Top lighting effect is not ideal for photographing wildlife or landscapes; low side lighting is better for showing detail in wildlife subjects and creates more interesting shadows in landscapes. So it’s important to make full use of the light at sunrise and again in the later afternoon. While most wildlife photographs are taken with the sunlight behind the photographer thereby fully lighting the subject, it should be remembered that some spectacular images can be taken using side or back lighting, particularly using the warm glow created at sunrise and sunset.
Correct exposure is the key to successful photography and modern cameras, with their built-in metering systems, go a long way to reducing the possibility of incorrect exposure. However there are situations where even the most complex metering system is going to struggle. A good example would be a white bird on very dark background, the meter is likely to try and expose correctly for the background, which will over exposure the bird. This is where a good understanding of your camera comes into play. Most SLR cameras will have a +/- (over/under exposure) override and, in the situation outlined above, you will need to under expose by about 1 to 2 stops to ensure correct exposure. The same effect can be obtained by doubling the (ISO) film speed i.e. 100 to 200ISO, but remember to change these setting back before moving on.
In any situation where you are not sure about the exposure you can always bracket. For example if your metering reading is 1/60th at f8, take one picture at this setting, then two further exposures at 1/60th at f11 and 1/60th at f5.6, to do this you may have to switch the camera to manual mode or use the +/- override.
When the camera lens is focused to give a sharp image of a particular subject, other objects, closer or further away, do not appear equally as sharp. They can be made sharp by ‘stopping down’ using a smaller ‘f stop’. The higher the ‘f stop’ number, the more depth of field is available. It should be remembered that as you stop down your shutter speed will get slower and subject movement will become more of a problem.
‘Stopping down’ is important when photographing plants, insects and other small subjects as it reduces out of focus distractions. The opposite procedure can be used to help isolate your main centre of interest by making background or foreground distractions go out of focus.
Don’t forget that you can check the depth of field created by any given ‘f stop’, by using the depth of field button on your camera, This button allows you to preview the finished image though the view finder and to make adjustments to your own satisfaction prior to making any exposure.
Different shutter speeds produce varying effects with regard to subject blur and camera shake. Fast shutter speeds are desirable for stopping movement, such as flying birds and eliminating camera shake. It is worth remembering that is some situations movement of the subject during exposure can often result in a pleasing pictorial image.
The automation of modern cameras has taken away most of the technical pit falls of photography. Composition is the tool by which we can express our artistic thoughts and so demands an active input. It is therefore in your own interest to be fully conversant with the factors relating to good composition. Many newcomers to photography tend to produce all their images in a horizontal format, partly because of the layout of modern cameras which lend themselves to this shape. Remember they work equally well when turned through 90 degrees to a vertical format.
Changing your viewpoint can totally alter your image, we get used to seeing everything from a standing position, by kneeling or even lying down you are going to show an angle that we are not familiar with, which will often produce a more unusual result. A wide-angle lens used in this way can create some very interesting effects.
Think about where you are going to place the main point of interest in your image, avoid placing your subject in the centre of the frame. If it’s an animal, it needs room to move or to look into the picture space. A flying bird should be flying into the picture rather than out of it. Always attempt to get a ‘highlight’ in the eye, as this gives life to the subject. Do pay attention to the horizon line, particularly in landscapes and avoid splitting your picture in half, think in ‘thirds’. Zoom lenses have become a great asset by allowing control over subject size and perspective, with out moving the camera position.
By utilising a range of lenses it is often possible to secure an interesting sequence of images of an animal. The longest lenses for a close up of the head, through to a wide angle, which will show the landscape.
Either date and or number each film, using an indelible felt tip pen. Then, by keeping details notes of what you saw each day, you will then be able to accurately caption your photographs.
It should always be remembered that the welfare of the subject is more important the photograph. Do not go too close, Do not use flash if it might disturb the subject, Do not make lots of noise. Do not discard any form of litter. Take only pictures leave only memories!
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