Joe and Mary Ann McDonald's

Wildlife Photography

March 2005

Tip of the Month

A must-have book --

At the Pulse of Life

by Fritz Polking

The name, Fritz Polking, is familiar to any wildlife photographer who bothers to read photo credit by-lines. Fritz is a past winner of the BBC's Wildlife Photographer of the Year award, as well as being a three-time winner of Germany's GDT Nature Photographer of the Year award. Fritz is a German photographer whose work regularly appears in US, as well as world-wide, wildlife and nature magazines, and Mary and I are lucky to be able to call Fritz a friend.

Fritz recently published a visually stunning photography book that features some of his most outstanding work -- images that many of you have undoubtedly seen in past publications. There are so many images that I've admired over the years, and that I've hoped to shoot when I've been in the same places. Included in that bunch of images to emulate is a shot of a Galapagos hawk about to perch on the shell of a Galapagos tortoise, and a tussock bird about to feed from a giant Elephant seal. Believe me, when I was in both locations -- the Galapagos, and the Falklands, I tried to shoot similar images!

I'm not a fan or advocate of copying another's work -- the 'put the tripod in these holes' syndrome, but I certainly admire great images and I'm motivated to shoot images that are similiar. Rarely does one get the chance to do so, but images like those that Fritz has made certainly compel one to go to the same areas, look for similar opportunities, and, ultimately I hope, come away with shots that have one's own unique brand or mark about them.

Fritz has recorded some truly amazing images, including shots of an African rock python swallowing a gazelle, a Nile Crocodile swallowing a gazelle, and a cheetah about to tackle a gazelle. Sounds like either Fritz or I have something against gazelles, doesn't it? My point in mentioning these three images is this -- Mary and I spend a huge amount of time in Africa and I've yet to see a python with prey, and I've never had a chance to film a croc catching or in the act of swallowing a gazelle, and we've had few chances to do well with cheetahs chasing prey as well. So, I can really admire the work and time and talent that went into those images!

This is a book of photos, not a how-to book on photography. The text is especially refreshing, as it is a series of nature lessons and anecdotes about Fritz's shooting. For example, Fritz is one of less than one half dozen photographers to film a wild snow leopard, and his short story of those images are revealing -- he made to trips to Mongolia to get the shots, only succeeding by traveling to Mongolia in winter -- an incredibly tough place to be at any time, let alone winter.

You'll enjoy the book and you'll be inspired by it. I've always been inspired by Fritz's work, and in seeing this incredible collection, I've been humbled as well. It's simply great. The ISBN for the book is ISBN 3-88949-201-0, the publisher is Kilda-Verlag at, or you can get more information, and more photo tips, directly from Fritz's web site at


Our Past Photo Tips of the Month:


  DIGITAL- Digital Birding

 DIGITAL -Shoot for the Future

DIGITAL-Shoot for the Future, Part II

 DIGITAL Photographing scenes with extreme exposure values

 NPN- Nature Photography Network - a digital forum for nature photography

 Digital Pro Image Management Software

 Watch Your Backgrounds
The potential of composites or shooting in RAW format

 A Great Website for Information - the Singapore Nature Photography Society

 Save Your Equipment from Crashing!

 The L-Bracket, the ultimate camera bumper

 Backing Up Your Digital Files - you'll need more than you think

 Carry Your Gear!

 Ask Questions
Before You Go

 Seize the Moment!

Geared Focusing Rail for Macro Work 

 Protecting your long lens from SAND, the pleasures of beach photography

 How do we protect our gear from dust, and carry our gear when on safari

 The Ultimate Flash Bracket
Padding Your Wimberley
Tripod Head

  Specular highlights and the flashing frog
 Using TTL flash with Hummingbirds  Testing your Flash's Aim
Maximum Depth of Field and Hyperfocal Distance - they're not the same thing!  If you see it, it's too late -- a lesson in anticipation  How do you shoot the Moon?
  Low level tripod work  A great depth of field guide  Wimberley 400 and 600mm IS plate

 Sigma's 120-300mm F2.8 APO HSM zoom lens

 Using The Wimberley Gimbal head with a camera body

 Sigma's 120-300 f2.8 APO
zoom telephoto lens

 Custom Function 4-1 for Nikon and Canon shooters

 Sighting in a very, very long lens
 The Nature Photography Network - a super website for images and information
  Take a Workshop First   Luck, what is it?  Don't take in baby wild animals

  Airline Carry-On Luggage -Let your concerns be heard!

 Disconnect -- travel precautions

Photograph America Newsletter
 Wildlife Portraiture

 Obey the Rules
The Ti Chi Stalk
Photographing Critically Endangered Sites Bushnell Night Vision Optics  Adobe Photoshop 7 for $300

 The Sibley Bird Guides

 Removing Cactus Spines

 Drying out boots with newspaper

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