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wildlife photography

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    17 Mar 2014 - 2:28 PM

    can any one help me im starting to get in to wild life photography and wanted some help on equipment and techniques books/videos that can help

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    17 Mar 2014 - 2:28 PM

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    mikehit  56681 forum posts United Kingdom11 Constructive Critique Points
    17 Mar 2014 - 3:20 PM

    If you include bird photography in 'wildlife' then you need a lens of at least 200mm focal length but the main skill you need, whatever equipment you have, is fieldcraft - understanding the animals' behaviour and how to get as close as possible. Hides at known wildlife reserves is an excellent place to start, or your back garden and local parks can be very good places.

    Overread  63806 forum posts England18 Constructive Critique Points
    17 Mar 2014 - 10:31 PM

    I would say at least 300mm and even that's short most of the time. 200mm is very short (even on crop sensor) for wildlife unless you are very good at getting close.

    Equipment wise I'd suggest considering:

    1) Best (ie most expensive Tongue) longest lens you can afford. There's a fair bit on the market from cheaper 70-300mm zooms all the way up to huge primes that cost as much as a small car. How much you have to budget and play with affects this greatly so - even if its just a rough value, put a number to it so we can get a reference point to start with

    2) Best body you can get after getting the lens - yep lens before body in this case, whilst the body IS very important, the lens is far more critical in wildlife photography. Again this depends on what budget you've got overall to work with.

    3) Tripod - a good set of legs and a ballhead (or others if you're getting heavier gear) is a good starting point. Tripods are very important if you're going to do any hide work - any time you'll be sitting for hours you want a tripod otherwise your arm will fall off.

    4) Very heavy lenses will require a monopod even for handholding just to help take the edge off during a days shoot (you'll get stronger the more you shoot but a monopod helps give some rest to help you avoid fatigue)

    5) Good out-doors clothing - and kneepads. Yes kneepads - believe me nothing is worse than crouching for a shot and having your knee go onto a stone (or trying to get up off rough ground when kneeling). You might feel a fool but you're knees will thank you for it.

    Books wise I've no idea as to your current experiences so:

    1) Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson - good book to start and get a good grounding in exposure with a DSLR

    2) The Digital Photography Book series - books 1-4 by Scot Kelby - a great starting point for all things photography - gives a good overall approach to things for the beginner.

    3) The Photographer's Eye by Michael Freeman - a good solid book that moves on from the technical and explores the world of composition and artistic theory. A very good and well recommended reference book on starting this subject.

    4) Books written by John Shaw - all his publications are worth considering for the eager wildlife photographer. Well written and presented they are somewhat older and whilst film might have been replaced by digital the methods are still the very same (with the exception that now you can change ISO as you go with digital).

    5) Books written by Joe McDonald. Again another strong wildlife photographer with some very good and solid publications.
    Wildlife Photographers Field Manual is a particular favourite of mine of his if you can find a copy.

    Check used book shops/ebay/amazon for those two authors and some of their older publications.

    ID books - useful references:

    1) Collins Bird Guide

    2) Collins Butterfly Guide

    3) Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland by Waring, Townsend and Lewington


    All those guides use drawn plates not photographs for identification. Personally I'd strongly avoid photograph based ID books. They can be pretty, but in my experiences its a lot harder to tell a species based on a photo as opposed to a drawing. Drawings can present perfect idealistic visual references which won't have quirks or unique features that photographs of individuals will have - they are also easier to pick out key details and features - photographs can hide these. You also typically get a few drawings per ID 0 that might be old and young - above and below etc...

    Also look out for bird books by Helm, they make some fantastic reference books containing a lot of information and are pretty much some of the top bird ID and general information books out there.

    Paul Morgan
    Paul Morgan e2 Member 1315614 forum postsPaul Morgan vcard England6 Constructive Critique Points
    18 Mar 2014 - 12:35 AM

    Quote: Can any one help me im starting to get in to wild life photography and wanted some help on equipment and techniques books/videos that can help

    This depends on how you intend to work, you certainly don`t always need long lenses and expensive equipment.


    18 Mar 2014 - 10:36 AM

    I'm looking in to mammals

    peterjones e2 Member 123987 forum postspeterjones vcard United Kingdom1 Constructive Critique Points
    18 Mar 2014 - 1:34 PM

    Get to know your "quarry" first and develop some field craft; if you know something about what you are going to photograph then you can gauge your gear to suit; if for example butterflies are your thing you won't need a 500mm f/4 at a stratospheric price when a macro will do.


    Young animals often know no fear and can sometimes be photographed relatively close up; this taken with a 300mm.

    Last Modified By peterjones at 18 Mar 2014 - 1:37 PM
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