Thursday, July 22, 2010

Taking Close-Up Wildlife Pictures

People are always asking how to take pictures of wildlife. What they really want to know is how to get close-up pictures of wildlife. I always tell them I cheat when it comes to getting good, close pictures of wildlife. In this article I will tell you some of the secrets of getting close-up to wildlife so that you can take good pictures.

The first technique I recommend is to go to places where the wildlife is not truly wild. Many ranches have feeding programs for the deer and other wildlife. When animals start depending on humans for food they become less wild and you can approach them closer, thus being able to take better photographs. I also recommend parks, refuges and wildlife management areas where the wildlife become used to people and will allow photographers to approach them for pictures.

The second technique is to hide. Wear camo or sit in good camouflage blinds where animals will approach close to you for photo opportunities. I have also used towers and tree blinds to be able to get good pictures of wildlife.

The next technique is to use a bigger lens. Telephoto lenses will let you reach out and take a picture of animals a long ways off and your picture looks like you were standing right next to them. The big deal with telephotos is lighting and image quality. There are entire books on telephoto lenses so I will not go into it here. I will say to buy the very best you can get your hands on and afford. It will make a difference in your photographs.

There are other things you can do to get close to wildlife but most are just common sense. Drive roads where wildlife is used to seeing traffic. Make feeding or bait stations. Set up blinds at water. Wear dark clothing or clothing that blends into the habitat. Always keep down the noise. You can use remotes and trail cameras to get pictures of wildlife you would not usually see or at night for those nocturnal creatures.

My favorite technique I have saved for last as I use it more than any other to get shots of wildlife and that is sound. Lots of the pictures I have taken of fox, coon, coyote, hawks, owls, birds, deer and other animals were because I was able to bring the animal in close with a sound. Curiosity killed the cat they say but it has also fed lots of predators. I always have one call with me; my kids also use the sound as they were raised seeing all the animals called in with a simple squeak. It is made by making a kissing sound with your lips. You can amplify the sound by kissing the back of your hand or the inside of your middle finger. It sounds like some sort of baby creature or bird in distress and lots of things will come to see what is making the sound. I have called fox, coyote, hawks, squirrels, deer and many other animals to hand shake distance with this sound and gotten some pretty good pictures in the process. My wife gave me one of the new high tech electronic callers for Christmas and it is really becoming a standard tool to take along on wildlife photo shoots. It has onehundred programmed sounds and you can add custom sounds to the memory card. I can call owls, predators, deer and all sorts of birds with the library of sounds. It even has a small creature decoy that sits on top of the caller and turns around to draw attention if I want to use it. The real key to good wildlife photos is to get the wildlife to pose for a picture in the first place. Try some of these techniques and see if they will work for you too.
Good shooting, Wild Ed


Albert A Rasch said...


for me the answer would be:

Really long lens on my camera!!!

Great advice on getting close and being patient, because that is what it takes!

Best regards!
Your friend,
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles: Mark Osterholt: Plagerist, Spammer, and Felon is at it Again!

Anonymous said...

Hi - I think I bought a little girls springer spaniel from you close to 14 years ago - we named her Lost Your Marbles - we still have her although we know the end will come soon - we love her and will so miss her.
Are you still raising them?
Thanks, Paula

Wild Ed said...

Paula, we have a male that we are trying to find a female field bred to breed in the future. I am very picky about getting only good field bred lines, but we hope to find one soon and breed them again. Stay in touch, Ed.

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