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Wildlife Photography 101…again!

Wildlife Photography 101…again!

What do we have here? What is it about these simple shots that takes an ordinary image and makes them pop? A couple of things to consider and while there are a magnitude of great hummingbird images out there, what are some of the key ingredients here that helps to kick these up a notch?

Hummer 1

With so much time away from my gear it’s back to basics for me and like my last posted images, these too are from my backyard. Practice practice practice…I’m a little rusty and judging by the dust gathering on my super telephoto, I’m definitely in need of some fine tuning before a couple of trips that we are planning out for this summer. I haven’t had Jamaica out for many months so a little action in the comfort of my own home to get me warmed up again is sure welcome. (I can’t remember if I ever explained the story about my 500mm f4 lens that my family nicknamed Jamaica but the quick version, they sacrificed a planned spring vacation to you know where so that I could buy her)

No…you don’t need a Jamaica in your camera bag to make great wildlife images but sometimes it sure helps, especially with bird photography and one of the key ingredients to these images is a direct effect of her ability. So lets break it down to a couple of simple ideas to help with making better images of all those lovely critters that call planet earth home.

The first thing that I did in my mad panic to shoot this rufous before he vanished was to position myself to shoot against a good background. Here is where this lens shines as you can see it made the wild rose bushes out back of my yard completely disappear into a dreamy backdrop. Background is so important so if it sucks you gotta move. Combining a large aperture with a zoom or telephoto will aid in background blur but most importantly is the distance between your target and its backdrop. Further is better! There are some instances when we want the whole image in sharp focus but in most cases I want to isolate the subject and have it jump out at the viewer.

The first lesson I learned about wildlife photography that was reinforced to me over and over while I was under the watchful eye of Moose was, never place a critter in the center of the image, period. That means you have to learn how to move your AF points around in your viewfinder very quickly depending on how you want to compose your scene. On my Canon I’m just one click from accessing the scrolling option and it’s now second nature when I have my eye to the viewfinder.


Now these are pretty standard shots but the fact that it is of a hummingbird and not a robin adds a little interest. Positioned on a fence is kinda boring and in order for me to eliminate some of the fence I would have had to move closer and that would have ended with me at the bottom of my pool…any closer and my tripod leg would have taken a dive followed along with me and my equipment. Skirting around wasn’t an option so I had to work with what I had. So what other ingredient works for me here? One of them is colour, I loved the colour contrast of the red against the green background and together adds to the visual interest.

Great photography is a cumulation of all the right ingredients at the right time. Most times this is not possible but what I’m looking for is a combination of a few of these to come together to practice with so that when “the shot” does present itself, I’ll be ready!

Enough for now and in an upcoming post “wildlife photography 102″ we will discuss a couple more essential “ingredients” to good basic wildlife images.

Thanks for swinging through!