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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Wildlife Photography and Documentaries - How Authentic Are They?

My readers know me as The Wildlife Ho-tographer and I have used Canon equipment for almost three decades. Over the years, I have found some equipment to be more versatile than others and they always seem to find their way into my equipment bag every time I am on a wildlife photo tour anywhere in the world. You can follow my travels on Facebook , Twitter and see my works on

Shooting a wildlife documentary is no different. You see boxes after boxes of equipment accompanying filmmakers to remote locations. Gear do break down when one least expect it and they must have back up to take care of any contingencies. Anyone who has seen movies from major Hollywood production companies know it is 'impossible' to record studio quality sound while on location, so voices and sounds are added and mixed later in the editing rooms. That doesn't make the film 'fake'.

Also during the editing process, many footages and scenes are cut and re-arranged to tell a story. That does not make the documentary 'false'. It's only fake if the scenes are staged, shot under controlled situations or manipulated with CGI.

Wildlife Photography is a bit different because the photographer is capturing a moment in time, not a sequence of events. The final photo will have been cropped, adjusted for exposure, optimal light, color and sharpness, either digitally or in the dark room. That does not make the photograph any less authentic.

Of course there are those who will invariably cheat and think they can get away with it. The infamous cases of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010 and Year 2017 come to mind. The winning photos were judged to be a staged event and the 'winners' were stripped of their title.

My motto is simple. If a wildlife photo looks too perfect. Beware and inspect it very carefully. Ask to see the EXIF data and the frames before and after the actual photo. Those who have spent years out in the wild waiting for the right moment know, a perfect photo is very rare. 

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