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As a wildlife photographer you have little or no influence on your subjects. That's what makes it so unpredictable and exciting, but also frustrating - when the light is perfect, the animal is not there, or the light is terrible and the animal is in the perfect spot, or the light is perfect and the animal is in the perfect spot but it's facing away from you, etc. There are a lot of variables that need to work together to get the perfect shot.

When I was photographing meerkats in Botswana, I wanted to create a shot that I had never seen before of these little critters - a silhouetted meerkat against a great ball of fire, the setting sun. When I started the project I had no idea it was going to be such a challenge.

To get the shot, the conditions needed to be just right - a clear day with a lot of wind so that there was a lot of dust in the air. Without dust the sun would never turn yellow and red and would just be a white circle in the frame. But more importantly, I needed to get a single meerkat between me and the setting sun.

During the day meerkats are very mobile, searching for food. Around sunset, they start heading back towards their burrows because they need to be inside before it gets dark - too dangerous to stay out. And when they head back home, they mean business - most of the time they were running, only to stop every now and then to check the surroundings for danger. That meant that I had to run in the same direction as well, at a distance.

The biggest problem was to predict where a meerkat, any meerkat, would stop to check for danger. I had to pick a spot, lie down and hope for the best. Obviously, this was a nightmare - try running around with a 600mm and get up and down smoothly. The first few days I was unsuccessful, but on the third day I picked the right spot when the conditions were just perfect.

If you're interested in joining me on our tours and workshops and learn more about nature photography, please check out my website for more information and tour impression video clips:

Squiver Photo Tours & Workshops

Hope to see you there!


©2013 Marsel van Oosten, All Rights Reserved. This image is not available for use on websites, blogs or other media without the explicit written permission of the photographer.

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