Travelling to exotic locations to capture land and wildlife alike, Teong has achieved some spectacular shots with his partner-in-crime, wife Nina. Their work has resulted in a few published coffee books as well as mentions by National Geographic!
Intrepid explorers Teong and Nina have seen places like Scotland, Iceland, Botswana, Kenya and the Galapagos to name a few, and captured amazing wildlife shots during these visits.
Can you tell us more about yourself and how you started on this photography journey?
We started off with a passion for travel and photography was used to document our journey. We began to publish our personal coffee table books for this purpose and eventually got hooked on wildlife photography after we visited Galapagos and Hokkaido not too long ago.
We began with film cameras during our younger days and our digital photography journey only started with our first digital camera on a trip in 2008 to New Zealand. That reignited our love for photography and we started taking more pictures, while learning more about digital photography and the digital darkroom. It made us realise that the digital revolution opened up an entire new way of capturing images, and a new way of seeing things with more possibilities.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III| ISO 200 | F11 | 1/500sec
Blue-footed Booby | Espanola Island, Galapagos
You have a large repertoire of nature and animal photography. How did that come about?
We started our photography journey primarily doing landscape and travel photography. We only went seriously into wildlife photography recently after our trip to Hokkaido to shoot eagles, cranes and snow monkeys.
Being close to nature and learning about the birds and animals in their natural habitat has a certain appeal to us. Wildlife photography is very challenging and interesting to us as you never know what you may encounter each time you are out there. We also would like to show the wildlife and their environment which is like a combination of landscape and wildlife. We feel that our initial passion in landscape has enhanced our ability to see this aspect.
Canon EOS 5DS R | ISO 800 | F4 | 1/500 sec
Lion cubs playing | Masai Mara, Kenya
There’s also a fair bit of coverage on birds. Is there a reason for this?
Yes. We like to photograph birds because they are fascinating creatures. They are colourful, graceful, endearing, calm and yet can be majestic. Some mate with the same partner for life and they care for their young. A small little bird can display great endurance, traveling thousands of miles across mountains and oceans to return to the same place every year.
Birds are very challenging because they are small, move a lot and they don’t pose. It is difficult to get close to them to get a picture with sufficient details, but once you do get a good quality picture, it is very satisfying, more so if it is a rare bird.
Canon EOS 7D Mark II | ISO 640 | F5.6 | 1/3200 sec
Lilac-breasted roller | Chobe River, Botswana
What sort of gear do you use specifically for birding, and why?
Good quality long lenses are especially necessary. I use the Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM for handheld shots of birds in flight as it is not too heavy. I also use Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM prime lens when I need the speed and reach. Sometimes I add the TC1.4 III to increase the reach further.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III | ISO100 | F5.6 | 1/1250 sec
Red-crowned crane | Kushiro, Hokkaido, Japan
What wildlife experience has particularly excited you?
We just returned from a safari photo trip in Masai Mara and the abundance of wildlife there is amazing. Witnessing how these animals, especially the big cats, live and survive in their natural habitat is an experience of a lifetime which we will never forget. We begin to understand more about the need for conservation of these magnificent animals for our future generation so we love to capture images to document them and their routines, while putting across that message.
Canon EOS 5DS R | ISO 400 | F6.3 | 1/1000 sec
Cheetah on the run | Masai Mara, Kenya
On the birding front, photographing kingfishers is our absolute favourite. They are so tiny, colourful and can dive so quickly into water to get their dinner, so getting a picture of them with food in their mouth is very satisfying. We also like to photograph large bird of prey especially to capture that precise moment of the bird sinking their razor sharp talon into the prey.
Canon EOS 70D | ISO 500 | F5.6 | 1/1250 sec
Puffin returning to feed its chicks | Lunga, Treshnish Isles. Scotland
Was there a country that was particularly memorable?
Photographing Iceland in winter was incredible. The dramatic sunrise and sunset at an icy lagoon and being in an ice cave was surreal.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III | ISO 50 | F16 | 8 sec
Kirkjufell | Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland
What is in your current itinerary and what do you have planned?
We will be out photographing migratory birds in Singapore in the next few months.
We hope to photograph birds and wildlife at the Okavango delta in Botswana in the coming year and maybe be able to include Alaska as well.
Canon EOS 7D Mark II | ISO 1000 | F5.6 | 1/2000 sec
Wildebeests crossing the Mara River | Masai Mara, Kenya
Do you have a dream location or animal that you are aiming for?
Our dream list include photographing the polar bears in Svalbard, tigers in India and to experience the salmon run with the brown bears in Alaska.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III | ISO 50 | F11 | 0.3sec
Buachaille Etive Mòr | Glencoe, Scotland
What sort of camera gear do you bring along with you?
I bring along the Canon EOS 5DS R, Canon EOS 7D Mark II and Canon EOS 70D. All 3 camera bodies are used to shoot stills and videos.
Lenses I include are the Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM and Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM for birding and wildlife. I also use the Canon EF70-200mm f/4L USM for wildlife and landscape. For sweeping landscapes, I use the Canon EF6-35mm.
I include a monopod for videos and a tripod for birding and sometimes for wildlife.
Canon EOS 70D | ISO 400 | F5.6 | 1/800 sec
A typical African sunset | Masai Mara, Kenya
Why have you chosen this set of gear?
I usually pair the the Canon EOS 5DS R with the Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM lens to get the best detail for birds and wildlife. It performs well in low light situations as well.
The Canon EOS 5DS R with a wide angle lens is also used for landscape for its high megapixel and detail.
The Canon EOS 70D is a spare body for use with the remaining lens.
Canon EOS 7D Mark II | ISO 640 | F5.6 | 1/250 sec
Laced Woodpecker | Chinese Garden, Singapore
Which Canon camera has performed well for your purpose, and what about it works well for this genre of photography?
Currently I am very pleased with the Canon EOS 5DS R for high details with its 50 megapixels. It works very well for landscape, environmental portrait and non-action wildlife.
For action wildlife I use the Canon EOS 7D Mark II because I know I have the speed to capture multiple frames in a particular moment, like a bird in flight, so I will be able to get more wing positions.
Canon EOS 5DS R | ISO 500 | F8 | 1/2000 sec
Flamingos | Lake Bogoria, Kenya
Is there a camera you would like to upgrade to or include in the future?
The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II will be great for its high frame rate to capture more wing positions, and also for its ability to lock focus swiftly. I would also like to add the Canon EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x with built in TC for quick action.
Canon EOS 7D Mark II | ISO 100 | F5.6 | 1/640 sec
Spotted Hyena & Vulture | Masai Mara, Kenya
What are some of the challenges you encounter when taking wildlife and nature?
Wildlife is unpredictable, while birds are tiny and are usually very far away. Patience is required to get the image one envisions.
Travelling to some of the native locations can be costly and time is limited.
Canon EOS 5DS R | ISO 640 | F4 | 1/2000 sec
African elephant – Mother & child | Masai Mara, Kenya
Is there any tips you can share for enthusiasts who would like to explore this genre?
Practice, practice and practice!
Keep shooting and know your camera well. Go outdoors to be with nature, snap, meet new friends, share experiences and enjoy yourselves. Remember the journey is as important as the destination.
Lastly, buy what you can afford and slowly build your system up.
Canon EOS 7D Mark II | ISO 500 | F5.6 | 1/3200 sec
Lilac-breasted Roller |Chobe river, Botswana
Are you looking at exploring other photography genres and if so, what might that be?
I would like to shoot more videos and improve on the editing.
Sometimes a picture is not able to tell the complete story and videos can be a better means of achieving that. Videos can offer a more immersive experience to the audience. I have done a few videos of our previous trips and the feedback has been very encouraging.
I am also currently exploring panoramic photography. With the technology advancement in the digital darkroom, one can now easily make a beautiful panoramic images with extremely high resolution and endless printing possibilities.
First published: Canon EOS World