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Secrets Of Professional Photography: Igor Mikula Interview

Once you say “wildlife images,” most individuals will certainly consider a camouflaged photographer lurking in a shelter for hours with a quick telephoto lens. However none of that’s truly crucial, as you’ll see right this moment in my interview with skilled wildlife photographer Igor Mikula. He’ll reveal a few of his secrets and techniques of wide-angle wildlife images right this moment.

Igor Mikula_Author

Igor Mikula is an excellent Slovak photographer whose star shone brightly when he received the principle prize within the prestigious Czech Nature Photo competition together with his picture of a blackbird nest. His work spans two fully completely different genres. One half is within the studio, the place his portrait photos are created. The is his wildlife photography.

If we have been to search for one expressive factor that connects most of Igor’s images, each within the studio and the sector, it will be his inventive use of flash. At present I’ll deal with Igor’s wildlife images and be taught what makes his images so highly effective.

Northern white-breasted hedgehog

Igor, you’re a photographer who grew to become well-known for wildlife images of a few of the commonest species on the market. How is that attainable? A significant a part of wildlife photographers imagine that to be able to achieve success, a photograph should present an distinctive animal. Or am I fallacious?

Properly, Jackson Pollock grew to become well-known for a canvas that appears like somebody dropped a can of paint on the bottom! And that’s what I’m relying on. Of course, I’m joking – I like Jackson Pollock. However for my part, each animal is particular.

Rhinolophus sp.

Taking a look at a few of the older images in your portfolio, it’s clear they have been taken with a telephoto lens. Nonetheless, your current work, the telephoto lens should be gathering mud. Would you ever decide it up once more?

You’re completely proper. I nonetheless use a telephoto lens, however solely sometimes. I’ve change into enchanted with the photographs created by extensive angle lenses and have usually instructed myself that I’m going to promote my longer lenses. In the long run it by no means occurred although, as a result of there are nonetheless conditions the place I can’t do with out it.

For me, the fundamental focal size for taking pictures animals is 500mm. What’s your go-to focal size right this moment?

For me, the commonest focal size is 15mm, however I nonetheless carry quite a lot of lenses starting from 15 to 560mm in my backpack.

Why do you select such a brief focal size?

I select it primarily to have the ability to incorporate as a lot of the setting by which the animal lives into the picture as attainable. I discover this angle extra attention-grabbing than photos with blurred backgrounds.

Genus Avicularia

That is actually miles away from a typical wildlife photographer’s method. To shoot this extensive, do you must make any changes to the kind of animals that you simply {photograph}?

To let you know the reality, I didn’t change the kind of animals to {photograph}. I like all animals and I take footage of virtually every little thing, even birds at extensive angles. However amphibians and reptiles are my favourite group, and since I often meet with skilled herpetologists, my probability to create a pleasant photograph is all of the larger.

As for the complexity of taking images, for instance with snakes it’s fairly difficult. They’re largely quick and don’t offer you many alternatives. In the case of some venomous species, it’s much more tough. Alternatively, I’ve images with thirty-second lengthy exposures the place the animal didn’t even transfer the entire time.

Rainbow Boa

What lenses do you truly use?

I primarily use the Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide Angle Macro 1:1 SHIFT. This lens fits me greatest for my work. The one draw back is that the lens is absolutely guide, which is a little bit of a downside when animals are shifting. I additionally use the Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 AT-X 107 AF DX Fisheye Lens. The lens is designed for an APS-C sensor, nevertheless it works on full-frame when zoomed in. Sometimes chromatic aberration will present up on each of those lenses, however that may be eliminated in post-processing.


In lots of your images, the animal is within the context of a artifical setting, or there are buildings within the background. In different phrases, people are sometimes not directly represented in your wildlife images. Why is that?

It began after I took one in all my first wide-angle images of Mareeba Rock-wallaby in Australia. I included the lodge the place we have been staying into the picture. Then after I noticed it on my pc, I knew this was the way in which my work was going to go – to point out those who animals are more and more dwelling in our quick neighborhood and that we’re those taking away their pure habitat.

Animals can’t say: “Hey buddy, don’t construct your own home right here, I already stay right here.” They don’t have any alternative however to adapt to us and stay with us in a sort of symbiosis. Provided that we’re an especially invasive species from their perspective, one small factor we will do for them is to attempt dwelling with them, too.

Mareeba rock-wallaby

I discussed earlier that you simply usually use synthetic mild. What makes you do this?

I usually shoot at night time, the place a supply of synthetic mild is important. Then, in the course of the day, I exploit it to brighten up shadows or darkish components of the scene. I feel well-diffused mild is fascinating for a picture, and I ought to word that I’m nonetheless studying new and new issues on the subject of lighting as properly.

What does your mild system seem like? If I wish to mild my images like Igor Mikula, what ought to I get for that?

I at the moment have 4 Youngnuo speedlite YN560 flashes and two Godox TT350 flashes. They’re all very low cost, however efficient flashes. After which I’ve quite a lot of stands, handles, arms and diffusers of various sizes and styles.

Talking of drugs, how a couple of camera? Do you continue to use a DSLR?

In addition to the Canon EOS R5, I nonetheless use the EOS 5D Mark III as a backup camera and the EOS 5D Mark II in my camera traps. No want to vary what already works.


If you happen to have been to check, what’s the largest good thing about mirrorless cameras in comparison with DSLRs for you and your work? Is there something that you simply miss?

In all probability the most important profit for my work is the tilting show. Up till now, I’ve at all times been mendacity within the dust. It’s humorous – since I used to be used to it, even now I sometimes catch myself truly mendacity down after I don’t need to. The attention detection autofocus can also be good.

I don’t like adjustments that a lot, so I hope the EOS R5 physique will final me for a few years like my 5D Mark III did. It’s most likely fairly a cliché, however personally I feel an excellent photograph just isn’t about the perfect camera, however concerning the will to comprehend your concepts – and likewise about luck. Everyone knows how unpredictable nature is, however typically it simply comes out fully by probability.

Igor, you could have already revealed what tools you could have in your backpack, however I don’t know how you are taking your images within the subject. May you please decide two or three images out of your portfolio and describe how they have been taken?

Completely, listed here are three photos as an illustration. For the primary instance, I wish to current a photograph of a Widespread Toad (Bufo bufo), which I photographed on the highway a couple of meters from my home. Yearly in the course of the spring migration, I acquire frogs touring throughout a busy highway and carry them to the opposite aspect. This manner we stop the loss of life of those animals.

The common toad
Canon EOS 5 D Mark lll
Tokina AT-X 107 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 DX Fisheye
Youngnuo speedlite YN560 / 2 items
f/18, 30 sec, ISO 400

You’ll discover some uncommon camera settings for the photograph above. The male toad didn’t transfer in the course of the 30 second publicity, which let me collect quite a lot of ambient mild. I used to be in a position to make use of a slender aperture of f/18 to get extra depth of subject. I flashed the topic from two sides at a forty five diploma angle. After the photograph was taken, I moved him throughout the highway to security!

The second instance is a photograph of a Slender-legged tree frog (Osteocephalus verruciger) that I took within the Ecuadorian Amazon. Right here I used a barely completely different lighting approach, though the publicity values have been surprisingly the identical as the primary photograph. The frog sat immobile on the railing by the eating room of our hostel. I put the camera on a tripod. Throughout the lengthy publicity, I type of circled the frog with the flash to get even mild. I then used a flashlight to light up a few of the floor within the distance.

Ecuador Slender-legged Treefrog (Osteocephalus verruciger)
Canon EOS 5 D Mark lll
Tokina AT-X 107 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 DX Fisheye
Youngnuo speedlite YN560 / 2 items
f/18, 30 sec, ISO 400

And the final instance is a photograph of a feminine blackbird (Turdus merula) and her household. This chook has been nesting on the bathroom window of my buddy’s cottage for a number of years. They’re fairly accustomed to human presence, and so I made a decision to attempt to {photograph} them.

I arrange a ladder away from the nest and noticed the birds to see if mounting a camera would trouble them in any approach. It solely bothered them within the sense that they began utilizing the ladder as a brand new perch! So I put up an outdated pot close to the nest and put my camera on prime. This didn’t trigger them any nervousness both. The lighting was easy with simply an on-camera flash. Utilizing a distant shutter launch, I uncovered about 20 pictures from the gap.

The common blackbird
Canon EOS 5 D Mark lll
Laowa 15mm f/4 Large Angle Macro 1:1 SHIFT
Youngnuo speedlite YN560 / 1 unit
f/16, 1/20 sec, ISO 2000

That’s incredible! I like these tales. I feel lots of people will agree with me on that. By the way in which, a few of the animals in your images could be probably harmful. How do you {photograph} a venomous snake from a couple of inches away?

I don’t have that many venomous snakes, however as I discussed earlier than, I usually exit into the sector or on my expeditions with herpetologists. With the venomous snakes that they’re learning, they know how one can deal with them correctly, with Kevlar gloves and so forth. I want to {photograph} these from a distance with a distant set off!

The grass snake

How do you discover your animals to {photograph}?

Looking is half the success, so I dedicate a big a part of my preparation to learning the areas I wish to go to. I spend hours on the PC researching maps, coordinates, variety, and close by lodging. Then I ship out emails and collect extra data from buddies or colleagues who’re blissful to present me good areas. As soon as I’ve this complete prolonged course of behind me, and I arrive at my dream location, the second section begins which is the sector scouting.

The Sand lizard

I do know you could have a robust conservationist spirit. The amphibians that you simply like to {photograph} are among the many most endangered vertebrates on Earth in current occasions resulting from plenty of components. Within the time you’ve been photographing, do you see any dynamics in what’s occurring to frog populations at residence or all over the world?

It’s onerous to say about broader patterns since I’m not an skilled. As a layman, although, I map locations the place Widespread Toad used to breed. In recent times, I’ve seen a decline. It may very well be resulting from a number of components, corresponding to the upper inhabitants of geese close by (fed by hunters) that eat frogs and tadpoles. Then there may be, for instance, the fungal illness chytridiomycosis, which is decimating total populations of amphibians all over the world. It’s alarming that there are most likely nonetheless many species on earth that can change into extinct earlier than we even learn about them.

The Smooth snake

My expertise is, within the final fifteen years, the Amazonian forest has gotten very quiet at night time. It was once a deafening cacophony of amphibians. Do you assume that your images, or images as a medium, can someway assist reverse this destructive pattern?

It’s one in all my objectives. To point out folks by images the fantastic thing about these animals and clarify their function within the ecosystem. It’s an extended course of. It’s onerous to vary the minds of adults, so I’m attempting to coach the youngsters at the least. Proper now I’m doing lectures for elementary colleges round the place I stay.

The European robin

Getting again to some tales and adventures, your final expedition took you to Colombia. The place will it’s subsequent?

My subsequent journey is deliberate a bit unconventionally to Europe. Particularly to the Zaragoza space in Spain, the place a pleasant man rescues animals that – resulting from lack of moisture – usually find yourself in numerous concrete tanks that maintain water. The issue is that it’s then unimaginable to climb out of those traps, and the animals will die there. Subsequent I used to be planning Asia, possibly Thailand, and someday within the winter most likely Colombia once more. Nevertheless it’s all very unsure.

The bank vole

What’s it about Colombia that captivates you a lot that you simply hold going again? Do you could have any initiatives within the works there?

I fell in love with Colombia primarily due to its pleasant folks. It fascinates me that even the poorer folks there nonetheless smile, not like a few of us. Many occasions it occurred to me there that somebody got here to me fully selflessly, introduced me a beer, and instructed me about his life. Then, in fact, there’s the massive species variety on this nation, the plethora of habitats, of which I’ve solely visited a fraction, and final however not least, the cultures and folks. Colombia itself is one massive challenge with limitless potentialities, so I don’t have something particular to name a challenge right here.

If you happen to closed your eyes and fell asleep, what photograph would pop into your head as a dream {photograph}? Do you could have some sort of holy grail?

I most likely don’t have something particular. I at all times sort of adapt it to the state of affairs and the chances that the situation presents.

The Australian brushturkey

Thanks a lot in your partaking story and for sharing your secrets and techniques {of professional} images.

I wish to thanks for a pleasant interview and say howdy to your readers. Have an excellent time, and be good not solely to your self, but additionally to nature. And possibly someday I’ll see you in some good place on Earth.

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