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Featured Photographer Gallery

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Manuel Presti

When a wild animal trusts me so much, that it gets asleep close to me, then I feel part of the environment.

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Featured Photographer

Manuel Presti

About

I was born in Rome in 1967. Since the age of 10 Iíve been observing nature, at the beginning with a pair of binoculars, later photographing with longer lenses. My favourite subjects are birds, mammals, flowers and abstract close-ups. In my pictures I try to concentrate on the graphic and chromatic composition.

Website: www.wildlifephoto-presti.com/

Interview

Why nature photography?
Itīs a way to remind me that we, humans, are animals.
I just love observing the beauty of an animal through the viewfinder and with a big lens, I enjoy the details and light quality.
Nature photography is somehow a lifestyle.

What's best about it?
To be out in the woods at dawn and enjoy the concert given by the singing birds. Itīs fun when the animals approach my hide, trying to understand what the heck is that strange bush appeared during the night! Itís simply memorable when those animals donít care about me anymore and keep doing what they normally do. I feel part of Nature. Absolutely best is to move emotions through images.

What's worst about it?
Probably worst is when I see a great photo opportunity and donīt have either the time or the equipment to take advantage of it. Itīs frustrating when I donīt achieve the desired results (which happens quite often) despite the great amount of energy I have put into it. But I just love it, for I know that somehow, sometimes somewhere Iīll unexpectedly get a great shot!

Favourite species and places in Europe?
My favourite is the Bee-eater. Itís the most joyful bird I know and sooo rewarding. When I lay down in the dust, underneath my hide not in the most comfy position, with the bee-eaters displaying acrobatic flight maneuvers in front of me, Iím the happiest men on earth!
My favourite region is where I feel the proximity to the Sea, where I smell the mediterrean spices, where I see the colours of the south.

What's in the bag?
My gear is limited by a simple rule: keep what you can carry in a backpack. Take my 500mm and my 180mm Macro away and youíll kill me. These are the basic parts of my gear, which I love so much as they help me to get soft backgrounds. Also the binocular is a vital part of my gear out in the field: it helps me to pre-visualize the pictures I want to shoot.

Your specialities / skills?
The strength of my wildlife images (e.g. birds or mammals) consists of their soft backgrounds, simple graphic composition and the absence of distracting elements. The viewer enjoys the dynamism depicted in the image and at the same time the poetry of contrasts, hues and shapes. Similarly, my macro photographs are known for their high degree of abstraction, which makes them look more like paintings.

3 tips for beginners
1) Point your camera, look in the viewfinder and ask yourself: why the heck am I gonna take this picture?
2) Afterwards ask yourself about the flaws in the picture (poor composition, poor light quality, distracting elements, poor contrast, poor chromatic combination, poor facial expression of the subject if itís a creature with a face,Ö including flowers and stones!)
3) Submit your image to critics

Mission

My mission will bring me to eastern Europe, which is totally unknown to me. As I like surprises, this beginning sounds promising!
Iíll try to photograph redbreasted geese in winter in Bulgaria and white and dalmatian pelicans in Romania.
As to the geese I have some experience with the snow geese in New Mexico but have no idea as to the difficulties on this side of the oceanÖ
With pelicans I guess Iíll have to work from a hide in a wildlife refuge, but Iíll try to get the authorization to work kinda out of the box (read: out of the hide).
A parallel mission is to portrait the little owl: one of my favourite birds, so soft looking, so funny.

Best Picture

Best Picture

What's cool about it?
This image represents an important milestone in my life. One youíll never forget. I continuously bump into people that know this picture. Itís cool as it tells a story, a story about fear, drama, hunting, chasing and it is so simple, essential. It represents the extraordinary in the innocuous.

Could it be better?
As always! Perhaps with the falcon almost about to catch one of the starlingsÖ.

Behind the Scene
The day after this image became world famous, I saw people in Rome taking pictures of the starlings with their cell phones.

Date: December 2003
Location: Rome, Italy
Gear: Canon EOS 10D, 4/500mm

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