Thursday, April 28, 2016

Wildlife Photography: Getting Close

Have you ever wondered how wildlife photographers get images that have the animal large in the frame? Most would say, you must have a really long lens. Well, yes I do have a 600mm and both a 1.4X and 1.7X teleconverter; but a long lens is useless over a long distance because of heat, atmospheric haze and general junk in the air.

Really, to get good images of wildlife, you must get close to the wildlife, Problem is, most wildlife do not like or trust humans. If we are clearly visible, they will usually not be so visible. 

One solution is your car; most wildlife are fairly tolerant of cars and will allow a closer approach than if a person is on foot. It is important that you do not make quick moves in the car and that you turn off the engine before taking any images (reduces vibration). 

I spent two years in Siberia. In the middle of never-never land; we do not have cars. But we still need to be hidden from the animals. One solution is to use a commercial blind or hide similar to this blind.
I have spend thousands of hours in a hunting blind waiting for the best photographs.

Another solution would be a home made blind using available materials found in nature. You can use branches for the uprights and use reeds for cover the sides; I have also used bales of hay in the past to made a blind. There is a product called a pocket blind; basically a big camo sheet you put over your head and camera-good for travel because it is small and easily transported. Many times, you can use your auto as a blind.

Sometimes, the animals will come to you. I had a big black bear come out of a tree, walk down a slope and cross the trail within two feet of me, then go back up the slope and up another tree. Six hundred plus pounds of black fur, two feet from my face, no need to check your heart rate-it is racing. Another occasion, I was hiding within some bushes by the side of a lake photographing moose. Moose have very bad eyesight but awesome hearing. So I was being very still and getting some nice images. Soon, this moose, this is her in this image, decided to come investigate what was in the bushes (me). She came within a couple inches of my face; she had not used mouthwash that day or brushed her teeth in a good while. Nevertheless, she was a good kisser :) 

 Enjoy your time in the wild but please remember, animals are wild creatures-they can be very dangerous and unpredictable.