Red Tailed Hawk, in flight. Image Available Here: http://www.bluefinstudios.com/p974908608/h2214fc59
Wildlife Photography Tips, Part II
I've broken this set of tips into a couple of parts...
Ethics of Wildlife and Nature Photography
Wildlife Photography Part I is really about before the shoot.
Wildlife Photography Part II is about the shoot and the post processing.
Wildlife Photography, Part II: The Shoot and Post!
What is Wildlife Photography?
Nature, and in particular, Wildlife Photography, is about an accurate presentation of the natural state. No Human presence should be visible in Nature or Wildlife Photography.
Ethics in Wildlife Photography
Before you begin, you need to understand what is your correct behavior in the wild. Head on over to this post about Ethics In Wildlife Photography http://www.bluefinstudios.com/blog/2014/2/notes---ethics-in-wildlife-photography
Context is Everything
Is it a Good Picture or Great Image? And how can you make a good picture into a great image? Perhaps one of the best two things you can do to make a great image, is to create the image. By this I mean, don't just run around snapping shots. that's merely being a photojournalist. Clicking away, thousands of times, can eventually produce a great image. so can a monkey, clicking away at a typewriter, eventually produce MacBeth. Statistically speaking...
So, by create I mean, spend time to compose the image. Backgrounds matter! Make sure to be aware of your background. Move left, or right, to make sure there are elements that enhance the story you are trying to tell with the image. Eliminate distracting trees,, rocks, etc. Remove unwanted elements in camera, first.
Crop, zoom, etc. You can always do the same in post, but it is always best to create the best image possible, in camera first. Post Production should be a last resort.
Use Depth of Field to control the focus of the image. A shallower depth of field will allow you to put the animal or bird in focus while still giving context to the hero of your story. Too shallow may make your background details lost.
I'm ready for My Closeup, Mr. DeMille!
Get close. Its still their world, so don't get close physically. Get close with the camera and your glass. A longer telephoto lets you and your viewers get close to the action, to connect, to see your hero, up close and in detail they never really experience. Zoom In.
When shooting, try some new compositions. Get your shot, with the subject on one of your rule of thirds lines, sure. but try moving the hero dead center. (Break a rule? Well... ok, maybe) Try putting the hero in a corner. Try using the animal as part of leading lines. Use repeating patterns. Sometimes this means many of the same animal or bird in the shot. Later, when editing, you'll have plenty of different compositions to choose from.
Make Animals More Human
Oh, I know, so many people get their knickers in a twist about this one! Stop Anthropomorphizing. I'm not saying the reason an animal did something is because a human does. I'm saying embrace it! If an image you create happens to make your viewer think of valentines day, so be it! If it feels like a summer shower, or the bird is playing, or a seal is spooning, so be it. It tugs at your viewers. It evokes emotions. Good job!
Sometimes, despite all your attempts, luck plays a part. You don't know when the animal is going to blink. Or open their beak. Or a hundred other little details that make for a great image. give yourself a break and use your camera to help with some luck. I like to shoot multiple exposures, to cover my bases. I like a spread of three shots, one under, one at, and one over exposure. I shoot bracketed exposures, because sometimes, getting the light just right, on a flying hawk can be a challenge. They go from light to dark backgrounds, and from direct sun to backlight. They move! Use your camera's tools, to help you get it right.
More Posts on Wildlife Photography:
Ethics In Wildlife Photography http://www.bluefinstudios.com/blog/2014/2/notes---ethics-in-wildlife-photography
Wildlife Photography Tips, Part I http://www.bluefinstudios.com/blog/2014/2/tutorial---wildlife-photography-tips-1
Great Wildlife Photographers: http://www.bluefinstudios.com/blog/2013/4/hot-photographers-wildlife