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Wildlife photography is challenging in any circumstances. To get great images, you have to understand behavior and be observant to predict those key moments—times when all the elements in the frame come together. In a perfect world, the animals will be considerate enough to restrict their movements such that we can frame them up and lock down the camera on a sturdy tripod. That’s seldom the case.

A lot of wildlife photographers use gimbal heads, which provide a measure of steadiness while allowing you to move the camera and follow the action. If you don’t have a gimbal head, however, you’ll probably be handholding, and because you’ll be doing it with long lenses, technique is critically important for achieving sharp photos.

Think of your body as a tripod. To keep the camera steady in your hands, start by thinking about your feet. Take a comfortable stance, with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your right foot should be roughly perpendicular to the direction your lens is pointing and your left foot should be slightly to the left and pointing about 5 to 10 degrees to the right. Golfers would call this an open stance. This gives you a very stable base. Cameras are biased to right-handed and right-eye-dominant photographers in the way the shutter button is positioned. Because of that fact, even most lefties take this right-handed stance.

Because a lower center of gravity is inherently more stable, kneeling or even sitting can give you a better foundation than standing up. If you’re kneeling, maintain a similar "right leg back, more or less perpendicular to the subject, and left leg forward" position. If there’s a convenient rock, go ahead and sit.

Moving up from your legs, keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Your feet, hips and torso should all be parallel. Tension in your shoulders, in particular, tends to promote some camera shake. Bring your arms into your sides, pressing your elbows into your rib cage slightly. Don’t squeeze. By pressing your elbows against your ribs, you’re really just ensuring that you don’t let your arms fly out, which is very unstable.

With your arms in tight to the body, you’ll naturally take a proper grip on the camera and lens. You want to cradle both as much as possible. Position your left hand under the lens, with your thumb and forefinger closest to the subject. Grip the camera body such that your index finger rests comfortably on the shutter button and, if possible, have the heel of your hand supporting the body. If you have small hands or a large camera body, or both, don’t worry so much about trying to get the right hand under the body. Taking a grip that places your finger on the shutter button is more important because, if you have to reach for the shutter, you’ll tend to jerk the camera as you shoot. You can also get a little added stability by pressing the camera against your head as you look through the viewfinder. Don’t go crazy, though. Slight pressure is all it takes.

With the proper stance, body position and grip, you’ll have a good platform. That’s 90% of the battle. To get the last 10%, here are a couple of helpful pro tips. First, when you depress the shutter button, be sure to press straight down. A lot of photographers inadvertently use the index finger as if pulling the trigger on a gun. That creates a jerking motion, which is an absolute sharpness killer. Second, set your camera to multishot mode and shoot in bursts. This is a great technique because the camera naturally steadies out as you press and hold the shutter. Do a test, and you’ll see that the first exposure in a sequence has some blur, it’s less in the second, and by the third frame, you’ll be at maximum sharpness.

One final note: Everyone’s minimum handholding speed is different. The rule of thumb of 1/focal length = minimum handholding shutter speed will just get you in the ballpark. Do your own tests to see what your minimums are with all of your lenses, and when it comes to wildlife, take into account that you’ll probably be excited in a moment of action and you’ll be less steady, so adjust your shutter speed accordingly.
Photography Techniques – Outdoor Photography How Tos | OutdoorPhotographer.com

period

Instagram sparked controversy this week after deleting this photograph of a woman lying on a bed with menstruation blood seen on her clothing and on her sheets. She’s now demanding to know why other more graphic or risqué photos are allowed on the service while images of a fully clothed woman on her period are not.

The Washington Post reports that the photo was captured and shared by Rupi Kaur, a poet and artist from Toronto who’s currently working on a photo series about menstruation for a visual rhetoric course at the University of Waterloo.

The artist statement of her project says that the goal is to demystify and destigmatize the female body with “regular, normal processes” that should not be shamed or shunned.

Kaur says that her photograph was deleted by Instagram less than a day after she shared it on the service. Instagram provided a message stating that the photo violated its “community guidelines”:

message

The artist then reposted the same photo, only to have it again removed by the service. In response, Kaur wrote an open letter to Instagram about the photo and its policies:

thank you @instagram for providing me with the exact response my work was created to critique. you deleted a photo of a woman who is fully covered and menstruating stating that it goes against community guidelines when your guidelines outline that it is nothing but acceptable. the girl is fully clothed. the photo is mine. it is not attacking a certain group. nor is it spam. and because it does not break those guidelines i will repost it again. i will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak. when your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified. pornified. and treated less than human. thank you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀
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this image is a part of my photoseries project for my visual rhetoric course. you can view the full series at rupikaur.com
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i bleed each month to help make humankind a possibility. my womb is home to the divine. a source of life for our species. whether i choose to create or not. but very few times it is seen that way. in older civilizations this blood was considered holy. in some it still is. but a majority of people. societies. and communities shun this natural process. some are more comfortable with the pornification of women. the sexualization of women. the violence and degradation of women than this. they cannot be bothered to express their disgust about all that. but will be angered and bothered by this. we menstruate and they see it as dirty. attention seeking. sick. a burden. as if this process is less natural than breathing. as if it is not a bridge between this universe and the last. as if this process is not love. labour. life. selfless and strikingly beautiful.

The message has since been liked by tens of thousands of fellow Instagrammers. It also sparked a great deal of conversation about this subject, with news outlets from around the world drawing attention to the story.

The outcry eventually became so great that Instagram restored the photos Kaur posted and emailed her personally to apologize and to say that the photo had been removed by accident:

email

Kaur doesn’t buy it. “I truly don’t believe it was a mistake,” she tells the Washington Post. “A mistake once maybe, but twice?”

Facebook, which owns Instagram, recently clarified its community guidelines on what’s considered inappropriate nudity in photos. The company sparked controversy in the past by removing photos of breastfeeding or post-mastectomy scar photos, but it now says those photos are allowed. There’s nothing in the terms yet that cover a fully-clothed woman on her period, though.


Image credits: All photos and images by Rupi Kaur


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