Like the natural world she’s fallen in love with photographing, Merche Llobera’s portfolio is diverse and beautiful. Within, you’ll find everything from environmental studies to fine-art portraits, while images that capture quirky or comedic moments rub shoulders with those showing the brutal realities of survival. It’s a mix that reflects her life-long passion.
“I’ve loved animals since I was a little girl watching documentaries and reading National Geographic,” she smiles. “My journey shooting wildlife professionally started in 2019 with a Sony Alpha 7 III, which I used for underwater photography. Then I worked with the Sony Alpha 7R III and now the Sony Alpha 7R V, photographing safaris in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana… after seeing those special places for so long in books and on TV, real life was like a dream come true!”
“Every animal is different and so is their behaviour, so I try to reflect that,” Merche confirms. “And on a typical shoot, there’s plenty of time to do it. Say for example we’re shooting giraffes, I would try to photograph them both in their environment as well as close up, because out on the savannah, there’s a lot of beauty, too.”
Shown clearly in her simple, elegant image of giraffes striding across the plain, these are images that create an emotional response in the viewer. And that emotion can be amusement, too, as with her ‘head in the clouds’ portrait of a giraffe.
A very different image is her shot of a winner-takes-all fight between a young lion and a buffalo. “A lot of people feel uncomfortable when they see that photo,” she admits, “but it’s all part of the daily reality of nature. These are real creatures behaving in the way that keeps them alive. They’re not cartoons in a movie.”
“The good thing is that neither of them got killed,” she continues. “You can see that the buffalo has his horn in the lion’s flank, so it was 50:50. We saw the lion the next day and he was injured but alive.”
Again, patience was key to finding that amazing moment, she explains. “That day with the buffalo and the lion, there was not much happening. But you still need to be ready. You just have to accept it’s a waiting game – just like it often is for a lion or cheetah!”
“During that time, you can shoot a lot of images,” Merche continues, “and I think from my first safari I came home with 20,000! Even though my Alpha 7R V has high frame rates of 7fps and 10fps, I don’t want 2,000 pictures of the same thing! So I try to be strict, and work through images at the end of the day deleting what I don’t need.”
“The trouble is,” she admits, “with these Sony cameras, the AI-powered AF works so well that you don’t automatically have 100s of images that you can cull, because they’re rarely out of focus or unsharp! Everything looks great! The new tracking modes are particularly amazing, because moving animals just stay in focus for as long as you want.”
Merche is also a fan of the Alpha 7R V’s powerful 61 megapixel resolution, which means both masses of detail and the ability to create 26Mp stills in its 1.5x APS-C crop mode. “I often use the FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens, but if I need to get even closer, the crop mode turns that into an effective 300-900mm lens,” she explains.
Another aspect of the Alpha 7R V that Merche enjoyed is the sensor guard when changing lenses. “In these environments, I like to keep a lens on the camera and not change too much, because it’s dusty and dirty – and cleaning the sensor is a phobia of mine!” she laughs, “but with the Alpha 7R V there’s a clever curtain that closes over the sensor when it’s turned off, so I’m a lot more confident with that.”
If anything, says Merche, the ease and the quality of using her Alpha cameras has made her feel more in touch with nature. “If I had one wildlife photography tip, it would be to enjoy these experiences as much as possible,” she concludes, “and thanks to my Alpha cameras I can do that, because I’m not battling with the equipment to get the shots I want.”
“Whether you’re on safari or diving, sometimes you can go all day without seeing anything, but it’s always a great experience, meeting people who love nature as much as you do and being outdoors. And when you do get an opportunity, the Alpha cameras make it easy to capture – so you can fully appreciate nature as well as photographing it. It’s a beautiful world full of variety, and with the right gear, photography can go hand in hand with that.”