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Photographytv.tv takes a trip to Kent to visit the Wildlife Heritage Foundation, where we learn about shooting big cats
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Sian: While you’ve been away, the keepers have been feeding the lions and not surprisingly this offers one of the highlights of the day. Afterwards, I caught up to Peter and asked him how long he’d been photographing big cats. Peter: About three years actually, on and off, so, it’s something I got more and more into over the years, and still enjoying it. Sian: Yeah, and what is your favorite shot that you’ve taken up to date? Peter: I think there’s a couple. There’s the beautiful head shots that you can get of the male leopards. Then there’s the action shots that you can get of the Sumatran tigers, they jump a little bit to the tree and things like that as well. And then of course there’s the classic close up of the eyes, you know, leather box sort of shot as well. So, there’s, there’s a good variety that you can get with a really good shot. Sian: And how long have you been doing these big cat things? Peter: Again, in about 2 and a half to 3 years. Came on one with a friend of mine and then he said, well I’m not actually gonna do this anymore, why don’t you take them over and it’s growing to business from there. And it’s a case of getting people aware of it and then good group of people can visit the website, download the fact sheet and then, you know, come on, have a great day as well. Sian: So is it easy as going on the website, if ones got to get involved in a day like this or? Peter: It is, you can google my name, and visit the website, there’s an events page there, fact sheets that explain everything about the sanctuary, what the day is all about. Just give me a ring, fill in the booking form and that’s it, if availability is there, it’s as simple as that. Sian: Good then. So what are the key pointers then for getting a good shot today? Peter: There’s several. There’s knowing how to deal with the wire like this, making sure the lens, you know, either fits through here or is not being obstructed by any of the bars. Not shooting on auto, and basically getting a good low perspective in the eye level of the cat knowing that you're not shooting down on them. There’s a few other hints and tips which we save for the day. Sian: And so what are the key mistakes that people making when they first come here? Peter: I think there’s two that are made quite commonly, and that’s shooting on auto. Sian: Okay. Peter: Which I would say a big no-no, you need far more flexibility, and far more control over the shot, because the animal’s moving. The light does change quite a little bit as well. You need that flexibility. The second thing is basically putting the camera on continuous shooting, basically shooting off, you know, several tens of shots very, very quickly. You fill a card up and then you’re sort of like, where’s my laptop? I got to no download of it in, so. Sian: Yeah. Peter: You’re here for a day, you got plenty of time. Sian: Plenty of time. Peter: Take your time, choose your shot. Sian: Absolutely. So what kit have you got with you today? Peter: I’ve a Sigma 70-200, 2.8, nice fast lens, good focal range as well. And trusty Nikon D300, and that’s basically it. Sian: What’s the minimum requirement you’d need if you came for a day like this with you? Peter: Well, a lot of people would think you need a lot of kit like this, it’s certainly not cheap, you don’t. You can actually come and get some very, very good shots with a compact camera. Sian: Okay. Peter: You don’t have a lot of the problems that DSLRs have in terms of the wire, because the lens just fits through here, and action settings, things like that, or close up, close up modes, you will get some beautiful shot with a simple straightforward compact camera. Sian: So what are you hoping to get today? Any certain cat you're after? Peter: There’s my favorite which is the male leopards, I can just photograph those for hours. Sian: Yeah. Peter: There’s a new cat down here, which is a palace cat, it’s a bit like a domestic cat, but it’s bit sort of funny looking really, and quite cute as well. So, it’d be nice to get that, because I never photograph it before. Sian: Right. Okay. Peter: That would be, that would be good. It’s quite shy as well, so. Sian: Fantastic. Well thank you for your time anyway Peter and I’m sure we’ll have a great day. Thank you. Peter: Thank you Sian. Sian: So Peter got his chance with the palace cat, and although as he predicted, it was quite shy, his patience pave off in the end. Well, sadly that’s all we’ve got time for here today at WAHF, I hope this have given you a great insight to how take a photos of big cats and little cats. And a big thank you from everyone here today for letting us take these photos, especially these guys. Hmm, I think he’s already gone to sleep.