"National Audubon Society Guide To Digital Nature Photography"
Part Three: Adventures with Wildlife
Part Three of the "National Audubon Society Guide to Digital Nature Photography" by Tim Fitzharris discusses 'adventures in the wild'; examining such ideas as getting closer to wildlife, capturing wildlife in action, and composing portrait shots of wildlife.
The first chapter in part three involves being able to get close to the subjects while keeping both ourselves and the animals safe. Fitzharris explains that it is easier to take shot of animals that are less spooked by our presence, whether it is because they are used to human interaction (for example, at wildlife reserves or parks) or because they don't find humans as threatening (for example, if they rarely have any human interaction). In order to take good shots of our subjects, we must also make sure that we do our homework on the subject. It would be helpful to know where the subject is found, so we are able to locate them easily and hopefully predict where they're going to be, what they're going to be doing, etc.
In this chapter, Fitzharris also discusses specific strategies to use when shooting wildlife. You may want to photograph subjects that will be weary of you, so the use of a teleconverter lens will become helpful in this situation. To get close, you may have to use some of the stalking strategies he discusses--keeping low to the ground and moving slowly and quietly when the subject is not looking at you. However, if you are going to get close to them, make sure you don't intimidate them or back them into a corner where they feel trapped. You should allow them to have an escape route so that they can leave if they're feeling uncomfortable. By staying calm and low, you seem less dangerous and confrontational, so they mostly likely won't feel as threatened by you. He also discusses blinds in this chapter, which can be useful in hiding your presence and take shots of unsuspecting wildlife. Fitzharris gives examples of some different types of blinds you can use or make, such as vehicles, trees, tents, and wearing camouflage.
The second chapter talks about how to capture wildlife in action, using what we've learned in the previous chapter about getting close to the subject. In addition to researching about the subject and their habitat, its also beneficial to know the seasonal activity of the subject. Fitzharris gives good examples of what time of the year it would be better to see different kinds of wildlife action. There are a variety of these kinds of actions, from yawning, to howling, to fighting, to courtship displays, which can make each photograph more appealing. Along with this information and knowledge, it is also important to have a schedule, be on time, and be prepared, so that you have what you need for each different scenario.
Other helpful tips from this chapter include having a steady camera, with a tripod that is sturdy and low to the ground. Make sure they you are comfortable when you set up, since sometimes you have to be patient and wait in order to get the shot you are looking for. When shooting subjects, don't worry about taking a lot of shots; the more you take the more likely you will be to capture a good one. This relates to being prepared and making sure that you have enough memory by bringing an extra memory card. This chapter also discusses how to make a stage or setting for your shot. Once you hove your subject you must get in the right position and angle, with the right lens and zoom, to get a good setting or background. By picking your angle and position you make sure that the subject is completely in the frame with good lighting and good focus. Remember to be patient (but ready)and try and observe the subject for a pattern in their behavior so you can guess what they will do next.
The last chapter in this section describes useful tips in taking portraits of wildlife. Most often then not, telephoto lenses prove extremely important in taking wildlife portraits. With the extra distance you can take close up shots of wildlife without getting to close. It is also important to build your scene usually with a foreground, midground, and background. The best portraits are the ones that are well thought out having a good subject that is most impressive. The expressions on the subject must be clear and in focus in order to capture feeling and emotion in each shot. Being able to relate to the emotion of the animal can make the shot more appealing.