Wildlife photography

Wildlife photography is devoted to capturing interesting animals in action, such as eating, fighting, or in flight. Although usually shot in the wild, game farms are also a frequent location for wildlife photography.

The techniques of wildlife photography differ greatly from those used in landscape photography. For example, in wildlife photography wide apertures are used to achieve a fast shutter speed, freeze the subject's motion, and blur the backgrounds, while landscape photographers
prefer small apertures.

Wildlife is also usually shot with long telephoto lenses from a great distance; the use of such telephoto lenses frequently necessitates the use of a tripod (since the longer the lens, the harder it is to handhold). Many wildlife photographers use blinds or camouflage.

The Shoot: You must be prepared! You may be miles from the mall.

Pack the right gear. The Boy Scouts of America follow the motto, "Be Pre-pared." That’s good advice for wildlife photographers--who must be prepared for a wide variety of photo ops.

Choose your lenses carefully. For my animal portraits, my basic lenses are my 70-200mm zoom and 100-400mm zoom. When an animal is far away, I use a 1.4x tele-converter on my 100-400mm zoom, which when set at 400mm gives me an effective focal length of 560mm. For pictures of animals in their habitats, I use my 17-35mm zoom--when I can get fairly close. If not, I use my 70-200mm zoom.

Don’t forget filters. I use a polarizing filter to darken the sky and to reduce reflections on water. I use a warming filter to give my pictures deeper shades of red, orange, and yellow, a skylight filter to protect the front element of my lens, and a graduated filter to darken the sky when it’s much brighter than the land in my pictures.

Film. Pack way more than you think you’ll need. I use fast film for low light and fast action shooting. Lately, I’ve been using ISO 200 film pushed one and two stops. For bright-light shooting, I use ISO 100 film, which produces nice enlargements with no noticeable grain.

Batteries. Here, too, bring more than you think you’ll need. Autofocus lenses and motor drives, essential for wildlife photography, use up battery power fast. Don’t be caught without power. I pack a lot of batteries, and I’m glad my wife is sometimes along to carry them (as well as all my back-up gear: extra lenses, camera bodies, etc.).**