More than point and click

Am­a­teur pho­togs say prac­tice, pa­tience, eye keys to wildlife pic­tures

Chicago Sun-Times - - OUTDOORS - DALE BOW­MAN

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.

| FOR THE SUN-TIMES

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.

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