Wildlife Photography: Getting Close

posted on 4th of february, 2011

Have you ever wondered how wildlife photographers get images that have the animal large in the frame? Most would say, you must have a really long lens. Well, yes I do have a 600mm and both a 1.4X and 1.7X teleconverter; but a long lens is useless over a long distance because of heat, atmospheric haze and general junk in the air.

Really, to get good images of wildlife, you must get close to the wildlife, Problem is, most wildlife do not like or trust humans. If we are clearly visible, they will usually not be so visible.

One solution is your car; most wildlife are fairly tolerant of cars and will allow a closer approach than if a person is on foot. It is important that you do not make quick moves in the car and that you turn off the engine before taking any images (reduces vibration).

In the middle of never-never land; we do not have cars. But we still need to be hidden from the animals. One solution is to use a commercial blind or hide similar to this blind. You can see the zippered sections in each side and you can also see my long lens poking out and my flash extender poking out the blind. Of course, it would be better to be in a white blind in the middle of this snow scene but this is the blind that I have. ''

Another solution would be a home made blind using available materials found in nature. You can use branches for the uprights and use reeds for cover the sides; I have also used bales of hay in the past to made a blind. There is a product called a pocket blind; basically a big camo sheet you put over your head and camera-good for travel because it is small and easily transported.

Of course, for aome wildlife, it is easier to bring them to a make shift studio that to try to get close; like these frogs.

Sometimes, the animals will come to you. I had a big black bear come out of a tree, walk down a slope and cross the trail within two feet of me, then go back up the slope and up another tree. 600 pounds of black fur, two feet from my face, no need to check you heart rate-it is racing. Another occasion, I was hiding within some bushes by the side of a lake photographing moose. Moose have very bad eyesight but awesome hearing. So I was being very still and getting some nice images. Soon, this moose, this is her in this image, decided to come investigate what was in the bushes (me). She came within a couple inches of my face; she had not used mouthwash that day or brushed her teeth in a good while. Nevertheless, she was a good kisser :)

Comments (16)

Posted by Meryll on February 09, 2011
who-hooo, two feet of bear and no iron bars between you? Terrific!
Posted by smartview27 on February 09, 2011
Great stories and images!
Posted by Iwhitwo on February 08, 2011
Good stuff John, thanks again for sharing your experiences and sense of humour!
Posted by Leahmae on February 06, 2011
awesome - a couple other things you need is patience and time.......
Posted by Scottysally2 on February 05, 2011
What a great experience, love the picture of the Moose. :)
Posted by Laurasinelle on February 04, 2011
oh my god what a lovely experience! great blog, thanks for sharing!
Posted by Yuritz on February 04, 2011
thanks for sharing your experience,wildlife photography it's something that always makes me think about the beauty of our World and even something I'd try...so best whishes to you!
Posted by Egomezta on February 04, 2011
Great blog... You made me laugh with the last two sentences.... Thanks for sharing.
Posted by Physi28 on February 04, 2011
I have experienced your comments, it is interesting that on some areas were many people practice jogging, the birds do not mind you passing by quite near to them up to the moment where you stop, then you become a suspicious and potentially dangerous guy! Congrats for your great work!
Posted by Lauriey on February 04, 2011
Great photos and stories!
Posted by Sobek85 on February 04, 2011
nice shots
Posted by Tan510jomast on February 04, 2011
wildlife photography. sounds interesting , and healthy lifestyle, being out there with mother nature. even if not for sales but for myself..., this alone would be enough reward for me if i were living somewhere i can do like you do.
yes, maybe one day with my earnings from stock I will move out of the city and do it too, but for my own self ;)
lucky you.
Posted by Thanatonautii on February 04, 2011
Hahaha! That`s funny! A kiss from a moose! :P Thanks for this useful thoughts! You are great!
Posted by Starblue on February 04, 2011
I love wildlife photography :-) I wish you a lot of successes with images of wildlife, a lot of joy during making images! :-)
Posted by Markogt on February 04, 2011
Good blog article! Nice to read and good recommendations! Loved the photos!
Posted by Bevanward on February 04, 2011
Usefull comments and experiences - all the best getting close. I totally agree. Great portfolio best of luck with the sales.

Comments (16)

This article has been read 1644 times. 2 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Moose Henderson.

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Professional Wildlife Photographer working in Russia and North America.

Jackson, US

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