One of the great joys of capturing nature with our cameras to share with the world, is specifically photographing and sharing wildlife imagery. Wild and free.
Also, whether you are with a friend or by yourself, you are never really alone.
With that said, as long as there are zoos, photographers have somewhere to practice the craft, and fill their files with various species of critters. Of course, captive animal pictures need to be labeled as such.
While I would never give up my tens of thousands of “wild and free” images for zoo pictures, I found zoos to be a great place to practice wildlife photography, especially that of close-up portraiture.
I also found these places to be a good for teaching wildlife portraiture workshops.
While there is behavior that can be found and photographed with captive animals, close-ups, especially super close-ups, is the best use of those opportunities.
I like using big lenses, and filling the picture frame with all face. So close that you can see and almost feel the texture.
Below we have an African lioness, Japanese Snow Monkey, and a Monitor Lizard.
Of course, reasonable close-ups with critters that are wild and free, are also possible.
I have often been shocked, at how often wild animals would get comfortable with my presence, and simply accept me as a part of their world.
The Red Fox kit you see below, walked up to within ten feet of me, and laid down and relaxed. I made a few images, politely said thank you, and left the scene.
I never sneak up to wild animals. I keep my profile somewhat low, and I move slowly, buy I am obvious to the subject. Very, very often, they have trusted me. It not only provides for nice pictures, but to me, it made me feel good. Like the subject was a friend of mine.
Of course, insects are critters too, and often they are the most tolerant of our presence. Move slow, and be mindful of their need for a little space between them and us, and click, click, click. Remember, often their sensitivity to movement, is very high.
Procreation, is part of the story of nature.
The image below is that of a dragonflies’ wing. Focus your eyes on the wing patterns and attempt to keep the background washes of dark and light, out of focus.
This subject is very much alive and well.
Closeness in the wild is very much achievable. Including action shots. Moderate to very long lenses might be needed. Although sharp, crisp images can be cropped.
The Ring-billed Gull you see below, posed (hovered if you will) in mid air long enough for me to take future viewers right into the action. Sometimes being so close that you chop of a wing or a foot, so to speak, actually leaves is with a more “artful” rendition of the subject.
This pair of wild Prairie Dogs checked out their surroundings with a back to back stance, which was easy for me to photograph from my car.
Four eyes are better than two.
I caught this Red-tail Hawk as it burst into flight from a roadside sign. The bird was actually too close to me and my 500mm lens and I cut off one wing. Photographically that is. I remedied that by cropping the other wing to a similar distance.
In your face I might say.
Always give wild critters the benefit of the doubt when they seem alarmed or at least worried about your presence. Between reasonably close distances, long lenses and macro lenses, cropping when necessary, and occasionally zoos or wild animal parks, everyone today who has a little patience or has quick reflexes can create “in your face” photos of creatures. Getting future viewers “into their world”, I believe helps us to identify with them and therefore care more about them.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.