Take an in-your­face ap­proach to wildlife pho­tog­ra­phy

Take the in-your-face ap­proach to wildlife pho­tog­ra­phy by get­ting your cam­era up close with a wide lens, ex­plains James Pater­son

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we’re used to see­ing wildlife through the bar­rel of a tele­photo lens, so why not take a dif­fer­ent ap­proach and try cap­tur­ing an­i­mals with a wide an­gle? The al­tered field of view you get with a wide an­gle will give your pho­tos an en­tirely dif­fer­ent feel, as well as show­ing off more of the an­i­mal’s sur­round­ings. By con­trast, the nar­row an­gle of a long zoom re­sults in blurred back­grounds and com­presses the per­spec­tive. So with a wide an­gle you can si­mul­ta­ne­ously cre­ate greater in­ti­macy with the sub­ject and make wildlife pho­tos that are un­like any­one else’s. It’s also a fun chal­lenge, both for your cam­era skills and patience.

Whether you’re shoot­ing ex­otic an­i­mals around the world or ducks at the lo­cal pond, the tech­nique for this re­mains the same. The main prob­lem we have to over­come here is that the an­i­mal needs to be rather close to the lens. At fo­cal lengths of 18mm or 24mm, sub­jects will look tiny in the frame even at one me­tre away, par­tic­u­larly the smaller crit­ters. So, we need to be able to en­tice the an­i­mals up to the cam­era – ideally nose-to-lens.

Un­less they’re com­fort­able around hu­mans, this means we need to hide away and fire the shut­ter re­motely with a wire­less re­lease. If you’re for­tu­nate enough to get an in­ter­ested crea­ture, there’s an ex­tra el­e­ment of luck in­volved in get­ting an in-fo­cus, well-com­posed photo. So it’s cer­tainly a chal­lenge – but that only makes it more re­ward­ing when a shot comes off.

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