Wildlife Photography


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This presentation is an introduction to wildlife photography. I use my photographs as examples.

This is the presentation I use as the basis for my talks in Irish camera clubs.

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Wildlife Photography

  1. 1. WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY Aidan Finn, LIPF http://www.aidanfinnphoto.com
  2. 2. Agenda •Why wildlife? •Equipment •My normal setup •Zoos •Garden birds •Mammals •Birds in flight •Try something different •Camera/lens configurations throughout
  3. 3. Why Wildlife •Got into photography in 2005 •Canadian Black Bears •“Big Cat Diary” and “Wild Trials” •Safari in early 2006 •The thrill of seeing something special •A challenge like no other
  4. 4. My Equipment •SLR with fast focus and great frame rate •Canon 50D, Nikon 300D or higher •At least 2 * 4GB Extreme III or faster cards •Image tank of some kind •Camouflage •Hide •Solid flexible tripod and suitable head •BIG lenses: 400mm or more •I use Canon 40D, 100-400 L IS, 2 CF cards, Epson image tank
  5. 5. My Normal Setup My normal setup is: •RAW only ... Never JPEG •Centre weighted metering •Full manual with 1 stop over exposure •High speed frame rate •Centre point and AI auto focus •IS enabled on the lens I sometimes turn on: •Evaluative metering •Aperture priority
  6. 6. Camouflage •Old army uniform (Internet) •Dome hide Recommend: •Army surplus or USA hunting stores •As big a hide as you can get
  7. 7. Composition •Rule of thirds still applies •Subject entering the frame •Just like humans, the eyes are everything •Some sort of interest, beware Swans •Isolate the subject •Get down to the subjects level Rules are made to be broken
  8. 8. Composition
  9. 9. Zoos •Great place to practice •Very accessible •Still a challenge •Avoid hot days •Early morning or late afternoon
  10. 10. Fences •Better than glass •Get as close as possible •Long lens •Open the aperture for small DOF •Subject back a few meters from fence
  11. 11. Shot Speed •Subject isn’t standing still •Faster shutter speed for sharp photos •Learn how far you can push ISO •Use a noise cleaner in Photoshop •Fast memory cards recommended
  12. 12. Garden Birds •Need a bird friendly garden •Trees or shrubs, bird edible berries •Identify where light is •Place suitable feeders and food for your local birds •Watch birds to identify flight paths •Place prop branches or twigs with clean background •Photograph birds on prop branches
  13. 13. •Use a hide or garden shed •Use slow movements •Try to pre-meter and pre-focus
  14. 14. •Patience necessary •Bring water and snacks •Put your phone on silent
  15. 15. Mammals •Much harder to see/photograph •Identify locations ... Use contacts •Camouflage or a hide necessary in Ireland •Learn to track ... e.g. Dog VS Fox tracks
  16. 16. •Did I mention patience before? •Many shoots, few photos •Watch the wind and wear soft clothes
  17. 17. •Safari is an expensive option •Beware of budget trips with non-photographers •Try to stay in one place for several days
  18. 18. •Irish mammals are hard to even see •Can practice with ornamental deer
  19. 19. Birds in Flight •Went on trip to Norway with Mike Brown •Used his technique •Identify direction you will shoot •Meter from a middle reflective surface behind where the subject will be, e.g. Cliff or bright tree •Over expose by one stop •F5.6 aperture for speed •Centre point autofocus to avoid focus on wing tip
  20. 20. •You will get lots of missed shots •I found telescopic lens to be very flexible
  21. 21. •Be balanced •Be ready for quickest of moments
  22. 22. •You can get great shapes
  23. 23. Big Lenses •500+ mm lenses •Recently used an EF 800 F5.6 lens •Get a rock solid tripod with leg locking •Tiny viewing angle •Don’t go cheap on the Wimberly head •Takes lots of practice
  24. 24. Big lenses are a big load to carry!
  25. 25. •You can get really close
  26. 26. Space •I’ve learned this from recent critique and judging •Leave lots of space around the subject •Don’t fill the frame
  27. 27. Try Something Different •Posing subjects get boring •I’m tired of swans or deer doing nothing •Play with light and colour •Look for interactions between subjects •Search for a new viewpoint •Capture or blur motion
  28. 28. Playing With Light
  29. 29. Subject Interaction
  30. 30. Wildlife In Landscapes
  31. 31. Pro’s look for something different than amateurs
  32. 32. Be Responsible •Take only pictures, leave only footprints •Do not approach wildlife without knowledge •Be aware of other people •Plenty of laws regarding wildlife, e.g. birds of prey
  33. 33. Thank You!