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Beginner Photography: Wildlife

Hahahahhaha oh man you guys, wildlife photography is not something you can just take up for a day. This stuff is serious. If you want actual, helpful wildlife tips, please visit this page of our site and learn from a real photographer, because what will follow here is just tomfoolery.Ā 

I do not blame myself for my failure this week. Wildlife photography takes the proper gear, knowledge, andĀ lots of time and patience. I have literally none of those things. Not to mention, it’s Autumn in a city. All we’ve got are squirrels.

To take proper wildlife shots, it helps to have a lens with reach, so you can take close shots without actually getting close. You also need a spot where you can sit still and let animals get acclimated to your presence, camouflage and a bird blind would help you blend in and get closer.Ā If shooting birds, choose a background and wait for them to come to you. Keep shooting the same spot until a bird comes into the space. A flowering tree and direct sunlight makes for a great setting.

So here’s what I attempted (and failed) to do:

  • lure wildlife into my backyard with bread (my dog ate most of it)
  • go to a park and stalk squirrels
  • walk around my neighborhood hitting up all the best gardens hoping to catch birds

So birds, smartly, avoid my yard. I have a big dumb dog. If I go out back and let him out, he scares everything away. If I don’t let him out, he whines and barks at the door, scaring everything away. So my baiting was a bust.

Next I went to the closest park. There were plenty of squirrels running around, but the adjective “squirrelly” exists for a reason. I generally shoot in aperture priority, but that seemed like a bad call with this fast of a target, so I switched over to shutter priority. That… didn’t work either. I wound up with VERY dark pictures of squirrels in trees. So then I just shot in automatic. Here’s the result:

Sigh. A blurry head and a sharp tail.

You guys. That is actually the best photo I got out of, I dunno, 50? I went home dejected, scanning gardens on the way.Ā 

Right by the steps up to our porch we have a butterfly bush, which two weeks ago might have gotten me shots of a monarch butterfly or two before they migrated. As it was, though, I was left with some bees.

Not great, it’s not facing me so I didn’tĀ get the eye in focus

Once again. Got that butt though.

I like that I got it cleaning it’sĀ antenna, but I seem to have focused on the back leg

So all in all, the bees were my most successful attempt, and those probably count as macro. I certainly don’t have the equipment for that either, but they made a far better subject than the squirrels. I also had a great backdrop in the butterfly bush and direct overhead lighting.

Bonus: here’s a picture of my cat, indoor wildlife.

Hi Frank!