Photo Anatomy: capturing un-tamed moments in the wild

Photo Anatomy: how a wildlife photographer captures un-tamed moments

In our Photo Anatomy series on Digital Camera World we select pictures by famous photographers and explain point by point what makes them work.

In our latest instalment award-winning wildlife photographer Bence Máté reveals how he captured a rare confrontation between a hummingbird and a snake.

Photo Anatomy: how a wildlife photographer captures un-tamed moments

Shallow depth of field
By using a telephoto lens and throwing the background completely out of focus, Bence has concentrated attention on the bird and snake. The branch provides context and a frame.

Long lens
Bence captured this unusual stand-off with his Nikon D300 fitted with a 300mm f/2.8 lens. He was only able to fire off a few frames before the hummingbird flew away.

Supplementary lighting
Rain was falling and the light was poor, so Bence used two flash units – one in front and the other behind the action. The flashes enabled him to capture the motion of the hummingbird’s wings.

Restricted colour palette
The photograph uses different shades of green to striking effect. The bright green snake and moss, and the hummingbird’s mid-green plumage, stand out brilliantly against the muted, darker green background.

Expecting the unexpected
Bence was photographing hummingbirds in Monteverde, Costa Rica, when he noticed they had become agitated.
He soon realised why: a side-striped palm pit viper was coiled on a nearby branch.

We Say
“Getting into the situation where you can photograph something like this is one thing, but this picture could easily have been ruined by the poor light. Using flash to supplement daylight gives wildlife images added impact, and allows you to work with faster shutter speeds.”
Chris Rutter, technique editor

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