While I certainly enjoy tight close-ups in wildlife photography, and today’s cameras allow for the sort of crops that can produce those close-ups with quality, there will always be room for “looser” compositions. At least as far as I am concerned. I am not speaking about landscape photos the contain wildlife, although that combination has always been my favorite. I mean full body portraits and action shots that leave a lot of freedom around the subject. Compositionally, less is often more in photography, and less animal and more space can also result in powerful images. Composition is at least as important in these loose pictures, as it is in tight ones.
Action shots do not always have to be full frame images. Looser compositions work especially well with more than one subject. This shot shows one Forster’s Tern chasing another out of its territory. There’s a lot of sky and a minimum of bird in this image but it tells a story and does so at least as well as a close-up would. There is also a natural elegance to pictures like this that is often missing from frame filling images.
I’ve made a lot of Snowy Owl pictures and some are close enough that I could not show the entire bird if I wanted to. I wouldn’t trade those pictures, but when you back off and stay loose, you can keep the owl in the context of its environment. Even if that environment is a manmade roadside sign marking something in human history. He looks so sleepy.
This is the same owl on a different day. Images of birds of prey balancing with their wings spread do work well with tight, close images. Just the same, backing off for whole body shots with some free space around the bird can be just as powerful. It truly looks like a balancing act.
Bison close-ups are a dime a dozen, as are pictures of whole herds. Once again man’s environment often becomes that of wild animals and man himself, must sometimes capitulate the road to the beast.
One final example of animal pictures that contain a lot of manmade “stuff” in the photo. Of course this bit of carpentership that is housing the bird, was designed to be used by our feathered friends.
Whether a wildlife shot is close and tight, or distant and loose, they always need to be composed.
It’s very common for photographers who have to opportunity to catch predators like this Black-crowned Night Heron with captured prey to take you into the their mouth or talons for a close-up. Those are very effective images but does this loose shot with the heron and a fish, not serve just as valid a purpose? For one thing it tells the story of the subject. Black-crowned Herons not only wade unusually deep into the water for prey, they will swim. This despite the fact that they do not have webbed feet. Sometimes stories are more thoroughly told by staying back, from your subject, or by cropping less or not at all.
I love photographing small mammals and I have had Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels come almost too close for focus. I’ll take those images with joy but once in a while, it’s nice to back off a bit. These are “small” mammals and sometimes the way to impart those feelings to viewers is leave them loose (or small) in the picture frame.
This picture also shows that sometimes backlight or extreme sidelight can be very effective. You need to retain some detail on the front of your subject and often there will be enough of that bright sun bouncing off of the foreground to help keep detail in the frontal area. It does help to have sun on the face.
Once again, composition makes a difference no matter how limited your choices may be.
After almost 900 posts, I imagine at times it might seem like I am “reaching” a bit for photography subjects to write about, and illustrate. . That’s never intentional. Ideas just occur to me when I look at pictures, and then I share those ideas and the pictures. It is really that simple.
A couple of posts from the past, one photography related, and one not.
God Bless, Wayne