7 Jan 2008

Photographing wildlife

Wildlife photography is a subject that has always interested me, but somehow I have never had the time to learn enough about it. Mostly because I have been too busy earning my living in other branches of photography - in the newspaper, magazine and commercial worlds.

To succeed professionally in wildlife photography you must be not only knowledgeable about your chosen subjects and their habits and habitats, you must also be totally committed. That can often mean sitting huddled up in a hide for hours, sometimes days, or even weeks at a time in order to get that unique shot. Very few photographers possess that level of patience – and I am certainly not among them.

There is, however, an aspect of wildlife photography that is still open to photographers like me. It’s a bit like street photography in that it calls for good anticipation, camera craft and fast reactions, and like street photography, it’s can be done while you are on the move. So there’s no need to be cooped up in a hide. You will also find that some of the old tricks used when photographing people in street photography come in very handy.

The technique involves capturing photographs of wild creatures within, and as part of, their own environment I suppose you might turn the idea on its head and say it is a type of landscape photography with animals in it. It can produce some very beautiful photographs, and they will not lack a powerful focal point. Now I know that a real wildlife photographer should be able to do this AND have the ability to sit in a hide, but I’ve already confessed to my shortcomings in that direction. If you feel the same, it might be worth a try.

As an example I have posted the picture of the stag in the forest.

I was walking along with the forest ranger just after dawn. As we approached a clearing in the trees he mentioned that he'd often seen deer cross this open space. That was all the warning I needed to be prepared. Sure enough as we looked across the clearing a stag appeared moving very quickly and with no obvious intention of stopping. Now its an old press photographers trick to shout out loud in a situation like this. You’ve got nothing to lose and there’s always a chance that the subject might just turn to look where the shout came from. Much to the ranger’s surprise, I yelled ‘STOP!’.

The stag stopped mid-stride and looked in my direction just long enough to get the picture. You see – street photography in the forest.

The photograph was taken on a 300mm lens. 1/500sec at f3.5, ISO 800. The centre of the image has been enlarged considerably.

1 comment:

altamiranyc said...

hehe, street photography in the forest. In Copenhagen, I did say "STOP" to someone and he literally "STOPPED" dead in his tracks...we both laughed about it later.

Your picture is phenomenal.