photos?


There are plenty of articles on that subject with mostly the same essence, “megapixel don’t matter or do they?”.
The newest Nikon D800 seems to be the dream of every photographer. Eventually 36 megapixel for a reasonable price and the photos will be brilliant. If you are a fashion photographer and the images will be blown up to billboard size it matters, but are we all going that big? Besides that, the higher the number of megapixel the bigger the image files and the bigger and faster the memory cards need to be and the storage on computers and backup drives. It will take for ages to upload the images to the computer, the image software might slow down when dealing with the high amount of big files and the backup hard drive will be full quickly. For what all the trouble with the big files when the images will be in a family photo book? Not that the family photo book shouldn’t be of outstanding quality, but we won’t see the difference between 16 and 36 megapixels on this scale. Maybe its just the idea that we get more for less what let us being so excited, like 36 eggs for the price of 16. The D800 is a great camera with excellent technology, yet a great photo needs more than that and no megapixel can replace the skilled and intuitive photographer with the eye for composition and light. Team them up and the results are great, no matter 16 or 36 megapixel.
Happy snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg,

4x4 Safari Jeep vs. Minibus in Kenya's National Parks


The Kenyan National Park authorities decided to ban minibuses from the parks effective from 2014. What does that mean and why are they doing it.
There are two sorts of safari vehicles one can spot in the Masai Mara, the 4x4 Jeeps and the (mostly) Toyota minibuses or minivans. The minibuses are the cheaper safari transportation comparing to the 4x4 jeeps. They are just like the minibuses on the roads in any place in the world except from their hatch roof for the people to stand up for a good look at the wildlife. For the rest they are the same. From the technical point of view that means that they struggle on wet black cotton soil roads after the rain in the Mara (and other places) and get stuck easily. They are also not made to drive off road and on safari roads, which makes them not as comfortable and safe as a vehicle that was made for these conditions. Besides that the drivers are often not trained to drive in the bush and miss the knowledge of a safari guide. The minibus is the budget safari vehicle and that makes it a problem in two ways. They cause problems in the parks and they cannot deliver the safari experience a 4x4 can, but they enable more people to go on safari, because they are cheaper. This is a dilemma. People should be able to go on safari to experience this genuine beauty and nobody knows for how long it will be there. On the other hand a safari in a minibus is not quite a safari. A minibus feels like a minibus no matter where it drives, on the streets of Hamburg or in the Masai Mara, it does not allow the Africa feeling one actually comes for.
For all these reasons its good that the minibuses are banned from the parks, but what with the budget traveller? It can be better to safe money on the accommodation rather than on the vehicle. There are great camping safari opportunities with a 4x4 jeep that have even the advantage of having your own private 4x4 for the whole stay. It’s a great and genuine safari experience and it doesn’t have to cost much. Think about it when planning your safari trip to Africa.

Ute Sonnenberg,