Andrew Yates Photography: Blog en-us (C) Andrew Yates Photography (Andrew Yates Photography) Wed, 06 Apr 2022 09:51:00 GMT Wed, 06 Apr 2022 09:51:00 GMT Andrew Yates Photography: Blog 120 67 The Cost of Conservation ..... and The Luxury of Travel. African countries rely heavily on tourism to help fund wildlife conservation. In South Africa, about 85 percent of funding for the country’s wildlife and public lands management authority  (South Africa National Parks) comes from tourism-related sources, such as park entry fees and hunting permits. Over the last two years National lockdowns along with border closures and quarantines put in place during the coronavirus pandemic severely constricted Africa’s $39 Billion Tourism Industry, the direct source that motivates and funds wildlife conservation across the continent,The wildlife of Africa is protected by its dedicated rangers, but the presence of people, including tourists is a major deterrent to active poaching pressure.

Its been two years since I was last able to travel to South Africa, and was so happy to be able to return this year….. and this image is the perfect example of why I miss it……… Its an iconic image and one that can only be Africa, a wild lion enjoying a quiet moment in the warm evening sun....

"Just Chillin"..... A Male Lion relaxing in the warm evening sun In the Greater Kruger National Park

Canon 5D iv 100-400mm ƒ5.6 1/250 ISO 800

If I have learnt anything over the last two years its that Travel is a luxury, and it was so easy to take it for granted, I now realise that it should be treasured, we all live our lives in our own small part of the world, and travel gives us the opportunity to expand our own horizons and to explore the dynamics of other countries. We have all lost so much during the past couple of years and for me it's given me a chance to evaluate and prioritise.

Make all your experiences count and enjoy every second…..

"Flat Out".... Enjoying a cooling gallop through a dam after a long day in the saddle

Canon 5D iv 100-400mm ƒ6.3 1/1250 ISO 400

The main draw of Africa for me is being able to work with and photograph its many animals and the people who live there. I am fortunate to be able to have great friends who help conserve the Rhino populations in the Waterberg region of South Africa, and one of my highlights as a photographer, working along side the Charity Waterberg Rhino UK and the private reserve Ants Nest and Ants Hill has allowed me unbelievable access to White Rhino, giving me the ability to study, photograph and start to build an understanding of these giants of nature. The White Rhino is mainly a docile animal compared to the Black Rhino, with poor eyesight but great hearing and a keen sense of smell they are quite inquisitive and will approach to investigate what you're up to, with guidance and the ability to stay calm….. this allows for some memorable encounters. So I am proud in celebrating the Rhino and all who strive to protect them, the battle is ongoing to save these magnificent animals, the modern world is taking so much from our planet and we need to secure a future for all the wild places and the creatures that call them home.

"The African Queen"... a low key portrait of a White Rhino

Canon 5D iv 100-400mm ƒ7.1 1/500 ISO 1000

But all this heaven comes with a huge cost.... Wildlife crime and the on going threat of poaching is still a huge problem and one that has I had the absolute pleasure of being able to spend time with @waterbergrangerservices who maintain the security for Rhino populations throughout the Waterberg region. This is a 24/7 365 day operation in a bid to protect the rhino and out manoeuvre the ever present threat of poaching.

I still find it hard to believe that in this day and age we have to put these measures in place to protect wildlife from a fatal threat, for a product that has no benefit to humans at all. Rhino horn is made up of keratin. It is the key structural material used to make scales, hair, nails, feathers, horns, claws, hooves, and the outer layer of skin among vertebrates. Keratin is not medicine.. but due to its high demand for many centuries its value as a carved material and medicinal herb has caused its price too sore, based on the value of the Asian black market, the price for rhino horn is estimated at $65,000 USD per kg. To put this in perspective.. Gold is currently $63,923.08 USD per kg and Cocaine is around $30,000 USD per kg… The world’s long-standing desire for Rhino horn created an upsurge in poaching numbers back in 2008, with increasing numbers of rhino killed for their horn throughout Africa. Poaching numbers have slowly started to decrease since the peak of 1,349 rhino poached 2015, the largest amount killed in a single year. The threat is still very real with total of 394 recorded poaching incidents in South Africa in 2020, an average of one rhino being killed every 22 hours. These numbers have declined significantly in recent years, But the species has had no time to recover from the damage caused, In 2021 a total of 451 rhino were poached in South Africa, of these 124 were killed within government reserves and on private property. While there is a 24 percent decrease in rhino poaching compared to the pre-Covid period in 2019, there has been an increase in poaching on private reserves, I can’t imagine a world without these amazing animals and to loose them forever for nothing more than greed is an absolute tragedy….. only a rhino needs a horn!!

"The Front Line".... Rangers on Patrol in the Waterberg region of South Africa Protecting Rhino

Canon1DX ii 100mm ƒ6.3 1/160 ISO 1600

It is estimated that some 22,000 rangers and volunteers work across the African continent in its 355 national parks. In the volatile Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 140 rangers have lost their lives in the last 15 years. In South Africa, where authorities engaged in approximately 70 firefights in 2015 and recorded 300 poacher sightings. During the last 10 years across Africa a staggering 1000 Rangers have been killed by poachers, they have given their lives trying to protect our world natural heritage. These figures are probably underestimated, mainly due to the lack of reliable data in developing countries, and these figures don't take into account the numerous rangers wounded will out on patrol, but the statistics don't lie, and show just how dangerous the lives are of rangers in African countries. In 2016 82% of African rangers declared that they have faced a life-threatening situation whilst on patrol.

The animals and plants that live in the wild have an intrinsic value to the ecological, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic aspects of human well-being. Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, If the upper estimate of species numbers is true - that there are 100 million different species co-existing with us on our planet Humans have driven at least 680 vertebrate species to extinction. The dramatic human population growth is so fast that animals and plants are disappearing 1000 times faster than they have in the past 65 million years. Scientists estimate that in the 21st century 100 species will become extinct every day......

Its not just the Rhino and Elephant that are at risk, Eight of Africa’s vulture species have declined by an average of 62 per cent in the past 30 years, for some species that number is as high as 80 per cent. The threats facing these creatures are extensive, habitat loss is a major issue but of all the scavenger species, Human-wildlife conflict plays a part in there plight. Massive losses of vultures can occur if a predator starts killing livestock. Affected communities can put out poison baits to kill the predators, but these poisoned carcasses pose a threat, because vultures are social creatures and eat in large groups of up to 100. So by eating the bait they will fall victim to the poison. Wildlife poachers will also poison the carcass of the animals they have killed in an effort to reduce vulture numbers as they can act as an early warning sign to rangers by circling above the scene.

While in Klasseri Private nature Reserve in the Greater Kruger national Park I looked up to see this pair of White Backed Vultures patiently waiting for there turn to feed on a Giraffe carcass, I love the textures of the old wood and the feathers, and then they positioned themselves in the perfect pose….. sometimes the shot your not looking for just happens, that’s the beauty of photography.

Often considered to be creepy, disgusting creatures mainly due to the actions of a scavenger, it turns out we have got it all wrong when it comes to vultures - they are extremely important to the bio diversity of the landscape, their role in nature of cleaning up the dead carcasses in the bush reduces many harmful bacteria, vultures are equipped to safely digest nasty bacteria including Anthrax, where most other scavengers are not. Without vultures, there’d be a lot more disease in the world.

Canon 1DX ii 400mm ƒ8 1/250 ISO 400

(Andrew Yates Photography) africa andrew yates photography animal portraits anti poaching canon uk capturing life conservation fine art photography horse horse safari nature photoblog photography rhino travel wildlife wildlife crime Wed, 06 Apr 2022 09:50:47 GMT
Quote for the Day - "It is the Photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument." -

Ansel Adams


To me this is so true, its not about what equipment you have but how you use it, now I am not saying that all the new technology within the photography world is unnecessary, far from it, the DSLR's of today are streets ahead of there cousins from 10 years ago, but simply that you can take fantastic images with any camera, its how YOU see the subject, where YOU point the camera, how YOU compose the shot, how YOU read and understand the light and most importantly when YOU press the shutter. To me a photograph is a reflection on how we see the world frozen in a split second, the camera is the tool that we use to be able to capture that moment in time and create the photograph.

Shot on Canon EOS 5D ii + EF 100-400 f4.5-5.6 mark i Lens @275mm ISO 640 f6.3 Shutter speed 1/3200

This shot was taken back in 2015 using my old canon 5D ii with the mark one EF100-400 lens, a camera I still use today, we have moved on technically with both the camera, through the mark iii and now onto the mark iv and the lens now on the EF 100-400 mark ii, but as you can see this shot is fantastic all the detail and colours in the feathers the focus in the eye with the catch light, and most importantly I pressed the shutter at the right time to catch the moment just before the Eagle Owl lands back on the falconers glove.

(Andrew Yates Photography) andrew yates photography animal portraits canon uk conservation eagle owl falconry wildlife photography Sat, 24 Mar 2018 10:23:31 GMT
Andrew Yates Photography Blog  


My love of photography started with my first camera, a Kodak Brownie, at the tender age of six, rapidly developing into a passion to capture all those moments in time.  I followed my dream and studied fine art and then photography and design. Here I learnt to see the art of composition from behind the lens which ultimately changed the way I look at the world.

Next I fed my yearn to travel broadening my horizons where of course my camera was never far from my side! 

I landed back in the UK and moved to London and in 1990  “Andrew Yates Photography” was born. My debut was in fashion and editorial photography which then evolved to include people and portraiture. It was within these fields of photography that I gained my technical and creative skills that allow me to capture the subject at hand in an informative and emotional way that can convey an understanding to the viewer. 

Things moved on, and as I faced the new and exciting world of digital imaging I changed my viewpoint and started to study the great outdoors with all its inhabitants. The challenge was to establish a look and feel to my work that retained the spirit and depth of film photography. 

My work now revolves around animals, both wild and domestic, people and the interactions they have, covering portraiture and “life” images.

In the next chapter in life I have developed a base in Salisbury and a further evolution of my style. I have embraced the fine art process which I feel works so well with my style, helping to bring out the life and depth that I see from behind the lens. With a strong focus on the subject, sometimes removing it from its environment to help it speak louder.


Welcome to my Blog

This is where I will talk about my photographic interests, the equipment I use, what drives me to take a picture, matters that arise from my associations with people and places that I visit and anything else that I think might help give an insight into how I work and see the world.


One of my favourite quotes comes from Man Ray (born Emmanuel Radnitzky; August 27, 1890 – November 18, 1976)  He was an American visual artist who produced major works in a variety of media but considered himself a painter above all, although he was best known for his photography, and was a renowned fashion and portrait photographer.


-  “ Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask ‘ how ’. While others of a more curious nature will ask ‘ why ’

personally I have always preferred inspiration to information. ”  -


To me that is the key to great photography. When we photograph what inspires us, what we have an interest and understanding of, it will show in the final image. Its not all about getting it technically perfect its about conveying the emotion and an understanding of the subject into a photograph. For me as I generally shoot outside one of the most Important aspects I have to think about is light, now its easy to take this for granted. The sun comes up its light and the sun goes down its dark! But when you actually look and study ambient light it is a very complicated animal, I wont bore you with the intricate make up such as lux ratings and colour profiles etc as thats just too much information for what I want to say. In short ambient light has different qualities at different times of the Day and Year, depending on where the sun is in its orbit (how close or far away it is too the earth) and also where you are geographically. 


With animals in the wild it comes down to the light you have when you want to take the photograph, thankfully most animals are most active during the parts of the day when in my mind the light is best, first light and last light, but this is by no means a hard and fast rule, on a stormy overcast day the light can be fantastic around midday when the sun is at its brightest and the clouds act as a natural diffuser, or shooting with a perfect bright blue sky can be a touch boring and give very harsh shadows. But then again shooting a subject in very bright conditions that is shaded under an obstruction such as tree branches can produce amazing results. So its all about reading the conditions and adapting to them. You can photograph the same subject over a period of time in the same location at different times of the day or with different weather conditions and get very different images just by using the available light and changing a few settings in camera.


Here are a couple of examples from my recent trip to South Africa, where due to geographical location the sun is closer to the Earth and much stronger, and also due to the clean air its brighter, so mornings and evenings produce the best light but sometimes you have to work with the conditions and time of day to achieve the shot your after.


The image below was taken mid morning in South Africa, you can see by the shadow length that the sun was quite high and therefore could produce strong shadows and burnt out highlights. I wanted to capture the Giraffe running together so it was now or never. 

Image 16Image 16 Shot on a Canon 5D iii + EF70-200mm f2.8 lens, @200mm, ISO 400, @f13, Shutter speed 1/1000 sec

Due to the strength of the sun, the brightness of the ambient light levels made it possible to stop down to f13 and still maintain the settings I needed

to create the picture I was after I needed a fast shutter speed as I was hand holding and by stopping down to f13 could

soften the image by slightly under exposing and then bringing it back in post process using Lightroom.


Image 59Image 59 Shot on Canon 5D iii + EF100-400mm ii f4.5-5.6 lens, @350mm, ISO 400, @ f5.6, Shutter speed 1/1250 sec.


This image on the other hand was taken at sunset, you can see by the warmth of the light and the increase in shadow that the light is much softer, but also that the ambient light levels are much darker, so to capture the warmth and beauty that I saw, with the light picking out the details of the Red hartebeest, from the whiskers on the chin to the catch light in there eyes I had to open up to f5.6 and being almost back lit it would be difficult to hold the detail on the shadowed areas, but by bracketing the exposure I managed to pick out the details I was looking for. 



While staying at, and photographing for Ants Nest and Ants Hill Game Reserves in the Waterberg region of the Limpopo Valley in South Africa, I was Fortunate enough to be at the heart of the conservation charity “Save the Waterberg Rhino”  Set up and funded by a group of local reserves within the Waterberg region to combat the daily threat of Rhino poaching and to educate the local population on the benefits of there natural wildlife and habitats.

This encounter opened my eyes to the on going battle that is fought everyday by all the reserves that have wildlife at there core, and ultimately how fragile the animals of Africa and around the world are from the ever increasing Human threat from poaching, habitat loss, illegal game meat, pollution, single use plastics and so on and so on!!

Image 4Image 4

Following on from the sad news that Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino had died, I did a bit of research into the status of the Rhino populations that we have left, and the impact poaching and habitat loss is having on the remaining numbers of the five species of rhino worldwide.

We have lost 7,245 African rhino in the last 10 years through poaching alone, and 1,028 last year.

Many countries have lost their rhino populations altogether: Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan in Africa; and Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Sarawak in Asia. Roughly just over 30,000 rhino (all five species) survive in the wild today.Black rhino 5,458 (critically endangered), White rhino 21,085 (Southern), White rhino 2 (Northern), Indian one horned rhino 3,500 (critically endangered), Sumatran 100 (critically endangered), Javan 63 (critically endangered)

We are also losing 27,000 Elephants per year which is roughly 8% of the remaining population

There is an alarming increase in the Illegal bushmeat trade the illegal, commercial and unsustainable trade in wildlife meat is probably the single greatest threat to wildlife (including lions) in Zambia and surrounding countries in the Southern African region. Illegal Hunting for bushmeat impacts over 500 wild species in Africa, but is particularly harmful to great apes — gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos

So what is the cost of saving our wildlife world-wide? 

The world’s governments will need to invest billions annually to reduce the extinction risk for all known threatened species. A total of US$4 billion (around £2.5 billion) would be needed annually to prevent human-driven extinction and improve the status of all known globally threatened animal and plant species, with a further US$76 billion (around £42 billion) needed each year to protect and effectively manage sites of global conservation significance. Which sounds a lot because it is, but to put this into perspective its equivalent to just 20 per cent of what the world spends on soft drinks each year, and this would be more than repaid by the economic, scientific and social benefit of conserving our precious natural heritage. Showing how relatively little it would cost to save and safeguard nature worldwide.

My message to the powers that be is Its time to act and start to manage and conserve our wildlife before its too late. 

We could lose the ability to be able to witness incredible sights like this, if the current poaching rate continues, rhino females would not be able to replace themselves and total extinction of Africa’s remaining rhino becomes probable in less than ten years. If this poaching rate continues unchecked at a 25% increase (assuming the anti-poaching efforts make a difference) the rhino in South Africa could be extinct by 2022. Even if all the female calves born in 2017 survived they would barely be old enough to have a calf before the clock stops! Image 86Image 86 Shot on a Canon 5D iii + EF100-400mm ii f4.5-5.6 lens, @300mm, ISO 1000, @f7.1 Shutter speed 1/2000 sec.

(Andrew Yates Photography) andrew yates photography animal portraits canon uk conservation fine art photography photoblog photography tips wildlife photography Fri, 23 Mar 2018 18:22:14 GMT