Photographing wild animals is one of life’s greatest opportunities and the Grizzly Bear is on top of many peoples list of the greatest animals on the earth. What can you do to make that moment even more special when you find yourselfready to capture a image of one of these great animals?
Here are 5 things to keep in mind to improve your wildlife photography in general, in this case specifically Grizzly Bears.
1. Be Safe.
This applies to all wildlife, It is easy to loose yourself in the eyepiece of your camera and forget about the rest of your surroundings. One must constantly be checking your surroundings and be aware of the environment at all times. This can also help with better images as you may see something unfolding that you wouldn’t if you are buried into the eye piece firing off 12 frames per second.
2 Anticipate the Moment.
Often the difference between a 5 star shot and no shot at all is a fraction of a second, take for example the shot featured above in under a second it turned into this:
So making sure your ready for the moment is crucial, that is where practice and observation come into play. Practice so you know your camera settings in side and out and can adept at a moments notice. Observation gives you the skills to help understand wildlife behaviour better.
3. Get Low
Drop that tripod down from standing up at eye level. Don’t be afraid to get dirty and close to the ground In this picture I have my tripod about 6 inches from the ground and i am lying on my stomach. I was already at a hight disadvantage because I was up on a river bank looking down a little bit.
This achieves to crucial things. First it allows me to get a much more powerful connection with the eyes, and almost as important it allows me to drastically change my background. This can help get rid of busy backgrounds or unwanted objects.- more on that in a bit.
My general approach to wildlife photography is first to get incredibly excited when I see something, then I go for the safe shot that gives me something useable and then pretty quickly after that I start going for something special by changing the framing, using a wide angle lens looking for interesting reflections ect ect get creative. General “portraits” are nice to have but the get boring quickly and you want your work to stand out from everyone else.
5. Location and Time
I have clumped these two together because they often play hand in hand.
Your main geographic location will obviously be a safe area that allows for humane and complete safety of the bears from you, there are many great locations that cater to photographers and research is part of the fun of wildlife photography. What I refer to is really a location within your location how is and what are your background options? If your using larger teleaphoto lenses changing your camera position will have potentially dramatic effects on your background. What about foreground ? are there opportunities to use a unique foreground element in your shot? this goes back to the earlier point about getting creative.
With timing I am generally talking about quality if light. A wet backlit bear near white river rocks during mid day sun is not going to yield the most appealing lighting conditions, but use this opportunity to observe and try something new. until lighting condition improve.
Camera Settings for feature Image:
Nikon D4 with Nikkor 500MM f4 Lens Really Right Stuff Tripod TVC 33 and BH 55 Ball head
Manual Mode, ISO 2500, Shutter 1/250 , Aperture F5