Sunday, May 29, 2016

Wild and Wooly

Wildlife is exciting to photograph. But capturing good images can be an elusive target. Often the animals are not where you expect them to be, or they are too far away even for a long lens, or they are hidden in the trees or brush.

So when a good opportunity presents itself, you and your camera HAVE to be ready. This pronghorn antelope in Yellowstone National Park was slowly walking through a large field, not far from the road. It was the perfect opportunity to get some lovely portrait shots of this handsome animal.

Here are some basic pointers to help you get good wildlife images.

--  Shutter Priority (Nikon) or Tv (Canon)
--  Auto Focus
--  ISO 400 for starters (increase as needed for recommended shutter speeds below)
--  Shutter Speed no slower than 1/800 sec. for wildlife, or 1/1250 sec. for birds in flight
--  Aperture will set itself
--  Rapid Burst (the fastest your camera will allow, but fire off only 3 or 4 shots in succession)
--  Continuous Focus (Nikon) or AI Servo (Canon)
--  Back Button Focus (find info on how to set this for your camera body on YouTube or Google)
--  Viewfinder set for only ONE focus point (multiple focus points cause auto focus to be less accurate)

--  Eyes open (catchlights are nice but not mandatory)
--  good body position
--  good head position
--  predict direction of movement (for this image, it helped to be prepared to continue moving to my left since he was walking in that direction)
--  keep your distance (most national parks and other areas have stated minimum distances one must be from any wild animal, which varies based on the animal's running speed / size / aggressiveness;  remember, you cannot outrun a charging animal no matter how fit you are)
--  if you have a choice, focus your attention on the healthiest-looking individuals
--  if you have a choice, find a position that will provide the best background (not cluttered or too bright compared to the lighting on the animal)

--  Once you set your camera for Back Button Focus, use it all the time regardless of subject. It is how all cameras should be set out of the factory, and why they are not is a mystery to me.
--  When using Rapid Burst, do NOT shoot the entire burst before removing your finger from the shutter button. Shoot only 3 or 4 shots and then remove your finger from the shutter button. Wait a second or two, and then begin shooting again. This will prevent you from filling the Buffer (which can cause your camera to stop functioning until all the images have been processed by the camera and sensor).
-- Learn exactly what ISO is, and how to use it to your best advantage.
-- Learn and get comfortable with Continuous Focus (AI Servo), and understand how it works.

Using and understanding all this information will catapult your photography to a much higher level very quickly. None of it is hard to learn or to use. Try it, you'll like it!

Shutter Speed 1/1600 sec.  Aperture f/8.  ISO 1600.  Lens: Canon 400mm f/5.6L + 1.4x Canon extender for an effective focal length of 560mm.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE:  "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."  - Ghandi

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