If you read my bio, you’ll see I spent many years as a professional commercial photographer – not wildlife! The thing that I find most frustrating is because you have experience of photographing room sets, jewellery, food processors etc, people think you can/should be able to take great images of anything. I get this at work, I am given a camera, usually one I have no experience with and asked to go and get some great shots of subjects I never once photographed in my professional days.
The thing is photography is a bit like music, there are different genres. You give a classical guitarist an electric guitar and ask him to play an Eddie Van Halen solo. I guarantee you’ll get a look of complete dismay and terror! The thing is the difference between product photography and wildlife photography is huge.
I’ll give you a few examples. For starters if you want images of animals and birds on the move, then you’ll usually need a wide aperture, say around f4-f6.3 and a shutter speed in the range of 1/1600 upwards. If I was doing studio work on my Sinar 5″X 4″ camera, to ensure the product was pin sharp, I would be shooting at f-stops in the range of f32 – f90 and shutter speed was 99% of the time 1/125 and that was using a 6000 watt Bowens flash head and pack. I had complete control of my subject and its environment, something you do not in the natural world.
I Needed Help!
One of the positives the internet has given us is a seemingly endless supply of advice and information. As with all things in life some of this advice is more helpful than others. Below are some of the sites which I have found definitely fast tracked my progress and saved me a lot of frustration.
Right, in no particular order here are some of the photographers and their sites that I found really useful.
Steve Perry – Back Country Gallery
Steve’s a wildlife photographer based in the US. If you are a Nikon user, as I am, then this site is a must for you as there are many great tips and tricks on setting your camera up and explanations of all those menu items! If you do not use a Nikon fear not as there are loads of great posts and videos on field craft, exposure techniques, editing software and loads more besides.
A UK site set up by wildlife photographer and cameraman Will Nichols. This is another really useful site packed with tutorials covering all aspects of nature photography. I can recommend on clicking on the Start Here link as you’ll find lots of useful advice on camera gear to get you started without breaking the bank! Also, if you sign up to the newsletter you get a handy free e-book. I also recommend joining the friendly Facebook group. Here you can chat to like minded people from across the world and post your latest images without fear of negative criticism!
Visit Nature TTL here.
Mark Denney Landscape Photography
Mark is primarily a landscape photographer based in North Carolina. To me he is inspirational as he decided to take the plunge and quit his day job to follow his passion for landscape photography. His site and YouTube channel is full of great advice on composition, post processing, techniques and how to avoid common beginners mistakes and more. I recommend signing up to his newsletter too. Visit Mark’s site here.
PS: I am not advocating you quit your job too – well not just yet 🙂
Craig Jones Wildlife Photography
Craig is a wildlife photographer who has had work published in such prestigious magazines as National Geographic, BBC Wildlife and Bird Watching Magazine. He has also made numerous appearances on radio and TV to raise awareness of the plight of many of threatened species.
It is well worth reading his blog which has very useful articles on field craft and the ethics we should adopt as wildlife photographers, whether pro’s or amateurs.
Visit Craig’s site here.
I could list many many more, but I did not want to risk overloading people with too many sources of information. As they say less is more. One thing I am sure of is if you visit these sites you will gain a lot from them in terms of not only knowledge, but inspiration too.