Spring time, and what's better than combining photography and nature. Capture amazing moments, and animal behaviors; Observing amazing birds from hiding, less than 10 feet away, while shooting and getting great results, is something that you can never get tired of.
10 Tips to get the best results while shooting nature:
1. Respect the nature - It is important to understand that nature is not there for you, you are there to observe it. Respect it and enjoy it, do not attempt to change it, or influence your subject behavior, or otherwise manipulate anything. PLEASE always make sure to keep it as clean as you found it (or better yet – clean up regardless to the condition in which you found it).
Do not feed or do anything that might harm the animals.
2. Do your homework - the most important tool at our disposal is not the camera, but our knowledge of our subject. By understanding the animals we are trying to capture, by and by understanding their behavior, we will be able to better anticipate their movement, and capture them at their best.
Understanding your subject will also help you better position yourself, and time yourself to get the best photos.
Its pretty easy to get a shot of a bird sitting on a branch, the trick, tough, is capture animals as they are eating, during their courtship, territorial battles or any other spectacular performance that adds a layer of magnificence to an otherwise regular photo.
3. Rise and shine - sunrise is the worst time of day to be wasted on sleep (for a nature photographer). Witness nature awakened and the world come to life again. Capture your subject catching its morning pray followed by a snack of seeds and worms. As an added bonus, the sun is at a low angle in the morning, the best ambiant light we get during the day, just make sure to keep it (the sun) behind you. From that same reason, avoid shooting between late morning through early afternoon. The natural light during these hours will not be flattering to say the lease.
4. Using high-quality lenses – the bigger our focal length (zoom), the further we can stand from our subject, the animal will usually feel more comfortable and that will allow us to take better photos especially of the more timid animals.
I would recommend Canon 100-400 L, Canon or Nikon 300mm f / 4 with multiples (X1.4 or X1.7 Nikon). It will give you a great start without having to refinance your home.
There are also the high end lenses such as the legendary Nikon 200-400 mm canon and the Nikon 500 mm f / 4, but they might cost as much as your car.
5. Use camouflage - when I say cover, many of you might think about Green Beret action. But we don't need to go that far. Good cloaking may be as simple as sitting in a $10 tent, or in your car with the window open, or as simple as lying on a mattress with a camouflage net covering us (can be found in any hunting / fishing supply store).
The main thing is that the animal will not see the shape of a man (or an animal), and that the animal does not detect movement. Camouflage allows us to stay closer to our subject with no impact on their behavior.
For most of the great photos of mammals and birds, the photographer had to put more effort in finding the location, and disguising themselves than to take the photo. You should also remember the most animals have keen sense of smell so try to position yourself against the wind direction.
The most important thing after positioning yourself is to have patience – your subject might not always come where we want them to, and sometimes we will return home empty handed, but that's part of the game, and that make the time that you did get your shot even more satisfying.
6. Enhancements - if we shoot birds, we can place a small stick in a perfect angle for your photo that they will find comfortable to sit on.
If you found that spot, and found a good branch for it to sit on, you will get the bird right where you want it for great photos without interrupting it.
7. Look in your backyard – no need to travel thousands of miles to the outback to find great animals, and nature at its best. Just research your own area, your own backyard, you might be surprised by what you may find in a local park.
8. Look in your neighbor backyard – plan your next vacation to a destination that will allow you the opportunity to capture visions you can't get nearby.
9. Macro photography - many compact cameras, almost all of them, are able to shoot macro. Get out to your backyard, and try to photograph flowers, flies and other insects. Soon you will realize that that "small world" is a huge place with a huge variety of different types of flies, bees, butterflies and countless other kinds of insects; While they might look a bit ugly from the distance, you may find yourself fascinated by the amount of information your macro lens will discover.
10. Share it - Do not bury your amazing photos in your them in your computer's hard drive. Upload them and share them with your friends, on forums, galleries, even on facebook. Get feedback from your peers, criticism will get your photography to the next level.
Hope you found my tips helpful, I'd love to hear your feedback and thoughts.