Christopher Kilkus Photographer

Christopher Kilkus Fashion Advertising Photography Website

Author: Chris Kilkus (page 1 of 17)

Photo Of The Day By Justin Katz

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Walking Behind Horsetail Falls” by Justin Katz. Location: Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.
Photo By Justin Katz

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Walking Behind Horsetail Falls” by Justin Katz. Location: Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.

“The hiking path that connects a series of waterfalls near the Columbia River Gorge actually winds behind and underneath this impressive waterfall,” says Katz.

See more of Justin Katz’s photography at www.jkatzphoto.com.

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including AssignmentsGalleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, FacebookTwitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

The post Photo Of The Day By Justin Katz appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.


Source: Outdoor Photography
Photo Of The Day By Justin Katz

{$excerpt:n}

Photo Of The Day By Scott Allan

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Very Superstitious” by Scott Allan. Location: Near Phoenix, Arizona.
Photo By Scott Allan

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Very Superstitious” by Scott Allan. Location: Near Phoenix, Arizona.

“Getting up close and personal with the teddy-bear cholla cactus, below the Superstitions,” describes Allan.

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including AssignmentsGalleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, FacebookTwitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

The post Photo Of The Day By Scott Allan appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.


Source: Outdoor Photography
Photo Of The Day By Scott Allan

{$excerpt:n}

Maximize Flash Use

Maximize Flash Use

If I could control any one aspect of every picture-making session, it would be the light. To bring your photography to the next level, you must take charge of the light. Controlling the light for large subjects, sprawling landscapes or cityscapes isn’t feasible, but for smaller subjects, there’s a way to impact the outcome. I strongly recommend the use of flash to add fill, backlight, a halo or rim effect. What once used to be intimidating is now easy to use, so there’s no need to shy away from flash any longer. It’s time to dive into the world of flash photography.

Maximize Flash Use

Flash—Basic Auto: The first step to bring your flash photography to the next level is to load it with batteries and slide it into the hot-shoe of your camera. Turn it on, and you’re ready to go. Most beginners start off using it to add light where it doesn’t exist—mostly indoors or at night. The flash illuminates the closest subjects. Those that are farther away receive less light. Those that are too far away receive none. With on camera flash, the background goes dark and the foreground-lit subjects take on bright intensity. While it’s great to use the basic setting and be able to make photos where light doesn’t exist, the light from on camera flash isn’t the most flattering.

Maximize Flash Use

Compensation: On the back of the flash, there’s a button that controls the output of light. Activate the button to add or subtract the amount of emitted light from the flash in comparison to what the computer chooses. On a sunny day at noon, go outside with a friend and have him or her wear a baseball cap. There will be a strong shadow across the face created by the brim of the hat. Use the light from the flash to illuminate that dark area. The same way a flash can add light to a subject in a dark room, it can add light to a dark area in an outdoor setting. Ideally, the flash on your camera will add light to the shadow area of the face. If too much light appears in the shaded area, use the Compensation setting on the back of the flash. Dial down the power toward the MINUS side. If not enough light is added, dial in PLUS compensation to tell the flash to ADD more light. Experiment with each setting and subject until you achieve the look you want. You now understand flash exposure compensation!

Maximize Flash Use

Slow Synch: Cameras come from the factory set to a given flash synch speed. Depending on the brand, it’s somewhere between 1/60th and 1/250th. Depending on the synch speed, the camera defaults to that shutter speed when flash is used. Let’s take a look at a given flash scenario: You’re in a room that has warm ambient light. You attach a flash because even though the light is warm, it’s not enough to illuminate your subject. The camera fires at 1/250th because it’s the default. The result is a bright subject, but the warm ambient light is lost—it’s now dark. The fast shutter speed prevents ambient light from building up on the sensor. Use Slow Synch to restore the ambient light. Set the camera body or flash (it depends on the brand as to whether slow synch is found in camera or on board the flash) to slow speed synch and place the camera on a tripod or other stable surface. Take a meter reading in aperture priority. Let’s pretend it’s 1/8 second. Because you set your system to slow synch, the camera sets the shutter to 1/8 instead of the default, which underexposed the background. The end result is that the main subject lit by the flash is properly exposed and the background is illuminated by the ambient light. The reason it works is that slow synch tells the camera to fire at a shutter speed that’s slower than the default. The shutter stays open long enough to record both the ambient light and the light from the flash—amazing. It’s essential to use a tripod with slow shutter speeds so the final image is sharp.

Maximize Flash Use

Visit www.russburdenphotography.com for information about his nature photography tours and safari to Tanzania.

The post Maximize Flash Use appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.


Source: Outdoor Photography
Maximize Flash Use

{$excerpt:n}

Photo Of The Day By Robin Black

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Avocet Landscape” by Robin Black. Location: Owens Valley, California.
Photo By Robin Black

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Avocet Landscape” by Robin Black. Location: Owens Valley, California.

“I never tire of shooting avocets while working on my Owens Lake Project, and this small grouping of avocets on an almost-still Owens Lake immediately caught my eye,” says Black.

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including AssignmentsGalleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, FacebookTwitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

The post Photo Of The Day By Robin Black appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.


Source: Outdoor Photography
Photo Of The Day By Robin Black

{$excerpt:n}

Photo Of The Day By Marcella Raust

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Sand Dunes” by Marcella Raust. Location: Great Sand Dunes National Park And Preserve, Colorado.
Photo By Marcella Raust

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Sand Dunes” by Marcella Raust. Location: Great Sand Dunes National Park And Preserve, Colorado.

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including AssignmentsGalleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, FacebookTwitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

The post Photo Of The Day By Marcella Raust appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.


Source: Outdoor Photography
Photo Of The Day By Marcella Raust

{$excerpt:n}

Photo Of The Day By Patricia Davidson

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Elowah Falls” by Patricia Davidson. Location: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon.
Photo By Patricia Davidson

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Elowah Falls” by Patricia Davidson. Location: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon.

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including AssignmentsGalleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, FacebookTwitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

The post Photo Of The Day By Patricia Davidson appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.


Source: Outdoor Photography
Photo Of The Day By Patricia Davidson

{$excerpt:n}

Photo Of The Day By Koustav Maity

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Coral Tree” by Koustav Maity. Location: La Jolla, California.
Photo By Koustav Maity

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Coral Tree” by Koustav Maity. Location: La Jolla, California.

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including AssignmentsGalleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, FacebookTwitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

The post Photo Of The Day By Koustav Maity appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.


Source: Outdoor Photography
Photo Of The Day By Koustav Maity

{$excerpt:n}

Celebrating Our National Wildlife Refuge System

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
A bison walks in front of the Denver skyline at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City, Colorado, a true combination of Colorado’s prairie, wildlife, urban life and mountains.

I visited my first refuge, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, about 20 years ago, a few years after I finished college. The approximately 1,000-acre refuge is located on the southwest side of Philadelphia about 20 miles from where I grew up in southern New Jersey. It was also the first urban wildlife refuge in the United States Refuge System, a fact that I was unaware of during that visit.

Back then, I didn’t know what a refuge was or that land was preserved so close to a city of more than 1.5 million people. The refuge sat next to U.S. Interstate 95, and it was noisy but it was a refuge — a refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life, a sanctuary for wildlife and a great place to learn about the outdoors.

On that first visit to Heinz, I saw great blue herons, wild turkeys, mute swans and groundhogs. I wandered along the boardwalks skirting the marsh edges, on the trails through eastern hardwood forests and past ponds full of lily pads. This little oasis in the urban environment got me hooked.

Since then, I have visited close to 75 national wildlife refuges, from Louisiana, where I photographed the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker at Big Branch Marsh, to Alaska, where I photographed polar bears in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I have also returned to that refuge along the interstate in Philadelphia where they now have a nesting pair of bald eagles.

Each of the refuges I have visited has something unique and special, but some of my favorites are Bosque del Apache in New Mexico, Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Colorado, National Elk Refuge in Wyoming, Sonny Bono Salton Sea in California, Alaska Maritime along the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, and Seedskadee in Wyoming. All are fantastic places for wildlife photography.

 Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
A male northern pintail (anas acuta) comes in for a landing on a sunny afternoon at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico.

About The National Wildlife Refuge System

In 1903, a group of citizens, scientists and conservation groups encouraged then-President Theodore Roosevelt to create a national wildlife refuge as a safe haven for birds from hunters going after their feathers. Fancy, colorful plumes were popular in hats and other garments, and the demands to satisfy this fashion trend caused the demise of large populations of birds such as roseate spoonbills, great egrets and reddish egrets. That first refuge was Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, and it was the beginning of the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System.

Today, 114 years after the establishment of the first refuge, the refuge system has grown into a science-based organization with a mission to “administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the properties, which encompass more than 850 million acres of land and water across 566 refuges, 38 wetland management districts, two national monuments and five marine national monuments from the Caribbean to the remote Pacific. Within this massive volume of land and waterways, the refuge system is home to 700 of the 786 species of birds, 250 of the 311 reptiles and amphibians, and 220 of the 428 mammal species in the United States. Eleven hundred species of fish also call a refuge home.

Every state and U.S. territory has at least one national wildlife refuge. Four hundred and sixty refuges are open to the public, and most have no entry fee. For the 35 refuges that do charge an admission fee, a Federal Duck Stamp or a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass (the national parks annual pass) will get you free admission. Purchasing these passes helps put funds back into the system for additional land acquisition, maintenance of public lands and habitat restoration. There really is no reason not to get out, explore your refuge properties and test your wildlife photography skills at these public places.

“Every refuge has its story,” said Charlie Blair, refuge chief for the Midwest region of the National Wildlife Refuge System. “A number of refuges were established because of setting aside the refuge just for one animal — an endangered species — but then the refuge has value for other wildlife species. Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge was established because Atlantic puffins breed at only five places in the U.S. Bison at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, panthers at Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge and Delmarva fox squirrel at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland — they all have a unique story.” And photography has played a big part in conserving these lands.

Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge
A sea otter (enhydra lutris) does a little bathing before going to sleep for the evening in Kachemak Bay near Homer, Alaska, an area that is part of the 3.4 million-acre Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

“Photography has helped by transmitting images to the public, giving the public the ability to see what is on the refuge,” said Blair. “Photography has been used by a lot of concerned people to help improve and build refuges, such as the National Bison Range in Montana. Many refuges also have photo contests that go to supporting refuges. Many have photo clubs. For example, John Heinz [National Wildlife Refuge] has a club aimed at high school-aged kids as a way to introduce them to refuges and the outdoors.”

Planning Your Visit To A National Wildlife Refuge

So where do you start? First, find a refuge near you or find one near where you may be traveling. I start by using an app called myRefuge. It is a free app that provides maps and information about locations for wildlife photography, bird watching and outdoor recreation for 300 national wildlife refuges throughout the U.S. Next, I go to Google maps and do a search for national wildlife refuges. The app will bring up markers for the refuges closest to your location.

Another great place to find refuges near you is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website (fws.gov/refuges). On the homepage, you will find a map of the U.S. Select your state or the state you will be visiting, and a map will pop up marking each of the refuges in that state. You can also search for refuges by zip code, in an alphabetical list or listed by state.

Research what animals you might see at the refuge you are visiting. The USFWS website is again a great source of information for learning about the animals at a refuge. Each refuge has its own website, linked from the main refuge system site, where there is information about the refuge, wildlife at the refuge, and how to plan your visit.

I find one of the best ways to learn about wildlife at a refuge is to do a photo search on Flickr or another photo-sharing website. Make sure your search terms are specific for your visit, such as including terms like wildlife, spring, morning, etc. Many of the photos will have captions and information about where the photographer took a photo, best times of year, time of day and behavior to look for in an animal. Blog posts by other photographers may also provide a wealth of information about their favorite refuge.

National Wildlife Refuge near Walden, Colorado
A white-tailed prairie dog (cynomys leucurus) peeks out from his burrow covered in fresh snow at Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge near Walden, Colorado.

Finally, before I head out to a refuge — even if it is just a morning visit to Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, the refuge closest to me — I make a shot list and a list of my goals for the outing. What animals am I looking for during my visit? Is the season best for seeing great horned owls nesting or is it deer rut season? Where will I find the animals I want to photograph on the refuge? Are there any seasonal closures at the refuge that may hinder my photographic goals for the visit? Do I want to visit at first light or late afternoon? How will that affect which animals I see and where I need to position myself for the best lighting?

Photo Experience At A National Wildlife Refuge

Now it’s time for the fun part — getting outdoors into the fresh air and photographing wildlife.

Many of the national wildlife refuges have auto tour routes. This is an ideal way to photograph wildlife on a refuge because a car functions very nicely as a blind. Shy species, such as pronghorn, white-tailed deer and Virginia rails, will not flee as quickly next to a quiet car. Move slowly as you progress along an auto tour route. A vehicle backing up typically spooks animals. If you drive slowly, while not blocking traffic, you will have a better chance to see an animal on approach rather than whizzing by it.

Another option is to take to the more than 2,100 miles of land and water trails in the refuges. In Alaska, I love to use my kayak to photograph wildlife from the water. When you quietly float through the water with minimal use of the paddles, sea mammals will become tolerant and sometimes even curious, giving you great opportunities to photograph sea otters and harbor seals. Or try getting a different perspective of moose grazing along a shoreline by floating on a lake or down a river, such as the Green River in Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge.

To find wildlife, look for different shapes or colors in the landscape, such as round shapes in a marsh of tall, straight cattails where an elusive bittern might be hiding, or large white ovals indicating the tail ends of bighorn sheep blending into the brown landscape of a rocky butte. Or look for watering holes where animals may gather at different times of the day.

Use your full lineup of lenses. Take photos about the animal’s environment as well as the close-up portraits. It is great to capture the full-frame portrait of a sandhill crane at Bosque del Apache, but the landscape, with its southwest colors and stunning sunrises, also offers a lot in a photograph.

Contact the refuge to see if they permit blinds. Since some refuges allow hunting, pop-up blinds are also permitted for photography. Just be sure to avoid hunting season as the animals will be very skittish and more than likely not easy to find. When you contact the refuge about blinds, also ask them if they offer photo permits. Some refuges offer, for an additional fee, a short-term photo permit. Rules and availability change by refuge, so speak with the refuge directly.

Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, northwest Missouri
A killdeer stands in a patch of fresh green grass and purple flowers in early spring at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, formerly called Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, in northwest Missouri.

At the refuge, remember some general safety and consideration guidelines: pull off the road safely, don’t block traffic, don’t stop in the middle of the road on a hill where oncoming traffic can’t see you, and use pull outs. And always remember to photograph wildlife safely and responsibly by respecting closures and keeping safe distances. Do not chase, feed, bait or otherwise alter the behavior of animals.

The general photographic guidelines apply when photographing wildlife. Make sure the eyes of your subject are in focus, keep clean backgrounds by avoiding distracting colors and objects, connect with your subject by getting to their eye level, and go early and return late for the best light and wildlife activity.

Protecting Our Refuges For The Future

If you want to do more, consider volunteering at a refuge. “Get involved,” said Blair. “Promote your local refuge with work off site, become a part of the refuge community or join a Friends group. There are about 200 Friends of Refuges groups that are a level up from volunteer opportunities.”

If you are interested in conservation photography, Blair suggests contacting your local refuges with project ideas. Such projects might include invasive species control; photography of endangered or threatened species, such as the monarch butterflies, Attwater’s greater prairie chicken or the Louisiana black bear; or building a photo blind through the NANPA Foundation Photo Blind Grant Program.

Expect to see me out there trolling around the national wildlife refuges. There are so many that I enjoy revisiting, but still so many I want to visit for the first time.

The refuges at the top of my wish list are J.N. “Ding” Darling in Florida for its birds, Kodiak in Alaska for its sea mammals and brown bears, Aransas in Texas for the whooping cranes, Fort Niobrara in Nebraska for elk, and Tule Lake in California for eagles.

I have a goal of visiting all of the national wildlife refuges before I can no longer carry a camera. I’ll be a very busy photographer for a long time, thanks to the conservation of these public lands.


Dawn Wilson is a professional photographer and writer specializing in photography of wildlife at high altitudes and high latitudes of the Rocky Mountains and Alaska. See more of her work at DawnWilsonPhotography.com.

The post Celebrating Our National Wildlife Refuge System appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.


Source: Outdoor Photography
Celebrating Our National Wildlife Refuge System

{$excerpt:n}

Lessons In Wildlife Photography

I’d like to share with you lessons in wildlife photography, learned from my experience, on a range of topics, from practical matters like gear and technique, to more intangible insights that guide my work.

Lessons in wildlife photography - fox family
Two red fox kits play beside their father as the sun sets in a suburban backyard in Lansing, New York.

Gear

First let me say I am not a gearhead. I don’t keep up with the latest trends. I find what works, and I use it. I feel like there is too much attention on always having the very latest and greatest, and the art and the soul of photography get lost in the discussion. But there is no denying that good gear is critical to wildlife photography, so I will first touch on what I see as the essentials and mention what I have (though remember, I am a working professional, and my needs are more extreme than they may be for non-pros).

Camera. In general, I think the most important features of a top wildlife photography camera are: an accurate, fast autofocus system; a high rate of frames per second (at least 8 fps); high ISO capability (as so many of wild animals are most often seen at dusk and/or dawn); very good image quality that can handle moderate cropping (at least 20 megapixel resolution); and weatherproof build quality. I have a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. For me, it’s the best Canon camera currently on the market for quality images of fast-paced wildlife action. My camera is full frame, but APS-C and smaller sensor cameras can be a big asset for wildlife photography, as the magnification factor of a smaller sensor enhances telephoto reach. I am hoping to someday have all of these features in one camera, plus a silent shutter.

Lens. A telephoto lens is essential for wildlife photography. I usually use my Canon 600mm f/4, often with a 1.4x teleconverter attached, especially when working on birds. Shorter lenses are also necessary for larger animals or to include more of the animal’s setting. Other wildlife photographers I know also tend to reach for their 400mm, 500mm or 600mm lenses most of the time. There are a number of zoom lenses that I know many have success with as well, available from a wide range of manufacturers now. Always keep in mind that the larger the maximum aperture of any lens, the more light it will allow in. For wildlife photography, look for lenses that open up to f/4 or even f/2.8. Teleconverters are also an essential part of your arsenal, to extend your reach when you need it. I have both the Canon 1.4x III and the Canon 2x III.

Tripod and head. Don’t skimp on the tripod. If you care about producing sharp images, a tripod is just as important as your camera and your lens. If you skimp on your first tripod, you will actually spend more money when all is said and done, as I promise you will eventually decide you need to buy a good one, which isn’t cheap. So skip the first step and spend wisely on an excellent tripod upfront, one that is well reviewed, well regarded, and weighted for your telephoto lens. I have a carbon fiber Gitzo 3530LS. Make sure to take good care of your tripod, especially when it comes to salt water, disassembling and rinsing it thoroughly as soon as possible after exposure. As for a head, I highly recommend a gimbal; no other kind offers the articulation, flexibility and stability this style does for long lenses. I use a Wimberley WH-200.

You don’t really need all the gadgets. When I first got into photography, I spent a lot of time reading photography magazines and online photography forums, taking note of all the camera accessories that it seemed I needed to possess to be a “serious” nature photographer. My drawers and cabinets are crammed with long-forgotten items that I never really found a reason to use. Now I try to head out with as few accessories as possible. I want to be able to move swiftly and unobtrusively, and bring only what I can carry.

Know your camera. I’ve learned that few people actually read their camera’s manual. If you don’t know the ins and outs of your camera, and how to use it to its fullest potential, you are limiting yourself. If the language is too hard to decipher, see if a dummy guide exists for your model. Or, if you’re a visual learner, look up a YouTube video on how to operate an aspect of it, such as the autofocus configuration. I guarantee you, a free YouTube video exists on how to use pretty much any feature of just about any digital camera. Look it up.

Memory cards matter. A lot goes into your photographs: time, money, sweat. Entrust your hard-won images to quality memory cards that have the fastest write speed available and a known track record for reliability. I use SanDisk and Lexar. There are 256GB and even 512GB cards available now, but I get nervous and don’t like to put all my eggs in one basket, so I typically use 32GB cards, though I do have a couple of 64GB.

Buy equipment insurance. It’s worth it for the peace of mind, and for the inevitable, sometimes very costly, mishaps. NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association) offers a special program and rate to its members, including worldwide protection and 24-hour claim reporting.

Techniques

Get low. Doing so brings you and the viewer into the animal’s world and will yield much more engaging, powerful images. It’s also a great way to appear less intimidating to your subject, increasing the likelihood it will stick around. Spread your tripod low to the ground or use a skimmer pod. Be prepared to get messy.

Lessons in wildlife photography - Serengeti lion
A lion at rest in the first golden light of morning on the Serengeti plains, Tanzania.

Background is everything. OK, not everything, but it’s almost as important as the animal you are photographing. Most of the time I shoot wide open, at the largest aperture, so that I have a very narrow depth of field, which means the subject is sharp and the background is blurred out. I also look for uncluttered backgrounds and am always considering whether moving a few inches or feet to the right or left, or slightly lower or higher elevation, will look cleaner. Run your eye around your entire frame as you shoot, and be aware of distracting elements poking in.

Break rules. Knowing the basic rules of composition, light and traditional camera settings are a must. But then use your unique creative vision to depart from those rules when called for. This oft-used quote is apt for photography: “Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.” Absolute statements are thrown around a lot, like, “the sun must always be directly behind you, with your shadow pointing at the subject.” I can’t imagine how boring photography would be if we all subscribed to such a thing. Sidelighting and backlighting are hugely creative tools.

Birds in flight. I have learned from many frustrating outings to not try to photograph birds in flight unless the wind is at my back. Birds fly into the wind. If the wind is not coming from behind you, all you will get are butt shots. Light is also best when it comes from behind you for flight shots, though backlit flight shots can be stunning and unique.

Be ready. Set and mentally register your baseline settings just before you head out. Do a few test shots given the light you are working with. Whether you are driving around looking for wildlife or heading out on foot, be fully ready to pick up your camera in a moment’s notice and photograph an animal that may only be still for two seconds. I have gotten some great opportunities because I was all set to shoot when I stumbled across something amazing. Wildlife is very quick and mostly wants nothing to do with us. Always be ready.

Shutter speed is king. For me at least. I shoot in manual mode, and I think about what it is I want to photograph and then set my shutter speed at what I think I will need. Even if the species is not very fast, the behavior I may be looking for happens very fast. I tend to handhold my camera, and I am very fond of action shots of birds, so I am always trying to put my shutter speed as high as I can, given the available light and my ISO setting. For birds in flight, for example, I prefer to shoot at a minimum of 1/2500 or 1/3200 sec.

Do what works. For you. Back button versus front button for focus. Nikon versus Canon. Manual versus aperture. People are fond of declaring one way as the only way, constantly seeking to pit one thing against another. Find what is best for you. In many cases, it’s what you do with a tool or technique that makes it successful in your hands. At the same time, don’t be afraid to try new things. Stretch yourself.

Finding willing subjects. Go where birds are used to people, like city parks, a well-used nature trail or the entire state of Florida. As much as I love to photograph in the boonies, far from signs of other humans, it is very difficult to get close to birds and other animals that are not used to seeing people and thus take off at the first sight or sound of you.

Intangibles

Train your eye. Look at work by photographers you admire. Look at what’s already out there for any given species. Try to photograph behavior or poses that haven’t been done to death already. It’s how you make your work stand out. But don’t just look at photos. Look at the work of great artists like Caravaggio and Monet, study the use of light, color and composition.

You don’t have to go far. I hit this note over and over. There are incredible stories and photo opportunities right where you live. I have traveled to many places, but my favorite photo I’ve ever taken is of bobcats two miles from my home. Make your yard a haven for wildlife. Plant native shrubs, trees and flowers in your yard to attract birds, bees and butterflies. Create natural cover for small mammals.

Go deeper. Become intimately acquainted with a location or with a species. This is how you end up with unique, meaningful photos. Whether it’s knowing how light will best illuminate the contours of a landscape you have come to know by heart or witnessing intimate moments in the life of a beaver that has become accustomed to your presence, this is the best way to build a portfolio and tell a story.

Know your subject. And work it hard. Read up all you can about the animal you are going to photograph. What kind of habitat can you find it in? Does it perform an interesting mating display? How sensitive is its nest or den, and should you forego the opportunity? Borrow from the wisdom of hunters and trackers on how to find and stalk wildlife. Take a birding class or a tracking class in your area. Join natural history and birding email lists.

Tune in. Be in tune with the seasons, the weather, the cycle of the sun. Knowing the natural history and seasonal rhythms of the particular region you live in will be an immense help to your wildlife photography. If you know that waves of migrating warblers tend to push through your area during the first week of May (like here in the northeast), clear your calendar that week and be out all day, every day, if you can. Know the weather and your light. Apps like Dark Sky or MyRadar make it easy to plan your day around weather events; TPE (The Photographer’s Ephemeris) is helpful for angle of light. If photographing shorebirds or wading birds, tide information is critical, too.

Integrity matters. Being honest with others about how you obtained your images is increasingly important in a world where fabrication is commonplace. If you want to be respected and have longevity as a nature photographer, your treatment of your wild subjects and your honesty with colleagues, clients and viewers is of the utmost importance. Now that we have the internet and social media, it’s very easy for others to uncover many details about you and your history.

Above all else, care for your subject. I truly believe that building ethics into our fieldcraft is just as critical as understanding our camera or how to use light. We all make mistakes as we learn and grow in this pursuit. The important thing is applying awareness and knowledge moving forward. If you’re a photography instructor at any level, I urge you to both teach and model ethical field behavior. The overarching principle for all of us as wildlife photographers must be that the welfare of our subject is more important than our photo. Every time. Never forget that these moments out in nature are just about photos to us, but to wild animals, every single moment is about survival. Keep it safe, keep it wild.

The post Lessons In Wildlife Photography appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.


Source: Outdoor Photography
Lessons In Wildlife Photography

{$excerpt:n}

Photo Of The Day By Kevin Russell

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Quinault Flows” by Kevin Russell. Location: Olympic National Park, Washington.
Photo By Kevin Russell

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Quinault Flows” by Kevin Russell. Location: Olympic National Park, Washington.

“One of the countless little streams that flow through the Quinault Rainforest,” describes Russell.

See more of Kevin Russell’s photography at www.krbackwoodsphotography.com.

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including AssignmentsGalleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, FacebookTwitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

The post Photo Of The Day By Kevin Russell appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.


Source: Outdoor Photography
Photo Of The Day By Kevin Russell

{$excerpt:n}

Older posts