You always have to be on the look out when photographing animals such as monkeys! Always. And constantly be ready with your camera. You just don't know what's going to happen, when their expressions are going to be priceless or when they are going to attack. I love how this macaque is relaxing, keeping his underside against the evening warmth of the little wall. In this case you can't think too much about your composition, but instead you need to make sure the face is sharp.
Decoding the shot:
When photographing people and animals the pose and expressions are what you need to focus on. Use a simple background or blur it and make sure your subject is clear and well separated from its background. Then focus on pose and expressions. In this case the macaque wasn't moving so I wasn't too worried about the position of the hands and other limbs. The pose was there! With a moving person or animal take several shots and then later choose the one with the best movements, the one that looks graphically better and well separated. Because I was photographing the whole body of the macaque, I had to jiggle my composition a little; I decided to give a sense of location with a couple of people and another macaque in the background. I also left some space in front of the main subject to give breathing room.
To blur the background you want to have a prime lens at about f2.8. Unfortunately, I only had a simple zoom lens so I zoomed in as much as I could with my lens - 105mm in this case - and used the smallest F number: f5.6 in this case. You also want to have a fairly fast shutter speed to freeze the action and avoid motion blur. In this case I had to increase my ISO to reach 1/500sec shutter speed.
IN A NUTSHELL...
- blur the background: zoom in and use a small F number
- separate your subject from the background
- use a fast shutter speed (1/250, 1/500sec, etc...)
- focus on pose and expressions
- give space in front of your subject
- Optional: give a sense of location