Steve and Ann Toon talk Second Nature – Developing Expression in our Wildlife Photography

Last week’s meeting – ‘Second Nature – Developing Expression in our Wildlife Photography’ – Steve and Ann Toon


For the last 20 years Ann and Steve Toon have been taking photos of wildlife in Africa, mainly in southern Africa. They started their presentation with photos taken very recently from a trip to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in northwest corner of South Africa. It had been raining so it was green rather than its usual barren featureless land, which was good for the animals but not good for neutral backgrounds for their photos, though this did not shot them getting some great shots.

Besides excellent shots showing the life of the animals – including a ménage à trois of lions – Ann and Steve had creative images including a striking silhouette of an oryx just before dawn and a family of cheetahs stalking their prey in a downpour of rain – bad weather can help you get images out of the ordinary.

Ann and Steve are trained journalists, and they see the world in stories. They work commercially as photographers for magazines and need to pull together visual stories to then sell them to editors. They said that the more you know about your subject the better chance you have of getting a good shot; knowing the A to Z of your subject’s behaviour is crucial.

They are keen on getting the composition right in their images and capturing something about the animals they photograph – their character or a mood. Magazine editors have seen many photos of wildlife before and Ann and Steve have to present something different, something that stands out, and they showed many standout shots. There was great shot of a leopard walking in the tall grass as two wary oryx watched from a distance, a blur of meerkats captured with a slow shutter speed, two young kudu sparing caught in monochrome silhouette, an elephant, again in black and white, in a shower of water.

Ann and Steve also showed images from the Chobe River on Botswana. Here they managed to get low down shots of the animals in the water using wide angle lenses. There was a stunning shot of buffaloes swimming in the river to escape lions, and a low shot of an enormous elephant as it came close to the riverbank.

They finished the talk with images from Zimanga in the northeast of South Africa near Durban. One of the standout shots of this part of the talk was a crocodile on a still stretch of water, artificially lit in the night, and in perfect symmetry reflected in the water.

They ended the talk with a good piece of advice – ‘dare to be different’ – don’t get the same shots as everybody else, adapt to what you are seeing and be creative and have an open mind.

error: Content is protected !!
Oxford Photographic Society