Wildlife- Getting The Shot

March 04, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

The greater Yellowstone area is a great location to do wildlife photography, but it isn't always as easy as it looks. To some extent it is always a game of chance, but there are some ways to tip the odds in your favor, so here are a few tips.

1. Educate yourself about the animal or bird you want to photograph. Are they typically close to water? Are they out and about all day long or just early morning and late evening? Plan your timing accordingly and always be early.

2. Trying to follow or chase animals is usually nonproductive and may get you in trouble with the Rangers. Often the best technique is to find a location that these animals frequent, get there early, anticipate where they may be coming from, and just quietly wait.

3. Be patient. Good photos are the result of patience and an investment of time. Animals are often sensitive to noise and movement- it's how they stay alive. If you are noisy you may scare them off without even knowing they are there. An exception to this may is if you are near a predator such as a bear- you WANT him to know you are there. It may cost you a shot but it's more important to be alive to share your photos. And they don't like being surprised at close range!

4. Plan your light. Unlike being in a studio, you cannot control the lighting, you can only control your reaction to it. Is the sky blue with direct sunlight? Is it overcast with diffused lighting? Is it a mix of the two? What will it be like during midday? What will it be like early or late in the day? That is often considered the best light (the golden hour) because the horizontal light and shadows add depth to the image.

5. BE SAFE. No photo is worth falling off a cliff, drowning in a stream, or being slapped around by a grizzly. Don't ever think that because an animal eats grass it is harmless. Bison and moose often show little reaction to humans until it is too late. Even deer and elk have attacked and severely injured people. And you cannot outrun any of these animals no matter how athletic you are!

 

Try not to be too disappointed if you don't always get the shot you wanted. It's not like photographing a building that sits and waits for you. Appreciate what you do see and be open to other opportunities, and you'll find that there are  many gifts waiting for you.


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