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A pastime enjoyed by many is the observation of wildlife in their natural environment. From common birds stopping at a backyard bird feeder to a rare view of an elusive animal, the animal kingdom is available for all of us to enjoy. Capturing photos of wild creatures is a natural extension of bird and animal watching. It’s never been easier than now to take photos of wildlife. The technology provided by camera makers has removed many of the obstacles wildlife photographer faced in the past.
Telephoto lenses (including zoom telephoto lenses) are needed to draw the subject closer. Single-lens reflex cameras allow you to interchange lenses easily, so they are the best camera type to use. What lens to choose depends on many factors, such as: A. Type of animal or bird you intend to photograph. B. How close you expect to get to the animal. C. Whether you will stalk the animal or shoot from a blind. Photographing birds requires a very long lens because they are both elusive and small in size. A lens somewhere between 300 and 600mm will work well for bird pictures. If a blind, bird feeder or bird bath is used, a lens between 200-300mm will be adequate. For wild animals, a lens between 135mm and 600mm can be used, depending on the factors listed above. These lens focal lengths are all based on 35mm film format—digital SLRs increase the telephoto power by 1.5X to 2X. If you’re shooting exclusively with a digital SLR, you can get reduce the focal length accordingly. Zoom lenses in the focal length ranges given will be more versatile then fixed focal length lenses and will allow you to adjust the magnifying power quickly for better cropping. Most zooms are optically slower (larger f-number), so you may need to compensate by setting the camera to a higher ISO.
6 is a good choice for bird and wildlife photography. so an outer garment of a different fabric will be better. A nylon jacket makes a lot of noise when you move your arms and when brush rubs against it. deodorant and other strong artificial scents when you go out to photograph an animal that has a good sense of smell. There are different positions you can use that will give your camera steadier support. Another position is to lie prone other object can be sued as a camera rest when shooting in the prone position. Teleconverters can be used with all your lenses so they add a great deal of versatility to your lens inventory at a very modest price. sensory characteristics vary among the individual species of birds and animals. What you’re trying to do when stalking a bird or animal is to be as inconspicuous as possible. so be aware of wind direction. If you step on a twig or create any other noise. freeze absolutely still. They are very alert to motion. use a shutter speed of 1/500th or faster when hand-holding a camera with a 500mm lens attached. an important plus for this type of photography. A long telephoto zoom lens like this Tokina 80-400mm f4. Of course. A good rule of thumb to remember is to use a shutter speed at least as fast as the focal length of the lens you’re using. get closer by slowly walking towards it while it is feeding or otherwise occupied. Snap pictures at opportune moments. move around very slowly and quietly. so that it the animal takes off you’ll at least have some photos.A teleconverter can be used to increase the magnification of a lens. freeze. dress in drab clothing so you’ll blend into the background better. STALKING There are basically two ways to get close enough to your subject to take pictures--stalking and shooting from a blind. Most camera gunstocks have a built-in cable release for added convenience. After you have spotted your quarry. when hand-holding the camera. Teleconverters mount between the lens and camera and are available in 1. with sight and hearing a little less acute.4X. so it’s the method most beginners use. You always want to be downwind from the animal. a tripod will give maximum support but a monopod can also be an advantage when space and weight must be conserved. Most birds have much better sight and hearing than humans. so a slight movement on your part will greatly increase the chances of it bolting for safety. 1. When the animal looks up.7X and 2X versions. A long telephoto or tele zoom lens magnifies camera movement as well as the subject size. so do a little studying before you go out photographing. They reduce the amount of light by 1 to 2 f-stops. Stalking doesn’t require as much equipment or preparation as shooting from a blind. For example. Of course. You can also kneel on one knee and rest your supporting elbow on the other knee for better support. Avoid wearing anything shiny. When you’re in habitat that looks promising. but a less developed sense of smell. Avoid using aftershave. A camera gunstock will improve steadiness by bracing the camera like a rifle. When you’re getting ready to go out photographing wildlife. Cameras or lenses that have image stabilization improve steadiness by 2 to 4 shutter speed steps. A standing position with your elbows close to your body and one foot slightly in front of the other is the easiest position to assume. but they couple to the camera’s metering system so you don't have to manually compensate for their effect on the exposure. . Mammals usually have a very good sense of smell. Use any available cover to your advantage. The animal may ignore the sound if there is no movement to give away your presence. even though they might not be as close as hoped to get.5-5. so a firm support becomes increasingly important. The most notable drawback is the loss of autofocus when a teleconverter is used with a lens slower than about f4.
Another way to introduce it is to build it a few pieces at a time in its final position. aluminum tubes or wooden rods can be used for the frame. Look for a location that is within camera range of where you can expect to see your quarry. Blinds may take many shapes and forms. a house window overlooking the feeder will provide a suitable blind. Migrating and nomadic animals won’t be alarmed if a blind suddenly appears. Introduce it to them by placing it a distance from the game trail or area of activity. Rocks. Then gradually move it closer to them over a period of a few days so they will be used to seeing the blind before you begin using it. hook & loop material. or purchase a readymade one from a store selling outdoor sporting goods or hunting supplies. Some scouting and background knowledge on the species you want to photograph will help you to pick a good site for your blind. A portable tent-like blind can be made using an opaque fabric such as canvas covering a lightweight frame. A simple screen like this will work fine when you’re overlooking a game trail or other area where your quarry regularly appears. . Some species of birds and animals don’t associate cars with human. The view should be clear and the lighting should be good during the time of day you intend to use the blind. You will then want to build a blind. A long release cable or other remote control device will enable you to take pictures a distance away and not alarm the bird. Artificial scents sold at hunting supply stores can be used to mask human scent. but territorial animals will. Birds in their nests can be photographed by mounting a camera close to the nest on a tripod or other support.SHOOTING FROM A BLIND A blind is some type of shelter in a bird or animal’s territory which hides you from your subject. because you’ll be recognized as a threat once you get out. The simplest way to make a blind is to use objects that are already in place as a starting point. If you want to take pictures of birds at your bird feeder. There may be locations lacking suitable materials for making a blind. natural-looking color. shrubs and fallen tree trunks work well. It should fit the frame well enough so there will not be any flapping in the breeze that will scare away your intended subjects. Spray paints in shades of green and brown can be used to add a mottled camouflage look to the fabric. A bean bag on the edge of the car window or a car window mount makes a good camera support. Ten pegs and guy lines can be used to anchor the blind to the ground. Stay inside the car as mush as possible. PVC plastic pipe. depending on the type of wildlife you’re after. You’ll want several openings in the fabric large enough for the lens to shoot through. A tree blind or stand will enable you to get close to animals since they usually don’t pay as much attention to what’s above them as to things on the ground. so a parked car can sometimes be used as a blind. or you many want to photograph wildlife which requires greater screening from all directions. You can then add branches and other vegetation to it to provide more concealment. You can use zippers. The fabric covering should be in a subdued. or elastic bands to close the lens openings from the inside.
what they eat. ph. feeding. such as preening. You’ll want to know the time of day in which they are most active. The most important thing to remember when taking wildlife photos is to be ready. Be sure that you have plenty of film or digital camera memory with you and that there’s plenty in the camera. most birds and animals will strike poses that constantly change. There may be more failures than successes. remove the lens cap. compositions and capturing interesting actions without investing a large amount of time. A good understanding of the birds and animals you want to photograph is important. Some positions will be more interesting than others. especially when you first start out. You’ll also want to know which of their senses is best so you can take that into consideration when approaching them. and what kind of cover they prefer. Some expeditions will yield good photos while others may be fruitless. etc.HELPFUL HINTS Wildlife photography requires time and patience and perhaps development of new skills. make any exposure settings and pre-set the focus.porters. When you “strike it rich” and are close to a bird or animal that is unaware of you. When you’re getting near where you expect to see some activity. time of day. Even at rest. Parents may desert their young or nest if disturbed sufficiently.com . so be careful not to excite them. 1-800-553-2001 www. take plenty of pictures. A zoo or wildlife preserve where animals are used to seeing humans can be used as a training ground for wildlife pictures. watching for danger. It will be easier to watch the animal’s movements and behavior than in the wild where glimpses of an animal may be few and far between. You’ll get a chance to experiment with lighting. so take plenty of pictures to make sure you have some of the best positions.
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