Wildlife

Camera equipment and technique for taking photos.
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Mark Curtis
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Re: Wanting to Be Better at Wildlife Photography

Post by Mark Curtis »

mckennacu wrote: Sun Sep 03, 2023 2:10 pm Hi everyone,
I am a photography student and would like to get to better at shooting wildlife specifically. My favorite subjects are animals, and my bucket list is to see a bear in the wild! Whenever I go to places that are said to have wildlife, I usually end up short (besides small birds). Do you have any tips, tricks and advice for a beginner in this subject?

Thank you,
McKenna
Hey McKenna, there are much more accomplished wildlife photographers here that could give you more detailed advice. But I have been fortunate from time to time.....most often for me they have been spontaneous, random experiences. I think the best photographers will study the locations, know the habits of the animals, and spend a lot of time in the area to get the best vantage point/opportunities to view closer.

You say "end up short"....I thought you meant that in a "not seeing wildlife" context, and not a "can't get close enough" sense. Seeing wildlife is always going to be somewhat of a crap shoot, though certainly there are places where you're going to see more. For example, you can EXPECT to see elk around Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park area. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint, they are so habituated to people that you can get fairly close without spooking them. Same with the bison in Yellowstone. Keeping in mind the rules about "approaching"....and your own safety.

Same with bighorn sheep and mountain goats on climbs (there are tons of fantastic mountain goat photos in this thread). Deer will freeze out of curiosity, but are generally more skittish than bison or elk. Don't discount the staying in your vehicle and open window shots....they might not be as "sporting", but deer and raptors will often let you get closer that way. Nice thing about a spontaneous encounter....you don't have to think about the ethic of disturbing them or rules about approaching. Or, in one instance....I was in North Park west of Cameron Pass, and noticed several moose in the brush south of Highway 14. I pulled off just trying to get any shot I could from a good distance. I was standing very close to my vehicle. One of them was so curious that it started walking towards me, and I just stayed in the same spot. It got to within about 30 feet and I got several good shots. That is not all that rare, but definitely not the norm either. In that case too....there are fewer people in that area, so that was more curiosity than habituation. That moose was young, but not a baby. And not acting aggressively or territorial at all. Just wanted to know what I was doing there.

Then of course there's the ubiquitous marmots at the higher elevations. They will usually let you get a shot of them at some point, in spite of the noise and retreating in rock hole histrionics.

Bears completely different. Harder to find and often will take off when they know you are there. I have seen multiple black bears in Colorado and other states in the intermountain West (and if you do enough hikes in your lifetime you will most likely see one sooner or later), but fewer (good) photos accordingly. Only two grizzly bears (sow and cub and lucky to get their photos).,,,southeast of Grand Teton National Park. There are places in Glacier National Park where there is a fairly good chance of encountering a grizzly bear on a trail, but that brings a whole new level of concerns!

Obviously a long zoom lens is important, though you can compensate some with crop sensor cameras and/or cropping the photo in post processing (though not without compromising quality at some point). I only have a 50-210mm lens, so I need to get pretty close....or crop later and keep to within 2000 pixels on one side). I used to have a 300mm lens on a Pentax DSLR, and that extra 90mm helped. But most serious wildlife photographers will often have 500mm or more. And then faster glass (f2.8 or faster) is always nice, but way more $$$!

I think best advice is to be patient. Accumulate gear over time, and just keep going into the mountains. Read books or online articles about it....and keep asking questions from a humble point of view. Your acumen will improve as your passion provides.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/46092977@N07/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Mark Curtis
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Re: Wildlife

Post by Mark Curtis »

Feral, but since in the wild....I think closer to wildlife than domestic:

ImageFeral Muscovy duck on the Deschutes River, central Oregon by Mark Curtis, on Flickr
http://www.flickr.com/photos/46092977@N07/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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WolverPete
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Re: Wildlife

Post by WolverPete »

A few pics from the last couple months while out & about enjoying Colorado..
https://www.instagram.com/peterkulvetephotography/
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Re: Wildlife

Post by greenonion »

WolverPete wrote: Thu Dec 07, 2023 8:33 pm A few pics from the last couple months while out & about enjoying Colorado..
https://www.instagram.com/peterkulvetephotography/
Really nice photos. Is that a red tail in the last shot?
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Re: Wildlife

Post by WolverPete »

greenonion wrote: Thu Dec 07, 2023 9:22 pm
WolverPete wrote: Thu Dec 07, 2023 8:33 pm A few pics from the last couple months while out & about enjoying Colorado..
https://www.instagram.com/peterkulvetephotography/
Really nice photos. Is that a red tail in the last shot?
First pic is a Blue Heron while kayaking at Cherry Creek Reservoir.
Second pic is an Eagle taken at Chatfield Reservoir while kayaking.
Third pic is a Redtail Hawk while biking on Air Force Academy grounds (Pikes Peak Greenway Trail).
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Re: Wildlife

Post by WolverPete »

Recent Bighorn Sheep at Garden of the Gods
https://www.instagram.com/peterkulvetephotography/
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nyker
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Re: Wildlife

Post by nyker »

Cool shots!
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Re: Wildlife

Post by WolverPete »

nyker wrote: Fri Mar 01, 2024 4:59 amCool shots!
Thank You!!!
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Re: Wildlife

Post by WolverPete »

A few bird shots along the front range from the past couple weeks.
Redtail Hawk in flight
Hooded Mergansers
American Kestrel
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nyker
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Re: Wildlife

Post by nyker »

Really good underlighting on the RTH. Do you use a flash extender for those longer shots?
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Re: Wildlife

Post by WolverPete »

nyker wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2024 9:51 pm Really good underlighting on the RTH. Do you use a flash extender for those longer shots?
No, I just lighten the shadows in post. I was really interested in showing the feather patterns & color tones.
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Re: Wildlife

Post by nyker »

That looks good, did you shoot in RAW or hi res jpg?
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