More than point and click
Amateur photogs say practice, patience, eye keys to wildlife pictures
With spring coming, I asked five of my favorite non-professional wildlife photographers what equipment they use and for advice about taking better wildlife photos.
All but one favor Canon. Ron Wozny has been a Canon man for more than 45 years, back to when he took photos for his high school newspaper and yearbook.
Wozny, a Northwest Sider and a top collector/documenter of Chicago fishing history, captures Chicago wildlife naturally (Canon 7D; variety of lenses, favorite is Canon 70-200mm 1.4l):
‘‘On your own, try taking 500 pictures a week. Doesn’t matter the subject, but take indoor and outdoor photos. Within three months, you will see a big difference in the quality of your shots— everything from centering your shot to back-lighting. Your subject will improve, and it will cost you nothing. The best way is to take a class over a weekend and have someone give you one-on-one help on the areas you want to improve on.’’
Carl Vizzone, the son of a former North Side bait-shop owner, has a gift for photographing Chicago wildlife (Canon 7D Mark II; Tamron SP A08 200-500mm f/5-6.3 telephoto zoom lens; Tamron-F AF 1.4X teleconverter; Manfrotto 190XDB tripod):
‘‘I would say that wildlife photography [doesn’t require] the best equipment, necessarily; it’s the best eye. Know what you’re looking for. Use binoculars for an aid to spot wildlife. Always be respectful of the wildlife you’re shooting. Patience is the key. You can spend hours in the same spot waiting for the perfect shot, just like hunting.’’
Bill Peak, a northwest Indiana man, has a gift for documenting sandhill cranes and local wildlife (Canon; two camera bodies, SL1 and T3i; many lenses but mainly 300mm; two tripods):
‘‘My advice is to take pictures of things you like and that you like looking at. . . . [G]et a Photoshop program. The cropping feature is the poor man’s big telephoto lens. . . . [W]ith digital cameras, people should take a good number of photos because you can always get rid of anything you don’t like and it costs you nothing.’’
I met Jim Lukancic of Channahon as a walleye fisherman, then discovered his gift for capturing wildlife/bird images (Nikon D7100; Nikon 200-500mm vr lens):
‘‘For wildlife, you need a camera with good reach or zoom. . . . I would recommend at least a 300mm lens. You can never have enough reach, so get the highest mm lens you can afford. . . . Rivers, lakes and ponds are wildlife magnets. Check out the forest preserves, but go early before they get crowded.’’
Emil Baumbach is the vice president of E.A. Baumbach Manufacturing Co. and an outdoors enthusiast with a knack for bird close-ups (Canon 7D Mark II; a 100-400 mm lens; sometimes a 1.4 extender):
‘‘[B]uy a quality camera and lens. Get out in the field and learn your subjects’ behavior. Take many photos and learn fromothers what makes a good photograph. I highly recommend the blog by Arthur Morris [ birdsasart-blog.com] and the website NatureScapes.net. Look at thousands of photos and get inspired to make your own works of art.’’ That’s what I want: works of art. Follow me on Twitter @BowmanOutside.
Jim Lukancic, one of the many regular people who take outstanding wildlife photographs, captured this image of a red-tailed hawk with a young squirrel in late February near his home in Channahon.