Read about one volunteer photographer’s journey from “hardly knowing how my camera worked“ to capturing some amazing wildlife photos.

For my work, I travel a lot and I’ve visited many interesting countries and places. And, what’s the nicest way to show people what you’ve seen? Yep! A photo.

So, on my travels I did take lots but mostly with a small digital camera or with my mobile … good enough I thought. But, last year I found out that there’s more to photography than just taking a picture. Actually, two things:

1. How it made me at ease and forget all the busyness around me, just enjoying the moment (the here and now)

2. How to show people how you’ve experienced everything.

My husband gave me a nice camera for Christmas and starting fiddling about with it…. Mostly in “auto” or “prepared” settings. Nice! But, I wanted more and decided to come to Dumela Lodge in South Africa to take part in the Wildlife Photography and Conservation Program, which involved a workshop, heading out on safari and learning how to photograph – nice combo I thought. Since then, I’ve learned that it’s not just clicking around …

Aperture, shutter speed, rule of thirds, frame in frame, balance, need I go on? Aaarrrghh! There was so much to learn and to discover. What an experience and overload in the first week… Hardly knowing how my camera worked, me and my fellow photographers had to go on a mission to look around with a different point of view and try to tell a story…

With a great teacher, Tim Feherty, who explained how to use the camera efficiently, the do’s and don’ts and how look with a different eye, we took photographs which were critiqued afterwards by our fellow students and Mr. Feherty himself. What I found out is that what we really see with our own eyes is not easy to show in pictures.

The pictures taken look nice on your little display on the back of your camera, but unfortunately when you look on your computer it’s a disappointment. Not in focus, half of what you wanted is on the picture, over or underexposed, a little thing in front of it, etc., etc. It’s not at all how you saw it and thought it was going to be.

After the photo critiques, you go out again and take the info that has been given (where to stand – how to capture the subject – what do you want to tell with your pictures), into practice. At least 3 times a week we were given a new task (activity) where we had to practice our skills. I certainly started looking to all the things around me in a different way and even started to appreciate the little (wildlife) things around me. I never thought I would spend about 15 min lying on my belly on “hot” dirt to take a picture of a butterfly or any other insect, but I did!

And not only that, colors, trees, clouds, people and certainly the beautiful animals (incl. the Big 5) here in Klaserie.

As the weeks pass by you start to see the improvement in your own pictures and your fellow photographers. The dirtiest secret is that you have to take a lot of pictures to develop a style and I think I’m starting to find out what kind of pictures I like to take and how to crop them. But, there’s still a lot to try out.

I can say that, thanks to the beautiful environment, Lightroom, but most of all a great teacher, I’ll go back home as a better photographer with a whole lot of photo’s filed on my computer. I will certainly keep on developing myself with the knowhow I’ve learned here, because there’s still so much to explore …