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Secrets Of Professional Photography: Igor Mikula Interview

If you say “wildlife pictures,” 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 obligatory, as you’ll see as we speak in my interview with skilled wildlife photographer Igor Mikula. He’ll reveal a few of his secrets and techniques of wide-angle wildlife pictures as we speak.

Igor Mikula_Author

Igor Mikula is an excellent Slovak photographer whose star shone brightly when he gained the primary prize within the prestigious Czech Nature Photo competition together with his picture of a blackbird nest. His work spans two fully totally 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 ingredient that connects most of Igor’s pictures, each within the studio and the sphere, it might be his inventive use of flash. At this time I’ll concentrate on Igor’s wildlife pictures and be taught what makes his images so highly effective.

Northern white-breasted hedgehog

Igor, you’re a photographer who turned well-known for wildlife pictures of a few of the most typical species on the market. How is that attainable? A significant a part of wildlife photographers imagine that as a way to achieve success, a photograph should present an distinctive animal. Or am I flawed?

Properly, Jackson Pollock turned 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.

a few of the older images in your portfolio, it’s clear they have been taken with a telephoto lens. Nevertheless, taking a look at your latest 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 often. I’ve turn out to be enchanted with the pictures created by broad angle lenses and have usually informed 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 essential focal size for capturing animals is 500mm. What’s your go-to focal size as we speak?

For me, the commonest focal size is 15mm, however I nonetheless carry a wide range 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 attitude extra attention-grabbing than photos with blurred backgrounds.

Genus Avicularia

That is actually miles away from a typical wildlife photographer’s strategy. To shoot this broad, do it’s important to make any changes to the kind of animals that you just {photograph}?

To let you know the reality, I didn’t change the kind of animals to {photograph}. I like all animals and I take photos of just about all the pieces, even birds at broad angles. However amphibians and reptiles are my favourite group, and since I commonly meet with skilled herpetologists, my likelihood to create a pleasant picture is all of the higher.

As for the complexity of taking images, for instance with snakes it’s fairly difficult. They’re largely quick and don’t provide you with many alternatives. On the subject of some venomous species, it’s much more tough. Then again, 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 finest for my work. The one draw back is that the lens is totally handbook, which is a little bit of a disadvantage when animals are transferring. 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, however 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 a lot 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 pictures. 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 best way my work was going to go – to indicate people who animals are more and more dwelling in our rapid neighborhood and that we’re those taking away their pure habitat.

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

Mareeba rock-wallaby

I discussed earlier that you just usually use synthetic gentle. What makes you do this?

I usually shoot at night time, the place a supply of synthetic gentle is important. Then, in the course of the day, I exploit it to brighten up shadows or darkish elements of the scene. I believe well-diffused gentle is fascinating for a picture, and I ought to be aware that I’m nonetheless studying new and new issues in the case of lighting as effectively.

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

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

Talking of substances, how a few camera? Do you continue to use a DSLR?

Moreover 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.


For those who have been to match, what’s the greatest good thing about mirrorless cameras in comparison with DSLRs for you and your work? Is there something that you just miss?

Most likely the largest profit for my work is the tilting show. Up till now, I’ve all the time been mendacity within the dust. It’s humorous – since I used to be used to it, even now I often catch myself truly mendacity down after I don’t must. The attention detection autofocus can 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 in all probability fairly a cliché, however personally I believe a very good picture shouldn’t be about the very best camera, however concerning the will to understand your concepts – and in addition about luck. Everyone knows how unpredictable nature is, however generally it simply comes out fully by likelihood.

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

Completely, listed below are three photos as an illustration. For the primary instance, I want 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 gather frogs touring throughout a busy highway and carry them to the opposite facet. This fashion we stop the dying 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 picture above. The male toad didn’t transfer in the course of the 30 second publicity, which let me collect a number of ambient gentle. I used to be in a position to make use of a slender aperture of f/18 to get extra depth of area. I flashed the topic from two sides at a forty five diploma angle. After the picture 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 totally different lighting approach, though the publicity values have been surprisingly the identical as the primary picture. The frog sat immobile on the railing by the eating room of our hostel. I put the camera on a tripod. Through the lengthy publicity, I type of circled the frog with the flash to get even gentle. 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 hen has been nesting on the bathroom window of my pal’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 method. 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 high. 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 Extensive Angle Macro 1:1 SHIFT
Youngnuo speedlite YN560 / 1 unit
f/16, 1/20 sec, ISO 2000

That’s unbelievable! I like these tales. I believe lots of people will agree with me on that. By the best way, a few of the animals in your images will 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 sphere or on my expeditions with herpetologists. With the venomous snakes that they’re finding out, they know methods to deal with them correctly, with Kevlar gloves and so forth. I desire 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 finding out the places I want 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 info from mates or colleagues who’re completely happy to present me good places. 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 sphere scouting.

The Sand lizard

I do know you may have a powerful conservationist spirit. The amphibians that you just like to {photograph} are among the many most endangered vertebrates on Earth in latest occasions attributable to various elements. Within the time you’ve been photographing, do you see any dynamics in what’s taking place to frog populations at residence or around the globe?

It’s laborious to say about broader patterns since I’m not an knowledgeable. As a layman, although, I map locations the place Widespread Toad used to breed. Lately, I’ve seen a decline. It could possibly be attributable to a number of elements, akin to the upper inhabitants of geese close by (fed by hunters) that eat frogs and tadpoles. Then there’s, for instance, the fungal illness chytridiomycosis, which is decimating whole populations of amphibians around the globe. It’s alarming that there are in all probability nonetheless many species on earth that may turn out to be 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 a deafening cacophony of amphibians. Do you assume that your images, or pictures as a medium, can someway assist reverse this damaging pattern?

It’s one in all my targets. To indicate individuals by way of pictures the great thing about these animals and clarify their function within the ecosystem. It’s an extended course of. It’s laborious to vary the minds of adults, so I’m making an attempt to coach the youngsters at the least. Proper now I’m doing lectures for elementary colleges round the place I reside.

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 – attributable to lack of moisture – usually find yourself in varied concrete tanks that maintain water. The issue is that it’s then inconceivable 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 in all probability Colombia once more. But it surely’s all very unsure.

The bank vole

What’s it about Colombia that captivates you a lot that you just preserve going again? Do you may have any initiatives within the works there?

I fell in love with Colombia primarily due to its pleasant individuals. It fascinates me that even the poorer individuals 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 informed me about his life. Then, in fact, there’s the large 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 large venture with limitless prospects, so I don’t have something particular to name a venture right here.

For those who closed your eyes and fell asleep, what picture would pop into your head as a dream {photograph}? Do you may have some type of holy grail?

I in all probability don’t have something particular. I all the time type of adapt it to the state of affairs and the probabilities that the placement presents.

The Australian brushturkey

Thanks a lot on your participating story and for sharing your secrets and techniques {of professional} pictures.

I want to thanks for a pleasant interview and say whats up to your readers. Have a very good 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.

#Secrets #Professional #Photography #Igor #Mikula #Interview

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