We first became acquainted with Andrew Suryono's name when we spotted his 'Orangutan in the Rain' photo among contenders for the Sony World Photography awards earlier this year. As we later found out, he's a DPR regular and his photo eventually took first place in Sony's Indonesia National Award category. He earned a trip to London to collect his award, as well as a Sony a7S and Carl Zeiss 24-70mm lens.

So how did Suryono, a self-described 'accidental photographer' come away with his prize-winning image? Some heavy rain clouds, a weather-resistant camera and a little luck all helped. Find out the story behind the shot.


By Andrew Suryono

I took this picture in a park in Bali, Indonesia. It was around 2pm during the rainy season, during which the clouds act like a huge diffuser for the sun, making the lighting appear soft on your subject. The photo was taken during a family vacation. I didn't seek it out intentionally. It's always good to carry your camera as you never know what's going to happen!

I used a DSLR with the 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens for this shot. I zoomed to 160mm to get the composition that I wanted. Like most of my wildlife shots, I shot it handheld. I never use a tripod for wildlife (with the exception of bird photography) because it slows you down and might cause you to miss the moment.

I relied on my camera's high ISO, my lens' large aperture and image stabilization for this shot, while shooting in Aperture Priority Mode. I always use my lens hood to protect the front element of my lens, and I never use any UV filters. By using a lens hood, I was able to prevent water droplets from the rain forming on the front element of my lens. Both my DSLR and lens are weather resistant.

I went ahead with the shot knowing that I was risking damaging my camera and lens

The moment happened in an instant. The rain suddenly started, and this baby Orangutan took a Taro Leaf and put it on top of his head to protect himself from the rain! I really had no time to put a cover on the DSLR and lens. I went ahead with the shot knowing that I was risking damaging my camera and lens. I also got wet myself. Thankfully, I got the shot and everything was safe in the end.

For most of my wildlife shots, my favored aperture is F2.8. It's not too large that you risk missing your focus, and it separates the subject and the background well. Because I wanted to freeze the moment, I had to make sure I got a fast enough shutter speed. I always start at 1/500sec for my wildlife shots, so I increased my ISO to 400 to get at least 1/500sec.

You really can't repeat a scene when shooting wildlife, so your best bet is to shoot in burst mode and then pick the winner on your computer. I always use burst mode for wildlife photography. It's also important to make sure you have a large enough memory card to store all of those images!

Sorry to disappoint, but I really didn't do much in post processing for this image

The question that most people ask is 'How much post processing did you do with this image?' My answer is 'Not much.' Sorry to disappoint, but I really didn't do much in post processing for this image. I cropped the image a bit and increased the vibrance slightly. That's it!

I believe that great images are made on the scene, during capture and not in post processing software. My philosophy is that you should use processing to make a good image look great, not to make a bad image look good.


Andrew Suryono learned photography by accident and has since grown into a travel photographer who has won several International Awards. You can learn more about him on PhotoSeis, his personal photography website. His photo gallery can be found on SmugMug.