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Sunday, July 1, 2007

10 Tips For The Wildlife In Your Life

Expert techniques make for exciting, dynamic photographs

10 Tips For The Wildlife In Your Life
Become knowledgeable about your subject and learn patience.
There are all kinds of ways to gather information about wildlife. Internet searches, biologists and rangers at wildlife refuges, other wildlife photographers, libraries and bookstores are all potential sources.

Keep in mind that wild animals seldom do what you want, when you want. So you need to develop patience to capture those special moments. For example, following butterflies and moths with your camera can be frustrating. You’ll get many partial butterfly images as they take wing just as you press the trigger. Patience! Approach your subject slowly and stay at or below eye level. Use a telephoto macro lens for greater working distance when photographing small animals, and fill-flash for greater depth of field.

4 Know your equipment. After sitting in your blind for hours, a peregrine falcon flies by and you have only seconds to frame and shoot. It’s a great photo opportunity, but do you have the right lens to cap10 Tips For The Wildlife In Your Lifeture the image? Does your memory card have space?

Be prepared. Wildlife action lasts only seconds. That’s not the time to check your manual for camera settings or to dig through your camera bag for the right lens or a memory card. Read your equipment manuals, become familiar with all your equipment and know where it is in your camera bag before you get into that blind. Pack your camera bag the same way every time and know where each piece of equipment is located.

10 Tips For The Wildlife In Your Life

5 Pay attention to the environment, even in portraits. Pay attention to the environment, even in portraits. Most people want frame fillers of wild animals. But images that show the animal’s environment are often more stunning and give the animala sense of place. You can use shorter lenses and immerse yourself in wildlife photography without the need for those expensive super-telephoto lenses when you start out.

A portrait of an injured, captive bald eagle doesn’t tell you much about the eagle. An image of a wild bald eagle at home in its Alaskan temperate rain forest tells the viewer much more about the animal and gives it a sense of place.

10 Tips For The Wildlife In Your Life6 Understand the color quality of light. The light at sunrise or sunset warms up a subject's color and tends to light it evenly. An added benefit is that these hours are also active times for wildlife.

Unfortunately, the appearances of wildlife aren’t always in early-morning or late-afternoon light. When this happens, you hope for soft, overcast light. An overcast sky acts like a giant diffuser, evening out harsh glare. Metering exposure in this light is easier, too. There are no overly bright or overly dark areas to cause problems as long as you keep the sky out of the picture.

This light may come off as bluish, though. If so, a warming filter or a little fill-flash helps correct the color. A flash with -1 to -2 dialed in produces a well-exposed subject and a daylight-looking background. You can also adjust the white balance on your digital camera for overcast conditions.

Fill-flash also adds sparkle, or catch-light, to the eye of your subject. Without light reflection in the eye, an animal looks lifeless.


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