BETTERPHOTOGRAPHY 70 A close-up of a roaring lion tells you only two things: what it is (a lion) and what it’s doing (roaring), but it doesn’t tell you where it is. Zooming out and placing the animal in a specific environmental context suddenly tells the story of its living conditions, its preferred habitat and possibly even its family members, prey and competitors. Suddenly the story becomes much more interesting. Take this lion (above) photographed in Botswana’s Khwai Community as an Who doesn’t like a good wildlife portrait shot? Lion, leopard, elephant, meerkats – my Facebook newsfeed makes it clear that people just can’t get enough of close-up shots. I often find myself wishing I could see more, though, to see what was around them; what it looked like there at that moment. TELL THE STORY example. In the close-up, we see a male lion walking through mopane veld, but the moment I zoom out to capture it in its environment, it becomes clear that the area is actually dominated by massive camel thorn trees. We get a better idea of the veld’s condition (it’s late summer) and it’s clear that the lion is not with the rest of the pride, perhaps patrolling his territory. In the same vein, if you only take close ups of an elephant drinking water (below), no one will ever know that there are nine other herd members drinking alongside it from a natural pool in the bend of a dry riverbed.
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