Wildlife Photography: A Guide to Digital Nature Photography
|November 18, 2012||Posted by admin under Nature Photography|
Capturing the beauty and glory of nature is extremely rewarding and a strong test of your camera skills. Of course, nature is a very broad subject, and the aspect of it that appeals to you is a personal preference. It might be the birds and insects in your garden, flowers, or animals in zoos or in the wild.
As a subject, nature is probably the most demanding in terms of lenses. Although it is possible to tackle most subjects with the lens that came with your camera, there is no doubt that you will need extra lenses to really enjoy this challenging genre of photography.
When shooting flowers, you usually have the option of shooting in their natural site or relocating the blooms indoors. Clearly, the latter is not always possible or desirable, but shooting outdoors can be difficult if the conditions are working against you. Sunny, windy days can be difficult because the contrast can be too high, and your subject will be swaying around too much to get a sharp image.
Canon EOS 7D, F / 5.5, shutter speed 1/60, ISO-400 Brenweite 80 mm Metering Mode portion, Exposure Program Normal
Days when a bright sun is gently diffused by high clouds often yield the best results. There is enough light to allow plenty of aperture and shutter speed choice, and it is diffused enough to keep the contrast down to manageable levels. Yet the light is still directional enough to bring out the delicate colors and textures of the flowers.
Early morning light often brings the best results. The low sun gives the light a warm quality that also highlights textures, and there is often dew to add an extra dimension. You can even use a water spray to introduce your own droplets.
There are plenty of techniques for successful floral images and camera positioning is an important one. Either step back and use a telephoto zoom to make the most of floral carpets of color, or move in close and zero in on a bloom or two. In both cases, you will have stronger compositions by using unfussy backgrounds because the colorful blooms can stand out.
If you move indoors, you can take control of the situation by picking only the best specimens. As for lighting, window light works well, but strong direct sunlight is harsh and contrasty. Diffused sunlight is the best; this can be supplemented by a sheet of white card stock to reflect the light. Position this on the opposite side of the window to gently fill in any dense shadows.
Colored card stock can be a suitable background, but position it a good distance behind your subject so shadows are not cast onto it. A technique for realistic backgrounds is to take some out-of-focus photos of fields, meadows, and lawns. Get a few large prints made and use them as backdrops.
Bugs and Small Animals
The outdoor world has many interesting insects and tiny animals worth photographing. Their size means that you need a lens with a very good close-focusing (macro) ability to get a reasonable size subject in the viewfinder. To allow a comfortable distance between you and the subject – so you don’t disturb it – a 150-mm or 180-mm telephoto macro lens is ideal.
Using close-up lenses is another option. Close-up lenses screw onto the front of the lens like a filter to allow closer focusing. They are available in a variety of strengths – expressed in diopters – and they are relatively inexpensive when compared to a macro lens. Close-up lenses are also clear, so there is no light loss. If you combine a +2 or +4 diopter closeup lens with a 70-200 mm telephoto zoom, you will have a reasonable magnification.
Keep in mind that getting in this close means that you need to watch the shutter speed. If you are using a macro lens close to the subject, dropping below a shutter speed of 1 /250 sec is risky. To be on the safe side, use a camera support – but only if your subject isn’t likely to flee before you take your shot.
If you do not own a macro lens but you want to try close-up photography, buy an extension tube. This fits between the camera body and the lens to enable closer focusing than normal. There are no glass elements within an extension tube, so the optical quality of the lens is not compromised. However, there is a slight light loss, which the camera meter will automatically take into account. Some tubes still allow autofocus, but it is usually a good idea to switch to manual focus.
While a macro lens is essential to photograph insects and plants, you will need a telephoto lens to make the most of birds and mammals. In fact, you will often need something very long to take a decent picture of distant subjects. A long telephoto, such as a 300 mm or 400 mm lens, will not only provide a viewfinder-filling image of the subject, it will also help you crop away a messy foreground and background. This is especially helpful because it is obviously not possible to move wild subjects in front of a more attractive background.
This lionesss was captured on a safari at a focal length of 700mm – a sensible precaution considering the nature of the subject.
A small focusing error or the slightest hint of camera shake will ruin a picture shot with a long lens. Therefore, it is important to doublecheck the focus, and stick with fast shutter speeds even if you are using a support. If lighting levels are insufficient for action-stopping shutter speeds, increase the ISO sensitivity until high speeds are possible. This will increase the level of digital noise, but it will be offset by sharp pictures.
Whether you are photographing at a zoo or on safari, you have to be ready to catch fleeting moments of interesting behavior. If you miss something, you may have missed it for good. Be prepared and shoot plenty of shots, and you will end up with many images that will make you proud.
Professional Wildlife Photography Kit
Depending on your choice of subject, you can also include macro lenses for close-ups and bright prime lenses (such as a 200mm f/2 or a 400mm f/2.8) for forest shots or other dark scenes.
Books on Nature Photography
Digital Wildlife Photography
Wildlife photographer David Tipling explains how digital equipment has changed the art of photography and shows how photographers can adapt their craft to exploit this new technology. He guides the reader carefully through every aspect of digital wildlife photography, referencing his own stunning photographs with technical notes and detailed captions.
Concise instructions are provided for cameras and lenses, field craft, locations, composition, post-processing, image manipulation, publication and more.
Success with Wildlife Photography (Success with Photography)
Anyone with a passion for wildlife and wild places will find beautiful inspiration in this comprehensive, thoroughly illustrated guide. Aimed primarily at the keen amateur or semi-pro, Success with Wildlife Photography reveals the secrets that have worked so well for Steve and Ann Toon in their decade as professionals.
It provides expert advice on cameras, accessories (such as zoom lenses and filters), and other necessary equipment, as well as all the techniques needed to get that fantastic shot – whether in a lakeside hide or on a jeep-safari chase. An invaluable section on the digital darkroom explains essential workflow and post-processing issues, and how to output your images.
Wildlife photography is creating a great deal of wide-spread attention in all corners of the world these days, in particular amongst innovative photography enthusiasts in spite of the difficulties that comes along with it. Wildlife photography can be taken as a great leisure activity or occupation if it is approached appropriately and to do that means possessing the desired talent and know-how.
Listed below are a number of very absolutely necessary hints, on how to get started on successful wildlife photographing.
Get some information
It is definitely recommended to have sufficient idea about the region you plan to carry your wildlife photography before your arrival. This will put you in a position to plan and understand what to expect with regards to the sort of animals you’ll come across, the dwelling spots of the animals and the precise times of the day that might be hassle-free for taking shoots of animals.
Video: Top 3 Tips for Wildlife Photography
Steve Parish is a multi-award winning photographer and pioneer of photographic Australian publishing. He has won numerous awards including the Australian Photographic Society’s Award for Contribution to Nature Photography. In this video Steve shares his Top 3 tips for wildlife photography.
The target being photographed must be given sufficient space in the event of taking a photo shot at some animals. 80 per cent of the image in focus not the natural environment needs to be the primary focus of anyone planning to get started on wildlife photography. This can mean, relocating as close as possible to the species to take shots because it will help capture your subject in greater detail.
Take multiple shots at any given time
This is extremely important. At all times ensure you own a camera which can take multiple shots at a time, this will avoid a problem whereby a camera will have to stop to process a formerly taken picture before resetting to take another. Yet another additional benefit of this kind of a camera, will be that, it can be utilized to capture different postures of your subjects within quite a few clicks of the camera. Cameras with such capabilities are not hard to come by nowadays, as most of the cameras in the stores come with such functions.
Be on the alert for any reaction from the creatures you want to photograph. Animals are unpredictable and can make many moves within a short space of time. As a result of that to be able to take photos of animals in numerous postures, one needs to master to be fast in taking shots. This also means that, the camera and framing will constantly have to be in ready positions at all times.