Hennie van Heerden's Wildlife Diary

June 19, 2011

Wildlife photography workshop

Filed under: 2011,June — Hennie van Heerden @ 10:12 am
Tags: , ,

Yesterday I had a group over for a wildlife photography workshop. Despite the rather bad weather it was big fun! Giving a workshop is a win-win situation. The students get motivated by my enthusiasm and in turn, I get motivated by theirs! I know that I have loved learning about photography and improving my skills and I really hope I’ve brought some of that across to yesterday’s students.

We spent the morning with theory, concentrating on all the things I myself learned about wildlife photography over the last four years. Tips and tricks, but also ideal camera settings for different situations. When to use what camera program and how to adjust the camera to your personal wishes. Information on color profiles, exposure (the importance of ‘exposure to the right’ and why, for instance), composition and a lot of practical tips for when the people are out in the field the next time. Despite the fact that this particular group had announced that they’d rather spend as much time possible with actual practising in stead of theory, I think that everyone got really excited when they noticed that we covered a lot of information that they either didn’t know, or could use well next time they would be out in the field shooting.

Especially when after lunch falconer Reinier de Vries  arrived with his magnificent birds, flying them in our forest and over the tall grass in the meadow it got really exciting. It’s not easy to capture a Saker of Gyr Falcon in full flight as they reach speeds up to 250 km/hour when they plunge out of the sky on to the lure.  But everyone did really well judging from the images I saw on their camera displays.

Really special was taking the two Harris Hawks, Emir and Sultan, out on a walk into our forest. Just to be on the safe side I had warned the neighbors to keep their chicken in for the time being 🙂 There was a short moment of total panick when our dogs, who had been locked up in the guesthouse during the bird-of-prey shooting, had discovered how they could open the door from the inside and joined the fun! I think my heart would stop when I saw the three big dogs racing towards the 3 Owls who were modelling at that particular time. But hooray for sweet dogs; they stopped just a few meters in front of the birds, and besides Kookai snatching some food away from the big Eurasian Eagle Owl, nothing happened.

My own favorite was “Kruimeltje”, the little Burrowing Owl (picture to the right) . He’s the most adorable little bird alive!
I think that all of us, students and myself alike, can look back to a day well spent!



  1. I was one of the participants of the workshop Henny described above. It was a once in a lifetime experience! What can I say…I fully recommend Henny to everyone! Her personal style, good nature ans great expertise make for a great day. All participants at any level of photography (some of them even carried Nikons around :)) learned a great deal. Good combination of theory and practice in the field and a truly unique opportunity to practice shooting birds of prey in beautifull surroundings. Besides all this we were treated like kings!
    Hennie rules!!!
    Frans Schouwenburg, Rotterdam

    Comment by Frans schouwenburg — June 20, 2011 @ 5:18 pm | Reply

  2. 2. I was one of the participants of this workshop too. And I agree it was absolutely great. Not the normal birds of prey workshop. But birds of prey put in there natural environment so the chance of making a beautiful picture was more than a lucky shot.. I have learned a lot by the pleasant way of explaning of difficutl photographic items. For the first time I could influence a histogram because Henny explained the backgrounds ot it in a easy way and that’s only one of the tips and tricks. Theory is mostly boring but not with Henny. She illustrated the theory with her beautiful pictures and that is a great way to rememember items. Not by reading a book but by seeing and doing. It was really special and we have promised to come back.

    Bert Boshoven, Maasdijk

    Comment by Bert Boshoven — June 20, 2011 @ 7:56 pm | Reply

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