In our last installment, Getting Started in Photography, we looked at getting started in photography by seeking a camera that suits the task we’ve set for ourselves. The choices are many and the process can be a challenge but also very enjoyable.
Having found a camera you like, the next step is to learn the camera’s basic functions and capabilities. Much of that will be presented in the operating manual and the remainder can be determined by simply experimenting with the camera under different light situations and learning to make adjustments to the camera’s settings. With that knowledge in hand, you can begin to seek out the subjects for your photos. Since wildlife is the subject matter of this post, it’s time to understand the birds and animals that you hope to photograph.
Regardless of where you live there are many species of wildlife that you can attempt to photograph. In most urban settings birds and animals are present. In the more remote settings they are abundant. Learning the most you can about them and their habits will aid you in finding ways to feature them in a pleasing image. The best way to learn these habits and use them to your advantage is to observe them from a distance and take note of any characteristics that will give you an edge is getting closer than you might otherwise get. As far as wildlife photography is concerned, the closer the subject the better in most cases. A good pair of binoculars go a long way in assisting you in this endeavor. Once you learn a bit more about the bird or animal you are seeking you’ll get much better photos of them!
Some of the things I look to exploit when photographing wildlife are based in the habitat in which they live, the seasons in which they are present in your area, and the time of day they are around most often. For example, seeking waterfowl in my area during the summer is less rewarding than in the fall due to the fact that they migrate north leaving relatively few local birds to photograph. The local birds that remain are nesting which means they are difficult to locate and like all nesting birds they should not be disturbed for ethical reasons. Fortunately there are many species that are present year round and I simply choose those that give me the best opportunity to photograph them. Once I have a subject in mind I determine the best location and time to find them available. Most of them are more likely to be active feeding and drinking in the early morning and late evening hours. That means that I can photograph much of the morning, get some lunch and review my photos, and go back out in the evening for another chance at a good shot. Careful planning enables a person to get shots that most photographers may not get.
The more you know about wildlife, their preferred environments, and the times you might find them available, the better your chances of getting a “once in a lifetime” shot.
Chuck will close out his contribution with a post on how to present your photos with regards to composition and editing. So remember to subscribe to our website posts and follow us on Facebook.
We’d like to thank Chuck Rondeau for being a guest writer on our blog to help promote our ongoing 2017 Calendar Photography Contest found HERE. Entries are open to all and the deadline of September 15th is fast approaching!
Chuck Rondeau is an accomplished wildlife photographer and painter residing in Port Angeles. You can find his work on Facebook at Chuck Rondeau Wildlife Art.