Wildlife Photography Tips – Part 1

By guest blog contributor Jenise Jensen.

Spring is in the air: the sun is shining, days are longer, and you’re itching to go outside and capture some stunning photos. And you start to think……how much fun would it be to make some wildlife photos? What a great idea, as spring is the perfect time for wildlife photography. The local wildlife (no, not the neighbors that party down the street from you), are venturing out further and further to enjoy the warm weather, just like you. This tips the odds of success in your favor.

If you’re new to wildlife photography, you might wonder how to get started. Wonder no more. This is the first in a series of articles to inspire you to venture outside and bring a little wildlife back inside with you in the form of photographs. These tips will get you thinking about what you can do in your own neighborhood, state, or even during your vacation travels. In fact, you can even get started in your own backyard.

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Let’s start with some basics. For this “wildlife photo recipe” you will need three basic ingredients: a camera, basic camera knowledge, and a location. Everything beyond that is optional. But how do you take a picture of wildlife? It’s not like you can pull the car over and ask that moose, fox, or goose to stop and pose for a picture, can you?

With a little planning and perseverance, you might just get lucky and capture that photo op with a four-legged or feathered friend. Here are a few tips to get you started:

The Camera: you can take wildlife photos with ANY camera. Yes, yes you can. Start with what you have, practice and then you can decide if you want or need different equipment. When you’ve progressed beyond finches or squirrels in your backyard or geese at the park and you think you’re ready for moose, goats, sheep or fox, then you may want a more powerful camera or a longer zoom lens. Wildlife aren’t typically standing a few feet away, so having a lens that can pull in distant wildlife subjects increases your ability to get the shot. The Tamron 150-600mm lens is a powerful budget friendly option that reaches further and delivers great photos.

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Camera Knowledge: the best equipment on the market will not help if you don’t know how to operate it….and quickly, for instance when that beautiful fox runs. Three tips:

1) Take classes: Yes, you can read articles and experiment on your own, but learning from someone that knows how to do what you want to do will shorten your learning curve. Check out the classes that are offered by the knowledgeable staff at Mike’s Camera (you get two free classes when you purchase a camera), the local community college or other places.

2) Practice: It’s one thing to understand the settings and know your camera; it’s an entirely different thing to actually do it when you accidentally stumble upon a herd of Big Horn Sheep Rams a few yards away. Easy places to practice include your backyard (who doesn’t love a good close-up of a finch on a tree branch), or at local parks or golf courses. Birds, squirrels and geese can be tons of fun. They also move fast, providing lots of practice opportunities.

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3) Test drive: Mike’s Camera offers free test drives at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and Sacramento Zoo a couple of times a year. Besides being able to check out gear to see if you like it enough to buy it, you also have the opportunity to practice on some pretty exotic animals. The big cats (lions and cougars) make for some pretty stunning pictures, as do the peacocks!

4) Location, Location, Location: this really isn’t that hard, unless you’re picky. Start easy: around water. Parks and golf courses have ponds that are magnets for wildlife. Birds, beavers, deer and moose like a drink of water as much as we do. Talk to the parks workers or golf course staff…..they know their four-legged or feathered visitors. They are usually willing to share that information with you. Certain areas are known for certain wildlife, be it ospreys, bald eagles, foxes, mountain goats or sheep. If you’re headed into the wilderness to look for these: talk to the locals. They know when and where the wildlife is typically spotted. Animals like breakfast and dinner just like we do. So get up and go out early, when they are out looking for breakfast and before the hustle and bustle of humanity scares them away.

Hopefully this basic introduction has got you thinking and inspired already. Go outside, take your camera, and see what happens. And if you think wildlife photography might just be your cup of tea, check back in for our next article: Wildlife Photography – What To Expect When You’re Not Expecting!

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JeniseJensen Wildlife Photo-2589_B

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About the photographer:

Jenise Jensen enjoys sharing the beauty and opportunities of living in Summit County Colorado, having lived and worked in the area for 15 years. In her recreational time she can be found skiing, hanging out with her rescued (and aptly named) canine pal “Lucky,” or strolling around town with a camera. Jenise is passionate about capturing the beauty of Summit County and her work is featured in a variety of local magazines and the Summit Daily News. To see more of her work, visit www.JeniseJensen.com or visit Get Real Bazaar in Breckenridge.  

read wildlife photography tips – part 2 now

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