Ted’s wildlife photography journey began not long ago, but he has already amassed beautiful photos of Singapore’s wildlife. This has gained some attention from fellow photographers, but he continues to grow and experiment with his craft. We speak to him about his experience so far.

Ted goes hunting for pictures with his Canon EOS 80D and Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM.

Hello Ted! Thank you for speaking with us. How did you get started in wildlife photography?

I first stumbled upon wildlife photography in late 2016 when a photographer friend showed me photos of an Olive-backed Sunbird. I had no idea that such a beautiful bird is actually quite common in Singapore, and that we go about our lives without noticing them! I became intrigued with birds and animals and started seriously looking into gear suitable for wildlife photography early last year.

Copper-throated Female Sunbird
Canon EOS 80D | f/5.6 | 1/2000s | ISO 800

What do you think of the misconception that you can’t take good wildlife photography in Singapore?

It’s possible to take great wildlife photos if you are willing to bear with the heat, insect bites and cuts from the surrounding nature – not to mention being able to hold your bladder too. Singapore has a lot of interesting birds, and even more fascinating migratory birds. Each season brings the usual birds along with some new ones. Birds are everywhere and you can test your skills just about any time.

Fire-tufted Barbet
Canon EOS 80D | f/5.6 | 1/50s | ISO 400

What about overseas? Have you been on any wildlife shoots in other countries?

Yes, I often travel to other countries, particularly Malaysia, to upgrade my skills and to shoot new subjects. The trips are rewarding and I’ve met many new friends who are equally interested in wildlife photography. In fact, I recently returned from a trip to India with some fellow birding enthusiasts and it was an eye-opener for me. Not only did I manage to capture some of India’s beautiful wildlife such as the Indian leopard and the Indian peafowl, I experienced the amazing culture too.

Indian Leopard
Canon EOS 80D | f/5.6 | 1/100s | ISO 400

Which animal do you want to shoot the most?

It would be a dream come true to take photos of endangered animals such as the Ili Pika (a small mammal native to China) and the Araripe Manakin (a bird endemic to Brazil) before they disappear for good.

Coconut Lorikeet
Canon EOS 80D | f/5 | 1/200s | ISO 400

Tell us about your most memorable shoot.

When I first started wildlife photography, once I waited 11 hours for Olive-backed Sunbird juveniles to fledge from their nest. Just as my battery died, the juveniles fledged in front of my eyes. Unfortunately, all I have now of the sight are the memories in my mind.

 Blue-tailed Bee Eater
Canon EOS 80D | f/5.6 | 1/640s | ISO 500

How do you usually prepare for your shoots? 

It’s hard to predict a shoot as animals appear randomly anytime and anywhere. I will first set my gears to autofocus tracking mode. If I have more opportunities afterwards, I will then adjust to a proper setting for better-quality shots. It is possible to plan meticulously in advance but still not get a shot at all. But that’s also what I love about wildlife photography – you don’t know what you will get, and sometimes you go home with surprising rewards.

Archduke Caterpillar
Canon EOS 80D | f/5.6 | 1/6s | ISO 100

Where do you usually go for your shots? Why do you like those spots?

I typically like to visit our local parks, such as Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. At almost every visit, I’m able to spot snakes and crocodiles – and I still get excited to shoot them!

Singapore Otter
Canon EOS 80D | f/5.6 | 1/500s | ISO 100

What gear do you use for your wildlife photography?

So far, I’ve invested in the Canon EOS 80D and Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM. It burnt a hole in my pocket but it’s totally worth it!

Orange-cheeked Waxbill
Canon EOS 80D | f/8 | 1/500s | ISO 5000

What’s on your gear wishlist?

In my opinion, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and the Canon EF600mm f/4L IS II USM as the best gears for wildlife photography. The Canon EOS-1DX Mark II has the best focusing speed, frame rate, and ISO capability – which makes it perfect for action shots like raptors fishing or birds locking talons. I would also love to try the Canon EOS 5DS R as it captures amazing details.

Barred Eagle-Owl (Juvenile)
Canon EOS 80D | f/5.6 | 1/100s | ISO 320

What traits do you think a wildlife photography should be equipped with?

Wildlife photography is unpredictable – there are times when you spend hours waiting for a good shot, but end up with nothing at all. Hence, keeping a positive mindset is important! To quote a friend: “If you got it (the picture), it’s a bonus. If you didn’t, treat it as an exercise”.

Orange Bellied Flowerpecker
Canon EOS 80D | f/5.6 | 1/100s | ISO 400

What are some of the biggest challenges you face during your shoots?

Singapore has a lot of wildlife protection regulations, which may make things a little tricky for photographers. Besides jostling for the best spots with other photographers, I sometimes have to shoot the animals in dark and cramped areas. Fast-moving animals also put my skills to the test.

Barn Owl
Canon EOS 80D | f/5.6 | 1/2000s | ISO 800

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced so far was trying to take photos of a Black-winged Kite in an open field. I had to crawl a long distance to get closer shots and while doing so, I was bitten by an army of ants, become covered in sweat and was caked in dirt. The worst part? The Kite spotted me anyway and flew away. I had to go back again another day for the shots and luckily, I managed to get it eventually. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it’s the photo that I’m most proud of ’till this day.

Black-winged Kite Juvenile
Canon EOS 80D | f/5.6 | 1/1250s | ISO 200

Pacific Swallow
Canon EOS 80D | f/5 | 1/200s | ISO 400

What other genres of photography would you like to take on next? 

Landscape and event photography. For the former, I need to learn more about filters before I try it out. For the latter, I need to hone my skills in understanding how to capture humans instead of animals!

Prepare to be blown away by the stunning wildlife of Singapore through Ted’s lens at his Instagram profile, @ted_wildlife.

First published: Canon EOS World

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