How to Wildlife Photography Techniques; Hide and seek

When we were kids we all loved to play hide and seek.  Finding a good hiding place was not always easy.  Hiding from wildlife can be just as difficult, but doing it well can improve your chances of getting some truly amazing photos.  The debate about the effectiveness of camouflage for wildlife photography seems to vary from what you read to who you talk to. It’s funny because the camouflage clothing industry thrives with the hunting community who have seemingly accepted its effectiveness for years.  I’ve personally experienced the effectiveness of camouflage use in wildlife photography and don’t need much convincing.  I don’t think that visual camouflage  will make you a better photographer but if used properly it will improve your opportunities.

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Everybody wants to see a cat

The local wildlife preserve has an unusually diverse flora and fauna given its size and location.  One mammal that is native to West Texas and the preserve and always a treat to see, is the Bobcat.  On most days I arrive just before sunrise in order to increase my chances of seeing one but today I was a bit later due to heavy fog.  Shortly after arriving, walking down the trail, I noticed movement and discovered a single mature Bobcat was ahead of me on the trail.

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I feel the need. The need, for speed.

One of the most iconic lines from the 1986 movie Top Gun. If Maverick had been out shooting  geese in flight, instead of shooting  planes with Goose, his top priority would still have been the need for speed, but a few other things would have come in handy as well.  Almost every wildlife photographer starts out photographing birds. Birds are the most readily accessible and abundant wildlife in our environment.  In the beginning capturing a simple still portrait like the cardinal below is challenging and fulfilling.  If we manage something sharp and clear we’re satisfied and happy.  Sooner or later though we become comfortable with the techniques associated with still images, and there is a desire to challenge ourselves further.  For birds this means capturing birds while in flight.

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The Golden Hour

Photography is all about the light. In fact, without it photography itself would be impossible. We all know that the character and quality of natural light changes throughout the day. Who hasn’t enjoyed watching the sunrise and marveling in the golden light that is present for the hour after. In photography the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset are referred to as the Golden Hours. Daylight is redder and softer than when the Sun is higher in the sky. When the sun is near the horizon, sunlight travels through a greater depth of atmosphere, reducing the intensity of the direct light, so that more of the illumination comes from indirect light from the sky reducing the lighting ratio. More blue light is scattered, so if the sun is present, its light appears more reddish. In addition, the sun’s small angle with the horizon produces longer shadows. Continue reading “The Golden Hour”

ISO, ISO, it’s off to work we go.

Yesterday I awoke to overcast skies and fog as is often the case in winter. Although the conditions were not ideal, I headed out to see what I could photograph. I knew from the conditions that exposure was going to be a challenge. Knowing that Ducks in flight would be the most readily available wildlife to shoot, I would most likely have to use a higher than normal ISO to achieve an adequate shutter speed. Now if you don’t know what ISO is then here it is. In Digital Photography ISO measures the sensitivity of the image sensor. The same principles apply as in film photography – the lower the number the less sensitive your camera is to light and the finer the grain. Higher ISO settings are generally used in darker situations to get faster shutter speeds. Higher ISO’s cause more “noise” in digital photographs. Continue reading “ISO, ISO, it’s off to work we go.”

Action shots- shutter speed, frame rate, a little bit of luck, and alot of patience.

I never no what’s going to happen when I head out in the morning. I set out early this morning with the intention of photographing some Wood Ducks that I had recently seen on a local playa. I love Wood Ducks because of their vibrant colors but find them very difficult to photograph. Somehow those colors just dont look the same in a photograph no matter how much saturation I use. When I arrived at the playa however I heard the characteristic chattering call of a familiar bird and it wasn’t long before I spotted the loudmouth. It was a Belted Kingfisher. Continue reading “Action shots- shutter speed, frame rate, a little bit of luck, and alot of patience.”