ARTICLE

Jonathan and Angela Scott

A coalition of five male cheetahs (four shown here) bring down a young adult male wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. It is virtually unheard of to have such a large coalition of males – even coalitions of three is not common. Such a large group of males is able to dominate a huge area, mating with any females they come across who are receptive. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens at 1/2000 sec, f/5 and ISO250. © Jonathan and Angela Scott

Canon Ambassadors Jonathan and Angela Scott aren't just multi-award-winning photographers. They are also passionate conservationists, authors and TV presenters.

Jonathan and Angela are not a typical married couple; they spend much of their time together on safari around the world in search of great images. For decades they have been two of the best wildlife photographers in the world, winning countless awards and between them producing over 35 books. They are also passionate conservationists and are patrons of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Rhino Ark, the Galapagos Conservation Trust and the Bishop Simeon Trust as well as ambassadors for the Mara Predator Project and ADCAM Mara community project.

Canon Ambassadors Jonathan and Angela Scott with their Canon cameras and lenses.


Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Specialist area: Wildlife
Jonathan's favourite kit:
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x

Angela's favourite kit:
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM
Canon Extender EF 1.4x III

Their intimate knowledge of wildlife has led to the Scotts presenting numerous TV shows and documentaries, which have aired all over the world. These series include a five-part series called Big Cat Tales for Animal Planet. The couple, who were married in 1992, live in Nairobi, Kenya, and have a permanent base at Governor's Camp in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

Jonathan has an honours degree in zoology from Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and served for many years on the editorial board of the East African Wildlife Society. He was the overall winner in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition in 1987, and has presented many television programmes for the BBC and Animal Planet – in particular he is well known for his work on the BBC's Big Cat Diary series.

Angela, who was born in Egypt and raised in Tanzania, was the overall winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition in 2002 She was also the production stills photographer for the Big Cat Diary series.

An elephant under a rainbow, photographed on a Canon EOS-1D X by Jonathan and Angela Scott.
An elephant and rainbow in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. "One of those epic afternoon storm skies that leaves you desperate to find something – a tree or, better still, an elephant – to add to the scene," say Jonathan and Angela. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with a Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens at 1/500 sec, f/4 and ISO400. © Jonathan and Angela Scott
Blacktip reef sharks, photographed by Jonathan and Angela Scott.
Blacktip reef sharks are a common species and frequent the shallows around the Maldives. They are fast pursuit predators that prefer reef fishes and also feed on stingrays – they are one of the three most common sharks inhabiting coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens at 1/1000 sec, f/9 and ISO250. © Jonathan and Angela Scott

The Scotts' success is nurtured by their intimate knowledge of the animals they photograph, and their willingness to go the extra mile in order to get a picture. The couple have been following the Marsh Pride of lions ever since Jonathan first came to live in the Maasai Mara in 1977 and confess that they know some of the Mara's big cats better than their human friends.

Jonathan and Angela's work is defined by its natural quality, preferring to get shots right in-camera rather than trying to fix things in post-production. They believe the natural world does not need to be enhanced by technology, and they strive to show it in all its glory without embellishment.

When they are not filming or working on their book projects, Jonathan and Angela pursue their quest to influence the way we view the living world. This ideal is celebrated in their book Sacred Nature: Life's Eternal Dance, for which they won the Gold Award for Photography in the Independent Publishers Book Award 2017.

What is the biggest challenge in wildlife photography?
"Anticipation is half the battle; being in the right place because you know what is going to happen next gives you time to set up the shot from the right position and angle."

How has working together made a difference to your job?
"We are lucky to work as a team – one of us can be concentrating on capturing the action while the other is focusing on another aspect. For instance, I can get Angie into the right position in our 4x4 vehicle when we are on safari due to my understanding of the animals' behaviour. Being a team has transformed the way we work for the better."

What do you think about contemporary trends in wildlife photography?
"There is a lot more emphasis on remotes and drones. It is exciting to see new perspectives and ways of capturing the wonder of the natural world as long as they are not overly intrusive. There is huge pressure in wildlife photography to 'get the shot'. That sometimes translates into an unseemly scramble at sites of natural wonder."

What is the minimum kit someone should equip themselves with when going on safari?
"If we were travelling light and wanted to cover ourselves on safari or on a travel shoot we would take two Canon EOS-1D X Mark II bodies, a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens (very versatile for people and landscapes), a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens, a Canon Extender EF 1.4x III, a Canon Speedlite and (if we could get away with it) a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens."

What do you know now that you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?
"Be more adventurous. Don't expect the phone to ring. Understand light and exposure. Study the work of all genres of photography to take inspiration into the field with you. And constantly work on developing and refreshing your own vision and style."

Flamingos in flight over water, photographed by Jonathan and Angela Scott.
Flamingos in flight in Northern Kenya. Kenya's Rift Valley soda lakes are home to more than two million flamingos. The soda lakes create wonderful patterns setting off the shapes of the flamingos as they return to places where they can find the blue-green algae (Spirulina platensis) that grows only in very alkaline lakes and is their primary diet. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with a Canon Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens at 1/2000 sec, f/5 and ISO320. © Jonathan and Angela Scott

One thing I know
Jonathan and Angela Scott

"If you want to get creative with your photography while on safari in Africa, you have to do your research to see what has been achieved already. Then you have to figure out how you are going to capture something different. You need to find out well ahead of time what permissions you will need to obtain if you want to use remotes and/or drones. In a lot of wildlife areas this is not allowed. It may be that the best way to obtain the images you have in mind is to find the quietest location away from the crowd – and that may mean choosing an area where the wildlife is more difficult to photograph or the location is more remote – but the ultimate rewards make it worth the effort."

Facebook: @JonathanAngelaScott
Instagram: @thebigcatpeople
Twitter: @thebigcatpeople
Website: www.bigcatpeople.com

Jonathan and Angela Scott's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Jonathan and Angela's wildlife photography kitbag, containing Canon cameras and lenses.

Cameras

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

Our flagship pro DSLR. 20.2 Megapixel full-frame sensor. 61-point AF system. Up to 14fps. ISO to 409,600. "With its fast 14fps shooting speed and great autofocus system, this is the best camera for wildlife," say Jonathan and Angela. "It's reliable and robust too."

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Designed to perform in every situation, the EOS 5D Mark IV is beautifully engineered and a thoroughly accomplished all-rounder. Angela says: "It's a great camera to have in the back of our car to set up for videography. It has some fantastic features. We even play with the built-in time lapse function when time allows."

Canon EOS 5DS R

Designed to deliver the ultimate in DSLR image quality, with 50.6-megapixel resolution and a low-pass cancellation filter that maximises the sharpness of the camera’s sensor. Angela says its exceptional resolution enables her to capture revealing details. "I control composition in macro photographs and focus on the details, rather than shooting the big picture," she says. "It's good for landscapes as well because of the resolution."

Lenses

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

A professional L-series sports and wildlife zoom with Image Stabilizer and ASC coating for superb sharpness. "This is an unbelievable lens. Incredibly sharp with a great IS performance, it focuses down to less than one metre, making it a versatile close-up lens for flower photography," say the Scotts.

CANON EF 600MM F/4L IS III USM

For close-up portraits, Angela and Jonathan's lens of choice has been the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM, now replaced in Canon's range by the updated Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM – an exceptionally light 600mm f/4 lens with a five-stop Image Stabilizer that lets you shoot handheld, letting you react more quickly. Angela's favourite long lens, "it's pin sharp and you can use the Extender EF 1.4x III to boost it to 840mm for bird photography or super-tight portraits," she says.

Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x

A professional grade f/4 lens with a built-in 1.4x extender for huge flexibility and focal range for sports and wildlife. Jonathan's favourite lens, "it's unbeatable for quick changes in composition and very sharp – and with the 1.4x you get a reach of 280-560mm," he says.

Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM

An L-series fisheye zoom lens offering a choice of full frame or circular image and a wide angle of view. "You don't want to overuse it, but it gives a totally different look to a scene," say Jonathan and Angela. "There are times when the 360-degree circular look on a full-frame camera works a treat."

Accessories

Canon Extender EF 1.4x III

Ideal for press, sports and nature photography, this compact extender increases the focal length of Canon L-series telephoto or telephoto zoom lenses by a factor of 1.4x, with higher AF accuracy and improved communication between camera and lens.

Camera jacket and rucksack

"When we fly, we pack three camera bodies into a camera jacket as carry-on gear – and bring the 600mm and 200-400mm in a rucksack that fits airline hand luggage standards. We try to avoid checking lenses in to the hold of the plane," Jonathan explains.

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