We wildlife photographers always love it when we get home, download our photos onto our computer, and marvel at the awesome photos we captured. Well at least the photos we had hoped to capture, and lucky enough to do so. I can’t tell you how many times, I have gone to bed the night before, so excited about waking up early to capture a particular shot, only to come home with nothing and disappointed. Now when I go out on my little adventures, I hold no expectations, and I am just thankful to be in nature, and to be able enjoy the wildlife if it chooses to present itself.
Study Animal Behavior
Learning an animal’s behavior is just as important as learning how your camera works. By putting your camera down for a while and just observing, not only can you gain your subjects trust from a safe distance for both you and your subject, but also you can see some pretty cool things that you might not have seen had you been looking through your viewfinder. A good example for me when I am photographing the Peregrine Falcons is I have learned that when the falcons are getting ready to take off from their perch on the cliff, they poop. It never fails; five minutes within pooping, off they go. This is great for me, because, I love capturing the shot of them taking off, their bodies streamline like a bullet, talons stretched out, eyes focused, and then within a split second she is gone to hunt down her next meal. I have also leaned how to tell the difference between the Peregrine Falcons and other birds out over the water by their wing pattern. This allows me to frame my shot and get ready for the falcon to land on the very spot it took off from. This too makes for an amazing shot when they return to their cliff site with their kill.
Patience is a Virtue
A good wildlife photographer must be graced with patience, lots and lots of patience. I have been asked so many times, “how can you sit there for so long waiting for your subject to blink” The answer for me is simple, I love to be in nature, and at times the outcome of waiting for an animal to wake up, or show off a funny expression, or to have some incredible interaction can be absolutely breathtaking. Most of the time when I go on a photo shoot, I do it on my day off, so there are not any time constraints, and I find I can better focus on my photography (no pun intended) rather than where I have to be.
Stick with the Show
Animals can be very fun and exciting to watch, and photograph. When you find some animals that are, what I like to call “putting on a show” stick with that show, don’t go looking for something better. As I have learned the hard way, by leaving some pretty amazing interaction to search for something better, only to find nothing at all. When I returned to where the action was in the first place, it had all puttered out, and the animals had left.
Have fun while out in nature, but remember to be respectful, of the wildlife as well as the other photographers out there. Take some time to learn about your subject, and be patient. If you don’t get the shot, not to worry, chances are you will see your subject again. Most importantly, just keep shooting.