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Advice for Gorilla Photography

Gorilla Rwanda

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#21 Photo-Kiboko

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 01:44 PM

@Alexander33

 

I was in Ruanda in July 2008.

The Gorillas (Group 13) was just behind the border of the national park.

The gorillas were in an open clearing in bright sunshine.

The clearing was small. The distance was about 4 to 5 meter.

Some small gorillas played and have been "rolled" about a half meter in front of my feet.

We photographed in a line. Suddenly, a Gorilla came from behind and has pushed through the line of people.

Some people hat body contact.

 

I have used to cameras:

D200 with 18-70 3.5/5.6 (or was is already the 16-85?) (about 30%) and

D300 with 70-200/2.8. (about 70%)

During the visit, I have included a TC17 for Portraits.

The 200-400/4 stayed in the hotel, to reduce mass

 

I bought the 70-200/2.8 for this trip.

However, I have used the lens on all following trips.

It is still one of my favourite lenses.

 

In the bright sunlight f/2.8 was not needed.

But the gorillas can be in dense vegetation and it can be a dark, cloudy or even a rainy day.

 

Dynamics - the distance between white and black - is very important in the rain forest.

High ISO reduces the usable dynamic range. f/2.8 might help here, too.

I recommend to shoot in raw (or raw + jpg) for the gorillas to have more freedom in post processing.

 

I recommend under exposure.

Gorillas are black. But the hairs have reflections in the sun.

Without under exposure you will get "grey" gorillas.


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Best regards

Bernd

 

Benin, Eritrea, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya (2x), Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Namibia, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania (3x), Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe


#22 IamFisheye

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 03:55 PM

 

Appreciate the book recommendation, IamFisheye -- will check that out.

 

 

 

Well, maybe not.  This looks like an incredible book, but the only place I can find it for sale is on Amazon.uk for......£999.  Really?  Time for Andy Rouse to release a second edition!  Or maybe I can find one trolling eBay.  

 

Wow, I didn't know it was commanding such ridiculously high prices.  I've got a limited edition with numbered signed Giclee print at home maybe I should sell it and buy a D500  :unsure:


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#23 dewetter

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 02:32 PM

My advice would be to take as little as possible. Choose one lens and make it work.
I had the same dilemma before my gorilla trip to Virunga last year. In the end I took a gamble and walked into the forest only with my 55mm... Which worked just fine.
I got a lot closer to the gorillas than I thought and the rangers actually had a hard time to keep the one gorilla from touching me the whole time!
Also remember to put down your camera for a while and take it all in. The time just flies once you get there.
Happy planning
image.jpeg
image.png

Edited by dewetter, 29 March 2016 - 02:48 PM.

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#24 TheToasterBoy

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 07:44 AM

Hi everyone - I am new to this forum and would greatly appreciate some advice on lens choices for photographing chimps and gorillas for my upcoming trip to Uganda and Rwanda in June. I am about to buy a Lumix (I currently use an entry level Canon DSLR and 70-300 on safari) and am in a bit of a quandary about lenses. Reading these posts I am aware that a fast lens is ideal but I am aware these come at a cost (I am very much an amateur!) My first thought was to take one lens - the 14-140 Lumix, but I'm not sure this will be adequate. In my ideal world I would have a fast wide and a fast long telephoto. Any suggestions from more experienced safari photographers would be really appreciated. Thanks!



#25 pault

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 05:52 AM

@TheToasterBoy It all depnds what you want to get out of it, I think. Mileage varies. The faster your lens and the higher you can push the ISO, the better. You'll need longer focal lengths with chimps than gorillas - they are smaller, move faster and are more likely to climb tree. The females and young may not want to be too close to you at all. You'll also often need faster shutter speeds with chimps. I think f/5.6 is possible for some shots, but it will restrct you unless you can go to a very high ISO. A lot of slightly shaky chimp shots cab be expected.

 

If an f/4 lens or better is an option, it'll make a differnce.

 

A 14 -140 is a 28-280 to me. It's all right for the rainforest actually, but quite short for more open environments.

 

Verdict (guessing): Possible, although i wouldn't.


Waiting again... for the next time again


#26 Botswanadreams

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 06:02 AM

For photographing chimps @TheToasterBoy you should go for the habituation day in Kibale. It will give you much more opportunities over the whole day than the normal 1 hour. 


“All I wanted to do was get back to Africa. We had not left it, yet, but when I would wake in the night I would lie, listening, homesick for it already."

Ernest Hemingway

 

www.botswanadreams.de

 


#27 pault

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 01:26 AM

@IamFisheye  Any suggestions for Micro Four Thirds for chimps and gorillas? 


Waiting again... for the next time again


#28 Tulips

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 11:07 AM

I used a Panasonic G7 last year in South Africa and on the Chobe. I was happy with my photos. I mainly used a 100-300 lens. I also have a 40-150 and 12-40. The 12-40 is an f2.8.

If the gorillas are as close as I've read in trip reports, I plan to use the 12-40 on my treks later this year.

#29 bushbaby

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Posted 05 April 2017 - 09:16 AM

In Uganda for Chimps I had to use 300 mm for good shots since they were a bit far - only 1 male came close to the group (I was doing the habituation and not 1 hour - though we called it quits at lunch). For Gorillas, I realized 300 is on the longer side. But since it was 2.8 it did give me some great close ups and also for the babies its great. Ideal in my mind is 70-200 f28 for Gorillas. There will always be times when even 70 is on the longer side !

You can check my Uganda album in my website if you wish and the exif should give you an idea of FL used. (More importantly, be prepared to push to the highest acceptable ISO in your camera)


Edited by bushbaby, 05 April 2017 - 09:18 AM.

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#30 amybatt

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Posted 05 April 2017 - 12:22 PM

I'd be prepared to shoot in both bright sun as well as dark forest.  On our treks, the gorilla monkey trek was pretty dark due to high canopy but it was wide open around us.  The first day with gorillas was out in the wide open with only dense brush to about shoulder height.  I was fighting with sun going in and out of clouds for the entire hour and my photos are indicative of that.  I'd assumed it'd be a lot darker.  The second gorilla trek was more like the golden monkey day, with very high thick canopy and dark bamboo forest.  Our first gorilla group was pretty sedate, so movement wasn't really a consideration, but our second group was active with mating adults and very quick babies.  Prepare for any eventuality!  I felt that visiting our local zoo which has a large gorilla family that was indoors in moderate light was pretty decent training for the darker day.


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#31 Alexander33

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Posted 06 April 2017 - 12:32 AM

Well, a year has now passed, and we are about 3 months out from our trip. Here's where I've ended up:

Nikon released a new 70-200 f/2.8 that is getting stellar performance reviews, so I took the plunge and bought one a few months ago. I haven't had a whole lot of opportunities to use it yet, but I've been very impressed with what I've seen so far. It will definitely be my primary lens on the gorilla treks. In the bigger picture, I also think that it will nicely compliment my primary wildlife lens, which is the 200-500, so I've at least convinced myself that this is a good long-term investment.

I wish I could have so easily resolved the question of whether I should buy a full-frame camera. We both shoot with the Nikon D7200, and we have a spare D7200 that we use for incidental wide-angle shots and as a back-up should we ever encounter problems. Birds are a frequent and favorite subject, so the extra "reach" we get from a crop sensor camera is a very important consideration for us. I've been able to push the D7200 to ISO 3200 in rainforest settings with decent success fairly consistently (though not always).

With that in mind, I have considered buying a full frame D750. Its controls are almost identical to those of the D7200, so switching between the two would be pretty seamless. The D750 reportedly provides at least a 1-stop improvement in ISO performance over the D7200. Being able to make acceptable photos at ISO 6400 would really open up some opportunities for me.

But therein lies the rub. Just how many opportunities would there be?

The reason I've held off is that I have doubts about how often we'd actually use a full frame camera after this trip concludes. Except on those all-too-infrequent occasions when we are fortunate enough to be riding around in a jeep on safari in Africa, we're on foot, and I don't want to carry a lot of gear.

That means, other than in very unusual situations (like a gorilla trek, and with a porter at that), we're taking our crop sensor cameras on the hike in order to maximize our chances with birds, smaller mammals, and the like. And even when we have been in a jeep on safari, I've rarely lamented having the extra reach we enjoy with the crop sensor.

Still, the noticeably better ISO performance of the D750 tugs at me. While the new f/2.8 lens will certainly be of use to me in low light, J. will still have the 80-400 f/4.5-5.6 (newest version). This nagging voice in the back of my mind keeps telling me it would be great to pair it with a D750. This trip may very well be the only opportunity we ever have to see gorillas in the wild, and it's important to me that our photos be the best that we can reasonably manage. (Emphasis on the word "reasonably").

My brain tells me I shouldn't do it, and that a better long-term plan would be to save the money and apply it some day in the future toward a new generation of DX cameras with improved ISO performance.

We'll see if I have the willpower......

P.S. I did consider renting a D750, but the rental for the duration of our trip would be close to $700. For $1800, I could buy a bread-new one. Sure, that's more money, but at least I'd end up with the camera in my kit.

Edited by Alexander33, 06 April 2017 - 12:36 AM.

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."  -- Unknown 


#32 bushbaby

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Posted 06 April 2017 - 07:07 AM

I checked some of my best gorilla pics and saw that I was at closer to 5000 ISO to get 300 speeds. With your 70-200 Id assume you can go lower on speeds to say 200 and then your 3200 ISO should work pretty ok. Ofcourse the dynamic range and image quality of FF is quite a bit different. If you also shoot landscapes like I do then going FF is a no brainer. 


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#33 amybatt

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Posted 06 April 2017 - 12:10 PM

@Alexander33 if you need a bad influence to help sway your decision, the Sony I just bought is far too bulky for me to lug around with me on non-safari trips...so in essence I bought a pretty expensive toy to take on any future safaris and to shoot photos of my cats at home...  :o :o


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#34 xelas

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Posted 07 April 2017 - 05:15 PM

@Alexander33 a comment on your statement "I've rarely lamented having the extra reach we enjoy with the crop sensor." - there is no extra reach with a crop sensor. It is only extra cropping ability that a crop sensor has (in case that a crop sensor has same or similar # of pixels). But cropping too much has its own disadvantages, as if subject is too far from the sensor, all kind of interferences / disturbances affect the final IQ.

 

If you are investing into top shelf glass (and that is the right direction) then you should add a FF sensor to your equipment. D750 is known as the tool for everything; go get it and enjoy it!


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#35 Alexander33

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 04:34 AM

@xelas

I do understand the difference, which is why I put the word "reach" in quotation marks the first time I used it, but let's not get too technical. The bottom line is, if you take a photograph of a small bird with a full frame camera and the same photo from the exact same place with a crop sensor camera, you are going to get a more close-up image of the subject with the crop sensor camera. In order to achieve the same sized image of that photo shot with the full frame camera, you would have to crop post-production, and depending on the particular circumstances, this could affect image quality.

The D7200 and D750 are both 24 MP, so, all things being equal, an uncropped image from the D7200 is likely to be better than an image from the D750 that has been cropped post-production to the equivalent image size of the subject taken with the D7200.

If you typically shoot smaller subjects and you can't get very close to them, such as with birds and small mammals, a crop sensor camera definitely has advantages and allows you to capture detail that you might not otherwise be able to capture.

This isn't going to be an issue with gorillas that are 7 meters away. A full frame camera with the lenses that we have would be fine -- in fact, probably better. The issue I struggle with is how often I'd use a full frame camera at other times, say, in in Cental and South America, when I need all the "reach" (quotation marks again) that I can get versus the better ISO performance you get from a full frame.

Definitely on the fence here.

Edited by Alexander33, 08 April 2017 - 04:54 AM.

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"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."  -- Unknown 


#36 Alexander33

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 04:56 AM

(And I'm definitely still learning here, so if I'm wrong about anything, do let me know!).

Edited by Alexander33, 08 April 2017 - 05:00 AM.

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."  -- Unknown 


#37 xelas

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 08:04 AM

@Alexander33 I think the rabbit lies in this sentence "The D7200 and D750 are both 24 MP, so, all things being equal, ..." ... because the second most important part of the IQ equation, the sensor, is NOT the same.

I have compared images done with D7200 and with D610 in DX mode, and to my eye, the image from D610 has better IQ. But those are only very unscientific, very personal and subjective observations.

When the subject were to be cropped further (above 50%), then the pixel density of D7200 sensor shows its benefits over the D610 sensor

 

Anyway I am not trying to get into too much details. Fact is, a great photo can be done with either camera! Having 3 x D7200, it is time for you to get also a D750  :)  :D (it is soon nice to help spending other person's money :P ).


Edited by xelas, 08 April 2017 - 08:05 AM.


#38 AmyT

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 02:36 PM

 

 

Appreciate the book recommendation, IamFisheye -- will check that out.

 

 

 

Well, maybe not.  This looks like an incredible book, but the only place I can find it for sale is on Amazon.uk for......£999.  Really?  Time for Andy Rouse to release a second edition!  Or maybe I can find one trolling eBay.  

 

Wow, I didn't know it was commanding such ridiculously high prices.  I've got a limited edition with numbered signed Giclee print at home maybe I should sell it and buy a D500  :unsure:

 

 

@Alexander33... if you are still looking for the book, SUPER-LIBRARIAN is HERE!!   :P

 

AbeBooks is a used (and new) bookseller.  You can get the book from the UK for $25 here ... https://www.abebooks...956457517&sts=t

 

(I just ordered one.)



#39 COSMIC RHINO

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Posted 09 April 2017 - 04:19 AM

from the little I have heard about this, it is important how you point your camera so the gorillas do not feel threatened 

 

I did not take a whole lot of notice of who it is best done, as with my altitude sickness issues, going to see gorillas is something I can't do

 

 

your guide will be able to give advice on this


Wild Africa is in my blood. All life is sacred and interconnected. for the animals are fellow nations caught in the splendor and trevail of the earth.


#40 Alexander33

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Posted 10 April 2017 - 07:26 PM

@xelas

 

Fact is, a great photo can be done with either camera! Having 3 x D7200, it is time for you to get also a D750  :)  :D (it is soon nice to help spending other person's money :P ).

 

So true!  In fact, if memory serves me correctly, it was I urging you to upgrade about this time last year.  But then, what happens when they come out with the D7300, D510, D760.  Oh, my.  I will be headed toward bankruptcy if I don't exercise some discipline.  (I'm just not sure I'm going to manage it this time!!  :unsure: ).

 

 

@AmyT

 

 

 

AbeBooks is a used (and new) bookseller.  You can get the book from the UK for $25 here ... https://www.abebooks...956457517&sts=t

 

(I just ordered one.)

 

 

Yes!  A few months ago I actually found one for about that same price, maybe less, perhaps from the same dealer.  Not exactly in brand new condition, but still......It's an inspiring book.  You'll enjoy it.  Thanks!

 

 

@bushbaby

 

I checked some of my best gorilla pics and saw that I was at closer to 5000 ISO to get 300 speeds. With your 70-200 Id assume you can go lower on speeds to say 200 and then your 3200 ISO should work pretty ok. Ofcourse the dynamic range and image quality of FF is quite a bit different. If you also shoot landscapes like I do then going FF is a no brainer. 

 

Thanks for checking on that ISO.  ISO 5000 with a 300 sec. S/S -- yikes, that's cutting it close.  Thanks for checking, and I agree with your assessment. It's all a matter of trade-offs and compromises, isn't it?  

 

Totally agree, for landscapes, full frame is the way to go.  So far, my landscape photography has merely been incidental to the nature and wildlife on which I'm focused.  It's nice to get a few environmental and landscape shots, but they've been so few and far between, having a dedicated camera body for that just hasn't been worth it.  But now that I'm faced with this decision, it may push me over the edge.  We'll see.....

 

By the way, thanks for the link to your portfolio earlier.  Beautiful work!


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"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."  -- Unknown 






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