Canon 5D Markii • Canon 400mm USM f-5.6 L Series Zoom Lens • Canon 100mm-400mm L Series Zoom Lens • Canon 60 mm Macro Lens • Canon 2X Converter • Canon 1.4X Converter • Canon 24mm-75mm Wide Angle Lens • Wireless Shutter Release • Manfroto Tripod • Manfroto Ball Head with squeeze grip • Doghouse Blind
Apple MacPro 8-Core 2.26 Ghz Intel Xenon w/ 30 GB DDR SDRAM w/ 5 TB Harddrive (total)
• Apple MacBookPro
Nature Photography Suggestions
Planning plays a key role in the overall success of any photographic endeavor. Survey and check your equipment, have ample battery and memory (or film) backups. Decide what is the right amount of equipment to cover your possible needs. Check the weather forecast and if at the coast, know when the high and low tides are. Check a map so you know where the sun will be at different times of the day. This often changes what location I start and finish a day at. Planning is definitely key.
Know your subject, know the location. So many information resources are available to us today that this vital part of planning gets easier all the time. Maps, books, weather forecasts and the experiences of others are easily found with a simple web search. The more I know about where I am going and what I am likely to encounter, the better the results of the trip, every time.
This is the action of preparing. Make the final decision of what inventory items will go. Clean lenses and sensors, charge batteries, clear memory cards, buy ample film and begin to pack. Remember what items need to be accessed quickly and easily and which don't. Consider the clothing you will be wearing is not too bright and is appropriate for the weather.
The best suggestion I have to offer sounds a little unbelievable, but it is true for so many of the moments I have captured. It is simply this; "see the photo before it happens." I know that sounds a lot like trying to predict the future and actually, it is. So many times when I have encountered wildlife I have tried to guess where is this animal going? Where would I like it to go to? What is it doing? Is it going to keep doing that? Where is it going to? When is that likely to happen again? What surroundings would make a good background? Where is the light best? This line of thinking has put me in good position with my equipment properly adapted and ready to shoot many times. The more I practice this the better I seem to get at it.
For me, I always keep mindful of where the sun is. This can affect where I start from. Whenever possible I keep the light source behind me. Imagine what you might see and preset your equipment accordingly. Look up from time to time. When your come upon a shot, be aware of the background and how it might affect your exposure. Check different angles to remove any unwanted foreground or background objects or colors. Zoom in, zoom out, and remember to try some vertical shots. Keep the most negative space in front of the animal's line of sight. Consider how the end viewer's eye might wander around the photograph or follow strong lines.
Move Like a Cat
Stalking wildlife takes patience and smoothness of movement. When I find an image I like to capture, I take a few pictures and then slowly move in, take a few more shots and then move in again. Always watch the reaction of the animal. Be patient, the odds are that your subject is probably not going to flee the scene (until disturbed). Most animals will tell you with their actions if you are moving too much or getting too close. If so, step back and wait until it goes back to what it was doing or seems calm. The more relaxed the subject the more natural its actions will be. Use objects around you as a blind, stay low and keep your shots at the level of your subject whenever possible.
Keep It Simple
Avoid busy and multiple subject images. Think about the basic behavioral essence or single story that the photo might convey. Decrease the focal length of the shot with aperture f-stops to blur or eliminate clutter and separate the subject. If the subject itself is complex then visualize it as a single mass.
Filling The Frame
The closer you are to filling the frame the more detail you capture. So getting close to the subject is ideal, but this is never easy and not always possible. This can be done with expensive long lenses, but there are other ways. The larger the bird the farther away from it you can be to fill the frame, so if you concentrate on larger birds that helps. Try exploring public places where birds are acclimated to humans such as your back yard feeder area, local parks, zoos, and public beaches. Another way to get close is to use a blind, such as your car to take the picture through an open window. Inexpensive blinds can often be found at local retail stores in the sports/hunting department; many go on sale after the season has ended. When all else fails try just sitting still.
Have fun! Share your experience and adventures with a friend. Whether you capture that one great new shot or not, enjoy the process. Most of all have fun!