The Best Wildlife Instagrammers to Follow

florianschulz.png

Awhile back I did an article on The Best French Bulldogs to follow on Instagram. Sure I was just killing time between flights, but it actually got a great response. It's prompted me to do another one in a similar vein, this time the best Wildlife Photographers on Instagram.

wildlifephoto.nature.png

WILDLIFEPHOTO.NATURE

Wow. Simply wow. Just makes you thankful that you're an apex predator right? Can you imagine sharing the same postcode as some of these guys? Your head would be on a constant swivel, wondering if today's the day you're going to be eaten alive.

Also I heard the lions always start with the wedding vegetables because it’s like a delicacy for them. What a way to go eh?

wwf.png

WWF International 

A very important account to follow if you want to support the protection of wildlife. I used to sponsor a Tiger back in the day through the WWF. His name was Rocky. It was actually quite rewarding. Rocky would send me letters letting me know how my five pound a month is helping him sustain a better life in the wilderness. Although I suspect he just spent it on fags and booze. Who can blame him.

kevin mitchell photo.png

KEVIN MITCHELL PHOTO 

From Kevin's bio. 'Landscape, wildlife and travel photography. Prints available through my website.' Kevin centres heavily on the birds. As we all do I suppose. A lot of owls in his photos.

Do you ever wonder why we consider owls to be wise? They really flatter to deceive owls don't they? They look clever, but really, have you ever seen an owl on Countdown? Ever seen an owl in a lab coat working on a vaccine to prevent the common cold?

Varon aditya.png

Varun Aditya

From his bio. 'Natgeo Nature Photographer of the year 2016 (1st prize)' His photos are truly spectacular. What's more amazing is that someone else must have beaten him to the NatGeo pic of the year 2017/18. I wonder if I send in my pictures of Charlie chewing on the recycling I'd be in with a shot of winning that thing.

florianschulz.png

Florian Schulz Visuals

From his bio 'Florian Schulz. Photographer | Filmmaker | Speaker Contributor to National Geographic. Passionate about protecting earth’s wilderness areas and its wildlife.'

There's something fascinating about bears right? I mean more so than any other animal. I love the fact that in all the survival guides that tell you to puff your chest out and make yourself big if confronted by a bear. Whatever you do don't run.

Does anyone believe that a Kodiak Bear weighing in at half a tonne in pure muscle is going to think twice about running scared just because mini-me is flexing his 38" chest? I'll run for the hills if it’s all the same.

laurent_ballesta.png

Laurent Ballesta

From his bio 'Laurent Ballesta - Leader of GOMBESSA Expeditions - Underwater Photographer - Marine biologist.'

Does anyone have an unhealthy fear of the ocean because they saw the movie Jaws way to young? Makes sense thought right? The land is our domain, the sea is theirs. Think of it this way. If you saw a Japanese Spider Crab at the bottom of your local swimming pool, you'd have the lifeguard remove it before you went anywhere near it.

Same but different in my eyes.

beverly joubert.png

Beverly Joubert

From her bio. 'Award-winning photographer & filmmaker. @dereckjoubert & I produce African wildlife conservation documentaries. More images at Natgeocreative.com'.

What's your favourite nature film? Mine has got to be Bigfoot & the Hendersons. Only messin'. Although that was a great film from what I remember. Did you know that the guy who played Bigfoot also played Predator? Anyway what was I on about. OK top of my head, best three wildlife movies:

  1. Turner & Hooch

  2. Planet of the Apes  (any of the Andy Serkis ones).

  3. The Incredible Journey

wildlife.png

Wildlife

Do you know what I completely forgot about that Grizzly documentary. About the dude that took his wife to Bear land and got eaten. Apparently the woman tried to stop the bear from eating him and gotten too.

Now THAT is the kind of woman I'm after. A woman that will jump on the back of a Grizzly Bear and stop it from eating me.

tommasonphoto.png

Tommas On Photo

From his bio. 'Wildlife Photographer. Tom Mason. Wildlife Photojournalist. YouTuber. Nikon Europe Optics Ambassador.'

Guys I'm running out of steam with the wildlife captions here. Forgive me, I'm just gaging to get a top ten listicle together. Does it really matter what I write? Nothing is going to trump to Elephant Seal head-butting each other right?

mp_wildlife.png

Mp Wildlife

And that's a wrap folks. I hope you've enjoyed this one. I think after this I'm going to book some tickets and get over to South Africa for a Safari.

How to Take Amazing Smartphone Pictures & How I Edit my Instagram Images

Photo by  Yen Vu  on  Unsplash

Photo by Yen Vu on Unsplash

Have you ever been wowed by a picture on Instagram, and then feel stupefied to find it was taken on an Smartphone? A friend recently posted an exotic photo from his trip to Thailand and it was like a screensaver. I asked him what camera he was using these days and to my bemusement (and mild embarrassment) he said, 'on my phone'.

I've had plenty of friends tell that posting native shots on Instagram gets way more traction. I.E taking a picture of something on your phone, in the moment, rather than a professional image taken on a high-resolution camera that has been edited in Lightroom, cropped etc. 

Someone that is on top of her game when it comes to making the most of the smartphone is Katrina Frazer, a pro-photographer known as the ‘Queen of light’. (That's a good name, sounds like the next fragrance from Beyonce). 

Along with the Nokia 7 plus, Katrina brings you her top tips for pro-style pics all from the tech in the palm of your hand.

 

Top Tips for Smartphone Pictures

Play with the shutter speed. Taking great pictures at night is just a nightmare. Notice you don't see too many night time fashion shoots on the streets of London? Lighting a shot is a massive operation and isn’t as simple as just pointing and clicking. 

To capture more detail, you need more light. A slow shutter speed keeps the camera lens open longer to let in more light.

* If you don’t have a tripod, try spreading your feet shoulder width apart and lean your back against a wall to create a tripod with your body

* If you have a desk/table/counter to lean on, plant both elbows on the platform - elbows should be wider than your shoulders

* Another way to steady a shaky hand is to take the picture as you slowly breathing out

Playing with shutter speed and movement in low light can help you create artistic effects.

Photo by  Arthur Osipyan  on  Unsplash

 

ISO-what? While your smartphone camera auto-settings might work well enough, one simple way you can ensure pro shots is by playing with your camera’s ISO settings.

For the perfect portrait or selfie that brings out the contours and shading of a face it’s better to use a low ISO.

To make the most of the detail this setting allows, you should ideally try to position the subject in natural light, with the light focused on their face. In these circumstances, flash will kill the image so try to use the light available along with adjusted ISO settings to create pro-portraits.

Some smartphones allow you to manually change settings in your camera and play with ISO levels, shutter speeds and aperture – getting it right is sometimes a matter of trial and error!

Pro Mode on Nokia smartphones is the perfect interface to give you full manual control over all your camera settings. Available on its latest models including the photo-fab Nokia 7 plus, Pro Mode allows you to easily access manual settings in one swipe. Combining innovative optical hardware and imaging algorithms, the Nokia 7 plus captures moments into photos that are true to life. It’s optimised and integrated for maximum performance and battery life, even when you are broadcasting your #Bothie videos (videos taken using the front and back camera simultaneously to create a split screen image) live on Facebook or YouTube.

Available in Black/Copper, the Nokia 7 plus is available to buy for a RRP of £349.99.

 

Other smartphone tips for Instagram

Whilst I don't post many pictures from the smartphone (I would say that only 5% of my Instagram images are smartphone taken). I do post vids and snaps on the stories. Here are a couple of tips:

  1. When taking a photo, always try and leave space in the picture for some text, arrows and emoji’s. 
  2. Always Geo-tag your location and tag someone that might enjoy the photo. 
  3. If you're in London hashtag #VisitLondon. I find that the best tag for outreach on stories. 

 

 

How I edit my photos for Instagram

I often get asked this and in all honesty I don't have a particular Lightroom preset or any template to use. What I tend to do is edit each photo individually but in a similar way to achieve my desired look and feel.

The first stage of a good Instagram image is an exceptional photographer who knows you and your style. My Instagram tends to be quite dark, shadowed, sharp, high contrast, simple colours and cool tones. So the first stage is to make sure your photographer knows your style, for me there is no point in getting professional images that have warm, pink, earthy tones to them because 1. It doesn't fit my feed and .2. If I then re-edit the image, I'll be pissing off the photographer and the quality of the image will deteriorate. 

If I have time on my hands, I tend to use the RAW files and edit in Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. Although this isn't always possible, so more often than not, I just use mobile apps to edit my images. 

So if I only have 5 minutes to edit and post a photo to Instagram, this is what I'll do:

1. Transfer the photo to your smartphone. Make sure the transfer doesn't affect the resolution of the image.

2. Open the photo in the Facetune App. I ONLY use this app for the Details and Whiten features. I do not and will never ever edit my face, spots, greys, wrinkles etc. If there are any green trees or bushes, I'll use the whiten feature to grey them out slightly. I'll then use the same feature to whiten any tungsten, amber light or features. If there are any details in the image that I would like to sharpen and highlight, I use the 'details' feature to go over, such as a watch face or pocket square. Export the image.

3. Use the above exported image to post to Instagram. Use the custom editing tool and never a preset filter, to create your own style. Again, it depends on the image but here is roughly what settings I use to edit in Instagram:

- Brightness 0
- Contrast 0
- Structure +2
- Warmth -30
- Saturation 0
- Colour 0
- Fade 0
- Highlights 0
- Shadows -100
- Vignette +80
- Tilt Shift 0
- Sharpen +35

Trial it out and let me know what you think.

 

How to: Up Your Street Photography Game INSTANTLY

No doubt about it, Street Photography is a wave to be jumped. It takes balls. There is no safe spaces or comfort zones to be found if you want to become a great street photographer. The hum drum reality of photography is that a picture will often define the personality of the photographer.

Whether it’s the way it’s been edited, the subject matter or the composition, the shot you present to the world on your chosen platform says something about you. I am by no means a vociferous street photographer. My appreciation skills for street photography far out weight my own accomplishments in this field. However, I’ve hung around enough photographers and expunged as much wisdom as I can on the subject, which I’d like to parley onto you.

165A7777 copy.jpg

1.   PICK YOUR SPOT

I have a pal that visits Westminster on his days off and just takes pictures of people coming out the underground. He says it’s the easiest, safest way of getting cool images. For one, people are coming into your space, you’re not invading there’s and also its super touristic. Most people think you’re taking pics of Big Ben over their shoulder. So pick a spot with high footfall, and just be patient.

2.  “OH WOW”

Another pal I know uses that line all the time when she sees someone dressed ostentatiously in the street. “Oh wow” she cries, “look at you! You have to let me take your portrait”. I’ve seen her in action and it’s dead easy, most people like having their ego fed, especially those that dress flamboyantly. Plus, using the word portrait instead of picture makes it sounds like you know what you’re doing.

Carl Thompson By Andrew Barber (OmniStyle)-12.jpg

3.  IT MIGHT NOT BE WASTED

Just because you didn’t get the perfect snap, doesn’t mean it should hit the cutting room floor. Street photography by its very definition should display facets of vulnerability. It should have its faults and equally, not just be forgiven for them, but appreciated and loved all the more. Bit like how you love your missus for farting in her sleep!

Same theory with street photography. No picture will be perfect, it might be in focus then something will be in the background distorting the aesthetic, or it’s in focus but the expression on a kid kicking bubble-balloons make him look a demon child. Still the essence has been captured. The moment has been distilled and it’s honest.

DSC_5607.jpg

4.  SHUTTER SPEED

This is a technical one. With shutter speed I tend to go for a small aperture. If you’re shooting without a tripod, on the go and need to encapsulate a decent depth of field, then a smaller aperture will help you with achieve a faster shutter speed. For further reading on this I recommend you look up James Maher, although he goes for an f/8, f,11 or f,16, I’m much more inclined to go lower and whack up the ISO’s, perhaps it’s because the UK light is less forgiving.

If you are like myself and use a SONY A7S2 Camera, you can read my blog post on how to setup your Sony a7s2 camera.

5.  LOOK AHEAD

People hustle down the streets at breakneck speeds these days. You have to check the deepest points on the horizons for your potential subjects. Thus, when they move into shot you can get them coming in to your space and it’s less obvious. Also, I’ve only ever had one person tell me to delete a picture on my camera. (And he was dodgy, probably caught him in the middle of a drug deal). Yes, you might be invading someone’s privacy by getting a shot of them, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s really nothing. It really is.

6.  EXHIBITIONS

You need to go to as many photo exhibitions as possible. Personally I love photo exhibitions and if I had the money I’d not only have a walk in wardrobe, a personal assistant who would walk Charlie and break in my new shoes, I’d also have a separate wing of the house dedicated to photography books. Sadly, they’re often super expensive. But there’s no better way to get inspired than by going to an exhibition. Maybe set one up? Why not hire a space and do one yourself?

In the meantime, here are a list of decent London based Street Photographers you can draw inspiration from:

5 HANDY WEBSITES FOR FREE STOCK PHOTOS

There is nothing better than creating your our unique personalised photography, however on occasions you may need inspiration or you might need a quick image that 'will do' for your latest blog post that needed to go live 3 hours ago. For a style and fashion blogger, creating the perfect image can be the most stressful and time-consuming aspect of 'the job'...if you havent already read it, check out my 'Day in the Life of a Fashion Bloggers Boyfriend' which will give you an insight into what goes into getting that perfect shot. I have been writing/blogging for a long time now and have gathered a collection of handy websites to use when looking for high-resolution copyright free images and here are my top 5.

Pixabay

All images are copyright free and you can copy, distribute, modify the images and are even copyright free for commercial use! No permission or payment although you can opt to buy the photographer a coffee. The search functionality is good as all images are tagged with metadata that is searchable. Sign-up required.

Life of Pix

Great layout, large images displayed by default, single click to download and no sign-up required. All images are high-resolution and no copyright restrictions and each photo is tagged with the photographer who took the photo. I always think it is a nice thing to credit the photographer whenever you use their photo, although not required. Life of Pix also has a bigger brother Life of Vids for copyright free videos...win win. Life Of Pix is curated by a web agency in Montreal that designs sites like Sunglasses and private clinic.

Gratisography

My favourite looking website with the images on the main page spanning the whole width of my mac allowing a larger and a greater number of thumbnails to be displayed with super fast loading times. Copyright free and also use for commercial purposes allowed. New photos added weekly by the same photographer who has a very unique, weird yet wonderful style.

Unsplash

Exceptional high-resolution images by some fine photographers and with the slogan 'Free do whatever you want' this is a great place to spend hours scrolling through their 1000's of images.  If you fancy yourself as a bit of a photographer or would simply like to give back to the website, simply sign-up, create a profile and start uploading your own images. You never know where your photos will end up.

Startup Stock Photos

If you are looking for office, work or meeting type photos this is the only place to look - they have it all. High-resolution and simple to download although no search or categories filter functionality, so be prepared to scroll through a lot of images to find the one you are after.

As always, thanks for reading and I hope you find these blogging tips useful.

Carl Thompson :)