Attracted by wildlife, Ahmed Elsheikh has an appetite for observing and photographing glorious animals in the wild.
Zoology has taught Elsheikh how the fierce creatures move and what to expect from them, but he also admits that they can be unpredictable. When entering the animal kingdom patience is crucial. “My top tip is to respect the nature. Do not harm the creatures to get your image. The best shots are the candid ones when you photograph the animals in their natural moments.”
Looking back, one of Elsheikh’s most memorable moments is from his homeland: “This was in Aswan, Egypt. It was my first time to see the fascinating Nile crocodile in its original environment and it was awesome.”
Lions and birds in general are Elsheikh’s favourite subjects. In his opinion, these animals have the ultimate agility: beauty, pride and power. Therefore, it comes off as no surprise that the photographer’s favourite animal to feature is a raptor: the Short-Toed Snake Eagle.
Close up shot for the beautiful Short-Toed Snake Eagle - Nikon D800, ISO 450, f/6.3, 1/200 seconds, AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED at 200mm
Close-up shot for the beautiful owl in Egypt - Nikon D800, ISO 720, f/6.3, 1/250 seconds, AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED at 240mm
Elsheikh does not see photography as just a career, but rather, it is a passion. His fascination for nature and wildlife – especially birds – inspired him to become a wildlife photographer. “Sometimes we travel miles to take photos of specific creatures. Being in nature and with creatures you love is my favourite thing about photographing animals.”
The style of Elsheikh’s photos is all about the animals and their actions. The animals are usually in the centre of the photo. In this way, Elsheikh tries to keep the shot in the viewer’s memory for as long time as possible. Often the photos are dedicated to one species in order to give the animal the attention it deserves.
With the use of natural light and simple editing techniques, Elsheikh tries to channel his feelings through his photos. “Photography empowers and helps me to get rid of stress and feel the beauty in everything.” Light is key for his photos, and his gear includes the Nikon D7100, the D610, and the AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED. For videos, he usually uses a monopod and an external microphone. On Elsheikh’s wish list is the legendary Nikon D500 DSLR camera and the AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens.
Wide shot for three zebras in Masai Mara, Kenya - Nikon D610, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/800 seconds, AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED at 270mm
Giraffe walking in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya - Nikon D610, ISO 400, f/8, 1/800 seconds, AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED at 300mm
Elephant walking in Masai Mara, Kenya - Nikon D610, ISO 1400, f/5.6, 1/500 seconds, AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED at 300mm
School kids in the bus on Mara River, Kenya - Nikon D610, ISO 900 f/4.8, 1/800 seconds, AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED at 125mm
Photographing wildlife incites several different difficulties. In order to get a good shot, Elsheikh uses camouflages to get as close as possible to the animals. “By the first impression, it is very dangerous and risky, but by studying the animals and birds’ behaviour you can expect when and how to get your desired shots.” Moreover, Mother Nature can be an obstacle too. Mosquitos, muddy pools, reptiles and low temperatures are just some of the factors that the photographer must take in to account when working in the wild.
The wildlife photographer started to take photography seriously back in 2011. Since then Elsheikh has received several prizes and certificates for his work, but he believes it is more rewarding to earn the audience’s recognition. To Elsheikh, photography is for everyone; which is why he has founded Photokhana, which is an Egyptian photography club that encourages everyone to learn about the techniques of photography.
Family of elephants walking in Masai Mara, Kenya - Nikon D610, ISO 100 f/4.6, 1/800 seconds, AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED at 70mm
Starling on the grass - Nikon D610, ISO 220, f/5.6, 1/500 seconds, AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED at 300mm
Cheetah hiding between trees to take midday rest - Nikon D610, ISO 560 f/5, 1/1250 seconds, AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED at 180mm
Elsheikh’s work truly reflects the wild side. For him, capturing photos of these animals will hopefully bring the viewers closer to nature and give them a better understanding of these beautiful creatures.
Ahmed Elsheikh was born in Egypt in 1985. Today he works as a freelance photographer mainly interested in nature, people and travel photography. Since 2012 he has also worked as a photographer instructor teaching in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.