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CATCHING THE MOMENT (article first published : 2001-11-7)

Has somebody in your family invested in a camera recently? Why not pop this book into their Christmas stocking and inspire a wonderful new hobby.

Two of Africa's top wildlife photographers, Richard du Toit and Gerald Hinde, share their secrets of taking successful photographs in detail, giving precise information on which lens, film, exposure, f-stops and all other technical details for each image produced.

The authors, who have been professional wildlife photographers for several years have not had any formal training but have a special passion for wildlife photography as is evident in the artistry of their work. They maintain the purpose of this book is to inspire and provide useful information to anyone who visits wild places with camera in hand.

The introduction details notes on equipment and hints on photographing wildlife. The authors state that you do not need top of the range equipment to take great shots but you should get to know your camera intimately and use it correctly by learning from the different techniques and handy hints borne of long experience.

The pictures were taken in Botswana and depict the year's progress from summer ending in spring, bringing in the wet and dry seasons and the transition periods.

The African bush experiences some wonderful lightning storms. The frontispiece has two splendid photos of these storms and the exact description of how these were taken, including a warning on safety. Birds on nests, insects on grasses, huge elephants perfectly reflected off glass-like waters in the early morning and the high-speed hunts are all fabulously portrayed. Two of my favourite photos are of baboons skipping across water and a hippo's toes thrust in the air as he dives underwater.

Patience is required for those long unproductive hours spent waiting for that magical image. Just when you think it's been a waste of time, you are suddenly confronted by cheetahs chasing a warthog who then turns on them or the image of lechwe caught in a sudden whirlwind - shot at high speed to catch the flurry of leaves and grasses blowing around them. These special images demand concentration and many hours of hard work in the field. Nature is totally unexpected and unpredictable, as the author states: "Always try to get something from a situation even if it isn't the 'perfect shot'".

Catching the Moment is not your average coffee table book of pretty pictures, but one of practical use to be picked up and enjoyed, at the same time helping to improve your own creative photography.

Published by Struik, the recommended selling price is R189,95. Cherry MacIldowie




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