Some photographers like to go where the wild things are. They know that with a little patience and luck, they just might find themselves at the right place in the right time to take that one perfect shot—the shot that lets them capture wild animals for display in their homes. If you think about it, wildlife photography can be considered a much more humane form of big-game trophy hunting. Armed only with a high-quality camera and lenses, all a photographer takes from the “hunt” are some incredible photographs—and memories of adventures that few people ever get to experience.
One wildlife photographer with a passion for shooting big animals is businessman Brian Hampton. He is currently CEO of Cleo Communications, a software firm in Rockford, IL. But over the past few years, Hampton has been devoting more and more of his time to photography—traveling with his wife to remote corners of the world to capture some of the most magnificent creates on the planet. His wife shares his enthusiasm for wildlife photography and shoots high-definition video.
When Brian returns to the States, he likes to share what he’s seen and experienced. So he prints his best photographs in such a big and detailed way that viewers can get a sense of what it must have been like to be there when each image was captured.
His prints have been displayed in the corporate headquarters of Cleo Communications, in the homes of nature lovers, in a popular Italian restaurant, and in a special exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.
This last honor came about because of Hampton’s remarkable action photo of a lioness charging out of a river on its way to a kill. The photo was named Grand Prize winner in the 2008 Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards.
Hampton captured the shot in Botswana’s Okavango Delta using a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II with a full-frame sensor and a 600 mm lens using the AI Servo mode.
After the image was chosen as Grand Prize award-winner, the shot was published in Nature’s Best Photography magazine and as the shot of the day on both the AOL and MSN home pages.
But for the exhibition at the Smithsonian, Hampton chose to make his own 5 x 8 ft. print. Using onOne Software’s Genuine Fractals Photoshop plug-in to up-res the file and ColorByte Software’s ImagePrint RIP to optimize print quality, he output the image at 5 ft. x 8 ft. on his Epson Stylus Pro 11880. He chose to print on LexJet’s Sunset Photo eSatin paper because “People like to see detail in the printed images, and that’s what I strive for. Sunset Photo eSatin paper shows a lot of detail and it’s more durable than other glossy papers.” Hampton mounted the print onto Gator board using his wide-format laminator.
Hampton is also using Sunset Photo eSatin paper for the series of images he prints for a frequently updated 15-print exhibition at Giovanni’s restaurant in Rockford, IL. The restaurant has installed lighting to properly light the 15 images, which include fourteen 30 x 40 in. framed prints and one 40 x 60 in. print. Hampton will periodically update the theme of the 15-image display to show images from his travels to wildlife habitats in Africa, South America, and the American West as well as under the ocean.
An experienced scuba diver, Hampton recently captured images while exploring the reefs and underwater canyons in the Bahamas and near the island of Bonnaire in the Netherland Antilles near South America. He and his wife are planning future expeditions to locations where they can photograph whales, turtles, dolphins, and other large sea creatures.
Many of Hampton’s images have been donated to help raise money for worthy causes. Plus, he gave one print to a young girl who had seen the lioness image when she was visiting the Smithsonian with her father. She said her father had been so struck by the image that she wanted to give it to him as a birthday gift.
Hampton understands that many people are fascinated by wildlife photographs because the pictures give them a glimpse into parts of Planet Earth that they may never experience. But he says people often want to know the story behind each image, asking questions such as: “How close were you? Where were you standing? Were you in any danger?”
Because Hampton has such vivid memories of his experiences in the wild, he is teaming up with his daughter/author to write a book. He says he wants people not only to enjoy the pictures in the photo book, but also to connect with the circumstances behind the images.
The next trip on the agenda is to Rwanda where Hampton and his wife hope to capture images of mountain gorillas. Whether or not they succeed will depend on whether they are lucky enough find themselves in the right place at the right moment.
One important lesson Hampton has learned as a wildlife photographer is that “Quite often when you go out to shoot one thing, you end up with something entirely unexpected.” You could say it’s simply the nature of the beast.
To learn more about Brian Hampton’s adventures in wildlife photography, visit his website, www.brianhamptonphotography.com and subscribe to the newsletter he publishes quarterly.
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