OK, OK, I just liked the title for this post. But it gives me a chance to talk, again, about my firm belief that almost all wildlife images are improved by getting down and dirty. Yes, I mean dropping down to the animal’s eye level – no matter what sort of filth you may have to wade through. Yes, you can get dirty doing this, but there are two enormous benefits: you get a much more personal perspective on your subject, including real eye contact, and typically a much softer, less distracting background. (You’d be amazed by how often photographers shoot from a standing position, and throw away both of these advantages.)
Here, my ground-level angle on a Galapagos Land Iguana makes him seem almost dinosaur-like, marching towards me in menacing fashion. This is another gift of this vantage point; even a small animal can appear much larger and more dramatic. So don’t squander a good photo opportunity by shooting down on your subject. Give them the respect, and the center stage, that they deserve.
My other reason for this post, of course, is to announce that I will be the National Geographic photography lecturer in the Galapagos for two trips this November. We will be shooting not only an amazing variety of reptiles (at close range) but also marine mammals, seabirds, and dramatic, stark volcanic landscapes. And with the legendary fearlessness of the animals in the Galapagos, this is a wildlife photographer’s paradise. For details on the two trips in November, see here, or contact me. But let me warn you, if you come with me – you’re going to get dirty…!