Thursday, November 11, 2010

Section 3 - Adventures with Wildlife

The closer you can get to wildlife, the better the chance you will have of getting more detail into a composition, and you will have more options on how to frame the photo the way you want it. One method of getting close to animals that are wary is a blind. A blind can be anything from a camoflague blind used for hunting to a vehicle. It is meant to hide human presence. Other options of getting close include slowly stalking on your knees in a way that avoids spooking the subject and shooting in locations where animals are used to human presence such as national parks or city ponds. Another method can be to bait the subject into coming closer and being more comfortable, where it is legal.

Knowing about the subject you are going to shoot is also very important. Without knowing the habitat you will never find the subject. Knowing behavior is important also in many ways. You need to know where your subject will be during the best shooting lights and when your animal will show up in certain areas to provide the best scenes. The more homework and scouting you do, the better your composition can be because you can set up in the right spot to get the background and lighting that you need if you know exactly when an amimal will show up where.

Shooting animals in motion can create a very realistic yet abstract way to make what would be an ordinary image a little bit more exciting. Making images with motion blur is really difficult to achieve on just one shot, so this isn't an easy thing to try and do with very rare and wary animals. The best places to try and experiment with motion blurs are areas where the animals will not be spooked for very long. Another option is during mating seasons or the rut where animals are more focused on each other than they are humans. Action shots are most readily available during the early daylight and late evening hours for most species.

The foreground, midground and background planes can all be used to add to the main subject. With most compositions the subject itself will take up the midground plane. Some things that could be placed in the foreground include grasses, tree leaves or limbs, or flowers. The important part of this is that it is part of the species natural environment. For example a picture of a mountain goat would be helped by a jagged rock in the foreground that is out of focus but you can still tell what it is. The background could be composed of mountains or trees or other out of focus subjects that can add color or habitat implications to the photo.

The two most important ideas to take from this section are to do your homework and take a lot of pictures once in the field. Going out and just hoping to see an animal will more than likely turn into a waste of time. Seeing the animal is only part of it. Getting close enough to capture detail and being in the right position to have the foreground and background wanted are very important in getting an excellent composition rather than an average one. Taking a lot of pictures is also very important when trying to get action shots. Just as with people, eyes close and animals look away.

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