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The Perfect Moment in Wildlife Photography And How To Capture It In Stunning Images In Etosha

Male lion charges us in Etosha National Park, Namibia
A male lion charges us in Etosha

The 'Perfect Moment', I guess, is probably the main thrill of wildlife photography: To capture a situation, a movement, an expression, the essence of a wild creature or magnificent scene in front of our lenses in ONE PERFECT SINGLE SHOT.   At least that's what's driven us out into the bush on each of the thousands of game drives we've gone on.  Part of the excitement, of course, is the ever-present possibility to encounter something unusual & extraordinary, such as these lion youngsters' play-fighting, a scene we've only seen once in more than twenty years of photographing in Etosha (see photo below).

Lion Youngsters Play-Fighting In Etosha, Namibia
Juvenile lions play-fight on the Etosha plains

Or to come across a situation that may happen frequently, but not necessarily in front of a human eye, such as this cheetah group patrolling the Etosha Pan's edge on the look-out for prey (see photo below).

Cheetah group patrolling the Etiosha Pan's edge on the look-out for prey, Namibia
Group of cheetah patrol the Etosha Pan's edge

Besides that we've also taken it as a challenge, to capture something we've seen frequently, possibly hundreds of times, perfectly in one single shot, such as a little elephant calf's playfulness during the elephant herd's march (see photo below) or the 'cheeky' look on a ground squirrel's face (see photo at bottom of page).

A small elephant calf pushes another youngster on their march towards a waterhole, Etosha, Namibia
Elephant calf marching playfully

Unfortunately the PERFECT MOMENT has one major flaw: IT ONLY LASTS AN INSTANT. The upside about it is, that if captured well, it can be hugely satisfying. This one single shot stops time for ever and tells a story, that may move millions of people. However, the downside is, that if you've missed it, its gone for good, leaving you frustrated & even sad about the loss.  We've missed thousands of PERFECT MOMENTS, I'm sure, but we've captured many.

Here are a few tips for YOU on how to increase your chances of capturing more of them in camera: • always EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED in the wild. There are countless examples of photographers missing the defining instant, because they weren't expecting it. • be VIGILANT when you're out in the wild. Perfect moments don't just happen in front of you, they often want to be searched for & found. • be EVER READY to take a shot. Have your camera on hand quickly, so that you can act when something unexpected is happening. • be PATIENT & OBSERVANT. Sometimes there is nothing spectacular happening for hours, until suddenly there is a brief burst of action. • last but not least: the key to capturing perfect moments is to KNOW YOUR SUBJECT. With deep knowledge about the behavior & habits of wild animals, you have a huge advantage:

You can anticipate the perfect moment and get ready for it.

Squirrel surveys the area and checks us out, Etosha, Namibia
Squirrel checks us out in Etosha

Keen to learn more?

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